2022 Reading Log

For anyone who is interested, here is the entire reading log for the 2022 calendar year:

1Out of the Silent PlanetLewisGreatMarch
3That Hideous StrengthLewisIncredibleApril
4The Magician's NephewLewisGreatMay
5The Lion, the Witch, & the WardrobeLewisGoodMay
6Prince CaspianLewisDecentMay
7The Voyage of the Dawn TreaderLewisOkMay
8The Horse & His BoyLewisGoodMay
9The Silver ChairLewisDecentMay
10The Last BattleLewisOkMay
11Til We Have FacesLewisMarvelousMay
12A Time to BuildLevinReally GoodMay
13Strange New WorldTruemanExcellentMay
14HereticsChestertonReally GoodMay
15Holy ScriptureScriptureScriptureMay
16OrthodoxyChestertonQuite GoodJune
17The CoreBortinsOkJune
18The Portrait of Dorian GrayWildeFascinatingJune
19The Four LovesLewisExquisiteJune
20Planet NarniaWardMasterfulJune
21How to Read a BookAdlerGoodJune
22Classical Music for DummiesPogue & SpeckGoodJune
23The End of the World is Just the BeginningZeihanTediousJune
24Dreams of El DoradoBrandsFunJuly
25Animal FarmOrwellChillingJuly
26The Boxcar Children (#1 Meet the Boxcar Children)WarnerDelightfulJuly
27SpeechlessKnowlesSuperb July
28My Southern JourneyBraggDelightfulJuly
29The Inimitable JeevesWodehouseFunJuly
30Surprised By JoyLewisReally GoodJuly
31The IliadHomer, FaglesGreatJuly
32Democracy in AmericaTocquevilleReally GoodAugust
33Willy Wonka & the Chocolate FactoryDoahl FunAugust
34Wealth & PovertyGilderQuite GoodAugust
35The Great Evangelical DisasterSchaefferPropheticAugust
36The Christ of Wisdom (Ecclesiastes)RobertsonSolidAugust
37Deeper HeavenHaleWonderfulAugust
38Letters of Marital CounselWilsonHelpfulAugust
39New Testament/Psalms (ESV)ScriptureScriptureAugust
40The OdysseyHomerEpicSeptember
41Out of the AshesEsolenSuperbSeptember
42Battle for the American MindHegseth-GoodwinGoodSeptember
43Amusing Ourselves to DeathPostmanStill GoodSeptember
44A Christmas CarolDickensPerennial December
45The Man Who Invented ChristmasStandifordJust OkDecember
46My Man JeevesWodehouseDelightfulDecember
47A Christmas Memory & Other StoriesCapoteEngrossingDecember
48The Gift of the MagiO HenryPoignantDecember
49Vanishing Crafts & Their CraftsmenSteinmetz & RiceFascinatingDecember
50Alas BabylonFrankGoodDecember
51Peter PanBarriePoignantDecember
53Deep WorkNewportHelpfulDecember

5 Books from 2022

This year was the most productive reading year I’ve had in quite a long time. Trying to read wide and deep and a lot is tough with 4 kids. I’ve known for a long time that the best opportunity for me to read as much as I want is to wake early (around 5-5:30 AM). I can’t read late at night because it puts me to sleep. One new thing I learned this year is that I go through “reading rhythms;” seasons of intense, rapid reading, followed by seasons of drought. Sometimes droughts come because of the workload I am under (such as when I began tutoring in Classical Conversations in August/September, or when I was exhausted from several funerals back in January/February).  At other times the droughts come simply because I’ve read so much and need to let my mind rest. It’s as if I can’t fit any more information into my skull. Anyways, I’m looking forward to the 2023 reading year and the stack of books I want to read is already tall.

Here are 5 standouts from the 2022 year:

The Ransom Trilogy – C.S. Lewis

Without a doubt, this was the most impactful book(s) I read this year. Over these three novels, Lewis peels the post-enlightenment/modernist scum from our eyes so that we can see the glory of the universe pointing to the glory of her Maker. (Sidenote: the series has received the popular title of “The Space Trilogy,” a title Lewis without a question would have rejected as antithetical to the entire project.) While you are at it, go purchase Deeper Heaven by Christiana Hale as a commentary to go with the trilogy.

