Gracefully Truthful

Discover the original intent of Scripture. Make good application to our everyday lives.
Become equipped to correctly handle the Word of Truth!

Read His Words Before Ours!

Psalm 20

May the Lord answer you in a day of trouble; may the name of Jacob’s God protect you. 2 May he send you help from the sanctuary and sustain you from Zion. 3 May he remember all your offerings and accept your burnt offering.


4 May he give you what your heart desires and fulfill your whole purpose. 5 Let us shout for joy at your victory and lift the banner in the name of our God. May the Lord fulfill all your requests.

6 Now I know that the Lord gives victory to his anointed; he will answer him from his holy heaven with mighty victories from his right hand. 7 Some take pride in chariots, and others in horses, but we take pride in the name of the Lord our God. 8 They collapse and fall, but we rise and stand firm. 9 Lord, give victory to the king! May he answer us on the day that we call.

The Original Intent

1) What is intended by referencing the locations “sanctuary” and “Zion”? (verse 2)

Throughout the Old Testament, Zion became associated with God’s ruling place. Zion became the catchphrase for the City of God, the city He loved. Zion was also connected with the dwelling place of His people.

Zion was originally a literal location captured by King David towards the beginning of his reign. (2 Samuel 5:7) It was enemy Jebusite territory, and the Jebusites mocked David saying he would never be able to capture their fortress. (2 Samuel 5:6) 

When David was victorious over them, he called it the “City of David” and set up his reign from this strategic point, enhancing its walls and watchtowers to withstand any future invasions. His success was credited to the Lord God who fought for him. (2 Samuel 5:9-10)

Eventually, the nearby city of Jerusalem was captured by David and Zion/Jerusalem became synonymous terms for God’s chosen city and people. Going farther back from King David, all the way to Moses who led the Hebrews (the very first Israelites) out of slavery in Egypt, we find the term “sanctuary” playing a key role.

Moses, and his multitude of just-freed slaves, soon began work on God’s specifically designed tabernacle. This sacred space would be the location where, unlike any culturally popular false god around them, God Himself would dwell with His people. His presence would always be with them in the sanctuary of the Holy of Holies.

Once a year, the High Priest would enter this holy ground to intercede for himself and the people before God, pleading for His mercy on them, sinful as they were. When David references “Zion” and “sanctuary” in this psalm, he is blessing the people, reminding them of God’s heart to set them apart as His Own people and dwell with them. This is not a far-off foreign God, Yahweh is their God, desiring to dwell with them!  

The Everyday Application

1) What is intended by referencing the locations “sanctuary” and “Zion”? (verse 2)

Sanctuary and Zion take on brilliantly fuller descriptions in the New Testament, where now Gentile believers in Jesus are “grafted in” to the original Jewish believers. All who rely on Him to completely cover their sin through Jesus’ atoning sacrifice are God’s chosen people. The Kingdom of God becomes the new Zion “City of David”, of whom Christ is the Cornerstone, “See, I lay a stone in Zion, a chosen and honored Cornerstone, and the one who believes in Him will never be put to shame.” (1 Peter 2:6)

All who call on Jesus and surrender the full of their lives to Him are now part of His holy City, His Church, His Kingdom. We are filled with divine purpose and are the dearly beloved of God. One day, the New Jerusalem, in all her glory, consisting of every soul who has Named Christ as Lord throughout all of time, will be the perfect City, the beautiful dwelling place where God and His people will enjoy purpose and passion together in unhindered harmony!

I also saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared like a bride adorned for her husband. Then I heard a loud voice from the throne: “Look, God’s dwelling is with humanity, and He will live with them. They will be His peoples, and God himself will be with them and will be their God.” (Revelation 21:2-3)

Until that day, we are called to work with God to build His beautiful kingdom on earth as it is in Heaven. To accomplish this impossible, divine work, we are given God’s own Holy Spirit within us to empower us, teach us, and never leave us alone. For the believer, God’s presence is no longer out of reach in an untouchable sanctuary, He is in us!

The Original Intent

2) What does the bold declaration in verse 6 truly imply?

In verses 1-4, David is intent on drawing the people into worshipping God by reminding them Who He is in His heart as loving and tender towards them, His chosen people. God desires Israel, He wants to dwell with them, to call them out as completely unlike any other people because they are His. Verse 4 states, “May He give you what your heart desires and fulfill your whole purpose.” 

Keep in mind the audience’s context. They aren’t thinking “heart desires” as equaling expensive cars, nice houses, easy lifestyles, or even conflict-free marriages. Their context is their relationship with God. As the introduction reminds, God’s “heart desires” are for His people, to dwell with them, and to know them as His own.

David did not abruptly change gears from thinking of God’s heart desire for His people, and then turn to a people’s desire for better things that would fade away. This psalm is meant to call God’s people back to the unfading glory of knowing God and being known by Him; this is our rich heart desire!

