PSALM 60 - These Colors Don't Run

Summer Psalms 2021  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  45:47
0 ratings

In times of division and turmoil, raise the banner of the Gospel of Jesus Christ



As the stories and images continue to come out of Afghanistan, and the heartbreaking ordeals of people who vainly put their trust in the promises of the American military to protect them and keep them from harm when the time came, one commentator grimly observed that it is no longer possible to say of the American flag, “These colors don’t run”.
Make no mistake, God knows how to make a mighty military power fall apart at the seams:
Jeremiah 51:30 (ESV)
30 The warriors of Babylon have ceased fighting; they remain in their strongholds; their strength has failed; they have become women; her dwellings are on fire; her bars are broken.
It doesn’t matter how powerful, how sophisticated, how gallant and noble you are—if God decides to humiliate your strength, He knows how to do it:
Amos 2:16 (ESV)
16 and he who is stout of heart among the mighty shall flee away naked in that day,” declares the Lord.
It cannot be anything but glaringly obvious to those who have eyes to see that God is in the process of judging the United States of America. The humiliation of our nation’s vaunted strength and military prowess in the past few weeks will never be forgotten by our enemies, and neither will our allies ever forget the empty words and broken promises that are sentencing millions of Afghanis to suffering, torment and death. And neither will the hundreds of thousands of disabled veterans from that twenty-year war ever be able to escape the sense that their sacrifice was in vain, and every Gold Star family will look at that tri-folded flag given to them at their son’s funeral and think to themselves that “He died for nothing”. This is a judgment from the hand of God.
As we turn to Psalm 60 this morning, it seems as though David’s lament in the first three verses could be a word-for-word prayer for us this morning:
Psalm 60:1–3 (ESV)
1 O God, you have rejected us, broken our defenses; you have been angry; oh, restore us. 2 You have made the land to quake; you have torn it open; repair its breaches, for it totters. 3 You have made your people see hard things; you have given us wine to drink that made us stagger.
If there has ever been a time in not only our nation’s history, but in the history of the Church in our nation, when such a prayer would fit the frame of our hearts, it’s now, isn’t it? When David wrote this psalm, he was lamenting how far the nation of Israel had fallen under King Saul’s disastrous leadership—the heading to the psalm indicates that it was written during the early months of David’s reign, when he was securing the borders of Israel by defeating the Philistines, Syrians and Edomites (we read about the battles in 2 Samuel 8:1-14).
But as David mourned over the disastrous state of his broken, rejected, strife-torn nation, he also sang of the hope that he had in God:
Psalm 60:4–5 (ESV)
4 You have set up a banner for those who fear you, that they may flee to it from the bow. Selah 5 That your beloved ones may be delivered, give salvation by your right hand and answer us!
When everything was falling apart around him, David ran to the one banner whose colors don’t run—the faithfulness of the salvation of God!
Christian, you and I can see that salvation far more clearly than David ever did—he knew that salvation came from the right hand of God, but you and I know the Savior who sits now at the right hand of God! Jesus Christ Himself is the One who delivered the salvation to His people that David sang about here in this psalm. And so this morning what I want us to consider—as our nation is falling apart under the judgment of God, as our land is being torn apart by hatred and suspicion and strife, as we lose the right to say to the world “these colors don’t run”, I want you to see that
When every other FLAG falls, the BANNER of the GOSPEL will stand.
One of the most crucial and important roles on the battlefield in past eras was the standard-bearer—it allowed troops in the heat of battle to know where their unit was located, it allowed for movements to be coordinated and served as a rallying point for soliders who had gotten separated. And if the banner fell, it meant that your position had been overrun, and the battle was lost.
David says that the banner God has set up for those who fear Him is a place of safety and security— “that they may flee to it from the bow, that your beloved ones may be delivered...” Christian, this is the banner that you stand under, the standard that you raise, the flag that you follow—that Jesus Christ was crucified, buried and raised again from the grave for the forgiveness of sins for everyone who calls on Him in faith, and that He reigns over every nation of the earth, and that His kingdom will never fail. When every other flag falls, this banner of the Gospel will stand!
See in the first five verses of Psalm 60 that the banner of the salvation of the Lord—the banner of the Gospel of Jesus Christ—is

