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scripture

 

PSALM 20*

Prayer for the King in Time of War

1For the leader. A psalm of David.

I

2The LORD answer you in time of distress;

the name of the God of Jacob defend you!

3May he send you help from the sanctuary,

from Zion be your support.a

4May he remember* your every offering,

graciously accept your burnt offering,

Selah

5Grant what is in your heart,

fulfill your every plan.

6May we shout for joy at your victory,*

raise the banners in the name of our God.

The LORD grant your every petition!

II

7Now I know the LORD gives victory

to his anointed.b

He will answer him from the holy heavens

with a strong arm that brings victory.

8Some rely on chariots, others on horses,

but we on the name of the LORD our God.c

9They collapse and fall,

but we stand strong and firm.d

10LORD, grant victory to the king;

answer when we call upon you.

* [Psalm 20] The people pray for the king before battle. The people ask for divine help (Ps 20:26) and express confidence that such help will be given (Ps 20:710). A solemn assurance of divine help may well have been given between the two sections in the liturgy, something like the promises of Ps 12:6; 21:913. The final verse (Ps 20:10) echoes the opening verse.

* [20:4] Remember: God’s remembering implies readiness to act, cf. Gn 8:1; Ex 2:24.

* [20:6] Victory: the Hebrew root is often translated “salvation,” “to save,” but in military contexts it can have the specific meaning of “victory.”

a. [20:3] Ps 128:5; 134:3.

b. [20:7] Ps 18:51; 144:10; 1 Sm 2:10.

c. [20:8] Ps 147:1011; 2 Chr 14:10; Prv 21:31; 1 Sm 17:45; Is 31:1; 36:9.

d. [20:9] Is 40:30.




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