A prayer-- The greatness and goodness of God. (1-6) The wonderful works God wrought for his people. (7-14) The presence of God in his church. (15-21) The victories of Christ. (22-28) Enlargement of the church. (29-31) The glory and grace of God. (32-35)
Verses 1-6 None ever hardened his heart against God, and prospered. God is the joy of his people, then let them rejoice when they come before him. He who derives his being from none, but gives being to all, is engaged by promise and covenant to bless his people. He is to be praised as a God of mercy and tender compassion. He ever careth for the afflicted and oppressed: repenting sinners, who are helpless and exposed more than any fatherless children, are admitted into his family, and share all their blessings.
Verses 7-14 Fresh mercies should put us in mind of former mercies. If God bring his people into a wilderness, he will be sure to go before them in it, and to bring them out of it. He provided for them, both in the wilderness and in Canaan. The daily manna seems here meant. And it looks to the spiritual provision for God's Israel. The Spirit of grace and the gospel of grace are the plentiful rain, with which God confirms his inheritance, and from which their fruit is found. Christ shall come as showers that water the earth. The account of Israel's victories is to be applied to the victories over death and hell, by the exalted Redeemer, for those that are his. Israel in Egypt among the kilns appeared wretched, but possessed of Canaan, during the reigns of David and Solomon, appeared glorious. Thus the slaves of Satan, when converted to Christ, when justified and sanctified by him, look honourable. When they reach heaven, all remains of their sinful state disappear, they shall be as the wings of the dove, covered with silver, and her feathers as gold. Full salvation will render those white as snow, who were vile and loathsome through the guilt and defilement of sin.
Verses 15-21 The ascension of Christ must here be meant, and thereto it is applied, ( Ephesians 4:8 ) . He received as the purchase of his death, the gifts needful for the conversion of sinners, and the salvation of believers. These he continually bestows, even on rebellious men, that the Lord God might dwell among them, as their Friend and Father. He gave gifts to men. Having received power to give eternal life, the Lord Jesus bestows it on as many as were given him, ( John 17:2 ) . Christ came to a rebellious world, not to condemn it, but that through him it might be saved. The glory of Zion's King is, that he is a Saviour and Benefactor to all his willing people, and a consuming fire to all that persist in rebellion against him. So many, so weighty are the gifts of God's bounty, that he may be truly said to load us with them. He will not put us off with present things for a portion, but will be the God of our salvation. The Lord Jesus has authority and power to rescue his people from the dominion of death, by taking away the sting of it from them when they die, and giving them complete victory over it when they rise again. The crown of the head, the chief pride and glory of the enemy, shall be smitten; Christ shall crush the head of the serpent.
Verses 22-28 The victories with which God blessed David over the enemies of Israel, are types of Christ's victory, for himself and for all believers. Those who take him for theirs, may see him acting as their God, as their King, for their good, and in answer to their prayers; especially in and by his word and ordinances. The kingdom of the Messiah shall be submitted to by all the rulers and learned in the world. The people seem to address the king, ver. Verse 28 . But the words are applicable to the Redeemer, to his church, and every true believer. We pray, that thou, O God the Son, wilt complete thine undertaking for us, by finishing thy good work in us.
Verses 29-31 A powerful invitation is given to those that are without, to join the church. Some shall submit from fear; overcome by their consciences, and the checks of Providence, they are brought to make peace with the church. Others will submit ( psalms 68:29-31 ) service of God, and in the gospel of Christ which went forth from Jerusalem, which is enough to invite sinners out of all nations.
Verses 32-35 God is to be admired and adored with reverence and godly fear, by all that attend in his holy places. The God of Israel gives strength and power unto his people. Through Christ strengthening us we can do all things, not otherwise; therefore he must have the glory of all we do, with our humble thanks for enabling us to do it, and for accepting the work of his hands in us.
Psalms 68:1-35 . suggested by David's victories, which secured his throne and gave rest to the nation. In general terms, the judgment of God on the wicked, and the equity and goodness of His government to the pious, are celebrated. The sentiment is illustrated by examples of God's dealings, cited from the Jewish history and related in highly poetical terms. Hence the writer intimates an expectation of equal and even greater triumphs and summons all nations to unite in praises of the God of Israel. The Psalm is evidently typical of the relation which God, in the person of His Son, sustains to the Church (compare Psalms 68:18 ).
1-3. Compare Numbers 10:35 , Psalms 1:4 , 22:14 , on the figures here used.
before him--as in Psalms 68:2 , from His presence, as dreaded; but in Psalms 68:3 , in His presence, as under His protection ( Psalms 61:7 ).
3. the righteous--all truly pious, whether of Israel or not.
4. extol him . . . heavens--literally, "cast up for Him who rideth in the deserts," or "wilderness" (compare Psalms 68:7 ), alluding to the poetical representation of His leading His people in the wilderness as a conqueror, before whom a way is to be prepared, or "cast up" (compare Isaiah 40:3 , 62:10 ).
by his name JAH--or, "Jehovah," of which it is a contraction ( Exodus 15:3 , Isaiah 12:2 ) (Hebrew).
name--or, "perfections" ( Psalms 9:10 , 20:1 ), which--
5, 6. are illustrated by the protection to the helpless, vindication of the innocent, and punishment of rebels, ascribed to Him.
6. setteth the solitary in families--literally, "settleth the lonely" (as wanderers) "at home." Though a general truth, there is perhaps allusion to the wandering and settlement of the Israelites.
rebellious dwell in a dry land--removed from all the comforts of home.
7, 8. (Compare Exodus 19:16-18 ).
thou wentest--in the pillar of fire.
thou didst march--literally, "in Thy tread," Thy majestic movement.
