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Bible Commentaries
Psalms 20

Scott's Explanatory Notes, Practical Observations on the book PsalmsScott on the Psalms

Verses 1-9

Psalms 20:1-9.

V. 1, 2. This psalm was doubtless composed, and publickly sung, when David was about to engage in some perilous expedition : it is generally thought in that against the Ammonites and Syrians. (Notes, 2 Samuel 10:1-19 : 1 Chronicles 19:1-19:) The congregation of Israel thus prayed for the protection and success of their anointed king, to " the God of Jacob," to that God who heard the patriarch in his distress, and was still the God of his posterity.

(Note, Genesis 32:27-28.) Among them he had fixed his sanctuary, and the ark of the covenant, which had lately been removed to mount Zion ; and from him, the great Object of their worship, as manifesting his glory above the mercy-seat, they sought help and victory. David was a type of Christ, in his conflicts and victories : and the psalm may be applied as a prayer of the ancient church for his coming, and of the Christian church, for the completion of his work, and the establishment of his kingdom, and for its enlargement and prosperity.

V. 3. The oblations at the sanctuary, when presented in humble faith and love, were graciously accepted, as typical of the Redeemer’s atoning sacrifice; and the answer, by fire from heaven consuming the victims, was the most decisive proof of this acceptance.

(Marg. Notes, Genesis 4:3-5. Leviticus 9:24. 1 Kings 18:38-39. 2 Chronicles 7:1-3.) David’s burnt-offering, on another occasion, was thus consumed. (Note, 1 Chronicles 21:26.) Exodus 27:3,and Numbers 4:13; in both which places our Translation gives it the sense of removing the ashes.

V. 4. David earnestly desired to promote the honour of God, and the welfare of Israel, by means of his counsels and undertakings ; and it was proper for the people to pray for him in this expressive language. In respect of the designs of our great Redeemer, the words may be adopted in the most unreserved manner ; but seldom in respect of other kings or princes.

V. 5. The king of Israel was their anointed deliverer ; and when they went forth to war under his command, they might properly set up their banners in the name of the LORD, as well as "rejoice in his salvation." ’ In confidence of thy help, we will shout when we set on our ’ enemies : ... for the Lord will not fail to grant the petitions of our sovereign, whose cause is so just, and who ’ hath been so insolently treated by them.’ Bp. Patrick.

As the king is immediately addressed, the meaning may be, ’ We shall rejoice in thy preservation, or deliverance (in salute tua) ;’ or, c in the deliverance, which we expect that thou wilt, in answer to our united prayers, accomplish for us.’

V. 6- 8. David himself seems here to speak. His past deliverances and victories, and the loyal zeal of his people, assured him of success, from the power of Israel’s God. Comparing the confidence of his enemies in chariots and horses, and in well-appointed and numerous troops, with his own reliance, and that of his people, on the Almighty; he anticipated the triumph, and exulted as if already victorious.

His anointed. (6) " His Messiah." David, as immediately chosen by God and anointed by Samuel, at his command, to be king of his people Israel, was a type of Christ, more directly than his successors in general were (Note, John 10:32-39.)

V. 9. ’ Let the king of heaven hear, while we pray; for his anointed on earth.’ Or the clause may be rendered, " O LORD, Save the king : he shall (or let him, 1: e. the " LORD) hear us when we call."


No rank or character can exempt man from trouble ; but the Lord will hear the prayers of the afflicted, and will support and deliver them. They who pray most fervently for themselves, put the greatest value on the prayers of others ; and are encouraged by them in further calling upon God. His " name," his glorious perfections, (Notes, Exodus 34:5-7 Proverbs 18:10-11. Matthew 28:18-20,) will be a sure Defence to all who, like Jacob, trust him and apply to him in their distress : but we should observe, that all our help comes out of Zion, from the mercy-seat, and through the accepted sacrifice of our Emmanuel, which all the legal burnt-offerings shadowed forth. As far as our desires are spiritual, and our counsels holy, we may hope to have them granted and fulfilled ; but it would be ruinous to have our sinful inclinations indulged. Fervent united prayers tend much to the joyful assurance of faith and hope ; and it is the first step to victory, in our spiritual warfare, to renounce all self-dependance and carnal confidence, and to trust only in the mercy and grace of God : thus we shall arise from our depth of misery, and obtain establishment ; while all who trust in themselves will soon be brought down. Happy is it for that people, whose rulers are influenced, in all their measures, by the faith and fear of God, aiming at his glory and the public good ; when they value the prayers of true Christians, and act with such justice, that pious men can unreservedly pray for their success ; when they set up their banners in the name of God ; and when they place their confidence not in fleets and armies, but in his powerful protection.

" From his holy heaven, with the saving strength of his " right hand," he will defend and prosper such as thus trust in him. It is our duty to pray for our rulers, that they may be like David : we have great cause for thankfulness for our peculiar advantages in this respect; and we should continually intreat the Lord, that they who are or shall be placed over us, may be directed and prospered in every undertaking, for the honour of God, the peace and welfare of the land, and the common benefit of mankind. In answer to the hopes and prayers of the old-testament church, the anointed King of God’s people came in the appointed season : lie was heard in the day of his trouble ; his sacrifice was accepted; his intercessions have prevailed ; his kingdom has been set up, and we are called to partake of its blessings. Thanksgivings for these benefits should be constantly rendered. In " his salvation let " us rejoice," under him let us enlist, and in his name set up our banners. But we ought to recollect, that we belong to a large army, and we should not only seek and rejoice in hope of personal triumphs, but pray also for the success of the common cause ; and look for the accomplishment of the Redeemer’s whole counsel, when his dominion over willing subjects shall be extended through- out the earth.

Bibliographical Information
Scott, Thomas. "Commentary on Psalms 20". Scott's Explanatory Notes, Practical Observations on the book Psalms. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/tsp/psalms-20.html. 1804.
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