Monday, March 20, 2017

under His banner

You have set up a banner for those who fear you,
that they may flee to it from the bow. Selah
That your beloved ones may be delivered,
give salvation by your right hand and answer us!
Psalm 60:4-5

The sixtieth psalm is this unusual mix of defeated pain and trusting strength. It is hard to understand it except to know that it must have been written on the heels of a very difficult episode in David's kingship. We get some clues from the heading. The superscription labels it a "Miktam" which is a song of teaching and it states that it is for "instruction". It appears to have been written around the events of 2 Samuel 8 in which David's general Joab secured a costly and great victory. But apparently before the victory, Israel was at a deep spiritual low according to this psalm.

The opening three verses depict God in His anger against Israel's sin rejecting the nation so that defenses were broken. Imagery of an earthquake is used to describe the demoralized nation. They are compared to dazed, traumatized war victims, staggering from the after effects of some nightmarish loss in battle. This sets the scene for the confident cry of verses four and five.

Though weak and traumatized, demoralized Israel could find help in the fear of the Lord. God's fighting banner still flew over the nation and they could run under its protection again. There, in worship and obedience to the Lord, they would be safe from the reach of the enemy's bow. And there they could rest in God again.

From the security of faith, David instructs the nation to pray for three things: 1) deliverance from the enemy, 2) salvation by God's strong right hand and 3) answers from the Lord for their repeated cries for help. They could only pray this confidently when they were close enough to God and His law to live obediently. In the shelter of His banner, they could find help.

The psalm ends in the confident assurance that God is in control of Gentile lands (Psalm 60:6-8) and while trust in man is futile, God will only lead the victory (Psalm 60:9-12). That is the faith that is rewarded.

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