A key verse in Psalm 20 is:
7 Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.
This verse became well known amongst Christians in the early 1970s when a book was published called, Chariots of the Gods? Unsolved Mysteries of the Past, Memories of the Future:, authored by Erich von Däniken. “It involved the hypothesis that the technologies and religions of many ancient civilizations were given to them by ancient astronauts [i.e extra-terrestrial beings] who were welcomed as gods.” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chariots_of_the_Gods%3F)
This was followed up and refuted by author, Barry B. Thiering, who published a book called, Some Trust In Chariots: Sixteen Views On Erich Von Däniken’s Chariots Of The Gods? And also by Clifford Wilson, when he wrote Crash Go The Chariots: An Alternative To “Chariots Of The Gods”?
As one reads these books, it seems to be that if trusting in the God of the Bible is not acceptable for some people, then even the strangest of alternatives will do!
But this was not true for the psalmist who wrote Psalms 20 and 21. His trust was “in the name of the Lord” and there was, for him and his people, no other alternative. And why not? As the writer of Proverbs declares: The name of the Lord is a fortified tower; the righteous run to it and are safe. (Proverbs 18:10)
So, we now turn to some quite different psalms than what we have recently been studying. They are known as Royal Psalms, and the reason for this will soon be obvious as we read them.
According to most commentators Psalms 20 and 21 go together, as Phil Moore suggests: “Psalm 20 is traditionally viewed as the marching anthem which the Israelite army sang before a battle, and Psalm 21…as the marching anthem on the way home after winning. We can see this in the symmetry between the two psalms. Israel’s troops bless their king before battle by praying in 20:4-5 ‘May he [God] give you [the King] the desire of your heart…May the Lord grant all your requests’, and they bless the Lord on the way home by singing 21:2, You [God] have granted him [the King] his heart’s desire and have not withheld the request of his lips’…his army sang these two psalms because the Lord is the all-powerful victor…” and it was Him in whom they put their trust.” (see references # 36)
Trust in God alone has often been challenged by those who don’t possess such faith, and the book mentioned earlier by Erich von Däniken reveals just how many people “clutch at straws” (i.e. seek solutions, ideas, or hopes that are insubstantial) to find an alternative to trusting in God. Believe it or not, “Chariots of the Gods’ was on “The New York Times bestseller list and has sold 70 million copies as of January 2017.” (Wikipedia).
Incredible, considering, also according to Wikipedia, that “Many scientists and historians have rejected his ideas, claiming that the book’s conclusions were based on faulty, pseudoscientific evidence, some of which was later demonstrated to be fraudulent or fabricated, and under illogical premises.” It continues that he was also “accused of stealing the ideas of [a] French author…[and] plagiarized many of the book’s concepts from [other authors].”
But such is the way of the world! Paul explains why it is so in 2 Corinthians 4:4
The god of this age [Satan] has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.
Sad but true!
Earlier in this chapter Paul also says,
[But] we do not lose heart. 2 Rather, we have renounced secret and shameful ways; we do not use deception, nor do we distort the word of God. On the contrary, by setting forth the truth plainly we commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God.
Jesus said “I am the truth” and He alone is the answer to the world’s “clutching at straws”, and in his wisdom and mercy, God has called us to proclaim the wonderful news of the gospel. As Paul also says,
5 For what we preach is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. 6 For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ.
7 But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.
Some, sadly, may trust in their “chariots”, but in the end it will be revealed that only those who “trust in the name of the Lord” will be saved.
6 Now this I know: The Lord gives victory to his anointed. He answers him from his heavenly sanctuary with the victorious power of his right hand. 7 Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.
Father, I pray that the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ will be revealed to my friends, families and others who at this time in their lives trust in “chariots”. May they know that you, Jesus, are the only “way, truth and life” and so put their trust in you, and you alone. Amen.