Psalm 20 is “a Psalm of David” written for the people of Israel to sing in anticipation of battle that they might put their confidence in Yahweh, the God of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and the God who anointed their king. This God listens to his anointed. When his anointed calls, this God answers. And when his anointed goes into battle, this God saves “with the saving might of his right hand”.
In the same way, this psalm is written for all who by faith have become the children of God (John 1:12) that we might put our confidence in the God of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and the God who anointed our King (Acts 10:38), the Son of David, the Son of God and our Lord Jesus Christ. This King leads us into battle. This King is seated at the “saving right hand” of God and is interceding for us (Romans 8:34).
Two Kinds of People
Verses 7 and 8 not only express confidence in God but they emphasize our identity as the children of God. There are two kinds of people in the world. Those who trust in the name of the Lord and those who don’t. We are the kind “who trust in the name of the Lord our God”. Or again, there are those who “collapse and fall” in battle and those who “rise and stand upright”. We rise and stand upright because that is the kind of people we are as children of God and followers of his anointed one, namely Jesus.
In David’s day Chariots were a mark of great strength and power. Those going into battle with a fleet of chariots and horses had a significant military advantage. They combined high speed, strength, durability and mobility that could not be matched by infantry—and yet all of this might was as nothing compared to “the name of the Lord our God”
Banking on God’s Reputation
Why do we trust in his name? Isn’t it enough to simply say we trust in the Lord? Trusting in the name of the Lord is trusting in the Lord and more. It is trusting in all that God has revealed himself to be and all that he says he is and all that he promises to be. When we trust in the name of the Lord we are banking on God’s reputation — the reputation of his name. To trust in his name is to trust in the Lord of hosts, King of kings, Self-existent, Independent, Sovereign, All-powerful, All-mighty, All-loving, All-knowing, Ever-present, Unchanging, Judge, Healer, Creator, Lord, Master, Shepherd, Protector, Keeper, Redeemer, Savior, Defender, Provider, Father, Brother, Friend. No wonder King David said “Our help is in the name of the LORD, who made heaven and earth” (Psalm 124:8). No wonder David’s son said “The name of the LORD is a strong tower; the righteous man runs into it and is safe” (Proverbs 18:10).
Temptations to Trust in Something Else
It is not an uncommon temptation to trust something else more than we trust the name of the Lord our God. This temptation comes in at least two forms.
First we can be tempted to believe that our “horses” or “chariots”, or resources, or technology, or bank accounts, or physical strength or knowledge, or any person, or thing or circumstance will serve us better than the name of the Lord. Horses are good, and chariots are very useful in battle. These should be trusted to a limited extent, but our confidence, our hope, and our security is not in these things. We trust in the name of the Lord.
Second, we can be tempted to fear something perceived as stronger than God. Chariots can be fierce and intimidating especially when there were hundreds or thousands of them coming at you. Razor-sharp blades were attached to the undercarriage and sometimes extended from each wheel as far as nine feet so that they could literally mow the enemy down like grass. The sheer psychological impact of seeing these vehicles was enough to send an army running into retreat.
If 30,000 chariots and 360 thousand pounds of horseflesh were stampeding toward us we might also be tempted to retreat. Chariot-like institutions can seem huge and impenetrable. Chariot-like tasks or circumstances can seem overwhelmingly larger than we are. With financial problems, diseases, family conflict, marriage troubles, wayward children, tasks, assignments, and huge responsibilities before us, fear will consume us unless we are truly persuaded that the name of the Lord is infinitely greater than these things.
We Will Trust in the Name
We trust in the name Lord because in Christ, we bear the name of the Lord. We are his children who are called by his name. Trusting is not just something we do. Trusting is who we are.
If we trust in chariots we will “collapse.” If we trust in horses we will “fall.” But, according to Psalm 20:8, if we trust in the name of the Lord our God we will “rise and stand upright’. We will endure to the end and be saved by the saving might of his right hand.
Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the LORD our God!