Exodus 17:15–16 tells us, “Moses built an altar and called it The Lord is my Banner. He said, ‘Because hands were lifted up against the throne of the Lord, the Lord will be at war against the Amalekites from generation to generation.’” “The Lord is my Banner” is the translation of the Hebrew Yahweh-Nissi.
Earlier in Exodus 17, we read of the Amalekites attacking the Israelites at Rephidim. Joshua and the Israelites fought against the Amalekites while Moses stood on top of a hill with the staff of God in his hands. When Moses’ hands were lifted, the Israelites were winning; when his hands were lowered, the Amalekites were winning. Understandably, Moses grew tired, so he sat on a stone, and Aaron and Hur held up his hands. The children of Israel gained the victory (verse 13). God then instructed Moses to write the account of the battle on a scroll so that it would be remembered (verse 14). It was then that Moses built the altar he named “The Lord is my Banner.” That name proclaims God’s leadership and the protection of His people.
A banner is something that identifies and unifies a particular group of people. For example, a military flag or standard is sometimes called a banner. The Israelites’ saying, “The Lord is my Banner,” was a way of identifying themselves as the unified followers of the Lord God. A banner also functions as a rallying point for troops in a battle. The altar Moses built in Exodus 17 marked the place where God intervened on behalf of His people and promised to utterly defeat His enemies.
Psalm 20:5 says, “May we shout for joy over your victory and lift up our banners in the name of our God.” In verses 6–8 we read, “Now this I know: The Lord gives victory to his anointed. He answers him from his heavenly sanctuary 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. They are brought to their knees and fall, but we rise up and stand firm.” God’s people continue to say, “The Lord is my Banner,” because it is in His power that the enemies are vanquished (see also Psalm 60:4–5). The Lord is our Banner in that He is the One under whom we unite. He is our Savior. We are rescued by Him and identified in Him.