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Bible Commentaries

Charles Simeon's Horae Homileticae

Psalms 60

 

 

Verse 4

DISCOURSE: 597

GOD’S BANNER OVER HIS PEOPLE

Psalms 60:4. Thou hast given a banner to them that feared thee, that it may be displayed because of the truth.

THIS psalm, in the title of it, is called “Michtam,” a golden psalm; and it well deserves the name. It was written by David after he had come to the full possession of the kingdom, which, during the reign of Saul [Note: 1 Samuel 31:7.], and during the seven years’ division of the tribes under Ishbosheth [Note: 2 Samuel 5:4-5.], had been reduced to a very low condition: “God had shewed his people hard things, and made them to drink the wine of astonishment.” But the union of all Israel under David, and the victories they had already gained over their powerful and oppressive adversaries the Philistines, were tokens of God’s returning favour to them, and a pledge to them that all his promised blessings should in due season be poured out upon them. It should seem as if the more pious part of the people had been discouraged by the long continuance of this adversity; and had begun almost to despair of ever seeing their hopes realized, respecting the extension and stability of their national power. But David tells them, that, in his advancement to the kingdom, and in their recent successes, “God had given them a banner,” and had unfurled it, as it were, before their eyes, as a signal of his presence in the midst of them, and as a pledge of victory over all their enemies.

What God did for them as a pledge of temporal advancement, he has done for his people in all ages, to assure them of success in their spiritual warfare.

To illustrate this, I will shew,

I. What banners God has given us—

The Church has a warfare to maintain: and, if, human prowess alone were considered, it is a warfare which would afford not the smallest prospect of success. But God has given to us a banner,

1. In the elevation of his Son—

[David was an eminent type of Christ, and especially in the advancement of his kingdom: for Christ was appointed “to sit upon the throne of David for ever and ever.” Was David’s elevation then a banner? so also is that of Christ, who is now seated at the right hand of God, above all the principalities and powers whether of earth or hell. Believer, survey thy Lord. Remember him in the manger, in the garden, on the cross, and in the grave. From a view of him in those scenes thou wouldst be ready to say, There is no hope. But behold him risen, ascended, glorified, and in full possession of his kingdom: and then say, What a change awaits you after your present conflicts [Note: Ephesians 1:19-20.]. His triumphs are a pledge of yours: “because he liveth, you shall live also:” and “as he has overcome and is set down with his Father upon his throne,” so shall you, in your victories and in your triumphs, resemble him [Note: Luke 22:29-30. Revelation 3:21.].]

2. In the records of his word—

[Behold, what “a cloud of witnesses” present themselves to your view! Read the catalogue of worthies, as recorded by God himself. Are your trials heavier than theirs [Note: Hebrews 11:33-38.]? Or is the power that was sufficient for them withheld from you? Will not faith bring Omnipotence to your support, even as it did for them? They are set before you expressly for your encouragement, that you, seeing how they have succeeded, may be stirred up “to run your race with patience, looking unto Jesus as the author and finisher of your faith,” even as he was of theirs [Note: Hebrews 12:1-2.]. Are you weak? so were they. Are your enemies numerous and mighty? so were theirs, Did they prevail through the grace of Christ? that same “grace shall be sufficient for you:” for He is the same gracious and Almighty Friend as ever: time has made no change in him: “his hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; nor is his ear heavy, that he cannot hear [Note: Isaiah 59:1.]:” as “he was mighty in them, so will he also be in you:” and “his strength shall be perfected in your weakness,” even as it was in theirs [Note: 2 Corinthians 12:9.].]

3. In the experience of his saints—

[You have found a change in your views, desires, pursuits: tell me, Whence has this change proceeded? Must you not say, “He that hath wrought me to the self-same thing is God [Note: 2 Corinthians 5:5.]?” If you will look within, you will find that you have rather resisted the change than helped it forward. “Your carnal mind has been enmity against God:” and it would have been so still, if God, by the light of his word, and the influences of his Spirit, had not subdued it to himself. If, then, the heart of stone has been taken away, and a heart of flesh been given to you, that is itself “a banner” erected in your heart, a token of God’s presence, an earnest of his power, and a pledge of yet richer mercies in reserve: for, “if it have pleased him to make you of the number of his people, he will not forsake you [Note: 1 Samuel 12:22.];” and you may “be confident of this very thing, that he who hath begun a good work within you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ [Note: Philippians 1:6.].”]