My Southern Journey – Rick Bragg

My rule of thumb is “always read a book by Rick Bragg every chance you get.” Last year I read “Where I Come From,” and was entranced. Bragg, an Alabama  native who also lived and worked in New Orleans understands how to express Southern culture through stories, expressions, and voice (I listen to both on audiobook and highly recommend this experience.) Bragg had me reminiscing over my grandmother’s Tupperware and the anathema of store-bought cole slaw.

Heretics & Orthodoxy – G.K. Chesterton

Ok, two books… but hear me out. Chesterton inspired Lewis and Rich Mullins, two of the most influential Christian artists in my life. Be prepared. Chesterton isn’t the easiest read. At times you may feel mired in niche early-20th Century social commentary but stay with it. There are moments of intellectual and artistic clarity that sear the mind and soul.

“When we really see men as they are, we do not criticise, but worship; and very rightly. For a monster with mysterious eyes and miraculous thumbs, with strange dreams in his skull, and a queer tenderness for this place or that baby, is truly a wonderful and unnerving matter.” – Chesteron, in Heretics

My Man Jeeves – P.G. Wodehouse

What’s up with British authors and their initials? Anyways, listened to My Man Jeeves as well as The Inimitable Jeeves on audiobook this year. Both were masterfully narrated by Jonathan Cecil and I had a rollicking good time reading them. The books tell the mishaps of Bertie Wooster and the eventual rescue that comes from his “man,” or butler, Jeeves.

Out of the Ashes – Anthony Esolen

Reading Esolen’s book, I expected to think deeply about how to rebuild the culture. What impacted me more was considering how much has been lost. From family gatherings to communities taking responsibility for the education of children, much of what made America great has been squandered through reliance on the federal government, the redefinition of everything, and the exaltation of self. This book bordered on the sentimental/nostalgic at times, but then again, even the sentimental is a gift from God which can call us back to what is most basic.

Our Only Comfort in Life & Death – The Heidelberg Catechism for 2023

For the 2023 year, our church will work through a modified version of the Heidelberg Catechism in our corporate worship services. Click the link below to download a PDF version of the file:

Heidelberg Catechism

“The first question and answer of the Heidelberg Catechism is the whole gospel in a nutshell; blessed is he who can repeat it from the heart and hold it fast to the end.”

– Philip Schaff, The Creeds of Christendom

Why use a catechism in our worship services? Because a catechism is the easiest and fastest way to systematically teach the eternal truths of Scripture to new converts. Let’s face it: the secular culture around us is disintegrating into anarchy and chaos. Everything related to history and tradition is being ripped from the fabric of our society. If we will hold fast to the faith once for all delivered to the saints (Jude 3) then we must communicate the content of the faith in succinct and memorable ways. This generation of Christians is responsible to build a Christian culture that will endure into the next.

So, what is a catechism? Isn’t that a Roman Catholic thing? No. Catechisms precede the Roman Catholic church and have been used by Christians in every century. A catechism is a summary of Christian doctrine given in the form of questions and answers. The historic creeds, confessions, and catechisms of the church anchor us in the eternal truths of God’s Word. They don’t save anyone. They don’t make anyone righteous. But they are efficient means of passing on the truths of Scripture. During the time of the early church, most converts were either Jewish or pagan and, therefore, needed to be shaped by the teaching of the Apostles. The Apostles Creed represents one such summary of the Christian faith used to train new converts.

During the Protestant Reformation, most new converts to Christianity were Roman Catholics who had believed the true gospel after hearing preaching of the Reformers. To ensure that these new “professors”, as they were called, had a proper understanding of the gospel, new catechisms were developed. One such catechism, known as the Heidelberg Catechism, was published in 1563 and enjoyed wide acceptance in Protestant churches. The following version of the Heidelberg Catechism has been adapted to align with our statement of faith here at Lake Wylie Baptist Church. Because the catechism was originally written for those with a Presbyterian view of baptism that section has been modified.

