OUR OPINION: 'Some people trust in chariots …'

By NEMS Daily Journal

I pray that the Lord answers you whenever you are in trouble.
Let the name of Jacob’s God protect you.
Let God send help to you
from the sanctuary
and support you from Zion.
Let God recall your many grain offerings;
let him savor your entirely burned offerings.
Let God grant what is in your heart
and fulfill all your plans.
then we will rejoice
that you’ve been helped.
We will fly our flags in the name of our God.
Let the Lord fulfill all your requests!

Now I know that the Lord saves
his anointed one;
God answers his anointed one from his heavenly sanctuary,
answering with mighty acts of salvation achieved by his strong hand.
Some people trust in chariots,
others in horses;
but we praise the Lord’s name.
They will collapse and fall,
but we will stand up straight and strong.

Lord, save the king!
Let him answer us when we cry out!
Psalm 20 (Common English Bible)
Psalm 20 states, “Some people trust in chariots, others in horses, but we praise the Lord’s name.” What do people today trust in? Where do we turn when times are tough and getting tougher? If this were being written today, we wouldn’t cite chariots or horses, but the question is the same. Are we putting our trust in the right place?
Biblical imagery is subject to being trapped in time, but with just a little introspection and imagination, all can be made contemporary. Chariots and horses can easily become missiles and tanks, if we’re thinking in military terms.
Or, they could become money, here in the time of the 1 percents and the 99 percents.
Anything can get between us, as the Psalmist from more than 2,000 years ago notes – get between us and praising the Lord’s name.
It is a wonderful thing to hope, to believe “that the Lord answers you whenever you are in trouble. Let God send help to you. Let God send help to you in the sanctuary and support you in Zion.” Often we turn to God for help as a last resort, at the last second, and when everything else has been tried and has failed. When everything else has failed and there is nowhere else to turn, that’s when we all tend to seek God.
But what if – defying our usual shortcomings – we start going to God first?
This can be surprising, even dangerous, because God does not always follow our plan; God has plans that are exclusive and always better.
Are our desired outcomes the outcome God wants for us? God may send us in another direction entirely, or God may hold us in place.
The greatest lesson is learning that what and who seeks us is almost always surprising to self-limiting human beings.
This weekend, on the cusp of Lent and its journeys requiring reflection and self-discipline, considering the psalmist’s words becomes urgent.
The psalmist reminds us that God’s assistance will come “answering with mighty acts of salvation.” Does anyone dare imagine to comprehend those without humility and expectant grace?
God doesn’t show up in dramatic ways for most people, but usually in a still small voice, one that we might almost miss.
Pray that none miss the little signs of God’s care through friends, family and even strangers. Pray that we will be open whenever we are in trouble. Pray for open minds to see God’s love and care, which is always in our world and near us. Extend love and care to each other, in hope and trust that the mighty God of the psalmist will speak to us in an equally clear way.