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Psalms 16-20

Psalms 16-20…Our trust is not in chariots or horses.

A few years ago, a New York art student painted randomly chosen words on about 60 meandering cows to see if they would inadvertently line up to form poetry. At about the same time, in England, a writer did the same thing with sheep (except that she chose the words of only one poem, to see if the sheep could form another poem). An arts council granted her about $3,400 for her project, which she said would break down the boundaries between ‘literature’ and ‘quantum mechanics.’”

These bizarre ideas of what constitutes a poem contrast with the beautiful linguistic artistry we’ve been seeing in the Psalms. It’s especially apparent in Psalm 20, a public prayer for the king and his army as they headed into battle. Commentators aren’t sure exactly who’s speaking when, but the first five verses were probably spoken by the people (or the army) to the king, then the next three by a priest or Levite (or possibly the king himself), with the last verse essentially being the people’s closing amen.

The people prayed for a series of requests. They asked God to answer the prayers of His anointed king, just as He promised to do. They asked Him to protect, send help, and grant support in the battle to come. They asked Him to remember and accept the sacrifices and worship offered to Him by His people–an acknowledgment of their covenant relationship. And they prayed that He would give David the desire of his heart and make his plans succeed. This “desire” was not merely for a battle to be won, but for the name of the Lord to be glorified and exalted among the nations.

A New Testament application of today’s psalm may be found in 1 Timothy 2:1–2: “I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone–for kings and all those in authority.” On this basis, pray today for our political leaders, including those at the local, state, and national levels. In light of Psalm 20, you might also remember the armed forces engaged in the ongoing conflicts.

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