As we work through the Heidelberg Catechism this year, I pray that new converts will learn what Christians believe and that mature converts will find their faith strengthened. May God take our efforts to contend for the faith and multiply them by his grace and power.

Pastor Jonathan Homesley

December 2022

“Surely Goodness & Mercy” Psalm 23

“Surely Goodness & Mercy” Psalm 23

He is not too glorious to become a shepherd. He is not too powerful to care for the weak. His glory may be great, but his head is not swollen.


The text for the sermon today is Psalm 23. These are the words of God:

1 The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. 
2 He makes me lie down in green pastures. 
He leads me beside still waters. 
3 He restores my soul. 
He leads me in paths of righteousness 
for his name’s sake. 
4 Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, 
I will fear no evil, 
for you are with me; 
your rod and your staff, 
they comfort me. 
5 You prepare a table before me 
in the presence of my enemies; 
you anoint my head with oil; 
my cup overflows. 
6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me 
all the days of my life, 
and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD 
forever. (ESV)


Psalm 23 is without question the most famous of the Psalms. Even if you are not a Christian it’s likely that you know something of this Psalm. You may have heard some of it in a movie or a song. It’s also likely that you have heard this Psalm read at a funeral.

Psalm 23 is one of the most comforting passages in the Bible. It’s pastoral in the truest sense. Meaning that it speaks of the pasture. It’s down to earth.

And, during this season of Advent—this time of waiting and expectation for Christmas we’re going to take this Psalm about the Shepherd and we’re going to consider how it is that in the birth of Jesus Christ, God has sent the true shepherd of the sheep.

The Psalm breaks down into two parts. In verses 1-3 we see that the Shepherd provides for his sheep. In verses 4-6 we see the Shepherd who protects the sheep.

Yahweh (The LORD), the great I AM is David’s shepherd. And because of who this shepherd is. David knows his need will be met. (v. 1) The good shepherd brings the sheep into green pastures so they can eat, quiet or peaceful waters so they can drink, and he does all this by leading the sheep on the right paths. (v. 2-3)

Even when these right and straight paths lead through deep ravines full of darkness, the sheep are comforted that the shepherd is walking alongside them. The rod and the staff are tools of protection and guidance. (v. 4)

In (v. 5), Yahweh, is no longer a shepherd, but a host. He’s set a banquet table full of food—and he’s done it when the house was surrounded by enemies. Not only does the Lord prepare the meal, he prepares David to eat the meal by putting oil on his head and fills his cup to overflowing (v. 5)

David ends on a note of quiet repose. Because the Lord is his shepherd and host, he’ll never lack for anything, and he’ll never have to leave this party. (v. 6)


Although Psalm 23 brings incredible comfort, it’s important to note that calling us sheep is not meant as a compliment. While many kinds of livestock can be left to themselves, sheep are virtually helpless without a shepherd.

Unless the shepherd leads them, they won’t find food. Unless the shepherd protects them, they won’t defend themselves from predators.

David reminds us of our utter helplessness if the Lord does not look out for us, provide for us, protect us, and guide us.


We should also note that in calling Yahweh the “shepherd,” he assigns to God a title of humility that the Lord is willing to accept. The great I Am is not put out or diminished by serving helpless creatures. He is not too glorious to become a shepherd. He is not too powerful to care for the weak. His glory may be great, but his head is not swollen.

Ezekiel 34 tells us that Psalm 23 is no mere metaphor, but prophetic:

22 I will rescue my flock; they shall no longer be a prey… 23 And I will set up over them one shepherd, my servant David, and he shall feed them: he shall feed them and be their shepherd. 24 And I, the Lord, will be their God, and my servant David shall be prince among them. I am the Lord; I have spoken.

