Verse 2. As smoke is driven away. Easily the wind chases the smoke, completely it removes it, no trace is left; so, Lord, do thou to the foes of thy people. They fume in pride, they darken the sky with their malice, they mount higher and higher in arrogance, they defile wherever they prevail. Lord, let they breath, thy Spirit, thy Providence, make them to vanish for ever from the march of thy people. Philosophic scepticism is as flimsy and as foul as smoke; may the Lord deliver his Church from the reek of it.
As wax melteth before the fire, so let the wicked perish at the presence of God. Wax is hard when by itself, but put it to the fire, how soft it is. Wicked men are haughty till they come into contact with the Lord, and then they faint for fear; their hearts melt like wax when they feel the power of his anger. Wax, also, burns and passes away; the taper is utterly consumed by the flame: so shall all the boastful power of the opposers of the gospel be as a thing of nought. Rome, like the candles on her altars, shall dissolve, and with equal certainty shall infidelity disappear. Israel saw, in the ark, God on the mercyseat -- power in connection with propitiation -- and they rejoiced in the omnipotence of such a manifestation; this is even more clearly the confidence of the New Testament church, for we see Jesus, the appointed atonement, clothed with glory and majesty, and before his advance all opposition melts like snow in the sun; the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in his hands. When he comes by his Holy Spirit, conquest is the result; but when he arises in person, his foes shall utterly perish.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Verse 1-3. See Psalms on "Psalms 68:1" for further information.
Verse 2. As smoke is driven away, etc. The psalmist adds a striking figure to illustrate how easily God can overthrow the machinations of our enemies, comparing them to smoke which vanishes away when blown upon by the wind, or wax which melts before the fire. We consider it utterly incredible that such a formidable array of opposition should be made to disappear in a moment. But the Spirit takes this method of chiding the fearfulness of our carnal minds, and teaching us that there is no such strength in our enemies as we suppose -- that we allow the smoke of them to blind our eyes, and the solid mass of resistance which they present to deceive us into a forgetfulness of the truth, that the mountains themselves flow down at the presence of the Lord. John Calvin.
Verse 2. As smoke is driven away, etc. "Their end was bitter as the smoke," said an aged teacher. What meanest thou, O Master? asked his young disciple. "I was thinking of the end of the unrighteous," replied the old man, "and of how too often I, like the psalmist, have been envious when they were in prosperity. Their lives have seemed so bright and glowing that I have thought they resembled the blaze of a cheerful fire on a winter's night. But, as I have watched them, they have suddenly vanished like the flame that fades into black and bitter smoke; and I have ceased to envy them. Trust not, O my scholar, only to that which appears brilliant; but watch also for its ending, lest thou be deceived." Hubert Bower, in "Parables and Similitudes of the Christian Life," 1871.
HINTS FOR PASTORS AND LAYPERSONS
First. The church of God ever had, and will have, enemies
and haters; for against these doth the psalmist arm
himself and the church with this prayer.
Secondly. The church's enemies are God's enemies; they
that hate the church, hate God. Thine
enemies, them that hate thee.
Thirdly. God sometimes seems to sleep or lie still, and
let these enemies and haters do what they will
for a season, This, also, is implied: he to whom
we say, Arise is either asleep or lies still.
Fourthly. There is a time when God will arise.
Fifthly. God's rising time is the enemies'
scattering time, his hater's flying time.
Sixthly. It is the duty of God's people to pray
him up when he seems to be down, and to exalt him
in their praises when he doth arise to their
rescue and redemption; for these words are both a
prayer and a triumph as they are used both by
Moses and David.
Thomas Case, in a Fast Sermon, preached before the House of Commons, entitled, "God's Rising, his Enemies' Scattering." 1644.
Verse 1-3. Prayer for the Second Advent. A. Macaul.