“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.

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