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Psalm 20 Sermon From May 2013 Prayer Service

Psalm 20 Sermon From May 2013 Prayer Service

Mount Olive Lutheran Church / Rev. Ted A. Giese /Wednesday May 1st 2013:Season of Easter,Psalm 20.God Save the King!”


          May the LORD answer you in the day of trouble!

                   May the name of the God of Jacob protect you!

          May He send you help from the sanctuary

                   and give you support from Zion!

          May He remember all your offerings

                   and regard with favor your burnt sacrifices!

          May He grant you your heart's desire

                   and fulfill all your plans!

          May we shout for joy over your salvation,

                   and in the name of our God set up our banners!

          May the LORD fulfill all your petitions!

          Now I know that the LORD saves His anointed;

                   He will answer him from His holy heaven

                   with the saving might of His right hand.

          Some trust in chariots and some in horses,

                   but we trust in the name of the LORD our God.

          They collapse and fall,

                   but we rise and stand upright.

          O LORD, save the king!

                   May he answer us when we call.

                                                                 (Psalm 20 ESV)


Let us pray: May the words of my mouth and the meditations of all our hearts be acceptable in your sight O LORD. Amen.


Grace peace and mercy to you from God our Father and from our LORD and Saviour Jesus Christ. Good Christian Friends. George II[1] was the last Canadian monarch to ride into battle. It was during the War of Austrian Succession,[2]  and early on in the war he personally commanded his troops in Bavaria, Germany, at the battle of Dettingen on 27 June in 1743 against the French[3] and he was victorious: this of course was a big risk for the king who could have been killed or could have easily become the prisoner of King Louis XV[4] of France.  George II would also have known the fate of King Richard III,[5] one of his predecessors, who also led his troops into battle and didn’t return from the battle of Bosworth Field,[6] George would well have known how Richard lost his life and how his family lost the Kingdome to the rival Tudor family in 1485. After such a defeat (a defeat that included the death of the king in battle) it’s easy to see how a king would think twice about fighting alongside his men on the front lines. George II would have been well aware that dead king Richard III was the last of his predecessors to have died in battle and George I’m sure didn’t want to be added to that list if he didn’t have to be. Was it wise or foolish for George II to go into battle with his men? Depends who you ask. The Scriptures have a thing or two to teach monarchs about trust, who to trust who not to trust, to trust God and not to put all their trust in them-selves. The people were also cautioned in the Scriptures concerning placing too much trust on one man, in one earthly king; in Psalm 146 the Bible says, “Put not your trust in princes, in a son of man, in whom there is no salvation.”[7]And Psalm 118 says, “It is better to take refuge in the LORD than to trust in princes.”[8]


In whom should we place our trust? Who does the King place his trust in? Who does the Queen place her trust in? King David who wrote Psalm 20 places his trust in God, and in this psalm we see that the people were taught to do the same, because at the heart of this psalm is trust in God.


The first part of the psalm is a blessing pronounced by the people upon the King, it’s a sort of benediction of blessing,[9] then the king responds, in the third person, saying, “Now I know that the LORD saves His anointed; He will answer him from His holy heaven with the saving might of His right hand.” We have an anthem like Psalm 20, that we use here in Canada, the Queen[10] doesn’t make the third person response that David makes, but we ask for the same sorts of gifts on our Queen as the people asked for the king in Psalm 20, 1) “God save our gracious Queen! Long live our noble Queen! God save the Queen! Send her victorious, Happy and glorious, long to reign over us: God save The Queen! 2) O LORD our God arise, Scatter her enemies, And make them fall: Confound their politics, frustrate their knavish tricks, On Thee our hopes we fix: God save us all.[11] 3) Thy choicest gifts in store, on her be pleased to pour; Long may she reign: May she defend our laws, And ever give us cause To sing with heart and voice God save the Queen!” can you hear echoes of, “May the LORD answer you in the day of trouble!” and “May [the LORD] grant you your heart's desire and fulfill all your plans! May we shout for joy over your salvation, and in the name of our God set up our banners! May the LORD fulfill all your petitions!” “O LORD, save the king!” This anthem that we sing, “God Save the Queen” has also been sung as “God Save the King.” And when we again have a King, and not a Queen, we will sing “God Save the King.” Interestingly it is traditionally held that the first performance of this anthem, (this anthem that sounds so much like Psalm 20) was sung in 1745, when it was sung in support of our King George II.[12] 


King David[13] like our own King George was a king who went into battle with his men; unlike king George, however, David was a regular warrior who rose up the ranks from foot soldier to general to king. David was not born into the role of king as George had been; he was anointed out of a pasture, plucked by God to be God’s instrument of repentance and vengeance for the people. In fact long before he’d become the official king of the people, before his kingship was public, and before he’d officially fought as a soldier in the army of Israel, David stood toe to toe with the Philistine Giant Goliath and it was in this first confrontation that we see how David placed his trust in God first and in him-self a distant second when David said to the  Philistine, “You come to me with a sword and with a spear and with a javelin, but I come to you in the name of the LORD of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. This day the LORD will deliver you into my hand, and I will strike you down and cut off your head. And I will give the dead bodies of the host of the Philistines this day to the birds of the air and to the wild beasts of the earth, that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel, and that all this assembly may know that the LORD saves not with sword and spear. For the battle is the LORD's, and He will give you into our hand.”[14]


