|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
20:1-9 This psalm is a prayer for the kings of Israel, but with relation to Christ. - Even the greatest of men may be much in trouble. Neither the crown on the king's head, nor the grace in his heart, would make him free from trouble. Even the greatest of men must be much in prayer. Let none expect benefit by the prayers of the church, or their friends, who are capable of praying for themselves, yet neglect it. Pray that God would protect his person, and preserve his life. That God would enable him to go on in his undertakings for the public good. We may know that God accepts our spiritual sacrifices, if by his Spirit he kindles in our souls a holy fire of piety and love to God. Also, that the Lord would crown his enterprises with success. Our first step to victory in spiritual warfare is to trust only in the mercy and grace of God; all who trust in themselves will soon be cast down. Believers triumph in God, and his revelation of himself to them, by which they distinguish themselves from those that live without God in the world. Those who make God and his name their praise, may make God and his name their trust. This was the case when the pride and power of Jewish unbelief, and pagan idolatry, fell before the sermons and lives of the humble believers in Jesus. This is the case in every conflict with our spiritual enemies, when we engage them in the name, the spirit, and the power of Christ; and this will be the case at the last day, when the world, with the prince of it, shall be brought down and fall; but believers, risen-from the dead, through the resurrection of the Lord, shall stand, and sing his praises in heaven. In Christ's salvation let us rejoice; and set up our banners in the name of the Lord our God, assured that by the saving strength of his right hand we shall be conquerors over every enemy.
Verse 1. - The Lord hear thee in the day of trouble. The people intercede for their king in a "clay of trouble" or "distress," when danger impends, and he is about to affront it. They are made to ask, first of all, that God will hear the king's prayers, which are no doubt being silently offered while they pray aloud. The Name of the God of Jacob defend thee. (On the force of the expression, "the Name of God," see the comment upon Psalm 7:17.) "Jacob's God" - a favourite expression with David - is the God who made him the promise, "I will be with thee, and I will keep thee in all places whither thou goest" (Genesis 28:15). "Defend thee" is scarcely a correct rendering. Translate, exalt thee.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
The Lord hear thee in the day of trouble,.... All the days of Christ were days of trouble; he was a brother born for adversity; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with griefs; he had his own sorrows, and he bore the griefs of others; he was persecuted by Herod in his infancy; he was tempted by Satan in the wilderness; he was harassed by the Scribes and Pharisees continually; he was grieved at the hardness, impenitence, and unbelief, of that perverse and faithless generation of men, and was sometimes made uneasy by his own disciples: at some particular seasons his soul or spirit is said to be troubled, as at the grave of Lazarus, and when in a view of his own death, and when he was about to acquaint his disciples that one of them should betray him, John 11:33; but more particularly it was a day of trouble with him, when he was in the garden, heavy, and sore amazed, and his sweat was, as it were, drops of blood falling on the ground, and his soul was exceeding sorrowful, even unto death; but more especially this was his case when he hung upon the cross, and is what seems to be principally respected here; when he was in great torture of body through the rack of the cross; when he endured the cruel mockings of men, of the common people, of the chief priests, and even of the thieves that suffered with him; when he had Satan, and all his principalities and powers, let loose upon him, and he was grappling with them; when he bore all the sins of his people, endured the wrath of his Father, and was forsaken by him: now in this day of trouble, both when in the garden and on the cross, he prayed unto his Father, as he had been used to do in other cases, and at other times; and the church here prays, that God would hear and answer him, as he did: he always heard him; he heard him at the grave of Lazarus; he heard him in the garden, and filled his human soul with courage and intrepidity, of which there were immediate instances; he heard him on the cross, and helped him as man and Mediator, Isaiah 49:8;
the name of the God of Jacob defend thee; that is, God himself, who is named the God of Jacob, whom Jacob called upon, and trusted in as his God, and who answered him in the day of his distress: Jacob was exercised with many troubles, but the Lord delivered him out of them all; and which may be the reason why the Lord is addressed under this character here; besides, Israel is one of the names of the Messiah, Isaiah 49:3; on whose account the petition is put to which may be added, that Jacob may design people of God, the spiritual sons of Jacob, the church of the living God, whose God the Lord is; and the phrase may be here used by the church, to encourage her faith in prayer: the petition, on account of the Messiah, is, that God would "defend" him, or "set" him on "an high place" (n); or "exalt" him: he was brought very low in his state of humiliation; he was in the form of a servant; he was in a very low and mean condition throughout the whole of his life; through the suffering of death he was made lower than the angels, and he was laid in the lower parts of the earth: the church, in this petition, prays for his resurrection from the dead; for his ascension into the highest heavens; for his exaltation at the right hand of God; for the more visible setting him on his throne in his kingdom; in all which she has been answered.
(n) "elevet te", Pagninus, Montanus; "exaltet te", Vatablus, Museulus, Michaelis; "in edito collocet te", Junius & Tremellius, Piscator; so Ainsworth.
