Where do you place your trust?

I’ve only ever seen them on television. They will happen next in early November, all over the country.

Political victory parties.

Gatherings of people who walked and rallied and polled and wrote and worked like mad to get their person elected. They come together in the same room, hoping and praying that their work would pay off. I wonder what that moment is like when the rumor starts spreading through the crowd, “It happened. We’re ahead. They’re calling it in our direction.” How does the room feel when the announcement is made?

I bet the joy and relief and excitement is palpable.

It is a moment filled with hope. The person they trust is going to sit in a chair of power. The future feels like a wide open door of possibilities.

This is the kind of environment I picture when I read Psalm 20.

The build-up begins hundreds of years earlier, when Joshua leads the Israelites into the Promised Land. They fight hard to stake their claim, and God grants them many victories. However, after Joshua dies, Israel is met with a huge void in leadership. The book of Judges records the nosedive of their national and spiritual identity. By the time of 1 Samuel, the people of Israel are weary. But, they think they have the solution to their leadership problems: they need a king, just like they see in other nations. They choose Saul, who doesn’t turn out to be so wonderful. Then, God chooses David.

David does things like defeat Goliath, and proves his worth to the people.

That brings us to Psalm 20. David is on the throne. Life is finally looking up. So, as a community, they pray for David’s success.  It is a prayer filled with hope and possibility. The English translation is full of exclamation points that show their enthusiasm. It reads like the chanting at a victory party.

May the Lord answer you in the day of trouble! May the name of the God of Jacob protect you! May he send you help from the sanctuary And give you support from Zion! May he remember all your offerings And regard with favor your burnt sacrifices! May he grant you your heart’s desire And fulfill all your plans! – Psalm 20:1-4 (ESV)

I don’t know that I have ever prayed like that for someone else. The people are so passionate in their prayers for David’s success. Probably because it has so much to do with their own comfort and security.

What really hits me between the eyes, though, is verse 7. Because in the midst of this excitement for the future, in the middle of the hope and prayers for this good king that is finally on the throne, the people pray this:

Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God. – Psalm 20:7

If there was ever a point Israel could trust in their chariots, it is this one. David conquered Jerusalem. They have a capital city. They have a good king. All is well in the land.

Yet even when our circumstances are as good as we can imagine, and even when it is the Lord that has brought us that provision, we cannot find lasting security in anything this world has to offer.

Our trust is not to be in our strength, our leaders, our nation, or even our churches. Our trust is to be in the name of the Lord. Who alone is perfectly just, infinitely powerful, and eternally trustworthy.

It is so powerful to me that in this moment of victory and celebration, the people remember this truth.

I don’t know if I could pray with such confidence that my trust is in the Lord.

Sure, I say that it is. But sometimes, when my circumstances change, I feel like God has let me down, or that I have lifted myself back up, and my trust waivers. Then, I realize my trust was actually in my bank account, or my skills, or my house, or my husband, or my job.

I am thankful in those moments for the way God’s grace meets me and helps me shift my trust back to where it should be.

Walk through the Psalms is a series reflecting on the beautiful and timeless poetry found in the middle of the Bible. It is an intentional study of God’s Word, grounded in the belief that God gave us the Bible so we could meditate on it, whether that takes us through inspiring or frustrating territory.