Having this understanding, we can much more clearly understand the bold declaration of verse 6. Yes, God may grant earthly victories, but the unshakeable assurance of eternal victory where we will forever dwell with Him and our true heart desires will be forever satisfied is an absolutely resounding YES from the throne of Heaven.

The Everyday Application

2) What does the bold declaration in verse 6 truly imply?

Verse 4 is a natural flowing response to God’s desires. If God’s desire is for His people, His magnificent love stirs up such a rich loving response in them that their heart desire is Him! Our longing for Him far surpasses any monetary gain or even relational happiness. Our most satisfying purpose, flooding our hearts with delight, is found in setting our whole lives upon daily obeying and communing with this wonderful, glorious God!

Recently, I was struck by this truth in a new way as I was reading Luke 11:13“If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father…” I mentally finished the sentence before I even read it, “…give good gifts to those who ask Him.” I had memorized it long ago, and it was quite familiar, but I was actually quoting a similar verse from Matthew’s gospel (Matthew 7:11) without realizing it, which made Luke’s words sound abrupt to my ears, “…how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him?” (Luke 11:13, emphasis mine)

With sudden clarity, the truths David was writing in Psalm 20 came brilliantly to life. As selfish, short-sighted human beings, we see all the good things God could give us. Just a little extra financial cushion. Healing from that ravaging disease.

Wholeness in the relationship that has long been tattered. We plead and beg for these “good things”, wondering why God didn’t move on our behalf. Isn’t He a good Father? Didn’t I have enough faith? Haven’t I been honoring Him? Really, I deserve these good gifts, right? 

All the while, the Lord waits for our full attention so He can give us what is best, that which is truly good, HIMSELF! Lay aside the other things that fade, and lay hold of the glorious, divinely good thing of Christ IN us!

The Original Intent

3) What are the people of God declaring in verses 7-9?

The pronoun shift that begins in verse 7 leads scholars to believe this psalm was originally a type of “call and response” that moved between “leader” and “people” as an act of worship. Again, because of the pronoun “us” in verse 5, those words are also considered to have been quoted by the people. (you might be surprised at how much rich insight you’ll gain from Scripture by studying small words!) 

The people respond collectively with one voice to David’s penned call to worship and His implied call to return to God’s heart of love for His people. Theirs is one of confident victory. Not because they are blissfully assured they will win in battle, increase their financial gain, or find favor in complex relationships, but because they understand their only trustworthy victory is found in the Name of the Lord God.

The mention of chariots and horses isn’t random, instead, these were specifically chosen because they were symbols of supreme wealth, power, and political standing. If chariots and horses were involved, the battle was over, it wasn’t even worth fighting; the opponent would surely lose against such a powerful foe.

Yet, David leads the people to fully embrace, and courageously stake, their faith upon the unseen hand of the Almighty Yahweh. Chariots and horses eventually collapse and fall, just like wealth, power, and prestige, but never, never will God’s hand fail them.

Never will He decide He no longer loves His people. Never will He choose to no longer dwell with them. Anything this world possibly offers, even the best of the best, is absolutely rubbish compared to the supreme goodness of knowing and dwelling with the Lord God!

The Everyday Application

3) What are the people of God declaring in verses 7-9?

There is something powerful about a collective community declaring truth aloud over one another in response to God’s Word. The catch is, it must not be mere words rhythmically falling from the tongue. Truth is to be meditated on in our hearts and poured out in our lives, not simply spoke from our mouths by habit. This realization made me reconsider areas of my life that have fallen into ritualistic rhythms. I always pray with my kids before meals and bedtime, but what words am I choosing? What is my heart attitude while I’m praying? Am I truly ready to engage the Holy One of All Creation, or am I just listing off a litany?

When I pray with other believers, do my words reflect the genuine relationship I have with the Lord? Am I praying Scripture I have meditated on, or am I throwing out spiritual words?

As beautiful as this psalm is, and all the truths it represents, if our hearts are not authentically willing to engage, and be shaped by, its truth, then we are like the person who looks in the mirror and immediately forgets what they looked like. (James 1:22-24) 

Let’s be authentic in our declaration of truth and let’s intentionally join with, and provide accountability to, our fellow brothers and sisters as we speak truth with grace together! As we hold onto the truths of Scripture, adamantly proclaiming them together with other believers, we are encouraged to both grow deeper in our faith and be reminded that nothing else compares to the greatness of knowing Christ. All else is, as the fellow Christ-follower, Paul, put it, dung and manure! (Philippians 3:8)

Chasing that relationship? Trying to gain those bonus finances? Stressing about jockeying for approval with your boss? Lay it aside and enter into worship; stay there in the middle of every moment of every day. Only Christ is worth everything!

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