The Lord answer you in the day of trouble! The name of the God of Jacob protect you! May He send you help from the sanctuary, and give your 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! May we should for joy over your victory, and in the name of our God set up our banners! May the Lord fulfill all your petitions! Now I know that the Lord will help His anointed; He will answer him from His holy heaven with mighty victories by His right hand. Some boast of chariots, and some of horses; but we boast of 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. Psalm 20
The word “adverse” is defined as “preventing success or development.” An adversary is someone who presents our success or development. I would also argue that not only people can be adversaries, but “things” can be adversaries. For instance, anger, doubt, anxiety and stress can be adversaries, as they can prevent success or development. The Psalms are prayers in the form of supplications (asking for things), laments over things, or giving glory to God for something He has done. The Psalms in their totality address all the various things that make for a good prayer—supplication, thanksgiving, praise of God, repentance. However, a particular Psalm may not include all of these elements.
Psalm 20 is a prayer for victory against adversaries. We are not told who the specific enemy is that is addressed in Psalm 20, though with references to chariots and horses, it is probably a military adversary.
A military opponent is not our contemporary adversary. In very contemporary terms, we are battling against the coronavirus and its collateral damage—fear, anxiety, uncertainty, economic downturn and of course the outright sickness caused by the virus. These provide plenty of enemies from whom we need victory today.
As with so many of the Psalms, Psalm 20 offers words of comfort and paints a picture of God’s greatness. From the opening verse, “The Lord answer you in the day of trouble! The name of the God of Jacob protect you!”, we understand that a power greater than us, the Lord Himself, will be with us in our troubled times. The use of “Jacob” and that our Lord was the God of Jacob shows that people have seen the Lord as their source of comfort for a long time. It is not our phones the protect us, or modern inventions, but the Lord Almighty, our eternal God.
Thus “In the name of God (we) set up our banners.” (Psalm 20:5) The Lord is not necessarily going to fulfill our material petitions (v.5), after all He is not a vending machine for us to insert money and have wishes fulfilled. Rather He will fulfill all of our petitions unto salvation. Because the ultimate victory is salvation, the ultimate victory is found in the Lord, and the ultimate instrument to that ultimate victory is the Lord Himself.
The “chariots” and “horses” (v.7) and by extension houses, kingdoms, companies, and wealth that people boast of are ultimately all temporary. “They will collapse and fall.” (v.8) I have been disappointed to see our stocks and our IRA take a steep dive. I am concerned about the state of our economy. But in this crisis, my faith has actually taken steps forward. I am not concerned about God’s greatness. While I sometimes wonder if I’m on the right path to salvation, the crisis hasn’t affected these thoughts in any way. God is still great, I still need repentance, I still have lots of work to do spiritually, but the path is just as clear as it was before all of this began.
Physical and social distancing has actually served to bring emotional closeness to family and friends and spiritual closeness to God. We ask God to “give victory to the king”, (v.(9)meaning give us spiritual victory over our adversaries in these times of uncertainty. “Answer us when we call,” (v.9) not necessarily giving us financial restoration or even restoration to health, but the strength to endure every trial, the wisdom to handle each challenge, and the purpose to use this time and this challenge unto our salvation. The real adversary is not the coronavirus and its collateral damage. The real adversary is how we as individuals and as a society respond to the virus and the damage it is inflicting. While this may be a time of economic downturn, it can certainly be a time of spiritual upturn for any and all of us.
Prayer of Protection from the Coronavirus
(Prayer by Grace Bishop Alexis (Trader) of Bethesda)
O God Almighty, Lord of heaven and earth, and of all creation visible and invisible, in Your ineffable goodness, look down upon Your people gathered in Your name. Be our helper and defender in this day of affliction. You know our weakness. You hear our cry in repentance and contrition of heart. O Lord who loves mankind deliver us from the impending threat of the corona virus. Send Your Angel to watch over us and protect us. Grant health and recovery to those suffering from this virus. Guide the hands of physicians, and preserve those who are healthy that we may continue to serve You in peace and glorify Your most honorable and majestic Name, of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, now and forever and to the ages of ages. Amen.
Faith is knowing “the Lord will help His anointed; He will answer him from His holy heaven with mighty victories by His right hand.” Have faith in our day of trouble! May the Lord deliver us from all assaults on our faith and may He give us confidence that He is right here with us, guiding us and reassuring us in the struggle, leading us even now closer to Him.
The Prayer Team now has its own dedicated website! There you may find a database for past prayer team messages as well as books by Fr. Stavros and other information about his work and St. John the Baptist Greek Orthodox Church in Tampa, FL.
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