Under the Banner - Psalm 60 Sermon November Prayer Service
Prayer Service November 2nd Season of Pentecost - 2016. Pr. Ted Giese, Mount Olive Lutheran Church, Regina SK. Psalm 60 - Under the Banner
[TO THE CHOIRMASTER: ACCORDING TO SHUSHAN EDUTH. A MIKTAM OF DAVID; FOR INSTRUCTION; WHEN HE STROVE WITH ARAM-NAHARAIM AND WITH ARAM-ZOBAH, AND WHEN JOAB ON HIS RETURN STRUCK DOWN TWELVE THOUSAND OF EDOM IN THE VALLEY OF SALT.]
O God, You have rejected us, broken our defences;
You have been angry; oh, restore us.
You have made the land to quake; You have torn it open;
repair its breaches, for it totters.
You have made Your people see hard things;
You have given us wine to drink that made us stagger.
You have set up a banner for those who fear You,
that they may flee to it from the bow.
That Your beloved ones may be delivered,
give salvation by Your right hand and answer us!
God has spoken in His holiness:
“With exultation I will divide up Shechem
and portion out the Vale of Succoth.
Gilead is Mine; Manasseh is Mine;
Ephraim is My helmet;
Judah is My sceptre.
Moab is My washbasin;
upon Edom I cast My shoe;
over Philistia I shout in triumph.”
Who will bring me to the fortified city?
Who will lead me to Edom?
Have You not rejected us, O God?
You do not go forth, O God, with our armies.
Oh, grant us help against the foe,
for vain is the salvation of man!
With God we shall do valiantly;
it is He who will tread down our foes.
Let us pray: May the words of my mouth and the meditations of all our hearts be acceptable in Your sight O Lord. Amen.
Grace peace and mercy to you from God our Father and from our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Good Christian Friends. About this Psalm Martin Luther writes, "This Psalm and all of Divine Scripture are living and abiding, as Psalm 119:89 says: "Forever, O LORD, your word is firmly fixed in the heavens." Therefore this [Psalm, Psalm 60, likewise] must be understood as being "for teaching" to the present and to the end of the world, even if, [it seems like dead history that] belongs to the past," Luther sees it as an allegory of the church and the work of God within the nations through time and in a lecture on Psalm 60 he covers every detail in an allegorical fashion. For King David it was written about events in his lifetime and more than that we know that Psalm 60 along with all the Psalms ultimately point to Christ Jesus.
The spot where Psalm 60 best fits into David's life is the time leading up to the Ammonite war and David's adultery with Bathsheba "the wife of Uriah the Hittite?” In that time Joab, David's nephew (the son of David's sister Zeruiah) was captain of David's army. Joab was having great success in battle; in fact, the note about the Psalm that comes up before the Psalm starts, says that Psalm 60 is a Psalm of David; for instruction; when [David] strove with Aram-Zobah, and when Joab on his return struck down 12,000 of Edom in the valley of salt. His success was like his uncle David's success when David likewise had "made a name for himself when he returned from striking down 18,000 Edomites in the Valley of Salt."
David and Joab and all of Israel were fighting with the nations that surrounded their borders. These enemies had long been conteneding with Israel for the Promised Land. And while King David appeared to be holding his own, by the grace of God, his enemies were encircled around him, conspiring together against David and the Children of Israel, bringing bloodshed and war and ridicule upon the people.
It's a dark and depressing feeling to be pressed on all sides and to have to fight wars on multiple battle fronts against multiple nations. In the heat of it David's trust in the Lord was surly tested. The Psalm shows both David's dread when he says things like, "O God, You have rejected us, broken our defences; You have been angry," and ultimately David's trust in the Lord when he says, "Oh, grant us help against the foe, for vain is the salvation of man! With God we shall do valiantly; it is He who will tread down our foes." In the end David points back to those dark days and says, 'I, David, didn't win the day; my nephew Joab, the captain of my army however accomplished in his own right, did not win the day, my mighty men didn't win the day, my foot soldiers and charioteers and bowmen of Israel didn't win the day, because vain is the salvation of man. True salvation is from the LORD.'