8. even Sinai itself--literally, "that Sinai," as in Judges 5:5 .
9, 10. a plentiful rain--a rain of gifts, as manna and quails.
10. Thy congregation--literally, "troop," as in 2 Samuel 23:11 2 Samuel 23:13 --the military aspect of the people being prominent, according to the figures of the context.
therein--that is, in the land of promise.
the poor--Thy humble people ( Psalms 68:9 ; compare Psalms 10:17 , 12:5 ).
11. gave the word--that is, of triumph.
company--or, choir of females, celebrating victory ( Exodus 15:20 ).
12. Kings of armies--that is, with their armies.
she that . . . at home--Mostly women so remained, and the ease of victory appears in that such, without danger, quietly enjoyed the spoils.
13. Some translate this, "When ye shall lie between the borders, ye shall," &c., comparing the peaceful rest in the borders or limits of the promised land to the proverbial beauty of a gentle dove. Others understand by the word rendered "pots," the smoked sides of caves, in which the Israelites took refuge from enemies in the times of the judges; or, taking the whole figuratively, the rows of stones on which cooking vessels were hung; and thus that a contrast is drawn between their former low and afflicted state and their succeeding prosperity. In either case, a state of quiet and peace is described by a beautiful figure.
14. Their enemies dispersed, the contrast of their prosperity with their former distress is represented by that of the snow with the dark and somber shades of Salmon.
15, 16. Mountains are often symbols of nations ( Psalms 46:2 , 65:6 ). That of Bashan, northeast of Palestine, denotes a heathen nation, which is described as a "hill of God," or a great hill. Such are represented as envious of the hill (Zion) on which God resides;
17. and, to the assertion of God's purpose to make it His dwelling, is added evidence of His protecting care. He is described as in the midst of His heavenly armies--
thousands of angels--literally, "thousands of repetitions," or, "thousands of thousands"--that is, of chariots. The word "angels" was perhaps introduced in our version, from Deuteronomy 33:2 , and Galatians 3:19 . They are, of course, implied as conductors of the chariots.
as . . . Sinai, in the holy place--that is, He has appeared in Zion as once in Sinai.
18. From the scene of conquest He ascends to His throne, leading--
captivity captive--or, "many captives captive" ( Judges 5:12 ).
received gifts for men--accepting their homage, even when forced, as that of rebels.
that the Lord God might dwell--or literally, "to dwell, O Lord God" (compare Psalms 68:16 )--that is, to make this hill, His people or Church, His dwelling. This Psalm typifies the conquests of the Church under her divine leader, Christ. He, indeed, "who was with the Church in the wilderness" ( Acts 7:38 ) is the Lord, described in this ideal ascension. Hence Paul ( Ephesians 4:8 ) applies this language to describe His real ascension, when, having conquered sin, death, and hell, the Lord of glory triumphantly entered heaven, attended by throngs of adoring angels, to sit on the throne and wield the scepter of an eternal dominion. The phrase "received gifts for (or literally, among) men" is by Paul, "gave gifts to men" ( Ephesians 4:8 ). Both describe the acts of a conqueror, who receives and distributes spoils. The Psalmist uses "receiving" as evincing the success, Paul "gave" as the act, of the conqueror, who, having subdued his enemies, proceeds to reward his friends. The special application of the passage by Paul was in proof of Christ's exaltation. What the Old Testament represents of His descending and ascending corresponds with His history. He who descended is the same who has ascended. As then ascension was an element of His triumph, so is it now; and He, who, in His humiliation, must be recognized as our vicarious sacrifice and the High Priest of our profession, must also be adored as Head of His Church and author of all her spiritual benefits.
19-21. God daily and fully supplies us. The issues or escapes from death are under His control, who is the God that saves us, and destroys His and our enemies.
21. wound the head--or, "violently destroy" ( Numbers 24:8 , Psalms 110:6 ).
goeth on still in . . . trespasses--perseveringly impenitent.
22. Former examples of God's deliverance are generalized: as He has done, so He will do.
from Bashan--the farthest region; and--
depths of the sea--the severest afflictions. Out of all, God will bring them. The figures of Psalms 68:23 denote the completeness of the conquest, not implying any savage cruelty (compare 2 Kings 9:36 , Isaiah 63:1-6 , Jeremiah 15:3 ).
24-27. The triumphal procession, after the deliverance, is depicted.
They have seen--impersonally, "There have been seen."
the goings of my God--as leading the procession; the ark, the symbol of His presence, being in front. The various bands of music ( Psalms 68:25 ) follow, and all who are--
26. from--or literally, "of"
the fountain of Israel--that is, lineal descendants of Jacob, are invited to unite in the doxology. Then by one of the nearest tribes, one of the most eminent, and two of the most remote, are represented the whole nation of Israel, passing forward ( Numbers 7:1-89 ).
28, 29. Thanks for the past, and confident prayer for the future victories of Zion are mingled in a song of praise.
29. thy temple--literally, "over"
Jerusalem--His palace or residence ( Psalms 5:7 ) symbolized His protecting presence among His people, and hence is the object of homage on the part of others.
30. The strongest nations are represented by the strongest beasts (compare Margin).
31. Princes--or, literally, "fat ones," the most eminent from the most wealthy, and the most distant nation, represent the universal subjection.
stretch out her hands--or, "make to run her hands," denoting haste.
32-36. To Him who is presented as riding in triumph through His ancient heavens and proclaiming His presence--to Him who, in nature, and still more in the wonders of His spiritual government, out of His holy place ( Psalms 43:3 ), is terrible, who rules His Church, and, by His Church, rules the world in righteousness--let all nations and kingdoms give honor and power and dominion evermore.