5. That we may rejoice in thy salvation. This verse may be explained in two other ways, besides the sense it bears according to the translation which I have given. Some consider it to be a prayer, as if it had been said, Lord, make us to rejoice. Others think that the faithful, after having finished their prayer, encourage themselves to entertain good hope; or rather, being already inspired with an assured hope of success, they begin to sing, so to speak, of the victory, even as it is usual with David to intermingle such kind of rejoicings with his prayers, thereby to stir up himself to continue with the more alacrity in prayer. But upon considering the whole more carefully, my opinion is, that what is meant to be expressed is the effect or fruit which would result from the bestowment of the grace and favour of God, for which the people prayed; and, therefore, I have thought it necessary to supply the particle that, in the beginning of the verse. The faithful, as an argument to obtain the favour of God towards their king, set forth the joy which they would all experience in common, in seeing it exercised towards him, and the thanksgiving which they would with one accord render for it. The import of their language is, It is not for the preservation and welfare of one man that we are solicitous; it is for the safety and well-being of the whole Church. The expression, In thy salvation, may be referred to God as well as to the king; for the salvation which God bestows is often called the salvation of God; but the context requires that it should be rather understood of the king. The people lived “under the shadow of the king,” to use the words of Jeremiah, (Lam. 4:20;) and, therefore, the faithful now testify, that as long as he is safe and in prosperity, they will all be joyful and happy. At the same time, to distinguish their joy from the heathen dancings and rejoicings, they declare that they will set up their banners in the name of God; for the Hebrew word דגל, dagal, here used, means to set or lift up a banner. The meaning is, that the faithful, in grateful acknowledgment of the grace of God, will celebrate his praises and triumph in his name.
Rejoicing in Anticipation (20:5)
5 When the Lord responds to the prayer, he will demonstrate his presence and favor by giving victory to the king. The people pledge loyalty to the king by affirming their joy in his victory. They are confident that he is God’s chosen servant for the occasion and look forward to his return in victory. They also pledge loyalty to the Lord by raising their banners “in the name of our God.” Moses raised a “banner” to the Lord after the war with the Amalekites as a token of perpetual war as long as the Amalekites existed as a people (Ex 17:15–16). Here the raising of the banners signifies God’s victory over the enemies (cf. Dahood, 1:128). They trust that the king who goes out “in the name” of Yahweh (vv. 1, 5) will experience his presence and favor. They are prepared to raise the banners as an expression of confidence in the forthcoming victory. The people conclude their prayer with a petition for the Lord’s blessing.
Ver. 5.—We will rejoice in thy salvation. David’s “salvation” is here his triumph over his enemies, which the people confidently anticipate, and promise themselves the satisfaction of speedily celebrating with joy and rejoicing. And in the Name of our God we will set up our banners. Plant them, i.e., on the enemy’s forts and strongholds. The Lord fulfil all thy petitions. A comprehensive prayer, re-echoing the first clause of ver. 1 and the whole of ver. 4, but reaching out further to all that the monarch may at any future time request of God. The first part of the psalm here ends, and the people pause for a while.
5. “We will rejoice in thy salvation.” In Jesus there is salvation; it is his own, and hence it is called thy salvation; but it is ours to receive and ours to rejoice in. We should fixedly resolve that come what may, we will rejoice in the saving arm of the Lord Jesus. The people in this Psalm, before their king went to battle, felt sure of victory, and therefore began to rejoice beforehand; how much more ought we to do this who have seen the victory completely won! Unbelief begins weeping for the funeral before the man is dead; why should not faith commence piping before the dance of victory begins? Buds are beautiful, and promises not yet fulfilled are worthy to be admired. If joy were more general among the Lord’s people, God would be more glorified among men; the happiness of the subjects is the honour of the sovereign, “And in the name of our God we will set up our banners.” We lift the standard of defiance in the face of the foe, and wave the flag of victory over the fallen adversary. Some proclaim war in the name of one king and some of another but the faithful go to war in Jesu’s name, the name of the incarnate God, Immanuel, God with us. The times are evil at present, but so long as Jesus lives and reigns in his church we need not furl our banners in fear, but advance them with sacred courage.
“Jesu’s tremendous name
Puts all our foes to flight;
Jesus, the meek, the angry Lamb
A lion is in fight.”
The church cannot forget that Jesus is her advocate before the throne, and therefore she sums up the desires already expressed in the short sentence, “The Lord fulfil all thy petitions.” Be it never forgotten that among those petitions is that choice one, “Father, I will that they also whom thou hast given me be with me where I am.”