PSALM 68 OVERVIEW
Title. To the Chief Musician, a Psalm or Song of David. We have already said enough upon this title when dealing with Psalms 65 and 66. The present is obviously a song to be sung at the removal of the ark; and in all probability was rehearsed when David conducted it with holy joy from the house of Obededom to the prepared place on Mount Zion. It is a most soul stirring hymn. The first verses were often the battle song of the Covenanters and Ironsides; and the whole Psalm fitly pictures the way of the Lord Jesus among his saints, and his ascent to glory. The Psalm is at once surpassingly excellent and difficult. Its darkness in some stanzas is utterly impenetrable. Well does a German critic speak of it as a Titan very hard to master. Our slender scholarship has utterly failed us and we have had to follow a surer Guide. We trust our thoughts may not however prove unprofitable.
Division. With the words of the first two verses the ark is uplifted, and the procession begins to move. In Psalms 68:3-6 , the godly in the assembly are exhorted to commence their joyous songs, and arguments are adduced to help their joy. Then the glorious march of Jehovah in the wilderness is sung: Psalms 68:7-10 , and his victories in war are celebrated in verses Psalms 68:11-14 . The joyous shouts are louder as Zion comes in sight, and the ark is borne up the hill: Psalms 68:15-19 . On the summit of the mount the priests sing a hymn concerning the Lord's goodness and justice; the safety of his friends, and ruin of his foes: Psalms 68:20-23 . Meanwhile the procession is described as it winds up the hill: Psalms 68:24-27 . The poet anticipates a time of wider conquest, Psalms 68:28-31 : and concludes with a noble burst of song unto Jehovah.
Verse 1. Let God arise. In some such words Moses spake when the cloud moved onward, and the ark was carried forward. The ark would have been a poor leader if the Lord had not been present with the symbol. Before we move, we should always desire to see the Lord lead the way. The words suppose the Lord to have been passive for awhile, suffering his enemies to rage, but restraining his power. Israel beseeches him to "arise," as elsewhere to "awake," "gird on his sword," and other similar expressions. We, also, may thus importunately cry unto the Lord, that he would be pleased to make bare his arm, and plead his own cause.
Let his enemies be scattered. Our glorious Captain of the vanguard clears the way readily, however many may seek to obstruct it; he has but to arise, and they flee, he has easily over thrown his foes in days of yore, and will do so all through the ages to come. Sin, death, and hell know the terror of his arm; their ranks are broken at his approach. Our enemies are his enemies, and in this is our confidence of victory.
Let them also that hate him flee before him. To hate the infinitely good God is infamous, and the worst punishment is not too severe. Hatred of God is impotent. His proudest foes can do him no injury. Alarmed beyond measure, they shall flee before it comes to blows. Long before the army of Israel can come into the fray, the haters of God shall flee before HIM who is the champion of his chosen. He comes, he sees, he conquers. How fitting a prayer is this for the commencement of a revival! How it suggests the true mode of conducting one: -- the Lord leads the way, his people follow, the enemies flee.
In order that our readers may see the Psalm at a glance in a good translation, we subjoin the version of FRANZ DELITZSCH; recommending our ministerial brethren to procure the volumes of his valuable Commentary on the Psalms, issued by the Messrs. CLARK, of Edinburgh.
PSALM 68 OVERVIEW
HYMN OF WAR AND VICTORY IN THE STYLE OF DEBORAH
2 LET Elohim arise, let His enemies be scattered,
And let those who hate Him flee before His face.
3 As smoke is driven away, do Thou drive them away;
As wax melteth before the fire,
Let the wicked perish before Elohim.
4 And let the righteous rejoice, let them exult before
And let them be glad with joy.
5 Sing unto Elohim, harp His name,
Pave a highway for Him who rideth along through the
Jah is his name, and exult ye before Him.
6 A Father of the fatherless and an Advocate of the
Is Elohim in His holy habitation.
7 Elohim maketh a household for the solitary,
He leadeth forth prisoners into prosperity;
Yet the rebellious abide in a land of drought.
8 Elohim, when Thou wentest forth before Thy people,
When thou didst march along in the wilderness --
9 The earth shook,
The heavens also dropped before Elohim,
Yon Sinai before Elohim, the God of Israel.
10 With plentiful rain didst Thou, Elohim, water Thine
And when it was parched, THOU hast confirmed it.
