The prophet now puts into the mouth of the assembly a song, foretelling the future conquests of Jehovah.
Verse 28. Thy God hath commanded thy strength. His decree had ordained the nation strong, and his arm had made them so. As a commander in chief, the Lord made the valiant men pass in battle array, and bade them be strong in the day of conflict. This is a very rich though brief sentence, and, whether applied to an individual believer, or to the whole church, it is full of consolation.
Strengthen, O God, that which thou hast wrought for us. As all power comes from God at first, so its continual maintenance is also of him. We who have life should pray to have it more "abundantly;" if we have strength we should seek to be still more established. We expect God to bless his own work. He has never left any work unfinished yet, and he never will. "When we were without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly;" and now, being reconciled to God, we may look to him to perfect that which concerneth us, since he never forsakes the work of his own hands.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Verse 26-28. See Psalms on "Psalms 68:26" for further information.
- Offer a few remarks by way of expounding the passage.
- Israel had their lesser congregations in ordinary every Sabbath day, and their national ones three times a year. Their business in all was to bless God.
- This business was to be carried on by all Israel, beginning at the fountain head, and proceeding through all its streams. God had blessed Israel; let Israel bless God.
- All the tribes are supposed to be present; four are mentioned in the name of the whole, as inhabiting the confines of the land. Their union was a source of joy; they had been divided by civil wars, but now they are met together.
- Those tribes which are named had each something particular attending it. Little Benjamin (see Judges 2
- had nearly been a tribe lacking in Israel, but now appears with its ruler. Judah had been at war with Benjamin: Saul was a Benjamite; David was of Judah: yet they happily lost their antipathy in the worship of God. Zebulun and Naphtali were distant tribes; yet they were there! dark, too, yet there.
- The princes and the people were all together.
- They were supposed to be strong, but were reminded that what they had of strength was of God's commanding. Their union and success, as well as that degree of righteousness among them which exalted the nation, was of God. They are not so strong, but that they need strengthening, and are directed to pray as well as praise: Strengthen, O God, that which thou hast wrought for us.
- Apply the subject. Two things are here exemplified, namely -- diligence and brotherly union; and three things recommended, namely -- united praise; united acknowledgment that, for what they are, they are indebted to God; and united prayer for future mercies. Each of these affords a rule for us.
- The worship of God must be attended with diligence. There are the princes of Zebulun and Naphtali. They had to travel about two hundred miles three times a year, thither and back again; that is, twelve hundred in a year, twenty-four miles a week. Those who neglect the worship of God for little difficulties show that their heart is not in it, and when they do attend cannot expect to profit: "they have snuffed at it." Those whose hearts are in it often reap great advantage. God blessed the Israelites in their journeys, as well as when there ( Psalms 84:6 ): "The rain filleth the pools;" and so the Christians. There is a peculiar promise to those that seek him early.
- The worship of God must be attended to with brotherly love. All the tribes must go up together. It is a kind law that enjoins social worship; we need each other to stimulate. "O magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt his name together." God has made us so that we shall be greatly influenced by each other, both to good and evil. It greatly concerns us to cultivate such a spirit. To this end we must cherish an affectionate behaviour in our common intercourse -- bear, forbear, and forgive; and, whatever differences we may have, not suffer them to hinder our worship. The tribes, as we have seen, had their differences; yet they were there. When all Israel met at Hebron to anoint David king, what should we have said if some had kept away because others went?
- Our business, when assembled, must be to bless God in our congregations; and a pleasant work this is. Israel had reasons, and good reasons, and Christians more. Thank him for his unspeakable gift; bless him for the means of grace, and the hopes of glory. Bless him; he "healeth all thy diseases," etc. Psalm
- This is an employment that fits for heaven. The tears of a mourner in God's house were supposed to defile his altar. We may mourn for sin; but a fretful spirit, discontented and unthankful, defiles God's altar still.
- Another part of our business is to unite in acknowledging that whatever we are, we owe it to God alone; "Thy God hath commanded thy strength." We possess a degree of strength both individually and socially. Art thou strong in faith, in hope, in zeal? It is in him thou art strong. Are we strong as a society? It is God that increaseth us with men like a flock; it is he that keeps us in union, gives us success, etc.
- Another part of our business must be to unite in prayer for future mercies. We are not so strong, either as individuals or societies, but that there is room for increase; and this is the proper object of prayer. God has wrought a great work for us in regeneration. God has wrought much for us as a church in giving us increase, respect, and room in the earth. Pray that each may be increased; or, in the words of the text: Strengthen, O God, that which thou hast wrought for us. Are there none who are strangers to all this? Andrew Fuller.
Verse 27-28. See Psalms on "Psalms 68:27" for further information.
Verse 28. Thy God hath commanded thy strength. Singularly appropriate to the occasion for which they were composed are these stimulating words. The ark of God had during several years been kept in private houses. David had pitched a tent for its reception, and intended providing a better shrine; he would deposit the ark in the temporary sanctuary, and he gathers thirty thousand chosen men of Israel, and with these and with a multitude of the people he proceeds to the house in which the ark had been kept. The people can render the service of song, so "David and all the house of Israel played before the Lord on all manner of instruments made of fir wood, even on harps, and on psalteries, and on timbrels, and on cornets, and on cymbals" ( 2 Samuel 6:5 ). The breach of Uzzah delayed the restoration of the ark three months; but David returned to the work, and with gladness, with burnt offerings and peace offerings, with feasting, dancing, and the sound of a trumpet, he brought in the ark of the Lord, and set it in its place in the tabernacle he had pitched for it. David can provide a sacred place for the ark of his God, and his "God has commanded his strength." Thirty thousand chosen men can attend on this occasion, and a multitude besides. Then, why should they tarry at home? The occasion is worthy of their presence, and their "God has commanded their strength." There are sweet singers and skilful players in Israel, and why should they be silent. The occasion calls for praise, and their "God has commanded their strength." There are cattle upon the thousand hills of Canaan, and shall no sacrifice be brought? The occasion demands oblations, and Israel's "God has commanded their strength." There is a mountain in Canaan, beautiful for situation, and rich in historic association. God's ark can be brought to this mountain, and if it can be, it ought to be, for Israel's God has commanded Israel's strength. There are twelve tribes in Israel which may unite in bringing up God's ark, then let none hold back, for their "God has commanded their strength." Thy strength is thy best -- all that is within thee; all that thou canst do, and be, and become; and all that thou hast -- the two mites, if these be all, and the alabaster box of spikenard, very costly, if this be thy possession... By that which God is in himself, by that which God is to us, by law on the heart, and by law oral and written, by the new kingdom of his love, and by all his benefits, Thy God commands thy strength. He speaks from the beginning, and from the end of time, from the midst of chaos, and from the new heavens and new earth, from Bethel and from Gethsemane, from Sinai and from Calvary, and he saith to us all, "My son, give me thine heart," consecrate to me thy best, and devote to me thy strength. Samuel Martin.
HINTS FOR PASTORS AND LAYPERSONS