Posted on April 22nd, 2009
Tonight we resumed our midweek series on the Psalms.
Tonight’s Psalm, Ps. 20, has been used as a morning psalm appointed for Matins: by it, Christians have prayed for the coming day of their brothers and sisters in Christ, that God would remember them during the day’s troubles and afflictions. However, if we look deeper in this psalm we can see once again our Lord Jesus at the center. Read Christocentrically, Ps. 20 is a prayer of the Church addressed to Christ, the Christ who offered Himself freely as a sacrifice for us. The day of His betrayal, arrest, condemnation, and crucifixion was His “day of trouble.” Thus verse 3 is the center of the psalm’s meaning, as the Church prays for justification in Christ: “May He [the Father] remember all Your offerings [O Christ].” Praying this psalm is saying “Amen!” to the work of Jesus, who (as our first reading says tonight) was “offered once to bear the sins of many.”
When we pray in verse 4, “May he grant you your heart’s desire,” we are saying to Christ, “May the Father grant You what You have asked for.” And what did Jesus ask for? “Father, forgive them.” On the night when He was betrayed, our Lord Jesus prayed not only for the Twelve, but for all who would believe in Him, praying that they all “may be one just as We are one: I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one.” And Christ prays for our eternal salvation and the heavenly vision of the Lord’s glory: “Father, I desire that they also whom You gave Me may be with Me where I am, that they may behold My glory which You have given Me.”
So Christ is the center of the Psalm, and His work is what we confess when we say, “May we shout for joy over your salvation,” the salvation that we have just celebrated in our great Easter festival. The death and resurrection of Jesus was the fulfillment of the salvation the Old Testament saints were praying for in this psalm, and it is the song of all eternity sung throughout the heavens: “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain!”
Now some do not make that their song, some do not make that their trust: “Some,” the Psalm says, “trust in chariots and some in horses.” Chariots and horses represent man’s trust in armies, in military might; that false trust, that idolatry extends out into the gods we make of our health, our skill, our possessions, our families. This psalm points us away from all such false worship and false trust: “Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the LORD our God.” That name was marked upon you in Holy Baptism, and it is the name by which you are absolved: the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.
The Father answered Christ in the day of trouble, hearing His prayer for our forgiveness, and raising Him up on the third day. Put not, then, your trust in horses, in the things of yourself and of this world; your help is in the name of the Lord, and He will answer you also in the day of your trouble; the name of the God of Jacob will protect you in the day of death and desolation, and bring you through the grave triumphant, through Christ Jesus our Lord.
Portions liberally borrowed from Christ in the Psalms by Patrick Henry Reardon.