Trust in the LORD, in the day of trouble, is part of the Christian Monarch’s vocation, trust in him-self or in her-self first will lead to nothing but trouble, or worse yet, if the King or Queen doubts that the LORD will save them, such doubt, can lead to breaking the covenant with God. David did later in life falter in his trust, when “Satan stood against Israel and incited David to number Israel.” King David wanted to estimate the strength of his potential armed forces; he’d forgotten, it seems, that God can slay a giant with a stone, and a sling, and the little arm of a shepherd boy if God so chooses; so instead of trusting that God would provide in the time of need, “David said to Joab and the commanders of the army, “Go, number Israel, from Beersheba to Dan, and bring me a report, that I may know their number.” David was putting his trust in chariots and horses, in men and swords, “but Joab said [to David], “May the LORD add to His people a hundred times as many as they are! Are they not, my LORD the king, all of them my LORD's servants? Why then should my LORD require this? Why should it be a cause of guilt for Israel?” But the king's word prevailed against Joab. So Joab departed and went throughout all Israel and came [grudgingly] back to Jerusalem [with the census, and as a result] ... God was displeased with this [census], and He struck Israel.”[15] David did repent of his lack of trust in the provisions of the LORD and in the end God relented from the full severity of the destruction that David and the people could have endured.


We like David have times when our trust in the LORD shines forth and times when our trust falters and we break the first commandment and place our trust in chariots and horses, in people and things, in princes and kings above our trust in the LORD. We are warned to put not our trust in princes, in a son of man, in whom there is no salvation, rather we are to trust the LORD, we are to place our trust in the true Son of Man, the LORD of lords, and King of kings in whom there is Salvation: we are to put our trust in Jesus, the promised Christ and Saviour, by whom you are saved. The same Jesus who St. Peter confesses saying “there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”[16] This Jesus is the one who St. Thomas calls “My LORD and my God!”[17] This Jesus is the one who will forgive you for your lack of trust and who hears the prayer we pray as we sing “God save the Queen!” This Jesus is the God who saves, Who saves all who call upon His name, who saved David for whom the people prayed in Psalm 20, “O LORD, save the king!” Jesus answers their prayer from His holy heaven, and reaches out from the cross with the saving might of His right hand to protect and defend King David and you in your day of trouble.


Each Psalm is a priceless gift from God to us in our lives and Psalm 20 is an excellent example of what St. Paul commends us to do in his letter to young Timothy when he tells us that “supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.”[18] Remember too that Psalm 20 is a Psalm sung before battle, and it is always good and God pleasing to pray before you undertake any challenge, whether it’s simple or difficult, whether your life is on the line or not. The great-great-grandson of King David, King Asa,[19] embodied this same ethic when he too prepared for battle and cried to the LORD his God, “O LORD, there is none like You to help, between the mighty and the weak. Help us, O LORDour God, for we rely on You, and in Your name we have come against this multitude. O LORD, You are our God; let not man prevail against You.”[20] As Christians we want a Monarch who prays like that, who prays like David, who repents when their trust falters and who trusts God for their salvation, we want to be able to pray blessings upon our leaders with a light heart and to trust that Jesus will hear our prayer when we pray as He promises to do, and answer our prayers as it is good for us to receive. We want protectors who do not fear death, or fear becoming prisoners but who will stand up and confront the dangers of the word as God’s tool to provide protection for us all. Psalm 20 teaches us to pray for the earthly men and women that God gives to us as kings and queens and rulers all the while trusting ultimately in God and in His will,[21] over and above the abilities, talents or charisma of politicians or princes. By praying such prayers we, in turn, learn to pray for the return of our true King, the One Who saves, and does not fail, Who comes to us alive out of the jaws of death and will give us eternal life forevermore: The only one who saves us all, who can save even ones like Richard III, and George II, and Louis XV, or Elizabeth II or King David or King Asa or you and I. Next time we will look at Psalm 20’s companion Psalm, Psalm 21 which is a Psalm of thanksgiving following a victorious battle. Amen.        


Let us pray: LORD have mercy on us, Christ have mercy on us, LORD have mercy on us, “take our minds and think through them, take our lips and speak through them, take our hearts and set them on fire; for the sake of our LORD and Savior Jesus Christ, Amen.


Here is a piece of music written by G. F. Händel to celebrate the King George II and his victory at the battle of Dettingen on 27 June in 1743.




Here is “God Save the Queen” with two of the verses.



[1] (1683–1760)

[2] (1742 - 1748)

[4] (1710–1774)

[5] (1452 – 1485)

[7] Psalm 146:3

[8] Psalm 118:9

[9] A Commentary on Psalms 1-72, Northwestern Publishing House 2004, John F. Burg, pg 267.

[10] Queen Elizabeth II Born 1926.

[11] Verse two of “God Save the Queen” is sung appropriately during times of war, which is fitting when thinking about the original setting and purpose of Psalm 20. 

[12] The Oxford Companion to Music, Tenth Edition,Oxford University Press 2002, Scholes, Percy A., Pg 421.

[13] (1040 – 970 BC)

[14] 1 Samuel 17:45-47

[15] 1 Chronicles 21:1-4,7

[16] Acts 4:12

[17] John 20:28

[18] 1 Timothy 2:1-4

[19] King Asa ruled as king in Judah between 913-910 BC to 873-869 BC.

[20] 2 Chronicles 14:11

[21] Reading the Psalms with Luther, Concordia Publishing House 2007, pg 53.