March 15, 2010
He has brought me to his banquet hall, And his banner over me is love. Song of Solomon 2:4
A few months ago, there was an article in the travel section of a Sunday New York Times about the Grand Canyon in winter. The accompanying photos were spectacular, but they still weren’t enough to convince me that I’d want to visit there in the colder months!
The author did a terrific job describing what it’s like to leave the rim and go into the canyon itself. Here’s what he had to say about one point on his descent: “Below us, sweeping brown plateaus bulge as if they were soft upholstery. There are cliffs of blue, pink, orange, mauve, and deep purple bands of rock—the banners of God, as an early explorer said.”
According to Ann Spangler in Praying the Names of God, in Biblical times, “armies carried standards or banners that served as marks of identification and as symbols that embodied the ideals of a people. A banner, like a flag, was something that could be seen from afar, serving as a rallying point for troops before a battle.”
The Israelites, she notes, carried banners with them on their 40-year march through the desert. After the Israelites defeated the Amalekites, when Moses built an altar and named it The Lord is My Banner (Exodus 17:8-16), he was acknowledging that God, under whom they fought, was the One powerful enough to overcome their foes.
I imagine that when this unnamed explorer called the Grand Canyon’s multi-hued rocks “banners of God,” it was because he recognized God put those ribbons of color there to proclaim His power and majesty in creating this exquisite and breathtaking phenomenon.
When I envision God’s banner, what comes to my mind is love. Just as Solomon displayed his devotion to his bride in such a way that everyone could see, so I think of the love that drew me to God, that He demonstrated once and for all by sending His Son to die on the cross for all the wrong things I’ve said, thought and done (Romans 5:8).
I rally under that banner often, especially when I’m struggling, confused, fearful and uncertain, for it’s there I find strength for the fight. And I’m reminded that my battle really belongs to God (1 Samuel 17:47, 2 Chronicles 20:15).