- September 3, 2017
A note to readers: Today’s post is part of a Sunday Voice Series by Dr. Timothy C. Tennent, a close friend, mentor and colleague of mine. He serves as the President of Asbury Theological Seminary among other posts he holds across the global church. This Sunday Voice Series will cover the Psalms, beginning to end, by focusing on a Psalm each Sunday. I can’t tell you how excited I am for his interest in contributing here. This will be a huge blessing to us all.
Psalm 20 (NIV)
May the LORD answer you when you are in distress;
may the name of the God of Jacob protect you.
May he send you help from the sanctuary
and grant you support from Zion.
May he remember all your sacrifices
and accept your burnt offerings.[b]
May he give you the desire of your heart
and make all your plans succeed.
May we shout for joy over your victory
and lift up our banners in the name of our God.
May the LORD grant all your requests.
Now this I know:
The LORD gives victory to his anointed.
He answers him from his heavenly sanctuary
with the victorious power of his right hand.
Some trust in chariots and some in horses,
but we trust in the name of the LORD our God.
They are brought to their knees and fall,
but we rise up and stand firm.
LORD, give victory to the king!
Answer us when we call!
The final test of our faith is the answer to the question: “Where (or in whom) do we put our trust?” In the modern, overly sentimentalized church we are often misled into thinking that faith is rooted in some kind of emotional experience or special “feeling” towards God. However, faith is, at its root, the outward expression of where (or in whom) we have put our trust. This psalm says, “Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the LORD our God” (vs. 7). This summarizes the whole life of faith. Chariots and horses were the psalmist’s way of capturing, in his own day, the central symbols of human strength and ingenuity. Historians consider the chariot to be one of the great technological breakthroughs in the history of human warfare. It enabled a warrior to freely fight from a lower plane and yet maintain all the mobility and speed of a horse. It represents all of the ways we use our ingenuity and inventive skills to maintain our power, strength and autonomy. Today, we might boast in our armies, ships and weapons. In the end, however, all “chariots and horses” will be “brought to their knees and fall” (vs. 8).
The life of faith is rooted in a daily trusting in God’s power and his resources. In this psalm, the “name of the LORD our God” (vs. 7) refers to the steadfastness of God’s promises and covenant. It is a call for us to put our trust in God’s word and in the covenantal faithfulness of God to provide for us, protect us, and to give our lives meaning and purpose. Indeed, his love for us always exceeds our own design for our lives. This psalm reminds us of the full inheritance that is ours, through Jesus Christ. It is not a chariot or a horse that we trust in, but in God’s Son, Jesus Christ. Those who trust in him will not be disappointed. Paul surely reflected the truth of the contrasting boast of the gospel when he declared, “May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world” (Gal. 6:14).