Remember Psalm 60 along with all the Psalms also point to Christ Jesus and His salvation. So when, in the midst of enemies who circle around David seeking his life, and the life of the nation, the life of all the children of Israel, David prays, "O God, You have rejected us, broken our defences; You have been angry," think upon the cross of Christ and Jesus hanging there in His suffering with His enemies who had sought out His life to take it away encircled about Him. Think of Jesus hanging there with all the wrath of God poured out upon the sin of mankind, sin which Jesus had taken upon Himself in your place, in my place. In that hour Jesus prays words similar to the words of Psalm 60, words from another one of King David's Psalms, from Psalm 22, when Jesus prays, "My God, my God, why have You forsaken Me?" Words which sounds a lot like, "You have rejected us, ... You have been angry,"
Psalm 22 continues later to say, "But You, O LORD, do not be far off! O You My help, come quickly to My aid! Deliver My soul from the sword, My precious life from the power of the dog! Save Me from the mouth of the lion!" Psalm 22 also includes a prayer of trust. This sounds a lot like Psalm 60 when it says, "oh, restore us ... Oh, grant us help against the foe, for vain is the salvation of man!" Essentially the only real hope that anyone has is in the LORD: Jesus Himself had perfect hope and faith in His Heavenly Father even as the full wrath of Divine Judgment was being poured out upon Him, at the cross, over the evil that Christ had taken upon His innocent frame, that had be put upon Him. Even then Jesus' hope and faith in His heavenly Father did not falter. In His last moments before death Jesus doesn't save Himself, no! He doesn't even try to save Himself. The Gospel of Luke tells us that, "Jesus, calling out with a loud voice, said, “Father, into Your hands I commit My spirit!” And having said this [Jesus] breathed His last." Even at the last moment Jesus puts Himself, His whole life, into His Father's hands, Psalm 60 ultimately is likewise a Psalm that teaches this very same thing. David confesses that his life is ultimately in God's hands, Jesus is the fulfilment of this, for this reason you can trust that God's hands are safe: When your life is in God's hands your life is safe. Trust Jesus when He says, "no one will snatch [you] out of My hand. My Father, who has given [you] to Me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch [you] out of the Father's hand. I and the Father are one.”
Saint Paul says that our faith then, which is a gift from God and is washed in the blood of Christ Jesus - that faith that clings to these promises of God, is counted to us as righteousness for all who "believe in [God the Father] who raised from the dead Jesus our Lord." And just as God the Father took the spirit of the dead Christ into His Almighty hands, you in Christ Jesus will also find yourself both now, and in death, in the Almighty hand of God the Father, shielded there from every enemy and trouble. For as St. Paul says in Romans 8:31, "if God is for us who can be against us?" They can do their worst, whatever victory they claim today will be fleeting for it cannot last. In Christ the ultimate victory the final victory is won, and the victory in Christ is now yours forever. This was no pretty victory, for all the sweetness it brought it was bitter to behold, Jesus who hung upon the cross cursed and rejected by His Heavenly Father was then restored in Love, three days later, by that same heavenly Father. The whole time He was in His Father's hand. This is the atonement that won salvation, and ultimately it is the "hard thing" that God the Father has "made us see."
And yet the fruits of the victory sprung forth almost immediately, at the death of Christ in the darkness of that hour, "the earth shook, and the rocks were split." Psalm 60 says, "You have made the land to quake; You have torn it open;" Then David pleads, "repair its breaches, for it totters," and out of the tombs on the day of Jesus' death, at the hour of His death, at the moment of His death, the Gospel of Matthew says, "many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised, and coming out of the tombs after His resurrection they went into the holy city and appeared to many." This is a foretaste of the great "repair" that will take place when all flesh is raised to eternal life on The Last Day. When the LORD will raise up King David and all the faithful, when Christ, "will transform our lowly body to be like His glorious body, by the power that enables Him even to subject all things to Himself."