The Treasury of David
1 The Lord hear thee in the day of trouble, the name of the God of Jacob defend thee;
2 Send thee help from the sanctuary, and strengthen thee out of Zion;
3 Remember all thy offerings, and accept thy burnt sacrifice; Selah.
4 Grant thee according to thine own heart, and fulfil all thy counsel.
"The Lord hear thee in the day of trouble." All loyal subjects pray for their king, and most certainly citizens of Zion have good cause to pray for the Prince of Peace. In times of conflict loving subjects redouble their pleas, and surely in the sorrows of our Lord his church could not but be in earnest. All the Saviour's days were days of trouble, and he also made them days of prayer; the church joins her intercession with her Lord's, and pleads that he may be heard in his cries and tears. The agony in the garden was especially a gloomy hour, but he was heard in that he feared. He knew that his Father heard him always, yet in that troublous hour no reply came until thrice he had fallen on his face in the garden; then sufficient strength was given in answer to prayer, and he rose a victor from the conflict. On the cross also his prayer was not unheard, for in the twenty-second Psalm he tells us, "thou hast heard me from the horns of the unicorns." The church in this verse implies that her Lord would be himself much given to prayer; in this he is our example, teaching us that if we are to receive any advantage from the prayers of others, we must first pray for ourselves. What a mercy that we may pray in the day of trouble, and what a still more blessed privilege that no trouble can prevent the Lord from hearing us! Troubles roar like thunder, but the believer's voice will be heard above the storm. O Jesus, when thou pleadest for us in our hour of trouble, the Lord Jehovah will hear thee. This is a most refreshing confidence, and it may be indulged in without fear.
"The name of the God of Jacob defend thee;" or, as some read it, "set thee in a high place." By "the name" is meant the revealed character and Word of God; we are not to worship "the unknown God," but we should seek to know the covenant God of Jacob, who has been pleased to reveal his name and attributes to his people. There may be much in a royal name, or a learned name, or a venerale name, but it will be a theme for heavenly scholarship to discover all that is contained in the divine name. The glorious power of God defended and preserved the Lord Jesus through the battle of his life and death, and exalted him above all his enemies. His warfare is now accomplished in his own proper person, but in his mystical body, the church, he is still beset with dangers, and only the eternal arm of our God in covenant can defend the soldiers of the cross, and set them on high out of the reach of their foes. The day of trouble is not over, the pleading Saviour is not silent, and the name of the God of Israel is still the defence of the faithful. The name: "God of Jacob," is suggestive; Jacob had his day of trouble, he wrestled, was heard, was defended, and in due time was set on high, and his God is our God still, the same God to all his wrestling Jacobs. The whole verse is a very fitting benediction to be pronounced by a gracious heart over a child, a friend, or a minister, in prospect of trial; it includes both temporal and spiritual protection, and directs the mind to the great Source of all good. How delightful to believe that our heavenly Father has pronounced it upon our favoured heads!
"Send thee help from the sanctuary." Out of heaven's sanctuary came the angel to strengthen our Lord, and from the precious remembrance of God's doings in his sanctuary our Lord refreshed himself when on the tree. There is no help like that which is of God's sending, and no deliverance like that which comes out of his sanctuary. The sanctuary to us is the person of our blessed Lord, who was typified by the temple, and is the true sanctuary which God has pitched, and not man: let us fly to the cross for shelter in all times of need, and help will be sent to us. Men of the world despise sanctuary help, but our hearts have learned to prize it beyond all material aid. They seek help out of the armoury, or the treasury, or the buttery, but we turn to the sanctuary. "And strengthen thee out of Zion." Out of the assemblies of the pleading saints who had for ages prayed for their Lord, help might well result to the despised Sufferer, for praying breath is never spent in vain. To the Lord's mystical body the richest good comes in answer to the pleadings of his saints assembled for holy worship as his Zion. Certain advertisers recommend a strengthening plaster, but nothing can give such strength to the loins of a saint as waiting upon God in the assemblies of his people. This verse is a benediction befitting a Sabbath morning, and may be the salutation either of a pastor to his people, or of a church to its minister. God in the sanctuary of his dear Son's person, and in the city of his chosen church is the proper object of his people's prayers, and under such a character may they confidently look to him for his promised aid.
"Remember all thy offerings, and accept thy burnt sacrifice; Selah." Before war, kings offered sacrifice, upon the acceptance of which they depended for success; our blessed Lord presented himself as a victim, and was a sweet savour unto the Most High, and then he met and routed the embattled legions of hell. Still does his burnt sacrifice perfume the courts of heaven, and through him the offerings of his people are received as his sacrifices and oblations. We ought in our spiritual conflicts to have an eye to the sacrifice of Jesus, and never venture to war until first the Lord has given us a token for good at the altar of the cross, where faith beholds her bleeding Lord. "Selah." It is well to pause at the cross before we march onward to battle, and with the Psalmist cry "Selah." We are too much in a hurry to make good haste. A little pausing might greatly help our speed. Stay, good man, there is a haste which hinders; rest awhile, meditate on the burnt sacrifice, and put thy heart right for the stern work which lieth before thee.
"Grant thee according to thine own heart, and fulfil all thy counsel." Christ's desire and counsel were both set upon the salvation of his people; the church of old desired for him good speed in his design, and the church in these latter days, with all her heart desires the complete fulfilment of his purpose. In Christ Jesus sanctified souls may appropriate this verse as a promise; they shall have their desire, and their plans to glorify their Master shall succeed. We may have our own will when our will is God's will. This was always the case with our Lord, and yet he said, "not as I will, but as thou wilt." What need for submission in our case; if it was necessary to him, how much more for us!
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
Ps 20:1-9. David probably composed this Psalm to express the prayers of the pious for his success as at once the head of the Church and nation. Like other compositions of which David in such relations is the subject, its sentiments have a permanent value—the prosperity of Christ's kingdom being involved, as well as typified, in that of Israel and its king.
1. hear thee—graciously (Ps 4:1).
name of—or manifested perfections, as power, wisdom, &c.
defend thee—set thee on high from danger (Ps 9:9; 18:3).
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