March 13, 2018: With GodJosh Moody
This is the record of a series of great victories on the part of David. And the lesson? God did it. “With God we shall do valiantly” (60:12).
The psalm starts by giving a fair record of the situation. It’s bad news. Even the theologians have given up. “O God, you have rejected us, broken our defenses” (60:1). And the army, “our defenses,” appears to be a mess; they are defenseless. “You have made the land to quake; you have torn it open” (60:2). Were there natural disasters too? Or was this “quaking land” a poetic way of describing the massive social chasms that were opening up in the fabric of society? Either way, it is also bad news. “You have made your people see hard things” (60:3). The people have had any illusions about everything being alright removed; they now see all the hard things. The word on the street is bad. They perceive the bad news. “You have given us wine to drink that made us stagger” (60:3). Faced by such a “winter of discontent,” people did what people have always done: looked for a way to at least temporarily escape from their troubles. The end of a bottle, the point of a needle, surfing through the Internet to find pornography. Anything to dull the pain, and through drunkenness, numb the fear.
What is to be done? Suddenly—can you see the picture—a “banner” is unfurled (60:4). In ancient warfare, banners and flags were used not just as ceremonial tokens of regimental honor, but as very real places around which to gather and make a stand against the enemy. There is a banner, there is a rally point for those who “fear you.” While the culture around may be as bad as David describes, for those who fear God, all is not lost. What is it that God the omnipotent is incapable of resolving? If he can make the sun stand still so that Joshua can complete a great victory, is he not able to solve this problem too? Of course he is!
And from this perspective, the perspective of God’s power and the fear of God, how easy it now all seems! “Moab,” that great threat to Israel’s security, “is my washbasin” (60:8). That’s where God does his morning wash! Obviously, David is using anthropomorphism—speaking of God in human terms to make a point that communicates to humans. Moab is just like a washbasin to the Almighty God! And “Edom”? “Upon Edom I cast my shoe”! So much for these fearful enemies, and all this “bad” news! God is powerful! Fear God, and you need fear nothing and no one else!
But then, someone says, how are we to access this power? What is the right way to go about connecting to this great victory in practice? “Who will bring me to the fortified city?” (60:9). A good question. The answer: David bows his head in passionate prayer! “Oh, grant us help against the foe, for vain is the salvation of man!” (60:11). Prayer, prayer, prayer. What could be achieved if only we would pray. What is achieved when we do pray! As Paul says in 2 Corinthians 1:11, prayer is the “help” that actually makes a difference, and it is prayer we must use if we are to see victory. And so now David concludes with prayer-fueled, God-fearing confidence: “With God we shall do valiantly; it is he who will tread down our foes” (60:12).