After the horrific events of September 11, 2001, a tremendous change came over the nation as a whole, if only for a time. In a show of commemoration and patriotism, millions began displaying the American flag daily and sometimes more prominently outside their homes, wearing flag lapel pins, and placing flags and other similar accoutrements on their vehicles. People bought patriotic apparel like never before. For that brief time, showing a love for America became fashionable again. However, for some this proved short-lived. At the first sign of trouble in the war against terrorism, criticism returned and flags began disappearing. When the next election cycle rolled around, such obvious displays became a dividing point once more rather than a gesture of unity. Today, as memories fade and a new generation appears, the motivations for that quick wave of patriotism, and the courage and comfort it provoked, have been forgotten and treated as relics of a bygone era.
During David’s reign in Israel, a people who had once shared in great victories were showing signs of doubt. Thus, when David reflected on this time in his country, he recognized that the people had lost faith and thus were suffering from not having God with them (Psa. 60:1-3). He then followed this statement of sadness with a statement of faith. He spoke to God, saying, “You have given a banner to those who fear You, That it may be displayed because of the truth” (Psa. 60:4). A banner, you might have guessed, refers to a flag, a symbol of identity, unity, and understanding. Therefore, while David saw Israel’s problems in terms of their neglect of God and His subsequent allowing of consequences to set in, he also recognized that the answer was found in displaying greater faith in God and His truth. God then indeed answered his cry and delivered Israel in tremendous fashion (Psa. 60:5-12), as the preface to the psalm bears witness.
However, the application for today is not political but spiritual. In the same sense that, over time, Americans lost their original fervor for displaying their flag, many Christians have lost their original fervor for putting their own banner on display. Rather than openly living and speaking of their faith in Christ and the truth of the gospel, many have been reduced to silently creeping about, admitting their allegiance only when necessary due to the climate created by political correctness and the promotion of immorality through the courts. Nevertheless, whatever the climate and whatever the situation, as God’s people we should put the banner of the cross on display unashamed (Rom. 1:16). We should never allow the world to reduce our faith to quiet attendance in worship and a few odd symbols of faith here and there. Instead, we must become like David and realize that a return to boldness is the path to victory and greater days ahead. This may not be easy. Indeed, persecution may follow. But the more we put the truth on display, the more souls can be saved, and the more God can be glorified. We have forgotten what it means to let our light shine and have hidden it under a bushel for too long (Matt. 5:14-16). So let us gain courage from David, and put our banner on display for all to see. There is no reason to be ashamed of the gospel and every reason to proclaim it. We are all to be flag-bearers, leading the way into battle and gladly declaring our identity and the rightness of our cause. This is what our culture needs. And, interestingly enough, it is what we need as well.