May we shout for joy over your victory, and lift up our banners in the name of our God! (Psalm 20:5)
Best Fans Ever!
My wife Heidi and I lived in Sheboygan, Wisconsin for five years. When we prepared to move there, people warned us about two things: the winters will be long and cold, and the Green Bay Packers football fans are crazy! We can testify that both of those things are true! I don’t need to comment on the endless winters, but I will say that nothing could have prepared me for the “Packer Backers.” It’s an all-in and all-year-long thing. It reaches everywhere and includes everyone. Of course, part of this obsession is a result of the team’s success on the field—they have won more championships than any other NFL team in history. But I am told part of the fanaticism is because the Packers are the only team in the NFL that is publicly owed—by the fans—since 1923. When Packer fans say, “This is my team,” over 360,000 of them mean it literally!
I’m actually a Bears fan…but in Sheboygan I kept that news to myself.
Psalm 20 is a song of prayer for the king before an upcoming battle. “May the Lord answer you in distress…may he send you help from the sanctuary…may he give you the desire of your heart, and make all your plans succeed…Lord, give victory to the king!” We can imagine the king riding out at the front of his army as the song rings out. He is all decked out and ready for battle. The fans are going wild! Their full-throated shouts are brimming with confidence, but it’s not just confidence in the king or his army. “The Lord gives victory to his anointed…with the victorious power of his right hand. Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God!” Regardless of the odds, whatever the foe, our God is greater.
The form of this song is revealing. Verses 1-4 address the king directly in the second person (you & your), and verses 6-9 refer to him in the third person (he & him). But smack dab in the middle of the song, in verse 5, the singers curiously turn toward the first person, “May we shout for joy over your victory and lift up our banners in the name of our God.” This isn’t just the king’s battle, or even simply the army’s battle—it’s our battle, this is my team!
Next week we will celebrate Christmas. We celebrate that Jesus is more than a baby in the manger, he is the victorious King of kings and Lord of lords, come to set his people free from the enemies of sin and death and despair. He has come to fight a battle that we could never win. We don’t trust in chariots or horses (or money or medicine or politics), we trust in the name of the Lord our God! And that name is Jesus.
Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Philippians 2:9-11)
When Jesus went to the cross, in love, to settle the score for our sins; when God raised Jesus from the dead on Easter morning, the war was over. God wins! Our prayer isn’t that our King will be victorious someday, our prayer is that we will be able to know and live in the reality of that victory today! Jesus’ victory is cause for our celebration.
May we shout for joy over your victory and lift up our banners in the name of our God! (Psalm 20:5)
During this holiday season, remember this: whatever the circumstances, whatever battles may remain, Jesus Christ has won the victory. And his victory has become your victory. Because he lives, we can face the future with confidence. Because he is with us, we don’t have to be afraid. Because he lives, we can approach His throne with confidence. If our God is for us, what can stand against us?
May you be able to shout for joy over his victory today and every day. May he give you the grace and the strength to lift your banner high for Jesus this Christmas. Stay thirsty for him!