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Bible Commentaries

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

Psalms 20

Introduction

To the chief Musician, A Psalm of David.

The tone of this psalm is triumphant, and the allusions clearly identify its occasion with some great military success. As it is unquestionably Davidic, it seems most probable that it belongs to the trials and triumphs of David’s second Syrian war, to which war the Syriac translator, followed by a large number of modern critics, has assigned it. Some regard it as a counterpart to Psalm ix, the latter belonging to the beginning, and the former to the conclusion, of the war. The lofty strains and highly spiritual sentiments of the psalm, blending with the sublime theocratic character of the speaker, lead us to give to the whole a prophetic import, and to seek in Messiah, his Church, and her triumphs, its ultimate fulfilment. As to its historic application, Luther says: “It seems to me as if David had composed this psalm that it might serve as a devout and pious battle-cry, whereby he might admonish himself and the people, and draw them to prayer.”

Psalms 20:1-5 contain a prayer of the people for their king in the straits of an impending battle; Psalms 20:6-8, a declaration of confidence in the saving power and presence of Jehovah; Psalms 20:9, a prayer for continued help.

Verse 1

1. The Lord hear thee, etc. Literally, Jehovah shall answer thee in the day of distress. A prayer for the king as he enters the battle. See introduction.

The name of the God “Name,” here, may be considered as having the force of a reciprocal pronoun, equal to God himself. The name of Jehovah was a terror to the heathen nations and a shield of protection to Israel. Exodus 15:14; Deuteronomy 2:25; Joshua 2:9-10

Verse 2

2. Help from the sanctuary The holy of holies of the tabernacle, where were the symbols of God, where the national expiation was made, and from whence the lively oracles proceeded.

Verse 3

3. Offerings The מנחה , ( minchah,) was an unbloody offering of whatever material.

Burnt sacrifice The עלה , ( ‘olah,) was the burnt offering to be consumed upon the altar, always an animal sacrifice. The two terms seem here used genetically of all offerings whatsoever. Psalms 40:6; Jeremiah 14:12. The korbanim, or gifts to Jehovah, to be offered upon the altar, were divided into bloodless and bloody offerings, and these again into several varieties.

Accept Literally, make fat; but declaratively to pronounce fat, to consider and approve as of an excellent kind. Hebrews 11:4. Such will God do, whatever may be the external form and circumstances of the sacrifice, wherever it is a true expression of a sincere and humble heart.

Verse 4

4. Grant thee according The answer is acknowledged, Psalms 21:2.

Fulfil all thy counsel “All thy plans and measures in the war.” Perowne.

Verse 5

5. Salvation The deliverance, or victory, given by God.

Set up our banners “We shall have a triumphant procession upon the victory, with shouts, and banners displayed.” Mudge.

Fulfil all thy petitions A repetition of Psalms 20:4, closing the first strophe, embracing the people’s prayer for the king.

Verse 6

6. Now know I that the Lord saveth The second strophe opens with the clarion note of victory and the confessed answer to prayer, ascribing all the glory to God. King and people rejoice in the triumph now obtained, and the special token of grace to the anointed, in whom the national life was bound up.

He will hear He will answer, as the verb is often used.

Verse 7

7. Chariots… horses The most formidable war forces known to the nations west of the Indus, and here unmistakably identifying the Syrians, who were famous for their cavalry and war chariots. Hence they could fight advantageously only in plains. Note 1Ki 20:23 ; 1 Kings 20:28. The contrast of the argument lies between human strength and divine power. 1 Samuel 17:45. The Hebrew kings were forbidden to multiply horses, as tempting them to luxury and military habits, (Deuteronomy 17:16;) but Solomon disobeyed (1 Kings 10:25-28) this command. The horse was, anciently, chiefly used for war.

Verse 9

9. Save, Lord By a slight change in the punctuation of the Hebrew text, placing the Athnach after king instead of “save,” the verse would read:

O Jehovah, save the king,

He will answer in the day of our calling.

This view accords with Psalms 20:6, where “anointed” answers to “king” in Psalms 20:9, and both refer to the petition Psalms 20:1. With this, also, the Septuagint and Vulgate agree; and in the Messianic application of the psalm, it coincides with the phrases “O Jehovah, save now,” of Psalms 118:25, and “Hosanna to the Son of David,” of Matthew 21:9. See notes on the last two passages quoted.

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Bibliographical Information
Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Psalms 20". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/whe/psalms-20.html. 1874-1909.