Next week, we will be taking a break from our study in Psalms. During June and July, we will be using the blog as a supplement to the Armor of God class which will be offered on Wednesday nights and Sunday mornings at Lincoln Berean Church. Please join us as we reflect and expand on each week’s lesson. Also, if you are reading through the book of Psalms with us, we will continue that schedule throughout the remainder of the summer. (Click HERE for a copy of the weekly schedule.) We will return to our study with Renee in August.
How would you define “prayer”? Think about your own prayer life. What is working for you? Are there things you would like to change? The psalms we will study today, Psalms 20 and 122, focus on different aspects of intercession, which means praying for others. Each of these psalms also fall into a sub-category of types of psalms we will not be studying, so we will have a chance to learn characteristics of those types too. Let’s begin by reading through Psalm 20.
In addition to being an intercessory prayer, this psalm falls into the sub-category of Royal Psalms, meaning it is about or related to David/Solomon/Kings of Judah.The Messianic Psalms you covered in your personal time were all Royal Psalms, specifically about the king of Judah (or Israel if it was David or Solomon).
NIVAC: This psalm provides us with a glimpse of the interaction of king, people, and temple personnel in temple worship. That the kings offered sacrifices on many occasions and sought divine support for military engagements is well documented throughout the Old Testament. This psalm provides us with a window into a particular liturgical moment in worship where intercession, assurance, and petition interweave.
1May YAHWEH answer (the king) in the day of trouble!May the name of the God of Jacob set (the king) securely on high!2 May He send (the king) help from the sanctuary And support (the king) from Zion!3 May He remember all (the king)’s meal offerings And find (the king)’s burnt offering acceptable! Selah.4 May (Yahweh) grant (the king) (his) heart’s desire And fulfill all (the king’s) counsel!5 We will sing for joy over (the king)’s victory, And in the name of our God we will set up our banners. May YAHWEH fulfill all (the king)’s petitions. (CONFIDENCE!)6 Now I know that YAHWEH saves His anointed (the king); He will answer (the king) from His holy heaven With the saving strength of His right hand.7 Some boast in chariots and some in horses, But we will boast in the name of YAHWEH, our God.8 They have bowed down and fallen, But we have risen and stood upright.9 (Yahweh, give victory to the king! Answer us when we call!)
- v.1 “Answer (respond) in the day of trouble!”; Set the king securely on high (remember the idea of stronghold from Psalm 18, a high rocky crag was a place of defense)
- v.2 Send help from the sanctuary (holy place, a place set part), support the king from Zion
v.3 Remember the king’s meal offerings, find his burnt offering acceptable (sacrifices offered at this time probably, keeping the COVENANT.
v.4 Grant the king his heart’s desire, fulfill all the king’s counsel. “In this psalm the people want God to ‘remember’ that the king has fulfilled his obligations ofsacrifice in temple worship. They want God to ‘accept’ the king’s offerings for sin so that no barrier prevents divine support for his activities. In this context, the ‘desire of [the king’s heart] (Ps. 20:4a) and ‘all [the king’s plans]’ (20:4b) surely refer to the mutual hopes of king, people, and army for success in the coming battle.” [NIVAC]
v.5 May Yahweh fulfill all your petitions (NIV: May the Lord grant all your requests)In v.6 the voice changes; commentators think this is EITHER the king himself or a priest or Levite pronouncing “Yahweh has heard”; remember this is a congregational psalm so you have the people, the king, and then a declarative voice saying “Now I know that the Lord saves His anointed…” So there’s an assurance of victory.
v.6 “the saving strength of His right hand”The Lord’s “right hand” here symbolizes his power to protect and deliver.
v.7 “Some boast in chariots, some in horses, but we will boast in the name of Yahweh our God”. This is a statement of faith for the nation of Israel. From the Mosaic Covenant, when no king was named because Yahweh is their King, they were commanded that when they got a king like other nations, they were to remember that ultimately their trust was not in the army their king would raise (his chariots and horses), but in Yahweh. The history is Israel is chock full of stories of the few defeating the mighty (Gideon, every single thing that happens in Joshua, David v. Goliath, David v. Saul, and on.) Israel was to be defined not by her military might, but by her trust in Yahweh.
v.9 returns to petition, but it’s with a confidence: Save, Yahweh!
Prayer for the Peace of Jerusalem.
A Song of Ascents, of David.
1I was glad when they said to me, “Let us go to the house of the Lord.”