And, of course, John 10 brings about the fulfillment of Ez. 34:

11 I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.

It’s also important to note that the valley that we walk through isn’t the valley of death. It’s the valley of the shadow of death.

Donald Grey Barnhouse, who was a pastor at Tenth Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia for many years, lost his wife when his daughter was still a child. Dr. Barnhouse was trying to help his little girl, and himself, process the loss of his wife and her mother.

Once when they were driving, a huge moving van passed them.  As it passed, the shadow of the truck swept over the car. Barnhouse had a thought. He said something like this, “Would you rather be run over by a truck, or by its shadow?” His daughter replied, “By the shadow of course.”

Dr. Barnhouse replied, “Right. If the truck doesn’t hit you, but only its shadow, then you are fine. Well, it was only the shadow of death that went over your mother. She’s actually alive ⎯ more alive than we are. And that’s because two thousand years ago, the real truck of death hit Jesus. And because death crushed Jesus, and we believe in him, now the only thing that can come over us is the shadow of death.”

The gospel of Christ is that even though we had broken God’s laws and deserved to be cast headlong into the valley of death—Christ, though he was innocent walked death’s valley in our place.

• Christ was condemned that we might be pardoned.
• Christ died that we might live.
• Christ was cut off that we might be brought in.

Here’s what that means—if you will come to Christ by faith—trusting in his life and death then the only valley you can walk through is the valley of the shadow.

Think about that for a moment. The valley that you are in today—if you are in Christ, it can only be the shadow of death.


Have you ever noticed, in those moments when you are impatient and freaking out, that the Lord is calm and patient? When you are losing your head because you’re surrounded by enemies, do you know what the Lord is doing? He’s not losing his mind with you. He doesn’t join in on your fretting fit? Our bad attitudes never rub off on him. Instead, when we are losing our minds, what’s he doing? He’s getting out the China and the goblets. There’s a roast in the oven, and wine is being served.

USS Massachusetts
• Okinawa, Gilbert, Marshall Islands.
• 700’
• Bristling with guns.
• Some 16’ shells weighing over 1,500 lb. which are hurled 15 miles away to bombard beachheads.
• Ice Cream Parlor

The Lord has prepared a feast for you. The table is laid with bread and wine—the body and blood of Christ. It’s the only bread, that if you have eaten it in faith, will satisfy the hunger of your soul. It’s the only cup that, if you drink it with faith, will quench the thirst of your spirit.

And, as one preacher said:

“In the darkest valley, in the shadow of death, with enemies ranging themselves on the ridges on either side of the valley, as you walk there with the Lord, together with your companions, one of you might hear footsteps behind you. And if you whisper to a friend that you have heard these footsteps, be prepared to receive the encouragement. “Don’t worry. That’s only goodness and mercy.” What is that that follows you in the dark? Do not fear not. Goodness and mercy. And you will come safely at the end to the house of the Lord, where you will dwell forever and ever.”

“Be Not Far From Me” Psalm 22

“Be Not Far From Me” Psalm 22

The joy of this season has its feet planted firmly on the ground, where beggars stand on street corners, hospitals beds are full, and families fight. We need a joy that goes down underneath all of the sorrows of this world, so that it can then lift us up into the heavens.


The text for the sermon today is Psalm 22. These are the words of God:

1 My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? 
Why are you so far from saving me, from the words of my groaning? 
2 O my God, I cry by day, but you do not answer, 

and by night, but I find no rest…


“Advent” derives from the Latin word meaning, “coming,” and the tradition of the church observing the season of Advent dates back to the 4th century AD when Christians fasted in anticipation of the coming Christ. During the darkest days of the calendar year, candles would be lit over successive weeks promising the growing light of Christ that would dawn on Christmas morn.

Christmas is indeed a season for joy, but this joy is rooted in the reality of God’s holiness, man’s sin, and the need for deliverance which can only come through one suffering in our place. And the joy of this season has its feet planted firmly on the ground, where beggars stand on street corners, hospitals beds are full, and families fight.

We need a joy that goes down underneath all of the sorrows of this world, so that it can then lift us up into the heavens.


