(You can find a recording of this sermon here.)
This Touching Base is a useful tool for small group discussion, personal reflection or in a one-on-one conversation. We believe that if the Sunday teaching is discussed outside of the morning services, it will be an opportunity to go deeper and build healthy community because God's Word needs to be discussed in community.
Our series, Heart Conversations with God, is designed to enrich your prayer language as we work through the Psalms. Hopefully, Psalm 20 will guide you and enrich your language of prayer as you work through it this week.
Most commentators agree that, like Psalm 2, Psalm 20 was composed for the ceremonies and services concerned with the king’s office as a military leader and defender of the nation. It acknowledges that the king leads the nation into war and, by its very structure, it implies a ceremony of sorts for such occasions. The first section - verses 1-5 - was recited by the people. The second section - verses 6-8 - was recited by a priest or perhaps even the king himself. And the third section - verse 9 - was recited by everyone, including the king. (Psalm 21 was a celebration Psalm read after battle, thanking God for victory).
Big Idea: Trouble leads the Christ follower to look up!
Text: Psalm 20
1. THE PEOPLE LOOK UP! (V.1-5)
As the people look up in prayer on behalf of the King, there are a number of aspects of trouble that surface in this text.
• When we look up in trouble we can have some pretty profound, soul-searching questions (v.1a)
Got any questions that you need to bring before the Lord in prayer? Why me? What am I to do? Where am I to turn? Who can help me? When will this be over? Perhaps they need to be presented to Him, knowing full well that answers may never come while on this planet.• Trouble has a way of making our thick, impenetrable fortress walls seem paper thin (v.1b).
Feeling super vulnerable these days because of trouble? How do you need God to protect you? What does it feel like to go from feeling invincible to feeling porous? How does this feeling shape our prayers?
• Trouble has a way of making us think that God has left us (v.2).
As we said on Sunday, the sanctuary (the temple in Jerusalem) and Zion (Jerusalem) were symbolic of the presence and rule of God. Protection was one thing but knowing that God is with us in trouble can seem, for some, like just a nice (but impossible) idea. We feel very far from God. How does this aspect of trouble shape our prayers?
• Trouble can break our healthy rhythms and disciplines (v.3).
This is a picture of a King who has been in communion with God, who has been seeking the face of God, and is in alignment with His purposes. He is contrite, humble, obedient, and submissive. David is modeling what we can get away from during troubled times.
How are you with seeking the face of God while experiencing trouble? Do you tend to run faster? Do you tend to abandon some of the foundational disciplines, like prayer, vital community or reading God’s word, when faced with the sharp-toothed tiger of trouble?
• In trouble our desires and requests need to come from a heart in submission to God (v.4, 5).
As you read this in context, you can see that “desire” (v.4) and “requests” (v.5) are not blank cheques for David to ask for whatever his little heart desires. These are desires and requests that come out of a heart (corporate and individual) in submission to God.
As you look up in prayer are your desires and requests coming from a heart in full submission? Why not list those desires and requests? Who is helping you pray through those?
2. THE KING LOOKS UP! (V.6-8)
Now the King prays. What do we learn about trouble and looking up in this section?
6 Now this I know: The Lord gives victory to his anointed.
He answers him from his heavenly sanctuary
with the victorious power of his right hand.
David started off by saying…”Now this I know…”
What are some revelations about God that you have experienced that are overwhelmingly obvious?
“When people describe their faith journeys, they always include events that could be described as ‘defining moments.’ Some are good positive experiences, awards, new opportunities, life events, but just as often the defining moments involved pain and disappointment: death, divorce, illness, betrayal. And when it comes to faith, circumstances cut both ways. A positive event can adversely affect faith or strengthen it. Adverse circumstances can damage an individual’s faith or deepen it. Either way, life has the potential to impact faith for good or bad.” Deep and Wide – Andy Stanley
Talk about a “pivotal circumstance” that was a ‘defining moment’ in your life?
Did it strengthen or shatter your faith? Why?
7 Some trust in chariots and some in horses,
but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.
What are the past events in your life that keep reminding you that God can be trusted?
Are there scriptures, real or imaginary altars that you have built, stories that remind you of God’s faithfulness in your life? Can you recall different times in your life when you got to know God by a new name?
8 They are brought to their knees and fall,
but we rise up and stand firm.
We all need people who will help us put our circumstances into perspective.
Who encourages you to stand firm?
3. Everyone Looks Up (v.9)
We want to encourage you to work through this Psalm this week. Allow it to enrich your language of prayer as you seek Him! Look up and find strength in trouble!
Jamie and Mark
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