11 Thy creatures have settled down therein,
Thou didst provide with Thy goodness for the poor,
12 The Lord will sound forth the mandate;
Of the women who herald victory there is a great army.
13 The kings of hosts shall flee, shall flee,
And she that tarrieth at home, shall divide the spoil.
14 If ye encamp among the sheep folds,
The dove's wings are covered with silver
And her feathers with glistening gold.
15 When the Almighty scattereth kings therein,
It becometh snow white upon Zalmon.
16 A mountain of Elohim is the mountain of Bashan,
A mountain full of peaks is the mountain of Bashan.
17 Why look ye enviously, ye many peaked mountains,
Upon the mountain which Elohim hath chosen, to dwell
Yea, Jahve will dwell (there) for ever.
18 The war chariots of Elohim are myriads, a thousand
The Lord is among them, it is a Sinai in holiness.
19 Thou hast ascended up to the height, Thou hast led
Thou hast received gifts among men,
Even from the rebellious, that Jah Elohim might dwell
20 Blessed be the Lord:
Day by day doth He bear our burden,
He, God, is our salvation.
21 He, God, is to us a God for deeds of deliverance,
And Jahve the Lord hath ways of escape for death.
22 Yea, Elohim will smite the head of His enemies,
The hairy scalp of him who stalks along in his
23 The Lord hath said: Out of Bashan will I bring back,
I will bring back out of the depths of the sea,
24 That thou mayest bathe thy foot in blood,
That the tongue of thy dogs may have its share of the
25 They behold Thy splendid procession, Elohim,
The splendid procession of my God, my King in holiness.
26 Before went the singers, behind the players on stringed
In the midst of damsels striking timbrels.
27 In the choirs of the congregation bless ye Elohim,
The Lord, ye who are out of the fountain of Israel.
28 There is Benjamin the youngest, their ruler;
The princes of Judah -- their motley band,
The princes of Zebulun, the princes of Naphtali,
29 Thy God hath commanded thy supreme power --
Uphold in power, Elohim, what Thou hast wrought for us!
30 From Thy temple above Jerusalem
Let kings present offerings unto Thee.
31 Threaten the wild beast of the reed, the troops of bulls
with the calves of the people,
That they may prostrate themselves with ingots of silver! --
He hath scattered the peoples that delight in wars.
32 Magnates come out of Egypt,
Cush -- quickly do his hands stretch out unto Elohim.
33 Ye kingdoms of the earth, sing unto Elohim,
Praising the Lord with stringed instruments --
34 To Him who rideth in the heaven of heavens of the
primeval time --
Lo, He made Himself heard with His voice, a mighty voice.
35 Ascribe ye might unto Elohim!
Over Israel is His majesty.
And His omnipotence in the heights of the heavens.
36 Terrible is Elohim out of thy sanctuaries;
"The God of Israel giveth might and abundant strength
to the people!"
Blessed be Elohim!
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Whole Psalm. In this Psalm we have especial reason to condemn or to admire the timidity, or the caution and delicacy, of our translators, whichever it may be considered, for the manner in which they have rendered the names of the Almighty. They almost universally translate them "God" or "Lord;" whereas, it has been observed that, almost all the remarkable titles of the Deity are employed in describing and praising the person addressed here. He is called "Elohim" in Psalms 68:2 ; "Adonai," Psalms 68:12 ; "Shaddai," Psalms 68:15 ; "Jehovah," Psalms 68:17 ; "Jah," Psalms 68:19 ; and "Al," Psalms 68:20 . The Hebrew names of God have, each of them, a distinct and peculiar meaning. No one word will suffice for them all. The vague use of the terms "God" and "Lord" in our translation can never convey to the reader's mind the important ideas which the original expression, if properly translated, would bear, and we have lost a strong additional confirmation of the deity of Messiah, by abandoning the testimony which the ascription to him of God's peculiar titles would give to this great truth. R. H. Ryland.
Whole Psalm. As 65 opened with a reference to the form of blessing ( Numbers 6:24-26 ), so this with a reference to the prayer used when the cloud pillar summoned the camp to commence a march. There the presence (panim) of God shed saving light on his people; here his enemies flee from it (mippanayv), Ps 68:1... In the Jewish ritual the Psalm is used at Pentecost, the Anniversary of the Giving of the Law, and the Feast of Finished Harvest... The remarkable character of the Psalm is indicated by the fact that there are no fewer than thirteen words in it which are not found elsewhere. The Pentecostal Gift of Tongues seems needed for its full exposition. William Kay.