If you could only choose one text from the Old Testament to understand the suffering of Christ, Psalm 22 would be in the conversation. David, of course, is the original author, yet through the prophetic inspiration of the Holy Spirit, we are transported to the foot of the cross.

This lament begins with a cry of dereliction. David cries out, “Why,” day and night. This is an incessant request, not a passing prayer. (v. 1, 2) He can look back and see God’s deliverance for his ancestors. If God rescued Abraham, and Jacob, and Moses, and Joshua, why won’t he do the same for David? (v. 3-8) He can look back even at his own life and see God’s favor and protection. Without God’s help he would have been stillborn. He’s crying out to the God of his fathers, and the God of his youth, yet he isn’t heard. So, what has changed? (v. 9-11)

David suffered on all fronts. Affliction came from all sides. His enemies mocked him (v. 12-13) Psychological anxiety (v. 14) Physical illness (v. 15-17) Material loss (v. 18)

David offers the kind of prayer that God loves to answer: save me so I can praise your name! Your salvation of me will encourage your people to trust in you too! They’ll know that even in their affliction and troubles, you will not abandon them! (v. 20-24) Beyond this, my deliverance will cause those who don’t know you to look to you in faith. All the ends of the earth will turn to you! Generations shall be saved—and you’ll get all the credit! (v. 25-31)

King David lived nearly 1,000 years before Christ. As a reference point, that’s the same chronological distance as we share with the Great Schism and William the Conqueror. And yet, David foretold the details of the cross.

• The cry of dereliction (v. 1)
• The taunts from the crowd for God to save Jesus (v. 7-8)
• His bones being out of joint (v. 14)
• The thirst of Christ (v. 15)
• Roman soldiers (gentile dogs) surrounding him (v. 16)
• Soldiers dividing his garments (v. 18)

• The salvation accomplished by Christ for all who would believe (v. 27 and following)

Christ’s quote of Psalm 22:1 on the cross is no mere appropriation. Christ is declaring to us the unity and authority of God’s Word. Psalm 22 wasn’t on his mind because “it fit.” It was on his mind because the Spirit authored it about him 1,000 years prior.

Never forget, especially in the valleys of trouble, that the Word is unbreakable.


Trusting in the Lord exempts no one from suffering, and often it can lead you straight into it. Someone once said that before you trusted in Christ you only had one enemy, and he was trying to save you.  And, while that isn’t 100% accurate, it illustrates a crucial point:

If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. (John 15:18)

“Yea, and all that would live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.” (2 Tim. 3:12)

So, is your life filled with troubles? You’re in good company.


One of the true dilemmas of the Christian faith is why God allows evil men to be, well, so evil? Why are the strong allowed to eat the weak? Why are the powerful given permission to persecute the helpless?

The prime example of this dilemma is the cross. God sent his only Son and the religious leaders, the Roman authorities, all of those in positions of power opposed him. They surrounded him. They falsely accused him, and they convicted him of crimes he did not commit. In a display of raw power, they manhandled the Son of God, beat him to a pulp, and spit in his face. They raised him up on a plank of wood to hang and die—and as they did it, they accomplished my salvation and yours.

At the cross, evil is its own undoing. God turns it back on itself. As one writer said, “[God] makes the supreme crime, the very operation that abolishes sin.”


As I said earlier, Advent is a season of anticipation; of waiting. As children the great wait is for Christmas morning presents. But, as we mature we recognize an even greater wait. A chief characteristic of a Psalm of lament is that of waiting. The answer has not yet come. And yet, the Psalmist is trusting in the Lord. As dire as the situation is, David declares his trust that God is working all things together, not just for his own personal deliverance, but for the entire world.

So, what troubles has God given to you? Physical illness? Internal anxiety and depression? Material loss? Relational conflicts?

If it’s true that God can take the greatest crime ever committed and bring salvation and life out of it, then he can be trusted with your troubles too.

