Horses and Chariots

Psalm 20 
To the choirmaster. A Psalm of David.
1May the Lord answer you in the day of trouble! May the name of the God of Jacob protect you!
2May he send you help from the sanctuary and give you support from Zion!
3May he remember all your offerings and regard with favor your burnt sacrifices! Selah
4May he grant you your heart’s desire and fulfill all your plans!
5May 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!
6Now I know that the Lord saves his anointed; he will answer him from his holy heaven with the saving might of his right hand.
7Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.
8They collapse and fall, but we rise and stand upright.
9O Lord, save the king! May he answer us when we call.

One of the realities of King David’s life was war. He spent his entire career as king battling neighboring nations or dealing with internal insurrection. Because his life centered in his relationship with God, naturally he would create poetic prayer and worship elements that accompanied his warfare situations.

“Psalms 20 and 21 form a matched pair, since they are for use before and after battle. These prayers may have been intended especially for use by Israel’s army, but they would also be appropriate for the whole nation.”
Brug, J. F. ©1989. Psalms 1–72 (2nd ed., pp. 101–102). Milwaukee, WI: Northwestern Pub. House.

This psalm appears to be a three part litany. Verses 1-5 would have been spoken by the people about the king, asking God to bless his leadership efforts in the battle. Verse 6 was the king’s response, declaring his trust in God to save them all. Finally, they would end together with verses 7-9, stating their confidence in the Lord and their trust in Him rather than anything else to win the day.

On this holiday weekend (here in the United States) we might do well to adopt this attitude regarding everything that we do as a nation – not only in application to battle or war – but in all things. We’ve long trusted in our horses and chariots to win the day rather than reliance upon the God who created and sustains us. That misplaced trust has not served us well. But we can always return to God and declare our utter dependence upon Him alone. He is ever waiting for us to repent and come back to Him, just as He waited for the Children of Israel.

Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.