I. A banner of GRACE for His PEOPLE (Psalm 60:1-5)

Consider again the first three verses of Psalm 60:
Psalm 60:1–3 (ESV)
1 O God, you have rejected us, broken our defenses; you have been angry; oh, restore us. 2 You have made the land to quake; you have torn it open; repair its breaches, for it totters. 3 You have made your people see hard things; you have given us wine to drink that made us stagger.
See how the grace of God sets up a banner of salvation--
Even though we have ANGERED Him (v. 1, cp. Romans 3:25)
The nation of Israel under Saul had become a treacherous, corrupt and bloodthirsty people—as we saw back toward the beginning of our series, Saul was so far fallen that he ordered the murder of an entire town of priests—even his bodyguards quailed at the thought of killing the priests of Nob—but Doeg was only too happy to do it.
And we cannot turn aside from the fact that our bloodlust in this nation far exceeds any atrocities carried out under Saul’s reign (or any of the other kings of Israel or Judah). If the innocent blood of Abel crying out from the ground was enough to convict Cain of his murder, how loud is the blood of sixty million children that condemns us? How much more have we angered God by the tidal wave of innocent blood that washes over this landand so the only remedy for the wrath of God over the blood of those innocent children is the blood of His innocent Son Jesus Christ
Romans 3:25 (ESV)
25 whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins.
Propitiation means “a sacrifice that takes away wrath”—and so we set up the banner of the Gospel as the only way out from under the wrath of God against us for our sin.
God graciously sets up the banner of His salvation even though we have angered Him—and He sets up this banner
Even though we are FALLING APART (v. 2; cp. Ephesians 2:14-16)
David sings that God has “made the land to quake”, that He has “torn it open”. One of the most unnerving sights to see is watching what you thought was solid ground pitching and twisting like a wave on the sea as an earthquake shakes and shatters everything that seemed so permanent.
Have we not seen in the past year and a half how God has been shaking what can be shaken? Everything we thought we could depend on in our world seems to be falling apart. And not only so, but the divisions of our land, the breaches that have appeared in the fabric of society over the lies of Critical Race Theory, the openly Marxist class warfare of Black Lives Matter, the attempts of a government we can no longer trust to cow and frighten us into taking their mark in order to buy and sell—this land is falling apart and only the banner of the Gospel of Jesus Christ can heal us.
Ephesians 2:14–16 (ESV)
14 For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility 15 by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, 16 and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility.
This Gospel of Jesus Christ is God’s gracious banner set up for us to run to—even though we have angered Him, even though we are falling apart, and
Even though we are STAGGERED by JUDGMENT (v. 3; Romans 5:6-9)
Psalm 60:3 (ESV)
3 You have made your people see hard things; you have given us wine to drink that made us stagger.
We have seen hard things in the past several days—it has knocked us back on our heels, it has disoriented us. When David says that God has “given us wine to drink that made us stagger”, he is using a metaphor that other Biblical writers turn to in order to describe the experience of having God’s wrath poured out on them:
Isaiah 51:17 (ESV)
17 Wake yourself, wake yourself, stand up, O Jerusalem, you who have drunk from the hand of the Lord the cup of his wrath, who have drunk to the dregs the bowl, the cup of staggering.
If you’ve ever seen the sad sight of a drunken man trying to walk a straight line, trying to pretend that he’s sober, trying to keep up appearances even though he can barely stand—that is what our people are doing in these days. We are living in a time when the wrath of God that we have earned as a people is being poured out on us—we stumble and stagger under it, unable to unsee the terrible things it has wrought, unable to keep our feet from tangling up under us, and yet we still want to act as if everything is fine, that there is nothing wrong with us.
And yet, even though we are being staggered by judgment, God still sets up the banner of His salvation for us!
Romans 5:6–9 (ESV)
6 For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. 7 For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— 8 but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. 9 Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God.
We live in a trembling, wrath-inducing land that is falling apart at the seams—and the Gospel of Jesus Christ is the banner of grace to rally us, to strengthen and encourage us to take this Gospel to this nation that is falling apart! When every other flag falls, this banner of the Gospel of Jesus Christ will stand!
It is a banner of God’s grace to His people, and it is

