and the meditation of my heart; his inward thoughts continually revolving in his mind; or his meditation on the word of God and divine things; or mental prayer, which is not expressed, only conceived in the mind;
be acceptable in thy sight; as words and thoughts are, when they are according to the word of God; and as the sacrifices of prayer, whether vocal or mental, and of praise, are through Jesus Christ our Lord. The psalmist, in order to strengthen his faith in God, that he should be heard and answered in the petitions he put up, makes use of the following epithets:
O Lord, my strength, or "rock" (l),
and my Redeemer; who had been the strength of his life and of his salvation, the rock on which he was built and established, and the Redeemer who had redeemed his life from destruction, and out of the hands of all his enemies, and from all his iniquities.
(l) "rupes mea", Musculus, Junius & Tremellius, Piscator, Cocceius; "mea petra", Pagninus, Montanus, Rivetus; so Ainsworth.
INTRODUCTION TO Psalm 20
To the chief Musician, a Psalm of David. This psalm is thought, by some, to be written by David, on account of himself, and as a form to be used by the people for him, when he was about to go to war; particularly with the Ammonites and Syrians, 2 Samuel 10:6; mention being made of chariots in it, Psalm 20:7; of which there was a great number in that war: Arama thinks it was made by him when he got the victory over the Philistines; others think it was written by one of the singers on David's account, and should be rendered, "a psalm, for David", as Psalm 72:1, but rather it is a psalm concerning David; concerning the Messiah, whose name is David; or a psalm of David concerning the Messiah, since he is expressly mentioned, Psalm 20:6; and Aben Ezra says, there are some that interpret it of the Messiah; and some passages in it are, by Jewish writers (m), applied unto him, as Psalm 20:6; and our countryman, Mr. Ainsworth, says, the whole psalm is a prophecy of Christ's sufferings, and his deliverance out of them, for which the church with him triumphs. Theodoret takes it to be a prophecy of Sennacherib's invasion of Judea, and of Rabshakeh's blasphemy, and of Hezekiah's distress and prayer on that account.
(m) Shirhashirim Rabba, fol. 18. 1. Tzeror Hammor, fol. 44. 2.
the name of the God of Jacob defend thee; that is, God himself, who is named the God of Jacob, whom Jacob called upon, and trusted in as his God, and who answered him in the day of his distress: Jacob was exercised with many troubles, but the Lord delivered him out of them all; and which may be the reason why the Lord is addressed under this character here; besides, Israel is one of the names of the Messiah, Isaiah 49:3; on whose account the petition is put to which may be added, that Jacob may design people of God, the spiritual sons of Jacob, the church of the living God, whose God the Lord is; and the phrase may be here used by the church, to encourage her faith in prayer: the petition, on account of the Messiah, is, that God would "defend" him, or "set" him on "an high place" (n); or "exalt" him: he was brought very low in his state of humiliation; he was in the form of a servant; he was in a very low and mean condition throughout the whole of his life; through the suffering of death he was made lower than the angels, and he was laid in the lower parts of the earth: the church, in this petition, prays for his resurrection from the dead; for his ascension into the highest heavens; for his exaltation at the right hand of God; for the more visible setting him on his throne in his kingdom; in all which she has been answered.
(n) "elevet te", Pagninus, Montanus; "exaltet te", Vatablus, Museulus, Michaelis; "in edito collocet te", Junius & Tremellius, Piscator; so Ainsworth.
and strengthen thee out of Zion; and the "help" and "strength" prayed for are not to be understood of that assistance and support, which Christ, as man, had from his Father, at the time of his sufferings, which were promised him, and he believed he should have, and had, Psalm 89:21; since these petitions follow that which relates to his exaltation; but of the help and strength afforded to the apostles and ministers of Christ, after they had received the commission from him to preach the Gospel to every creature; when, as a full answer to these petitions, God worked with them, greatly assisted them, strengthened them with strength in their souls; confirmed the word with signs and wonders following; made it the power of God to salvation to multitudes; and so strengthened the cause, interest, and kingdom of the Redeemer.
and accept thy burnt sacrifice. The word rendered "accept" signifies to "reduce to ashes" (o); and the way in which it was known that sacrifices were acceptable to God was by fire coming down from heaven upon them and consuming them, Leviticus 9:24; and therefore the word is rightly rendered "accept"; and Christ's sacrifice of himself, putting away sin, and perfecting for ever them that are sanctified, is of a sweet smelling savour to God; for hereby his justice is satisfied, his law is magnified and made honourable, the sins of his people are atoned for, their persons are accepted, and their sacrifices of prayer and praise come up also with acceptance to him through the virtue of this sacrifice; and so these petitions have their accomplishment.