The fingerprints of Salvation in Christ Jesus are plastered all over this Psalm: Another spot! We confess and Scripture teaches that Jesus after His resurrection is ascended to sit at God the Father Almighty's' right hand from whence Jesus came to bring forth our Salvation ... and what does King David pray for in Psalm 60, "give salvation by Your Right Hand and answer us!" And in Christ Jesus God the Father does just that. When the LORD in Psalm 60 says, “With exultation I will divide up Shechem and portion out the Vale of Succoth. Gilead is Mine; Manasseh is Mine; Ephraim is My helmet; Judah is My sceptre. Moab is My washbasin; upon Edom I cast My shoe; over Philistia I shout in triumph.” God claims what is His, and pronounces victory over the enemies of Israel, the enemies of His people.
Now we know that at the cross our enemies have been defeated by the blood of Christ: Sin, Death, the Devil, the World and even our own sinful and rebellious flesh have been put down. The cross itself then become a refuge just as David says in Psalm 60 when he writes, "You have set up a banner for those who fear You, that they may flee to it from the bow." This is like Christ Jesus saying, "as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in Him may have eternal life." The crucified Christ Jesus is the banner which we flee to for cover from, "all the flaming darts of the evil one." With Christ there nailed to the cross His arms outstretched, His words come true, "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem ... How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing!" So while there are those who will not flee to the safety of the banner set up by God, who will not flee to the eternal safety of the cross of Christ Crucified, while there are those who have no fear of God, who reject Him and the sacrifice of Jesus, you will find King David there beneath Jesus' outstretched arms, and David doesn't stand there alone. Psalm 60 is David again yearning in prayer for that Salvation that only truly comes in Christ Jesus. A valiant salvation not won by the vanity of man, but rather by the love of God.
For all the times that you have failed to trust in the rescue of God, for each time that you counted yourself to be your own salvation, for all the times you thought that you had managed to get yourself out of that tight spot, that rough patch, that dark ditch, that dirty gutter, there is forgiveness. The forgiveness of Christ comes to all people who have broken the first commandment, for all those who have not feared, loved, and trusted in God above all things, for everyone who has made themselves to be god in God's place because Christ Jesus fulfilled the first commandment, "You shall have no other gods" with perfect faithfulness and trust and in so doing Jesus has tread down your foes just as David prays in Psalm 60. David's prayer is your prayer, stand with King David under the banner of Christ Jesus, the banner unfurled on Good Friday, the banner which shines forth in victory on Easter morning and you will be restored today, tomorrow and forevermore. "O restore us!" In Christ you are restored. Amen.
Let us pray:
Lord have mercy on us, Christ have mercy on us, Lord have mercy on us, “take our minds and think through them, take our lips and speak through them, take our hearts and set them on fire; for the sake of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, Amen.
 "Forever O Lord, Thy Word abides, and truth forever and ever." This is the translation provided in Luther's Works, the above is the more familiar current ESV translation substituted in for clarity during preaching.
 Luther's Works AE, Volume 10, First Lectures on the Psalms I Psalms 1-75, Concordia Publishing House 1974, pg 286.
 Luke 24:44-49
 2 Samuel 11
 2 Samuel 8:13 ... David's other nephew Abishai, another "son of Zeruiah, killed 18,000 Edomites in the Valley of Salt." (1 Chronicles 18:12) So David, Joab and Abishai all had notable victories there.
 2 Samuel 10
 Psalm 22:1
 Psalm 22:19-21
 2 Corinthians 5:21
 Luke 23:46
 John 10:28-30
 Romans 4:22-25
 Galatians 3:13, "Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree”"
 Matthew 27:51
 Matthew 27:52-53
 Philippians 3:21
 John 3:14-15
 Ephesians 6:16