II. A banner of God’s AUTHORITY over the NATIONS (Psalm 60:6-8)

In the following verses, David turns his attention from the broken and shattered nation he lives in and looks to God’s complete and unbreakable authority over every nation of the earth—in verses 6-8 he records God’s declaration of His authority:
Psalm 60:6–8 (ESV)
6 God has spoken in his holiness: “With exultation I will divide up Shechem and portion out the Vale of Succoth. 7 Gilead is mine; Manasseh is mine; Ephraim is my helmet; Judah is my scepter. 8 Moab is my washbasin; upon Edom I cast my shoe; over Philistia I shout in triumph.”
God is saying three things about His authority here—the first is that God has ultimate authority
Over our BEGINNINGS (v. 6)
Shechem is the place where Abraham first received his promise from YHWH that He would make him a great nation (Genesis 12:5-7)—it is the first place where Abraham built an altar to the LORD. And the Vale of Succoth is the first place that Jacob settled after meeting Esau (Genesis 33). God says here, “I own and control the very places where the nation of Israel came into existence!” In the same way, God can say “With exultation I will divide up Plymouth Rock, and portion out Jamestown, Virginia!” God holds ultimate authority and the right of determination over every single second of our people’s existence—He was present and authoritative when the first moment European settlers set foot on this continent—and He was present and authoritative when Noah’s descendents first stepped onto this continent in the centuries following the Flood! The banner of the salvation of God has been flying over this land before anyone ever settled here—and so we declare this Gospel in the authority of God who owns this land!
The banner of the salvation of God flies over our beginnings, and it flies
Over our GLORY (v. 7)
In verse 7 God declares that Gilead and Manasseh belong to Him, and calls Ephraim His “helmet”—Ephraim was the main military might of northern Israel and their armies were the glory of the land. He says that Judah is His “scepter”—Judah was the seat of Israel’s government (David was from the tribe of Judah), and represented the kingship and laws and commerce of the nation. God is making it clear that the military might of the nation and the government and rule of the nation belong to Him! The glory of a nation’s military might, the glory of her government and laws and politics, the glory of her wealth and status all belong to God Himself. The foolish and rebellious claim that God’s will is of no concern to a government is clearly and demonstrably false in light of God’s declaration that it all belongs to Him. And so, far from saying that the Gospel has no place in public life, or that the call to repentance and faith does not belong in the public square, we affirm in fact that the banner of this Gospel belongs squarely in the midst of our public life. And no one can ever tell you otherwise!
The Gospel is a banner of God’s authority over our beginnings, over our glory, and verse 8 shows us that God is authoritative
Over our ENEMIES (v. 8)
God goes on in verse 8 to describe the enemies of Israel as if they are His common household slaves—Moab is the servant that holds the wash basin that He washes His feet in, and Edom is the slave that he throws His sandals to. In other words, those nations have no authority over Him—He holds ultimate authority and power over them. In 1 Samuel 17, the armies of the Philistines shouted mockery and taunts at the armies of Israel before David defeated Goliath—here God says that He shouts back His victory over Philistia! There is not one square inch in all creation where God does not authoritatively and completely rule and reign—and the symbol of His reign, the banner of His authority is the Gospel of Jesus Christ’s death, burial and resurrection for the forgiveness of sins for all who call on Him!
When every other flag in the world falls, the banner of the Gospel of Jesus Christ will stand—it is the banner of God’s grace towards His people, it is the banner of God’s authority over the nations, and it is

