Psalm 20:9
Save, LORD: let the king hear us when we call.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(9) Save Lord . . .—The Authorised Version follows the accentuation of the Masoretic text, but spoils the rhythm, and interrupts the sense. The LXX. and Vulg., followed by all modern commentators, dividing the verse differently render, “Jehovah, save the king,” whence our National Anthem. Jehovah thus becomes the subject of the verb hear in the last clause. “May He hear us in the day of our calling.” The change from second to third person is characteristic of the Hebrew manner of conquering emotion, and allowing the close of a poem to die away in calm and subdued language. (Comp. Psalm 110:7.)

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.Save, Lord - "Yahweh, save." This is still an earnest prayer. Confident as they are of success and triumph, yet they do not forget their dependence on God; they do not forget that victory must come from his hand. There was, indeed, exultation, but it was exultation in the belief that God would grant success - an exultation connected with, and springing from prayer. Prayer is not inconsistent with the most confident anticipation of success in any undertaking; and confidence of success can only spring from prayer.

Let the King - That is, let "God," spoken of here as the Great King. The connection and the parallelism demand this interpretation, for to God only is this prayer addressed. He is here invoked as the supreme monarch. A king going forth to war implores the protection of a greater king than himself - the King of all nations; and who, therefore, had the disposal of the whole result of the conflict in which he was about to engage.

Hear us when we call - As we now call on him; its we shall call on him in the day of battle. Thus the close of the psalm corresponds with the beginning. In the beginning Psalm 20:1-4 there is an earnest "desire" that God would hear the suppliant in the day of trouble; in the close there is an earnest "prayer" to him from all the people that he "would" thus bear. The desire of the blessing goes forth in the form of prayer, for God only can grant the objects of our desire. The whole psalm, therefore, is an expression of a strong confidence in God; of a sense of the most complete dependence on him; and of that assurance of success which often comes into the soul, in an important and difficult undertaking, when we have committed the whole cause to God. The psalm, too, is a model for us to imitate when we embark in any great and arduous enterprise. The desire for success should be accompanied with earnest prayer and supplication on our part; and when our friends express the desire that we may be successful, there should have been on our part such acts of devotion - such manifest reliance on God - such religious trust - that they can simply pray for our success to be in accordance with our own prayer. Never should we look for success unless our undertaking has been preceded by prayer; and when our best preparations have been made, our hope of success is not primarily and mainly in them, but only in God.

9. let the king hear—as God's representative, delivered to deliver. Perhaps a better sense is, "Lord, save the king; hear us when we call," or pray. Either,

1. David. So the sense is, O Lord, preserve and assist the king, that when we are distressed and cry to him for help, he may be able and ready to help us. Or,

2. God, the supreme Monarch, the King of kings, and in a peculiar manner the King of Israel, hear and answer us, when we pray for our king and people. And for the change of persons in this verse, nothing is more common. Or,

3. Christ, called

the King both in the Old and New Testament. But this verse is by divers learned men rendered thus, Lord, save the king; he (i.e. the Lord)

will hear us (or, let him hear us; for the future tense is oft put imperatively)

when we cry or call upon him. And this version is very agreeable to the Hebrew text. For whereas the only ground of the other translation is, that the Hebrew accent called athnach is put under the word save, which is supposed to stop the sense there, it is sufficiently evident that athnach doth not always make such a distinction in these poetical books, as appears from Psalm 11:5 17:10 19:4 22:31, and therefore this may seem to be the better version. Save, Lord,.... Not "the king", as the Septuagint, Ethiopic, and Arabic versions read the words, joining the word "king" to them, which is in the next clause; but this, as Aben Ezra observes, is not right, because of the accent "athnach", which divides these words from the following; rather the word us may be supplied; and so the Syriac version renders it, "the Lord will deliver us"; and the Targum is, "O Lord", , "redeem us", or "save us"; that is, with a temporal, spiritual, and eternal salvation: this petition is directed to Jehovah the Father, as the following is to the King Messiah;

let the King hear us when we call; for not God the Father is here meant, though he is an everlasting King, the King of kings; and who hears his people, when they call upon him, and while they are calling; yet he is rarely, if ever, called "the King", without any other additional epithet; whereas the Messiah often is, as in the next psalm, Psalm 20:1; and prayer is made to him, and he hears and receives the prayers of his people; and, as Mediator, presents them to his Father perfumed with his much incense; for he is a Priest as well as a King.

Save, LORD: {h} let the king hear us when we call.

(h) Let the king be able to deliver us by your strength, when we seek him for help.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
9. Concluding prayer of the people.

