The Right Banner

           It had been a long, hot summer. The heat wave outside seemed to match the heat wave in my own heart of anger, chaos, disappointment, fear, grief, insecurity, loneliness, and physical pain. One night things seemed particularly bad. I was overwhelmed with the different needs of each of my four children, then ranging from age ten to a baby. As I lay in bed, unable to sleep, Psalm 60 steadied my soul. I had a banner to run to in my fear. The Word of God would anchor my soul. It would give me the right answers. And it would teach me how to live in the right manner.

            You may be facing your own set of difficulties today. Anger (your own or someone else’s) may be tearing you apart. Envy might be destroying a relationship. Chaos might be interrupting your home. Your marriage may be filled with disappointments. Fear may seem like your constant companion. Waves of grief might be washing over you. Insecurity and loneliness might describe your life. You may want to escape the flames of physical pain. Regardless of the sin or suffering, be encouraged, dear believer. We have the right banner, the right answer, and the right manner to continue to persevere in the way of the Lord.

The Right Banner

           When David composed Psalm 60 he was experiencing both good times and bad times. He had been anointed king of Israel, defeated the Philistines, brought the ark to Jerusalem, won repeated victories against his enemies, and received God’s covenant promises. But as is true for you and me, David was also experiencing hardships. Like an earthquake that tears a city to pieces (Ps. 60:2), or a drunken stupor that makes a person stagger (v. 3), David was undone. One of his enemies, the Edomites, had risen against him. But in the midst of hardship David knew where to turn, “You have given a banner to those who fear You, that it may be displayed because of the truth” (v. 4).

            During David’s day each army had banners. They were like home base. When you needed to regroup you went to the banner. Significantly, the banner to which David looked was the Lord.

            God has set up a greater banner for us by giving us His Son, Jesus Christ, and revealing truth through the Scriptures. When the earth seems to give way beneath our feet, or we are reeling from circumstances, we are invited to regroup by running to the Redeemer and relishing in His Word. Such a banner grounds us in truth when we are tempted to believe the lies of our own flesh, the world and the devil.

The Right Answer

            In the midst of the bottom falling out from under him, David fled to the Lord’s banner and sought an answer regarding deliverance, “That Your beloved may be delivered, save with Your right hand, and hear me” (Ps. 60:5). He was not disappointed. The Lord who hears His children spoke “in His holiness” (v. 6). He reminds David of His promises and the certainty that He will triumph over his enemies (vv. 6-8).

            When the bottom is falling out from underneath us, the Lord’s answer comes through Christ’s word and work. Our confidence is in the covenant-keeping God. His promises are certain, secure, and steadfast.

The Right Manner

            Because David fled to the right banner, and recognized the right answer, he went about things in the right manner. When he was in the midst of the enemy, he did not trust in the salvation of others, “for the help of man is useless” (Ps. 60:11). Instead, he trusted in the salvation of God, “Who will bring me to the strong city?…Is it not You, O God…” (v. 9). His confidence in the midst of chaos was in his King, “Through God we will do valiantly, for it is He who shall tread down our enemies” (v. 12).

            David’s questions, “Is it not You, O God, who cast us off? And You, O God, who did not go out with our armies?” (Ps. 60:10) would be answered in the affirmative apart from Christ. Because of our sin God rejected us, but “even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved)” (Eph. 2:5). The salvation of humankind is vain, but the salvation of Christ is victorious. It is Christ who has tread down our foes.

*****   

Can you relate to my heat wave that summer years ago? Have you recently experienced anger, disappointment, fear, grief, loneliness, or physical pain? Today, dear believer, choose to recognize the Lord’s banner, run to it, and rest in it. His Word always gives us the right answer. And when we choose to trust and obey Him, we will, by God’s grace, live in the right manner.  

Sarah Ivill (ThM, Dallas Theological Seminary) is a Reformed author, wife, homeschooling mom, Bible study teacher, and conference speaker who lives in Matthews, North Carolina, and is a member of Christ Covenant Church (PCA). To learn more, please visit www.sarahivill.com.

Sarah Ivill

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