III. A banner of God’s VICTORY in CHRIST (Psalm 60:9-12)

This Gospel is not only a banner of God’s grace to us, not only a banner of God’s authority over the nations, but this banner is a guarantee of ultimate victory! But that doesn’t mean that there are not still battles left to fight, it doesn’t mean that there are not still nations and peoples and hearts that are shut up like mighty fortresses against God and His Word. But David sings that we have hope in the victory of God because He is
Our LEADER in the BATTLE (v. 9)
In verse 9 David sings
Psalm 60:9 (ESV)
9 Who will bring me to the fortified city? Who will lead me to Edom?
Even though Edom was shut up tight against the armies of Israel, David had hope that if God were leading them to the fortified city, that nothing would be able to stop them! Jesus told His disciples that the very gates of Hell itself could not withstand the church as it declared the Gospel (Matthew 16:18), and Paul says in 2 Corinthians 10:4 that the declaration of this Gospel has “divine power to destroy strongholds, that
2 Corinthians 10:5 (ESV)
5 We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ,
Don’t let the seemingly unconquerable opposition to the Gospel that you see around you deter you, Christian—you are being led into that contest by God Himself, and He has promised that nothing can stand in its way when He sends it out!
David goes on in verses 10-11 to remind us that if God is not going with us, then there is no point in going! That His help is
The only HELP worth HAVING (vv. 10-11)
Psalm 60:10–11 (ESV)
10 Have you not rejected us, O God? You do not go forth, O God, with our armies. 11 Oh, grant us help against the foe, for vain is the salvation of man!
Pay particular attention to verse 11— “Vain is the salvation of man!” It’s a good reminder for us in these days when there are more and more threats to our religious liberties. Sometimes we wish that the government would pass more laws to protect our freedoms, that if only we would elect a different governor or senator, or if only we got more conservatives on the Supreme Court… But as John Calvin put it in his writings, that “Even if all the princes of the earth should unite for the maintenance of our Gospel, still we must not make that the basis of our hope!” The help of man is vain compared to the help of God—and it is in His strength and authority that we raise the banner of the Gospel of Jesus Christ over our town, our state, our nation, and our world!
David finishes this psalm in verse 12 by singing:
Psalm 60:12 (ESV)
12 With God we shall do valiantly; it is he who will tread down our foes.
Our victory does not come by our own strength or cleverness or skill—it comes from God’s power in us! Because through the Gospel God will conquer His enemies in the most glorious way possible--
Making His ENEMIES into His CHILDREN (v. 12)
Here is the crowning glory of the banner of the Gospel of Jesus Christ—that it conquers not by treading down and destroying lives, but the Gospel conquers by treading down our sin and restoring our lives! What more complete victory can there be than for God to take a hateful, rebellious, violent sinner and turn him into a beloved child through the Gospel? Hear how the Apostle Paul—who was once himself a violent, hate-filled sinner and rebel against Jesus Christ—describes the way God conquers His enemies:
Ephesians 2:1–7 (ESV)
1 And you were dead in the trespasses and sins 2 in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— 3 among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. 4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— 6 and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.
And you know that first-hand, don’t you? Because that “child of wrath”, that “son of disobedience”, that slave to the passions of the flesh used to be you!
But how rich the mercy and grace of God in the Gospel of Jesus Christ that when He conquered you He did it by treading down your sin and delivering you to life! That Jesus Christ shed His blood on the Cross to shield you from the wrath of God and raised you up from death to life, that He defeated you as His enemy by making you His child!
So, Christian—take that same Gospel that conquered your sin and saved you and plant it as a banner in the middle of a world where every other flag is falling! This Gospel is your rallying point in a world falling apart, it is the sign of the authority of Jesus Christ over all the nations, and it is the symbol of His victory over all His enemies and the power to tread down their sin and raise them up to life as His precious children to be seated with Him in the heavenly places to experience the immeasurable riches of His grace for all eternity in Christ!
On the first day of the Battle of Gettysburg, Confederate General James Johnson Pettigrew’s North Carolina Brigade faced the feared Iron Brigade on McPherson’s ridge. Within Pettigrew’s brigade was the 26th North Carolina Regiment. In the 7500 feet from Willoughby Run to the crest of the ridge, the 26th North Carolina lost thirteen color-bearers. The bearer of the regimental colors went into battle unarmed, their only job was to hold that standard up for their soldiers to rally around. Over and over the colors faltered as another bearer was cut down, and over and over another man stepped in to raise the standard high. Finally the commanding colonel took the colors himself, and was shot down. His executive officer took up the banner, and was shot down—just in crossing the stream they lost a color bearer on each bank and one in the water. They were ready to die rather than let those colors fall. (Retrived from
Christian, make no mistake—raising the banner of the Gospel in these dark and divisive times full of hatred and suspicion and violence makes you a target of the Enemy. Every time you purpose in your heart to raise the standard of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, you become a target for mockery, ridicule, scorn and hatred—and you become a target of Satan’s schemes to cause you to fall and drop that banner of the Gospel.
And so, Christian, as one preacher put it, “For the truth's sake, and because the true God is on our side, let us in these modern days of warfare emulate the warriors of Israel, and unfurl our banners to the breeze with confident joy. Dark signs of present or coming ill must not dishearten us; if the LORD had meant to destroy us He would not have given us the Gospel; the very fact that He has revealed Himself in Christ Jesus involves the certainty of victory." (Spurgeon, Treasury of David, Psalm 60).
And if you do not know Jesus Christ as your Savior this morning, let me plead with you that this banner has been raised for you today. This Gospel is the sign of peace for you—the end of your strife with God, the end of your guilt and shame and anxiety, the end of your worry and trepidation over the days to come—come and talk to me after the sermon, let me pray with you, let me show you how you can know for certain that this banner has been raised for you that you may flee to it from the bow, that you may be delivered, and that you might receive salvation from the right hand of your Savior Jesus Christ!
Jude 24–25 (ESV)
24 Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, 25 to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.


Read through Psalm 60:1-3 again—what similarities do you see between the condition of the nation David lived in with the condition of our nation today? Read Ephesians 2:13-16. How does this passage say that the Gospel applies to the ways that our people are being torn apart today?
God describes the places of Israel’s founding and the nations set against her as His possessions, that He has the right to dispose of them however He decides (Psalm 60:6-8). How does God’s complete authority over nations like Afghanistan give you hope for the Gospel going forward there? How can these verses strengthen you to pray for places around the world where Christians suffer for Christ?
Related Media
See more
Related Sermons
See more