The Treasury of David

Psalm 20

Subject. We have before us a National Anthem, fitted to be sung at the outbreak of war, when the monarch was girding on his sword for the fight. If David had not been vexed with wars, we might never have been favoured with such psalms as this. There is a needs be for the trials of one saint, that he may yield consolation to others. A happy people here plead for a beloved sovereign, and with loving hearts cry to Jehovah, “God save the King.” We gather that this song was intended to be sung in public, not only from the matter of the song, but also from its dedication “To the Chief Musician.” We know its author to have been Israel’s sweet singer, from the short title, “A Psalm of David.” The particular occasion which suggested it, it would be mere folly to conjecture, for Israel was almost always at war in David’s day. His sword may have been hacked, but it was never rusted. Kimchi reads the title, concerning David, or, for David, and it is clear that the king is the subject as well as the composer of the song. It needs but a moment’s reflection to perceive that this hymn of prayer is prophetical of our Lord Jesus, and is the cry of the ancient church on behalf of her Lord, as she sees him in vision enduring a great fight of afflictions on her behalf. The militant people of God, with the great Captain of salvation at their head, may still in earnest plead that the pleasure of the Lord may prosper in his hand. We shall endeavour to keep to this view of the subject in our brief exposition, but we cannot entirely restrict out remarks to it.

Division. (Psalms 20:1-4) are a prayer for the success of the king. (Psalms 20:5-7) express unwavering confidence in God and his Anointed; (Psalms 20:8) declares the defeat of the foe, and (Psalms 20:9) is a concluding appeal to Jehovah.
The Treasury of David.

Psalm 20:7


Contrasts frequently bring out the truth vividly, and here the church sets forth the creature confidences of carnal men in contrast with her reliance upon the Prince Immanuel and the invisible Jehovah.

Some trust in chariots, and some in horses. Chariots and horses make an imposing show, and with their rattling, and dust, and fine caparisons, make so great a figure that vain man is much taken with them; yet the discerning eye of faith sees more in an invisible God than in all these. The most dreaded war engine of David’s day was the war chariot, armed with scythes, which mowed down men like grass: this was the boast and glory of the neighbouring nations; but the saints considered the name of Jehovah to be a far better defence. As the Israelites might not keep horses, it was natural for them to regard the enemy’s calvary with more than usual dread. It is, therefore, all the greater evidence of faith that the bold songster can here disdain even the horse of Egypt in comparison with the Lord of hosts. Alas, how many in our day who profess to be the Lord’s are as abjectly dependent upon their fellow men or upon an arm of flesh in some shape or other, as if they had never known the name of Jehovah at all. Jesus, be thou alone our rock and refuge, and never may we mar the simplicity of our faith.

We will remember the name of the Lord our God. “Our God” in covenant, who has chosen us and whom we have chosen; this God is our God. The name of our God is Jehovah, and this should never be forgotten; the self existent, independent, immutable, ever present, all filling I Am. Let us adore that matchless name, and never dishonour it by distrust or creature confidence. Reader, you must know it before you can remember it. May the blessed Spirit reveal it graciously to your soul!

Explanatory Notes and Quaint Sayings

Some trust in chariots, and some in horses: but we will remember the name of the Lord our God. About Michaelmas I was in the utmost extremity, and having gone out in very fine weather, I contemplated the azure heavens, and my heart was so strengthened in faith (which I do not ascribe to my own powers, but solely to the grace of God), that I thought within myself, “What an excellent thing it is when we have nothing, and can rely upon nothing, but yet are acquainted with the living God, who made heaven and earth, and place our confidence alone in him, which enables us to be so tranquil even in necessity!” Although I was well aware that I required something that very day, yet my heart was so strong in faith that I was cheerful, and of good courage. On coming home I was immediately waited upon by the overseer of the workmen and masons, who, as it was Saturday, required money to pay their wages. He expected the money to be ready, which he wished to go and pay, but enquired, however, whether I had received anything. “Has anything arrived?” asked he. I answered, “No, but I have faith in God.” Scarcely had I uttered the words when a student was announced, who brought me thirty dollars from some one, whom he would not name. I then went into the room again, and asked the other “how much he required this time for the workmen’s wages?” He answered, “Thirty dollars.” “Here they are, “said I, and enquired at the same time, “if he needed any more?” He said, “No, “which very much strengthened the faith of both of us, since we so visibly saw the miraculous hand of God, who sent it at the very moment when it was needed. Augustus Herman Franke, 1663-1727.

Some trust in chariots, etc. Vain is the confidence of all wickedness. In war, chariots, horses, navies, numbers, discipline, former successes, are relied on; but the battle is not to the strong. “Providence favours the strong battalions” may sound well in a worldling’s ear, but neither Providence nor the Bible so teaches. In peace, riches, friends, ships, farms, stocks, are relied upon, yet they can neither help nor save. Let him that glorieth glory in the Lord. William S. Plumer.

We will remember the name of the Lord our God. By the name of God is generally understood, in Holy Writ, the various properties and attributes of God: these properties and attributes make up and constitute the name of God. As when Solomon says, “The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous runneth into it and is safe.” And, by remembering, considering, meditating upon this name of God, the psalmist represents himself as comforted or strengthened, whatever might be the duties to which he was called, or the dangers to which he was exposed. Others were for looking to other sources of safety and strength, “some trusting in chariots, and some in horses;” but the psalmist always set himself to the “remembering the name of the Lord our God; “and always, it would seem, with satisfaction and success. And here is the peculiarity of the passage on which we wish to dwell, and from which we hope to draw important lessons and truths—the psalmist “remembers the name of the Lord his God; “not any one property or attribute of God; but the whole combination of divine perfections. And he “remembers” this “name; “the expression implying, not a transient thought, but meditation—consideration; and yet the result of the recollection is gladness and confidence. Henry Melvill.

It is easy to persuade papists to lean on priests and saints, on old rags and painted pictures—on any idol; but it is hard to get a Protestant to trust in the living God. William Arnot, 1858.

Weak man cannot choose but have some confidence without himself in case of apparent difficulties, and natural men do look first to some earthly thing wherein they confide. Some trust in chariots, and some in horses, some in one creature, some in another. The believer must quit his confidence in these things, whether he have them or want them, and must rely on what God hath promised in his word to do unto us. But we will remember the name of the Lord our God. David Dickson.

They that trust in chariots and horses, will have no king but Caesar; but the “armies in heaven” which follow thee have themselves no arms, and no strength but in following thee. Isaac Williams.

Numa being told that his enemies were coming upon him, as he was offering sacrifices, thought it was sufficient for his safety that he could say, I am about the service of my God. When Jehoshaphat had once established a preaching ministry in all the cities of Judah, then, and not till then, the fear of the Lord fell on the neighbouring nations, and they made no war; albeit, he had before that placed forces in all the fenced cities. Charles Bradbury.

“Some their warrior horses boast,

Some their chariots marshalled host;

But our trust we will proclaim I

n our God Jehovah’s name.”

Richard Mant.

Hints to the Village Preacher

Creature confidence. Apparently mighty, well adapted, showy, noisy, etc. Faithful trust. Silent, spiritual, divine, etc.

The name of the Lord our God. Comfortable reflections from the name and character of the true God.
The Treasury of David.

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