The rendering of A.V. and R.V. follows the punctuation of the Massoretic text. The prayer for the earthly king is addressed to the heavenly King whose representative he is. But Jehovah is not elsewhere styled absolutely the King (Psalm 145:1 and Isaiah 6:5 are not complete parallels); and the verse appears to correspond to Psalm 20:6. It seems best to follow the LXX and Vulg. in reading O Lord, save the king; and answer us &c. The rendering of the Vulg. Domine salvum fac regem is the origin of the familiar God save the king. See note on 1 Samuel 10:24. The P.B.V., Save Lord, and hear us, O King of heaven, when we call upon thee, is a free combination of the Heb. and Vulg. (LXX).Verse 9. - Save, Lord! This punctuation is adopted by Delitzsch, Kay, Professor Alexander, Hengstenberg, and our Revisers; but is opposed by Rosenmuller, Bishop Horsley, Ewald, Hupfeld, Cheyne, and the 'Speaker's Commentary.' It has the Hebrew Masoretie text in its favour, the Septuagint and Vulgate against it. Authorities are thus nearly equally balanced on the point; and we are at liberty to translate either, "Save, Lord: may the King hear us when we call!" or, "O Lord save the king: maybe hear us when we call (upon him)!" On the whole, perhaps, the former is preferable (see the arguments of Professor Alexander, 'Commentary on the Psalms,' p. 94).



(Heb.: 20:2-6) Litany for the king in distress, who offers sacrifices for himself in the sanctuary. The futures in Psalm 20:2, standing five times at the head of the climactic members of the parallelism, are optatives. ימלּא, Psalm 20:6, also continues the chain of wishes, of which even נרננה (cf. Psalm 69:15) forms one of the links. The wishes of the people accompany both the prayer and the sacrifice. "The Name of the God of Jacob" is the self-manifesting power and grace of the God of Israel. יעקב is used in poetry interchangeably with ישראל, just like אלהים with יהוה. Alshךch refers to Genesis 35:3; and it is not improbable that the desire moulds itself after the fashion of the record of the fact there handed down to us. May Jahve, who, as the history of Jacob shows, hears (and answers) in the day of distress, hear the king; may the Name of the God of Jacob bear him away from his foes to a triumphant height. שׂגּב alternates with רומם (Psalm 18:49) in this sense. This intercession on the behalf of the praying one is made in the sanctuary on the heights of Zion, where Jahve sits enthroned. May He send him succour from thence, like auxiliary troops that decide the victory. The king offers sacrifice. He offers sacrifice according to custom before the commencement of the battle (1 Samuel 13:9., and cf. the phrase קדּשׁ מלחמה), a whole burnt-offering and at the same time a meat or rather meal offering also, מנחות;

(Note: This, though not occurring in the Old Testament, is the principal form of the plural, which, as even David Kimchi recognises in his Lexicon, points to a verb מנח (just as שׂמלות, גּבעות, שׁפחות point to שׂמל, גּבע, שׂפח); whereas other old grammarians supposed נחה to be the root, and were puzzled with the traditional pronunciation menachôth, but without reason.)

for every whole offering and every shelamim - or peace-offering had a meat-offering and a drink-offering as its indispensable accompaniment. The word זכר is perfectly familiar in the ritual of the meal-offering. That portion of the meal-offering, only a part of which was placed upon the altar (to which, however, according to traditional practice, does not belong the accompanying meal-offering of the מנחת נסכים, which was entirely devoted to the altar), which ascended with the altar fire is called אזכּרה, μνημόσυνον (cf. Acts 10:4), that which brings to remembrance with God him for whom it is offered up (not "incense," as Hupfeld renders it); for the designation of the offering of jealousy, Numbers 5:15, as "bringing iniquity to remembrance before God" shows, that in the meal-offering ritual זכר retains the very same meaning that it has in other instances. Every meal-offering is in a certain sense a מנחת זכּרון a esnes . Hence here the prayer that Jahve would graciously remember them is combined with the meal-offerings.

As regards the ‛olah, the wish "let fire from heaven (Leviticus 9:24; 1 Kings 18:38; 1 Chronicles 21:26) turn it to ashes," would not be vain. But the language does not refer to anything extraordinary; and in itself the consumption of the offering to ashes (Bttcher) is no mark of gracious acceptance. Moreover, as a denominative from דּשׁן, fat ashes, דּשּׁן means "to clean from ashes," and not: to turn into ashes. On the other hand, דּשּׁן also signifies "to make fat," Psalm 23:5, and this effective signification is applied declaratively in this instance: may He find thy burnt-offering fat, which is equivalent to: may it be to Him a ריח ניחח [an odour of satisfaction, a sweet-smelling savour]. The voluntative ah only occurs here and in Job 11:17 (which see) and Isaiah 5:19, in the 3 pers.; and in this instance, just as with the cohortative in 1 Samuel 28:15, we have a change of the lengthening into a sharpening of the sound (cf. the exactly similar change of forms in 1 Samuel 28:15; Isaiah 59:5; Zechariah 5:4; Proverbs 24:14; Ezekiel 25:13) as is very frequently the case in מה for מה. The alteration to ידשּׁנה or ידשׁנהּ (Hitzig) is a felicitous but needless way of getting rid of the rare form. The explanation of the intensifying of the music here is, that the intercessory song of the choir is to be simultaneous with the presentation upon the altar (הקטרה). עצה is the resolution formed in the present wartime. "Because of thy salvation," i.e., thy success in war, is, as all the language is here, addressed to the king, cf. Psalm 21:2, where it is addressed to Jahve, and intended of the victory accorded to him. It is needless to read נגדּל instead of נדגּל, after the rendering of the lxx megaluntheeso'metha. נדגּל is a denominative from דּגל: to wave a banner. In the closing line, the rejoicing of hope goes back again to the present and again assumes the form of an intercessory desire.

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