“Some trust in chariots, and some in horses: but we will remember the name of the LORD our God. They are brought down and fallen: but we are risen, and stand upright.” ~ Psalm 20:7-8
Our text is taken from the end of Psalm 20, which some describe as a “battle hymn”. In the psalm, God’s people are getting ready for war and it begins with a prayer for God’s guidance and blessings (Psalm 20:1-3); then it closes with an affirmation of God faithfulness when His people look to Him.
The spirit of the psalm is captured in vs. 7-8, where it declares that though some rely on their human/earthly resources (chariots and horses) for strength, the people of God rely on God for their strength. And those who rely on human/earthly resources will fail, while those that rely on God will be victorious.
To appreciate this verse fully, it is helpful to put ourselves in the place of king David, leading his nation into war. Then, as now, leaders evaluated their war readiness by assessing their relative firepower (number of troops, war machines, arsenal) and technology (iron chariots vs. brass/wooden chariots). War readiness helped determine whether they would fight or seek peace. David, however, saw things differently. To determine war readiness, David considered only one thing: “the name of the Lord our God” (v. 7b).
From David’s approach, we can see that he understood that the skill and might of men were not important: the quality of chariots and the number of horses were insignificant. What would decide the outcome of the battle was whether he was operating in the name, in the authority, of God.
David knew that to go “in the name of the Lord” was to do the will of God. When God sent Moses in His name to free the Hebrews from bondage in Egypt (Exodus 3). The use of God’s name showed that Moses was authentic AND that the mission was guaranteed to succeed; which it did.
Likewise, when David fought Goliath he knew that neither Goliath’s weapons nor Goliath’s size would give Goliath victory because David was the one that came to that battle in the name of God. Victory would not be secured by might or by power (Zechariah 4:6), but by the Sovereign will of The Lord. The only thing that mattered in that battle was which one of them was operating in the will of God to accomplish the work of God; and that was David; so he won.
Then said David to the Philistine, Thou comest to me with a sword, and with a spear, and with a shield: but I come to thee in the name of the LORD of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom thou hast defied. ~ 1 Samuel 17:45
Therefore, as we confront the goliath battles that appear in our personal lives and that face our nation(s), we need to direct our focus away from what mankind is doing and look instead at what God is doing.
For example, when we are afflicted by deadly diseases, like cancer or multiple sclerosis, the solution does not lie in how much healthcare we have access to. No, the solution lies in whether or not God still has a plan for our lives.
If God has a task for us to fulfill, then lack of healthcare can’t stop Him from accomplishing that task through us, in His name. Similarly, if God is ready to call us home, then no amount of healthcare can change the time he has appointed for our departure.
This does not mean that medicine/medical-facilities are unimportant; for God has enabled man to develop the wonderful technology that brings healing to so many. However, it the power of God, not man-made technology (by itself), that sustains our health.
Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father. ~ Matthew 10:29
As another example, consider the response of the citizens of a nation in crisis. Typically, people pin their hopes on a leader or a political party to rescue them from their predicament. The belief is that the correct set of policies and legislation, or that a charismatic figure can lead them to a better future. But legislation, policies or charisma do not uplift nations. What exalts a nation is righteousness!
Righteousness exalteth a nation: but sin is a reproach to any people. ~ Proverbs 14:34
Let us not be blinded, the way to a better future does not come through more military power, better fiscal policy, superior technology, more government or less government. Chariots and horses do not and cannot cause a nation to prevail. Likewise, no leader or political figure of any stripe or type can lead any nation out of a crisis, without God’s enabling.
Put not your trust in princes, nor in the son of man, in whom there is no help. His breath goeth forth, he returneth to his earth; in that very day his thoughts perish. Happy is he that hath the God of Jacob for his help, whose hope is in the LORD his God ~ Psalm 146:3-5
Moreover, leaders who fail to acknowledge God, do so at their own peril (Daniel 4, 5). Nations succeed because of righteousness: because we, the people of the nation, “remember the name of the Lord our God” (v. 7b) and put our trust in that name.
The name of the LORD is a strong tower: the righteous runneth into it, and is safe. ~ Proverbs 18:10
Again, this does not mean governments, big or small, right or left, are necessarily bad. Indeed, God chooses the government each person lives under (Romans 13:1-2) and He instructs us to respect it.
Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake: whether it be to the king, as supreme. ~ 1 Peter 2:13
But, as Believers, we must never put our trust in the strength or abilities of people/things. Like David, all believers must “remember the name of the Lord our God” (v. 7b) and put our trust in Him.
In closing, let us keep in the forefront of our minds that God is aware, and in control, of every tiny detail of life. Indeed, the scripture tells us that Jesus holds every thing in the universe together; including our bodies and our governments and everything else
And He [Jesus] is before all things, and by Him all things consist. ~ Colossians 1:17
Let us, therefore, take our focus off the mechanisms and machinations of men and “remember the name of the Lord our God”, for only He can sustain us through the highs and lows of life. Only He can give us victory over the challenges we face; neither chariots nor horses can help us.