Whole Psalm. By many critics esteemed the loftiest effusion of David's lyrical muse. William Binnie.
Whole Psalm. To judge from the antiquity of its language, the concise description, the thoroughly fresh, forcible, and occasional artlessly ironical expression of its poetry, we consider this poem as one of the most ancient monuments of Hebrew poetry. Boettcher.
Whole Psalm. It must be confessed that in this Psalm there are as many precipices, and as many labyrinths, as there are verses, or even words. It has not inappropriately been designated the cross of critics, the reproach of interpreters. Simon de Muis.
Whole Psalm. The beginning of this Psalm clearly intimates that the inspired psalmist had light given him to see the march of Israel through the wilderness, the ark of the covenant moving before the people to find a resting place. The psalmist is filled with praise, when he is enabled to see that God revealed his Fatherly love in the whole of that movement -- that his eye was upon the fatherless, the widow, the solitary, and afflicted; but David is also carried by the Spirit to the Mount of Olives, where he sees the ascending Lord; he sees the triumphal chariots, with an innumerable company of angels, and then beholds the Lord welcomed in glory as the mighty Conqueror; and not only so, but as having received or purchased gifts for men, even the rebellious ( Psalms 68:18 ), "that the Lord God might dwell among them," or within them. "Wherefore," the command of our Father is, "come out from among them, and be ye separate," etc. ( 2 Corinthians 6:17-18 ). The doxology of God's people is, "Blessed be the Lord, who daily loadeth us with his benefits." Our blessed Master attends day by day to all our wants, and causes his love to flow to us, because he is God our Salvation -- Selah. What comfort ought this to afford under every condition! for the Lord Jesus goes before us through the desert. He is touched with the feeling of our infirmities. The widow, the fatherless, the desolate, are all the objects of his care and love. He has gone before us to prepare our heavenly rest; the work is finished. He now comes, day by day, to load us with blessings, and at the last will carry us safely through death into life and glory. To the Lord our Saviour belong the issues from death; then, "Death, where is thy sting?" etc. Ridley H. Herschell, in "Strength in Weakness. Meditations on some of the Psalms in time of Trial," 1860.
Verse 1. Let God arise, etc. The moving ark (See Numbers 10:35-36 ) is a type of Jesus going forth to cast down rebel foes. It is high joy to trace the Antitype's victorious march. How mightily the Lord advanced! The strength of God was in his arm. His sword was Deity. His darts were barbed with all Jehovah's might. "He had on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, King of kings, and Lord of lords." Revelation 19:16 . His foes, indeed, strove mightily. It was no easy work to rescue souls from Satan's grasp, or to lay low the prison house of darkness. The enemy rushed on, clad in his fiercest armour, wild in his keenest rage, wily in his deadliest crafts. He plied his every temptation, as a terrific battery. But the true Ark never quailed. The adversary licked the dust. Malignant passions maddened in opposing breasts. The kings stood up; rulers took counsel; all plots were laid; the ignominious death was planned and executed. But still the Ark moved on. The cross gave aid, not injury. The grave could not detain. Death could not vanquish. The gates of hell fly open. The mighty conqueror appears. And, as in Canaan, the ark ascended Zion's hill amid triumphant shouts, so Jesus mounts on high. The heaven of heavens receives him. The Father welcomes the all conquering Saviour. Angelic hosts adore the glorious God man. The Rising Prayer has full accomplishments, "Rise up, Lord, and let thine enemies be scattered, and let them that hate thee flee before thee." And now, from glory's throne, he cheers his humble followers in their desert march. Their toils, their conflicts, and their fears are many. They ofttimes seem as a poor worm beneath the crushing feet. But they survive, they prosper, they lift up their head. As of old the ark was victory, so Jesus is victory now. Yes, every child of faith shall surely set a conquering foot upon the host of foes. Hear this, ye mad opposers, and desist. Where are the nations who resisted Israel? Where are the Pharaohs, the beleaguered kings, the Herods, the chief priests, the Pilates? Share not their malice, lest you share their end. Read in this word your near destruction, "Rise up, Lord, and let thine enemies be scattered, and let them that hate thee flee before thee." And, as the Rising Prayer has never failed, so, too, the Resting Prayer now teems with life. "Return, O Lord." Jesus is ready to fly back. Israel's many thousands wait, but wait not in vain. "Yet a little while, and he that shall come will come, and will not tarry," Hebrews 10:37 . O joyful day, triumphant sight! What ecstasy, what shouts, what glory! Salvation's Lord returns. Welcome, welcome to him! Henry Law, in "`Christ is All.' The Gospel of the Old Testament," 1858.