“Length of Days Forever” Psalm 21


This Thursday, we’ll all gather around tables with friends and family to celebrate a supremely Christian feast. And it matters not that Thanksgiving as a national holiday isn’t commanded in the Scriptures. Christianity alone can account for and support the tradition. If there is no God, who is there to thank? So, as we prepare to roast turkeys and set tables, as we polish crystal goblets and bake pies, Psalm 21 is here to teach us how to also prepare heaping mounds of joy and gratitude.


The text for the sermon today is Psalm 21. These are the words of God:

21 To the choirmaster. A Psalm of David.
1 O Lord, in your strength the king rejoices,
and in your salvation how greatly he exults!
2 You have given him his heart’s desire
and have not withheld the request of his lips. Selah
3 For you meet him with rich blessings;
you set a crown of fine gold upon his head.
4 He asked life of you; you gave it to him,
length of days forever and ever.
5 His glory is great through your salvation;
splendor and majesty you bestow on him. 6 For you make him most blessed forever;
you make him glad with the joy of your presence.
7 For the king trusts in the Lord,
and through the steadfast love of the Most High he shall not be moved.
8 Your hand will find out all your enemies;
your right hand will find out those who hate you.
9 You will make them as a blazing oven
when you appear. The Lord will swallow them up in his wrath,
and fire will consume them.
10 You will destroy their descendants from the earth,
and their offspring from among the children of man.
11 Though they plan evil against you,
though they devise mischief, they will not succeed.
12 For you will put them to flight;
you will aim at their faces with your bows.
13 Be exalted, O Lord, in your strength!
We will sing and praise your power. (ESV)


David, King over Israel, has just returned from the field of victory and sings of the Lord’s deliverance in v. 1-7. The people respond in v. 8-12 declaring their trust in the Lord for future deliverance as well. And the Psalm concludes with a shout of praise in v. 13. This Psalm, therefore, is a pause, a moment of rest, in which the people thank God for what he has done, and to praise him for the good they expect in the future.

David ascribes everything to God. Both the strength to fight the battle as well as the outcome are traced back to God: he planned it, he ordained it, and he worked to accomplish it. And all of it was what David had asked for. (v. 1-2) The end of verse 2 is a single word: selah. It’s a word that means “Stop, and think about it.”

God has set the crown on the king’s head (v. 3) The king asked for life and God gave it to him in eternal measure (v. 4) Because God saved the king from his enemies, his glory and renown have grown in the earth. And God’s unfailing presence brings unspeakable joy. (v. 5-6) The king then turns to the future and declares his trust in the Lord. So long as the Lord loves him, nothing can touch him. (v. 7)

Many commentators believe the people of Israel spoke the second part of this Psalm. So, “Your” in v. 8 is speaking of the king, but of course this “Your” represents God as well. God’s hand and the king’s will find out their enemies. (v. 8) When the king appears they will be turned into blazing ovens; all their sinful schemes exposed and consumed. (v. 9) God will purge their legacy from the earth. (v. 10) God will judge both evil that is attempted, and even evil that is intended though it isn’t carried out. (v. 11) His arrows of judgment will put evil to flight. (v. 12) This doctrine of God’s judgment on the wicked is not one that we are ashamed of, but rightly understood, is a doctrine we delight in and thank God for.

“Be exalted, O Lord in your strength! We will sing and praise your power.” (v. 13)m


True Christian thanksgiving begins by ascribing everything to the Lord. (v. 2) David had just won a battle, but he knows that it could have easily gone differently. Therefore, his successes are truly God’s. His strength comes from the Lord. There isn’t anything, if he thinks long enough about it, that he can take full and final credit for.


As I’ve said before, gratitude is living with your eyes open. In order to be thankful, you have to take account of what’s been going on. David does this in the first 2 verses. He’s reflecting on the deliverance of God, and he’s given himself time to do it. “Selah” isn’t a word we often use, but we ought to embrace it this week.

Our secular world only knows how to air grievances. Christians ought to demonstrate a better way. If there is a God, you have something to be thankful for.

