The Lord answer you in the day of trouble!
The name of the God of Jacob protect you!
May God send you help from the sanctuary,
and give you support from Zion.
May God remember all your offerings,
and regard with favour your burnt sacrifices.
May God grant you your heart’s desire,
and fulfil all your plans.
May we shout for joy over your victory,
and in the name of our God set up our banners.
May the Lord fulfil all your petitions.
Now I know that the Lord will help the anointed;
and answer from heaven
with mighty victories by God’s right hand.
Some take pride in chariots, and some in horses,
but our pride is in the name of the Lord our God.
They will collapse and fall,
but we shall rise and stand upright.
Give victory to the king, O Lord;
answer us when we call.
Do you see the dialogue between the two halves of Psalm 20?
The first: a blessing, filled with aspiration, so that the listener might find protection in God.
The second: a hefty vote of confidence in God’s grace, a declaration of God’s infinite power.
The first: may God send you help. The second: God is greater than chariots and horses.
Do you see the conversation?
It is one that I—as both a person of faith and an activist—find myself having again and again.
The first is a voice of blessing; the second, trust. They are perhaps the most important voices to keep in balance in the high-tightrope walk that is being an agent of social change.
Let’s go in reverse: what does it mean for an activist to trust? It means to allow our faith to do what secular activists have a very difficult time articulating. It means to say that God has won. Love has won. There is nothing that any power can do to become greater than God—no empire to be built, no weapon to be invented, no war to be fought. Love wins, and the powers of this world today are just as helpless as the Roman empire scrambling to explain a resurrected Jesus. The infinite worth of all of God’s children is secured, and that simply cannot be stripped, shot, or beaten out of us.
But then again, there is also the first part of Psalm 20, the blessing. If we are so confident in what God is capable of ( la v. 6-9), why do we need to bless anyone? Why do we need to pray that God send down help, when we already know that God has taken care of things in unimaginable ways? Isn’t that like asking the sky to turn blue when the sun rises? Why waste our breath?
What the Psalm teaches us is that we still have a role in this world. Faith in God does not mean sitting back and letting “God handle it.” Rather, we have the incredible ability to bless people and to bless the earth. When things are going wrong, God looks to people of faith and asks, “Over there! Could you run there and be a blessing there?”
My friends, let us go out in the world and bless—lest we fall apathetic in a world crying for action. And let us also trust in God, so that we never think that we are doing this work alone. Amen.