Let us consider,

II. For what end they are displayed unto us—

As the banner given to Israel in the time of David was to confirm their faith in his promises, and to assure them of God’s faithfulness, so are the banners which God has given to us bestowed,

1. To confirm our confidence in him—

[We ought to “know in whom we have believed,” and to feel assured that he is both “able and willing to keep that which we have committed to him [Note: 2 Timothy 1:12.].” We should never forget who it is that is engaged for us. We should never forget that in God we have a wisdom that cannot be circumvented, and apower that cannot be withstood. In him, too, we have a faithfulness that is altogether inviolate and incapable of change. What, then, have we to fear? The serpent, no doubt, is subtle, and the devices of Satan are very deep; but can he elude the eye of our heavenly Protector, or by any means defeat His purpose? Our enemies too, both within and without, are mighty: but what have we to fear, who have a Protector that is Almighty? “If God be for us, who can be against us [Note: Romans 8:31.]?” Let our enemies be ever so numerous, we may safely affirm that “they who be with us, are more than they who be with them [Note: 2 Kings 6:16-17.];” and if we have no more than a lamp and a trumpet against an armed host, we shall in Jehovah’s name prevail against them all [Note: Judges 7:15-22.]. A stone out of the brook shall suffice us to destroy our mightiest adversary; yea, his own sword shall serve us for the instrument whereby to complete our triumph [Note: 1 Samuel 17:49-51.].]

2. To assure us of victory over all our enemies—

[Amongst men, a banner is only a signal to enlist them for the combat: but with God it is a pledge of victory. See how David regarded it: “In the Lord put I my trust: how say ye then to my soul, Flee as a bird to your mountain? for, lo, the wicked bend their bow, they make ready their arrow upon the string, that they may privily shoot at him that is perfect; and, if the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do? The Lord is in his holy temple: the Lord’s throne is in heaven [Note: Psalms 11:1-4.]:” and, whilst he is there, you need not attempt to alarm me: I know my security, and defy the efforts of all my enemies. It was this consideration that enabled Paul also to hurl defiance at his enemies, and to assure himself of victory, as much as if it had been already gained [Note: Romans 8:33-39.] — — — And we also, in dependence on our God, may dismiss every fear, and anticipate, as already ours, the glory and felicity that await us [Note: 2 Corinthians 5:1-4. 2 Timothy 4:8.].]

Application—

What now can I say more but this?

1. Fear God—

[You will observe, that this is the description of the persons to whom his banner was given: and for them is the same privilege reserved in every age. Let not any undervalue this grace; for, in truth, it is that which as assuredly interests us in the divine favour as love itself. Of course, it is a filial fear of which we speak: and he who possesses that, may divest himself of every other fear; “Who art thou, that thou shouldst be afraid of a man that shall die, or of the son of man, that shall be as grass, and forgettest the Lord thy Maker [Note: Isaiah 51:12-13.]?” Beloved Brethren, “sanctify the Lord of Hosts himself in your hearts, and let him be your fear, and let him be your dread [Note: Isaiah 8:12-13.].”]

2. Trust in God—

[Excellent was that resolution of the Psalmist, “In the name of our God we will set up our banners [Note: Psalms 20:5.].” It is not possible for our confidence to be too strong, provided only it be humble. There are, I confess, two different kinds of confidence, which yet I consider as dangerous in the extreme: one of them is founded upon systematic notions of divine truth, without any mixture of holy fear; and the other arises from some dream or vision, or enthusiastic conceit, about the word coming to their mind in a peculiar way. Against both of these I would guard you with all my might. The only confidence that is pleasing to God is that which is softened with fear, and tempered with contrition. Let that be in exercise to the utmost possible extent, and then you may adopt the entire language of this psalm: “I will rejoice; I will divide Shechem, and mete out the valley of Succoth. Gilead is mine, and Manasseh is mine; Ephraim also is the strength of mine head; Judah is my lawgiver: Moab is my wash-pot; over Edom will I cast out my shoe: Philistia, triumph thou because of me.” The plain import of all which is concentrated in the concluding verse, “Through God I shall do valiantly: for He it is that shall tread down my enemies.” Only trust in God; and then, in every place where you go, you may behold an altar with this inscription: “Jehovah-Nissi, The Lord is my banner [Note: Exodus 17:15.].” Yea, the very graces which you exercise shall be in you a pledge, that God will fulfil and perfect in you the good work he has begun.]

 


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Bibliography Information
Simeon, Charles. "Commentary on Psalms 60:4". Charles Simeon's Horae Homileticae. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/shh/psalms-60.html. 1832.

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