Chesterton once said, “The man who said, “Blessed is he that expecteth nothing, for he shall not be disappointed,” put the eulogy quite inadequately and even falsely. The truth is, “Blessed is he that expecteth nothing, for he shall be gloriously surprised.”

So, what good have you not deserved, yet received anyway? Rather than a “Thanksgiving” jar, we ought to have a “Selah” jar. None of the good gifts are coincidence, none of them chance happenings.


V. 8-12 teach us that God will search out all his enemies, destroy them, and that we are to extol his name for it. We are to be thankful, not just for the material blessings of a table heavy with turkey and gravy. We are to thank the Lord even for his consuming wrath.
Many Christians read the first 7 verses of Psalm 21 and smile and nod, but when they get to v. 8-12 they frown in disapproval. “How could such a beautiful Psalm end like this?” But David knew better, and he knew what was entailed in praying for God to deliver his people from their enemies. You can’t pray for God to provide a kidney for a transplant, and at the same time be surprised that someone had to die to provide the kidney.

Neither can we take the easy way out of these verses by saying something like, “Well, that’s in the Old Testament.”

He will tread the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God the Almighty. (Rev. 19:11-16)

This world is evil and fallen. (Gen. 3) The people born into it are by nature children of wrath. (Eph. 2) No one seeks after God. (Rom. 3) God told Adam that in the day of his disobedience he would surely die, and yet he let Adam live another day.

Friend, if God didn’t restrain evil; if he wasn’t gracious & patience with evil doers such as us, we’d burn down the earth in about 15 seconds. So, the problem is never with God and his wrath, it’s with us and our saccharine definitions of love and niceness. The question we should be asking isn’t, “Why is this so harsh?” It’s “how are we still alive?”

9 The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. (2 Peter 3:9)

So, we really do want God to judge evil. We are praying that his kingdom would come. (Matt. 5:10) And this means we’re praying that his just wrath would descend on the wicked. But we also know that 2,000 years ago, his just wrath descended first upon his own Son. And this means that God destroys his enemies in two ways:

He can either destroy them the old fashioned was like a righteous king bending the bow, or he can destroy them by transforming them into his friends. So, we rightly understand Psalm 21 as we rightly understand Christ.

“Some Trust in Horses”

“Some Trust in Horses” Psalm 20

Why is it critical to pray for national leaders? Because national leaders represent the people. They stand in for the people. They lead the people. How they conduct themselves doesn’t simply reflect on the people; it actually takes the people somewhere.


The text for the sermon today is Psalm 20. These are the words of God:

20 To the choirmaster. A Psalm of David.
1 May the Lord answer you in the day of trouble!
May the name of the God of Jacob protect you!
2 May he send you help from the sanctuary
and give you support from Zion!
3 May he remember all your offerings
and regard with favor your burnt sacrifices! Selah
4May he grant you your heart’s desire
and fulfill all your plans!
5 May we shout for joy over your salvation,
and in the name of our God set up our banners!
May the Lord fulfill all your petitions!
6 Now I know that the Lord saves his anointed;
he will answer him from his holy heaven
with the saving might of his right hand.
7 Some trust in chariots and some in horses,
but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.
8 They collapse and fall,
but we rise and stand upright.
9 O Lord, save the king!
May he answer us when we call. (ESV)


Psalm 20 is both a Royal Psalm, meaning that it was written about the King, and it is also a liturgical psalm, meaning that it contains call and response between the people and the King. Verses 1-4 are the words of blessing from the people. The king responds in 5 & 6, and the Psalm finishes with a general chorus. (There is some debate concerning the precise breakdown)

In fact, Psalm 20 is the first in a pair. Here, we learn to trust the Lord before going into battle. Psalm 21 teaches us to thank the Lord for victory once the battle has been won.

Before going into battle, the king offers sacrifices, and the people offer prayers. They pray because in this one man, the people see themselves embodied. His victories will be imputed to them; his defeats will be their defeats.

