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 you support from Zion.
Psalm 20, taken in its entirety, is a prayer of blessing for the king. But it begins specifically as a prayer for protection during troubled times. That first verse is followed by a context, a place to look for that help, and that place of origin is the sanctuary/Zion—i.e. the temple.
Ancient Israel had something very specific in mind when they prayed for help from the temple. But I, a 21st century Christian have my own ideas. The temple in Jerusalem was destroyed thousands of years ago, but I still think of the sanctuary as a place where I experience the Divine. This sanctuary might be the room in my church I refer to as the sanctuary. Or it might be a place in nature—also sometimes called a sanctuary—where I might encounter God in creation.
Then there's Zion, a Christian metaphor for God's people who make up the church. We are indeed the temple of the Divine, God's dwelling place on earth.
And so when I pray for an answer from God, for God's protection, and when I look to the sanctuary or to Zion for my prayer to be answered, I am open to two possibilities:
- That I might find God in the places where I have encountered God in the past, in places I consider to be holy.
- Or that I might look to God's people—my brothers and sisters in Christ—for the help and protection I need. This is what priesthood is—sharing God with another person—and this is why the priesthood of all believers is such an important concept to Protestants.
Thank you, God, that I am not simply calling into the ether, but that you give me a setting for my prayers. May I seek you in places of holiness, security, and divine encounter, and may I look to your people for community, help, and correction; in Jesus' Name. Amen.