Psalms – Chapter 20

You Who?

By Rabbi Jack Abramowitz

May G-d answer you in your day of trouble and may His Name make you unbeatable. May He send help and support from His Temple. May He remember your sacrifices favorably. May He grant your desires and allow your plans to succeed so that we may rejoice in your salvation and praise G-d for it.

We know that G-d has made His chosen ruler (presumably David) victorious and He will answer him from Heaven. Some rely on horses and chariots to win battles; we rely on G-d Himself. Those who relied on their weapons fell in battle, while we not only survived, but thrived. G-d will answer us when we call to Him.

This is a very popular Psalm, one of the most commonly recited as a prayer in times of trouble, but it raises a question. All of the Psalms until this point were clearly written by David and are in the first person (“I”). The first half of this Psalm is in the second person (“you”). Who exactly is addressing whom here? There are a variety of opinions. Rashi says that the author is David and he is addressing his troops in battle when he remained behind in Jerusalem, as in II Samuel 18. The Radak, however, says that “you” refers to David. (Not all the Psalms were composed by David himself.) According to this interpretation, the words “mizmor l’David,” normally translated “A Psalm of David” would here mean “A Psalm for David.”

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