Though he’s outnumbered and outflanked (trouble/straits), the Lord will answer him. The Name of Jacob’s God will protect him. (v. 1) Reinforcements will come, not from earthly allies, but from the sanctuary. (v. 2) The king’s offerings will be regarded with favor. (v. 3)

Of course, the Lord doesn’t bless evil, so the king’s heart and his strategies must be submitted to God’s laws. (v. 4) And, when the Lord delivers the king, they people will greet him again with unfurled banners waving. (v. 5)

Having heard the blessing of the people, the king responds, “Now I know that the Lord saves his anointed.” The strong arm of the Lord is where everyone’s focus should be. The enemies of God trust to their own devices, but the king and his people trust in the name of the Lord. (v. 7, 8) “Some trust…” would have certainly reminded the people of God’s deliverance at the Red Sea.

The Psalm ends with a final plea for deliverance, “God save the king.” (v. 9)


Worship relates to everything because God relates to everything. This Psalm, which prepares us for war, has nothing to say about how we sharpen spears. Instead, it reminds us that right worship of Triune God is essential to waging war.

This is a worship song. If the nation will be successful in battle, the people must be successful in singing. The king can’t go into battle trusting in his tanks and aircraft carriers. He must also offer right sacrifices to the Lord. His heart must be right. He must humble himself, confess his own sinfulness, and put his trust in the Lord.

In other words, every square inch of life is lived under the gaze of God. There’s no such thing as the religious realm over here, and the military realm over there. And just as the king cannot separate his spearman from his sacrifices, we cannot separate our singing on Sunday from the discipline of our children on Monday.


Why is it critical to pray for national leaders? Because national leaders represent the people. They stand in for the people. They lead the people. How they conduct themselves doesn’t simply reflect on the people; it actually takes the people somewhere.

There are two reasons we pray for kings and those in high positions: so we can live quiet Godly lives, and so that we can evangelize our neighbors. (1 Tim. 2:1-4)

Paul tells us the State, the king, the national leaders, they are not a savior. God is our savior, and he desires all people to be saved and come to a knowledge of the truth.

Government is not a savior. This is why we should never put our trust in the government. This is one of the central idolatries afflicting our nation. Schaeffer reminded us that:

“When there is no God above the State, the State becomes god.”

So, how can national leaders help? They can make nations safe for the progress of Christianity. As governments render judgement for the sake of justice & establish order and peace, they set the stage for the church to do her work of proclaiming Christ freely. (Leeman) We ought to pray to that end and prepare to preach Christ whether it’s easy or not.


Because we live as fallen human beings in a fallen world, the most naturally tendency is for us to put our trust in what our eyes can see. Going into any kind of battle, it’s easy to trust our own weapons, our wisdom, our wits to win the day. This Psalm is a reminder for us to keep everything in its proper place.
Do you have wealth? Wonderful, but it’s just a creaturely tool, easily lost. Do you have health? Thank the Lord! Physical strength can accomplish much, but it can also fail. Do you have a convincing personality? Are you intelligent? Are you capable of making wise decisions? All good things. But you are not to put your trust in them.

We get into trouble when we emphasize what we can see over what we can’t. When we trust what we can see, over the God who is invisible.

To trust in any creature as if it had God’s power to help us, or to fear any creature as if it had God’s power to hurt us, is exceedingly sinful. – Flavel

You say, “But how can I trust God? How can I know that he will come through for me? How can I know that he will deliver me?” Psalm 20 gives us the answer. It’s a royal Psalm—written for a King. And 2,000 years ago, another king from the lineage of David went into battle for his people. Jesus Christ, David’s greater son, went to battle, not with our national enemies, but with our sin.

And the sacrifice he made, unlike David, wasn’t a sheep on an altar. No, at the cross, Jesus offered himself. He stood in our place, and the just punishment for our sins were applied to him. And three days later, God the Father answered him in the day of trouble by raising Christ from the dead.

And as we trust in the resurrection of Christ, we are able to say, “Now I know that the Lord saves his anointed and will answer him from his holy heaven.”

The Lord has saved the King, and may he answer us when we call.