God sends help from his sanctuary

\I just re-read Psalm 20 and noticed how the short nine verses proclaim blessings over God’s anointed ones and testifies about his delivering power in our times of trouble.  It illustrates how even when life drops bombs on us, God is still there ready to act on our behalf.

The pronouncing of blessings from God

The LORD hear thee in the day of trouble; the name of the God of Jacob defend thee; Send thee help from the sanctuary, and strengthen thee out of Zion; Remember all thy offerings, and accept thy burnt sacrifice; Selah.  Psalm 20:1-3

As Job said, “Man that is born of a woman is of few days and full of trouble.”  Trouble will come to us all eventually, even if we do nothing to bring it about.  Whether trouble happens nationally, locally, or personally, it is a time that tests us to reveal our character.  Will it bring us closer to God or keep us distant from him?  Will it make us better or cause us to be bitter?  Will it draw out abundant love from us or spring forth hatred?  We may have a picture in our mind as to how we think we might react in certain situations, but quite often it is only when the distress comes that we find out what we’re truly made of.  What a joy it is and what peace it brings if our troubles cause us to run to our heavenly Father, knowing that he will be our fortress and that our distresses only serve to bring us closer to him.  So may Yahweh hear you in your day of distress.

Yahweh is the God of Jacob.  Jacob, if you recall, was far from perfect.  In fact, he was a trickster who often sought to take advantage of people for his own personal gain.  Sometimes his schemes worked while most of the time they came back to bite him in the rear.  Yet, throughout his sinfulness, God showed himself gracious toward Jacob and was longsuffering.  Why?  God knew the righteous plans he had for him and used the situations Jacob got himself into to ultimately bring about the necessary changes in Jacob to make him a devoted servant of God.  Now if God did this for someone like Jacob, surely he can do the same for us in the midst of our sinfulness and failures.

If we have cried out to God from a pure, humble, and repentant heart, he has promised us that his name is at our disposal.  It pleases the Lord when we call on his name because his name is above every name whether in heaven or on Earth or under the earth.  It is the name of the Lord that sanctifies us, justifies us, heals us, and defends us against enemies who seek only bad things for us.  So may the name of the God of Jacob defend you.

When we direct our petitions to God for help, they are directed towards his throne in heaven–his spiritual sanctuary where the spiritual Zion is.  Remember, God does not dwell in temples made with hands.  As he told the woman at Samaria in John 4, worshiping God is not about a place like the mountain where Samaritans worshipped or Jerusalem where the Jews worshipped.  It is about worshipping God in spirit and in truth. 

God is not confined to an altar or a specific church building and does not want us to bow down in prayer before statues made of porcelain, wood, or any other substance.  We don’t need necklaces or any other physical object to give worth to our prayers.  All we need to do is direct them with humility toward heaven.  Then when he hears our prayers and they are in line with his will, he answers us from his heavenly sanctuary in the heavenly Mt. Zion to send us the help and strength we need in our distress.  May the Lord send you help from his sanctuary and give you strength from Zion.

Since the Mosaic law does not apply to those of us who are under God’s grace, we no longer are required to make the sacrifices commanded in the law.  Our sacrifices are the love and service we willingly give to God and to each other.  We present our bodies as a living sacrifice to God in addition to helping our spiritual siblings, even if it’s as seemingly insignificant as a cup of cold water or visiting the sick or helping someone financially.  God keeps a record of all of them and in situations where we call on him to help us, he recalls the various times we made sacrifices for his sake that he should be glorified.  As a result of those sacrifices he shows us his mercy and compassion.  So may the Lord remember all of your offerings and accept your sacrifices to him.

A plea for God’s will to be done

Grant thee according to thine own heart, and fulfill all thy counsel.  We will rejoice in thy salvation, and in the name of our God we will set up our banners: the LORD fulfill all thy petitions.  Psalm 20:4-5

In verse 4, we see the desire for what is in God’s heart to come to fruition.  There is the anticipation that the counsel of God will be fulfilled when troubles arise.  This is the spirit in which we should pray–that God’s will be done in response to our distressful situations.  When we have examined ourselves to make sure we are doing what pleases the Lord, we can rejoice when his deliverance is manifested, praising and glorifying his holy name. 

Banners were usually used in military endeavors to proclaim who an army represented.  They can also be used for national or religious intentions.  In relating banners to Christians, our lifestyle and character are the banners we hold up to those around us to proclaim that we walk in the name of the Lord our God to represent his righteousness to stand against all kinds of evil that would come to weaken or destroy us.  Our banner says we are salt and light.  Our banner proclaims that we are more than conquerors through Christ who loved us and gave himself for us.  Even if the battle we face means the forfeiture of our very lives, we know that to live is Christ, but to die is our gain.  God will be glorified no matter how our troublesome situation turns out.  As you stand for the Lord, may he fulfill all your petitions to him.

God’s salvation of his anointed ones

Now know I that the LORD saveth his anointed; he will hear him from his holy heaven with the saving strength of his right hand.  Some trust in chariots, and some in horses: but we will remember the name of the LORD our God.  They are brought down and fallen: but we are risen, and stand upright.  Save, LORD: let the king hear us when we call.  Psalm 20:6-9

After we have witnessed in the past how God saved us from trouble or saved someone we know from trouble, we know for a fact that the Lord delivers those of us who are his anointed ones.  We can pray to him with confidence knowing he will answer us from heaven with power to wipe out the cause of our distress or grant us sufficient grace to walk through the situation to make us stronger.  Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the LORD delivers us out of them all!

In the same way that powerful rulers trusted in the strength and number of their chariots and horses  in Biblical times, those who are powerful today trust in the amount of their possessions or in the level of their influence and fame.  But the mindfulness and focus that Christians have on the name of the Lord is where we place our trust.  Those who trust in their power are puffed up in their pride and their power will at some point fail them because pride goes before destruction and a haughty spirit before a fall.  God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble.  That’s how and why he raises us and causes us to stand upright in our morals or just causes.  He is the lifter of our heads and we can walk with godly pride as we surpass our troubles. 

We have the freedom to cry out for the Lord to save us and to plead for our king to hear us when we call.

–posted by Harry A. Gaylord–

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