Psalm 20 – “Blessing for Divine Protection”

Hebrew-English Text
I. Summary
The psalmist guarantees divine protection and the people put their trust in God.

II. Photo
The psalmist delivers his blessing: “May [God] grant you your desire, and fulfill your every plan.” (v. 5)

III. Select Verses    
2-5: May the LORD answer you in time of trouble, the name of Jacob’s God keep you safe. May He send you help from the sanctuary, and sustain you from Zion. May He receive the tokens of all your meal offerings, and approve your burnt offerings. Selah. May He grant you your desire, and fulfill your every plan.
6a: May we shout for joy in your victory, arrayed by standards in the name of our God.
8-9: They [call] on chariots, they [call] on horses, but we call on the name of the LORD our God. They collapse and lie fallen, but we rally and gather strength.

IV. Outline
1. Superscription
2-5. Blessing/guarantee of divine protection
6a. Call to praise
6b. Blessing/guarantee
7. Declaration of divine protection
8-9. Proclamation of confidence
10. Petition

V. Comment
Psalm 20 begins with a blessing of divine protection. It has many military features: a “day of distress” (v. 2), standards (v. 7), enemies (vv. 8-9), and a king (v. 10; probably the “annointed one” in v. 7). In light of these occurrences, Craigie writes: “The precise occasion on which this liturgical psalm would have been used remains uncertain. While some scholars propose a setting in an annual festival or anniversary of the kingship, or even a New Year festival, it is more probable that the liturgy was used in a special service prior to the departure of the king and his army for a battle or military campaign… The title verse (v 1), and the indication that this psalm was incorporated in the musical director’s collection, may imply that at a later date, the psalm passed into general liturgical usage and lost its particular associations with the royal ritual preceding a military campaign.” (185)

VI. Works Used
(see “Commentaries” page)
Collins, John J. “Introduction to the Hebrew Bible,” (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2004).
Craigie, Peter C. “Psalms 1-50” Word Biblical Commentary vol. 19 (Waco, Texas: Wordbooks, 1983).
Gerstenberger, Erhard S. “Psalms Part 1 with an Introduction to Cultic Poetry” Forms of Old Testament Literature (Michigan: Eerdmans, 1988).
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