Verse 1. Arise. The mercifulness of God is seen in his patience toward the wicked, implied in the word arise, for he seemeth, as it were, to sleep ( Psalms 44:23 ), and not to mark what is done amiss. The Lord is patient, and would have none to perish, but would have all men to come to repentance. He was longer in destroying one city (Jericho, Joshua 6:4 ), than in building the whole world; slow to wrath, and ready to forgive, desiring not the death of a sinner, but rather he should amend. He doth not arise to particular punishments, much less to the general judgement, but after long suffering and great goodness. "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, how often would I," said our Lord, "have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not." Matthew 23:37 . John Boys.
Verse 1. Let his enemies be scattered. You may, if you please, take the words either as a prayer, or as a prophecy: as a prayer that they may; or as a prophecy, that they shall be scattered. Or, you may read it, Surgente Domino, As soon as the Lord shall arise, his enemies shall be scattered, and so make it a theological axiom: and so it is a proposition aeternae veritatis, everlastingly true, true in the first age of the world, and true in the last age of the world, and will be true to the world's end. We may make it our prayer, that they may be destroyed; and we may prophesy, that they shall be destroyed. Summa votorum est, non ex incerto poscentis, sed ex cognitione scientiaque sperantis, saith Hilary. It is a prayer not proceeding from a doubting and wavering heart, as if God did at sometimes deliver his church, and at others fail and leave her to the will of her enemies; but grounded upon certain knowledge and infallible assurance that he will "arise, and not keep silence," and avenge himself of his enemy. For there is a kind of presage and prophecy in prayer: if we pray as we should, he hath promised to grant our request; which is a fairer assurance than any prophet can give us. Let God arise, and God will arise, is but the difference of a tense, and the Hebrews commonly use the one for the other...
In this prayer or prophecy, or conclusion, you may, as in a glass, behold the providence of God over his people, and the destiny and fatal destruction of wicked men. Or, you may conceive God sitting in heaven, and looking down upon the children of men, and laughing to scorn all the designs of his enemies; his exsurgat, his rising, as a tempest to scatter them, and as a fire to melt them. And these two, exsurgat and dissipabuntur, the rising of God and the destruction of his enemies, divide the text, and present before our eyes two parties or sides, as it were, in main opposition. Now, though the exsurgat be before the dissipabuntur, God's rising before the scattering, yet there must be some persons to rouse God up and awake him before he will arise to destroy. We will, therefore, as the very order of nature required, consider first the persons which are noted out unto us by three several appellations, as by so many marks and brands in their forehead. They are,
- Haters of God;
- Wicked men.
But God, rising in this manner, is more especially against the fact than the person, and against the person only for the fact. We must, therefore, search and inquire after that; and we find it wrapped up and secretly lurking in the dissipabuntur, in their punishment; for scattering supposes a gathering together, as corruption doth generation. That, then, which moved God to rise is this: his enemies, they that hated him, the wicked, were gathered together, and consulted against God and his church, as we see it this day; and, seeing it, are here met together to fall down before God in all humility, that he may arise and scatter them. This is nunc opportunitatis, the very time and appointed time for God to arise. In which phrase is implied a kind of pause and deliberation, as if God were not always up, and ready to execute judgment. And, hereby, he manifests --
- His patience to the wicked: he is not always up, as it were, to destroy his enemies;
- His justice, which cometh at length, though it come not so soon as men in misery expect;
- His mercy to his children: though for a while he seem to sleep, and not to hearken to the voice of their complaints, yet, at last, he rises up and helps them.
Lastly, we shall take notice of the effects, or end, of this rising; and that is the destruction of his enemies, here drawn out to our view, in four several expressions, as in so many colours: --
- Dissipabuntur, they shall be scattered;
- Fugient, they shall fly;
- Deficient, they shall vanish like smoke;
- Liquefient, they shall be melted as wax; which all meet and are concentrated in peribunt, they shall perish at the presence of God. Anthony Farindon.