Selah; on this word; see Gill on Psalm 3:2.
(o) "incineret", Pagninus, Montanus, Cocceius; "in cinerem vertat", Vatablus; so Junius & Tremellius, Piscator, Gejerus, Ainsworth.
and fulfil all thy counsel; whatever was agreed upon in the council and covenant of peace between him and his Father, relating to his own glory, and the salvation of his people.
and in the name of our God we will set up our banners; either as a preparation for war; see Jeremiah 51:27; so when Caesar (q) set up his banner, it was a sign to his soldiers to run to their arms and prepare to fight; and then the sense is, putting our trust in the Lord, relying on his strength, and not on our own, we will cheerfully and courageously engage with all his and our enemies, sin, Satan, and the world; as good soldiers of Christ, we will endure hardness, fight his battles under the banners of the Lord of hosts, in whose service we are enlisted; or as a sign of victory, when standards were set up, and flags hung out (r); see Jeremiah 50:2; and then the meaning is, Christ, the great Captain of our salvation, having obtained a complete victory over all enemies, and made us more than conquerors thereby, we will set up our banners, hang out the flag, and in his name triumph over sin, Satan, the world, death, and hell;
the Lord fulfil all thy petitions: the same as in Psalm 20:4; this is put here to show that the church will be in such a frame as before described, when the Lord shall have fulfilled all the petitions of his Anointed; of which she had a full assurance, as appears from the following words.
(p) So Ainsworth; "ovemus", Vatablus, Piscator, Michaelis; "cantemus", Gejerus. (q) De Bello Gallico, l. 2. c. 20. (r) Schindler. Pentaglott. col. 1126.
he will hear him from his holy heaven; where his throne and temple are, which is the habitation of his holiness, whither the prayers of the Messiah when on earth ascended, where they were received, heard, and answered. Before the church prays that he might be heard, now she believes he would; and that,
with the saving strength of his right hand; that is, by the exertion of his mighty power, in strengthening him as man to bear up under his sorrows, go through his work, and finish it; by upholding him with his right hand while engaged in it, and by raising him up from the dead with it, and setting him down at it in the highest heavens.
but we will remember the name of the Lord our God; not any of the names by which the Lord God is called, as Elohim, Elshaddai, Jehovah, and the like; though each of these are worthy of remembrance, and greatly serve to encourage faith in him; but rather the perfections of God, such as the goodness, wisdom, and power of God, which are to be remembered and confided in; and not the friendship of princes, the schemes of human policy, and the outward forces of strength; or else God himself is intended, whose name is himself, and is a strong tower to the righteous: and to remember him is to bear him in mind, and not forget him; to have the desires of the soul towards him, and to the remembrance of him; and to make mention of him, of his names, attributes, word, and works; which is both for his glory and for the encouragement of faith in him, both in ourselves and others; it is to call upon his name in times of trouble, and at all times, and also to trust in him and not in an arm of flesh; for it stands opposed to trusting in chariots and horses; and it is to call to mind past instances of his goodness, wisdom, and power, and be thankful for them, and make use of them to engage confidence in him; and which should be done from the consideration of his being God and not man, and of his being our God, our covenant God and Father.
but we are risen, and stand upright; who remember the name of the Lord, and trust in him; the church is sometimes in a very low and depressed condition; it consists of a poor and an afflicted people, and who are persecuted by men; so the church has been under the Heathen Roman emperors, and under the Papacy, and will be as long as she is in the wilderness, and the witnesses prophesy in sackcloth; and especially when they will be slain, and their bodies lie on the earth unburied; but these shall rise and stand upright, and ascend to heaven; there will be a glorious state of the church; there will be a reviving of the interest of Christ, through the bringing in the fulness and forces of the Gentiles, and the conversion of the Jews; the dry bones will live again, and stand upon their feet, an exceeding great army; in those days the righteous will flourish and have abundance of peace and prosperity. This may also include the first resurrection, which the saints will have a part in; the dead in Christ will rise first, and will stand before the Lord with confidence, and not be ashamed; when the ungodly shall not stand in judgment, nor sinners in, the congregation of the righteous; for though these words are expressed in the present tense, because of the certainty of them, they belong to future times; hence the following petitions.