2 Our feet are standing Within your gates, O Jerusalem,
3 Jerusalem, that is built As a city that is compact together;
4 To which the tribes go up, even the tribes of (YAHWEH) An ordinance for Israel To give thanks to the name of (YAHWEH).
5 For (in Jerusalem) thrones were set for judgment, The thrones of the house of David.
6 Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: “May they prosper who love you.”
7 “May peace be within (Jerusalem’s) walls, And prosperity within (Jerusalem’s) palaces.”
8 For the sake of my brothers and my friends, I will now say, “May peace be within you (Jerusalem).”
9 For the sake of the house of (YAHWEH) our God, I will seek (Jerusalem’s) good.
the place where the people come together for worship, the place where they come for judgment, where the throne of the Messiah sits. And He prays for PEACE and prosperity for those who love Jerusalem. WHY? For the sake of my brothers & friends (neighbors), for the sake of the house of Yahweh our God. He recognizes the connection with the people of God and the dwelling place of God, which at that time was the people of Israel and the Temple in Jerusalem.
For the first readers, the post-exilic Jews, this would have been a reminder of what SHOULD have been (and would never truly be again), and expresses strong desire for restoration, as well as love for the people and places of Yahweh.
How does this apply to us?
Jesus is the Prince of Peace. We should be a people of PEACE. What does that
look like? Shalom: completeness, soundness, welfare, peace–Individually and corporately–Fellowship of the Spirit (SHARING), ONENESS of the garden. We are a people outside the curse, how do we live that way?
The prayer here seeks prosperity and protection and welfare for the place
where people come together to serve and worship God. “For the sake of the house of YAHWEH.” Am I praying and seeking for welfare and peace in the places where
followers of Jesus/the Prince of Peace come together? The church (not ours, but the church as a whole) is a MESS and sometimes we eat each other alive. I can’t do anything about that on a grand scale, but I want to “as far as it depends on me, be at peace with all men.” SO many of Paul’s commands to the early churches had to do with living in unity. We shouldn’t be surprised that this is hard or doesn’t come naturally. We NEED the Holy Spirit for unity, HE IS our unity! I love the example here of praying for peace/unity in our places of worship and service.
THE HOUSE OF YAHWEH OUR GOD
As New Testament believers, the dwelling place of God is US. Individually we are temples of the Spirit, the house of Yahweh; and corporately we are the
Body of Christ (where His Spirit lives.) ALL humans were meant to be the dwelling place of Yahweh. In some way, we still reflect and carry His image. From Eden on, His intention was His people in His place, dwelling in His presence. I think this is our MISSION. To live in that reality as much as we’re able – to see things through that lens. I AM the place where God dwells. . . . Every person I interact with IS or at least was MEANT TO BE His home. Every person I meet and interact with –whether valued by our society or not – carries the image of Yahweh and has value. The value for human life here–rich/poor, righteous/unrighteous, male/female, young/old–is so HIGH. Counter-cultural! “For the sake of my brothers and neighbors, I say “May PEACE be within you! For the sake of the dwelling place of God (HUMANITY!), I will seek your GOOD.”
GOING DEEPER (for personal study)
- She/he would call on the Lord in the day of trouble, and find that He answers (v.1)That God would set her/him securely on high (v.1)
- That God would help and support him/her (v.2)
- That s/he would live in the assurance that s/he is acceptable to God because of the sacrifice of Jesus (v.3)
- That God would shape her/his heart’s desire (v.4)
- That s/he would walk in the victory of the Lord, in the name of the Lord (v.5-6)
- That her/his confidence would not be in their own ability, or in any person or thing, but in the name of the Lord, our God. (v.7)
- Finish by thanking God that He answers us when we call (v.9)
- Remember this is just between you and the Lord—it doesn’t have to be poetic or eloquent. But make it intentional and heartfelt, and ask the Holy Spirit to guide you (Romans 8:26).
Read Psalm 122 again. David says, “Pray for the peace of Jerusalem, May they prosper who love you, may peace be within your walls… May peace be within you. For the sake of the house of the Lord our God, I will seek your good.”
What would it look like for us to “seek the good” of our city?
- Using Psalm 122 (and principles from Psalm 20 if you wish), write out a prayer for Lincoln (or whatever city you live in). If you wish, include the leaders and decision makers for our state who live and govern from Lincoln:
- Using Psalm 122 (and principles from Psalm 20 if you wish), write out a prayer for Lincoln Berean Church (or your church home, if that is somewhere else.) Expand your prayer to include the church in Lincoln—all of the people of God who live here. Pray especially that we would seek the good of the city, and be spreaders of PEACE.