Summary: Last week we covered the first three verses where we saw that God answers us in our distress, he protects us, sends us help and support, and he remembers our sacrifices and accepts our offerings. Today as we finish, we'll see that God blesses and we trust.
PRAYING PSALM 20 (part two)
Last week we covered the first three verses where we saw that God answers us in our distress, he protects us, sends us help and support, and he remembers our sacrifices and accepts our offerings when they are done with the right motives. In these verses we see a lot of encouragement.
With the difficult times we've been facing as a people along with the individual battles we've been enduring, to understand that the all knowing, all loving, all powerful God is watching out for us and providing for us is of the utmost importance for our peace and serenity. There are many things we could be worried about but knowing God is right there when we need him alleviates all of our anxiety and fears about tomorrow. Today we conclude our brief journey through Psalm 20 as we pick it up with verse four.
1) God blesses (4-5).
Psalm 20:4, "May he give you the desire of your heart and make all your plans succeed."
Here we have the people praying that God would give the king the desires of his heart and make his plans succeed. This shows the confidence the people had in their king that the desires of his heart and his plans were good. You wouldn't pray this for someone you thought didn't have pure desires or plans. Likewise, one shouldn't expect that the Lord would answer this type of prayer unless they had the righteous character he would be looking for. So, the Lord giving us the desires of our heart comes with a condition.
Psalm 37:4, "Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart."
We all have desires but are they formed in the delight of the Lord? If we're not receiving what we're praying for this may be why. In the Hebrew, to delight ourselves in the Lord means to find joy in him. When Jesus is our source of joy, the desires of our heart will be consistent with that joy. Our desires won't simply be about what makes us happy, they will be in line with what pleases the Lord.
What about Matt. 21:22, "If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer."
There aren't any conditions given here; just believe and you will receive. Jesus' point here was about having faith and not doubting when we pray. Just because we don't see a qualifier here doesn't mean Jesus is saying God's going to give us everything we ask for. It wouldn't be wise, discerning or loving if God allowed us to have something that wasn't good for us simply because we asked it. If our kids asked for a bowl of candy for dinner would we give it to them?
Besides, if Matt. 21:22 meant anything goes, Jesus would be going against all the other verses that clearly give qualifiers like Psalm 37:4. We have to be careful to not take a verse and run with it without reading it in its context and comparing it with other verses like
1st John 5:14, "This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us."
Here we see the truth of what Jesus said in Matt. about having faith when we pray; with the added condition of it being in accordance with God's will. Sometimes our desires and plans don't happen because they're not in accordance with God's will.
But it's a good thing when God doesn't answer our prayers. We might bristle at that but think about it: if our desires and plans are not in line with God's will then it's in our best interest for God to not give us what we're praying for.
Our prayers should include the statement, "if it be your will". When Jesus was in agony in the Garden of Gethsemane, he prayed for the cup of suffering to be removed from him. Jesus wanted to see if there was any other way mankind could be saved; he was asking for a plan B. But he finished with, "yet not my will, but yours be done".
Did God give him what he asked for? No. There could be no plan B. God's will was for Jesus to die for our sins because he's the only one who was without sin; the only perfect sacrifice. Jesus didn't like it, the Father didn't like it, but that's how it needed to be. We don't like it when God says, 'no'. But when he doesn't give us the desire of our hearts there's a good reason and I need to accept it and move on.
In Ps. 20:4 the people also prayed that God would make all the king's plans succeed. A desire can be something we're thinking about but a plan is something we've thought out. We've thought of the way we want to do it and the steps we need to take to achieve it. Even though a plan is different than a desire, it still comes with the same condition.