The most basic condition of my life is neediness. I don’t have what it takes to make it. I need help.
This basic lack is also my most basic frustration. I hate admitting my insufficiency. I want to be independent. I want to possess everything I need. I want to be able to determine each step I take. I want to do it on my own.
But I am needy. And situations bombard me with reminders of my neediness on a regular basis.
So, if I’m wise, I acknowledge my neediness and turn to those who can help me out. I shine my Bat signal into the sky and hope it’s seen. I put out a call for help and hope someone will answer. I pray.
Psalm 20 is bookended by the word “answer.” It begins with “May the LORD answer you when you are in distress,” and it ends with “Answer us when we call!”
I need an answer. You need an answer. And Psalm 20, reminds us of the God who answers:
He answers him from his heavenly sanctuary
with the victorious power of his right hand. (Ps. 20:6)
The psalm begins with prayers in an earthly sanctuary (vs. 2-3), but the answer comes from the heavenly sanctuary (v. 6). And the way we know he’s answered is that he provides victory. (The word “victory” shows up four times in the psalm’s nine verses.)
When we remember God, trusting him and calling on him, we find ourselves remembered by God and taken care of by God.
The key verse to Psalm 20 is this:
Some trust in chariots and some in horses,
but we trust in the name of the Lord our God. (Ps. 20:7)
The word translated as “trust” appears only once in the verse, but including it twice is appropriate because it refers to both options — military tech (chariots and horses back then) and God’s name. What’s interesting is that the word more literally would be translated as “remember.” But it’s not remember as in thinking back on something that happened a long time ago. It’s sense includes trust. It has to do with keeping something or someone in the front of my mind.
To put it another way: The first thing that comes to mind for some people when they get it trouble is tech and tricks. But the first thing that comes to our mind is God and so we call out his name.
This is why the most powerful thing in the entire psalm is God’s name:
may the name of the God of Jacob protect you. (v. 1)
May we shout for joy over your victory
and lift up our banners in the name of our God. (v.5)
we trust in the name of the Lord our God. (v.7)
God has given us his name so we might have access to him. We don’t need to wave our hands and say, “Hey you! Whoever you are up there! The Force or the universe or whatever you are, please help!” No, we have a name. In the first half of the Scriptures, we’ve given the name Yahweh (translated as Lord in v. 7). In the second half of the Scriptures, we’ve been given the name Jesus. Because of this, we can know our God and talk with him by name.
As we recognize our neediness, we have two options. We can resort to our own tricks and tech or we can cry out a name. So, we ask ourselves: Which one do we remembers? Which one comes to mind first? Which one do we lean on? Whose signal do we shine in the sky?
We will get what we ask for, who we ask for. Ps. 20:8 suggests we think well about who we’re going to trust to help us. Those who resort to their tricks and their tech end up on their knees, having fallen down. Those who resort to the name of the Lord are lifted up and stand firm.
So, as Ghostbusters taught us to ask: Who you gonna call?