Psalms 68

God's Majestic Power


For the choir director. A Davidic psalm. A song.

1 God arises. His enemies scatter, and those who hate Him flee from His presence.[a]
2 As smoke is blown away, so You blow [them] away.[b] As wax melts before the fire, so the wicked are destroyed before God.
3 But the righteous are glad; they rejoice before God and celebrate with joy.[c]
4 Sing to God! Sing praises to His name.[d] Exalt Him who rides on the clouds[e] [f]- His name is Yahweh[g]-and rejoice before Him.
5 A father of the fatherless and a champion of widows[h] is God in His holy dwelling.
6 God provides homes for those who are deserted. He leads out the prisoners to prosperity,[i] but the rebellious live in a scorched land.
7 God, when You went out before Your people, when You marched through the desert, Selah
8 the earth trembled, and the skies poured down [rain] before God, the God of Sinai,[j] before God, the God of Israel.[k]
9 You, God, showered abundant rain;[l] You revived Your inheritance when it languished.
10 Your people settled in it; by Your goodness You provided for the poor, God.
11 The Lord gave the command; a great company of women brought the good news:[m]
12 "The kings of the armies flee-they flee!" She who stays at home divides the spoil.
13 While[n] you lie among the sheepfolds,[o] [p] the wings of a dove are covered with silver, and its feathers with glistening gold.
14 When the Almighty scattered kings in the land, it snowed on Zalmon.[q]
15 Mount Bashan is God's towering mountain; Mount Bashan is a mountain of many peaks.
16 Why gaze with envy, you mountain peaks, at the mountain[r] God desired for His dwelling?[s] The Lord will live [there] forever!
17 God's chariots[t] are tens of thousands, thousands and thousands; the Lord is among them in the sanctuary[u] as He was at Sinai.[v] [w]
18 You ascended to the heights, taking away captives; You received gifts from[x] people, even from the rebellious, so that the Lord God might live [there].[y] [z]
19 May the Lord be praised! Day after day He bears our burdens;[aa] God is our salvation. Selah
20 Our God is a God of salvation, and escape from death belongs to the Lord God .
21 Surely God crushes the heads of His enemies, the hairy head of one who goes on in his guilty acts.
22 The Lord said, "I will bring [them] back from Bashan; I will bring [them] back from the depths of the sea
23 so that your foot may wade[ab] in blood and your dogs' tongues may have their share from the enemies."[ac]
24 People have seen Your procession,[ad] God, the procession of my God, my King, in the sanctuary.[ae]
25 Singers[af] lead the way, with musicians following; among them are young women playing tambourines.[ag]
26 Praise God in the assemblies; [praise] the Lord from the fountain of Israel.
27 There is Benjamin, the youngest, leading them, the rulers of Judah in their assembly,[ah] the rulers of Zebulun, the rulers of Naphtali.
28 Your God has decreed your strength. Show Your strength, God, You who have acted on our behalf.
29 Because of Your temple at Jerusalem, kings will bring tribute to You.[ai]
30 Rebuke the beast[aj] in the reeds, the herd of bulls with the calves of the peoples. Trample underfoot those with bars of silver.[ak] Scatter the peoples who take pleasure in war.
31 Ambassadors will come[al] from Egypt; Cush[am] will stretch out its hands[an] to God.
32 Sing to God, you kingdoms of the earth; sing praise to the Lord, Selah
33 to Him who rides in the ancient, highest heavens.[ao] Look, He thunders with His powerful voice![ap]
34 Ascribe power to God. His majesty is over Israel, His power among the clouds.
35 God, You are awe-inspiring in Your sanctuaries. The God of Israel gives power and strength to His people.[aq] May God be praised!

Psalms 68 Commentary

Chapter 68

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.

Footnotes 43

  • [a]. Ps 7:6; Nm 10:35; Ezk 30:26
  • [b]. Ps 37:20; Hs 13:3
  • [c]. Ps 40:16; 64:10; 1 Sm 2:1; Isa 61:10
  • [d]. Ps 7:17; 66:4; Ex 15:1-18
  • [e]. Or rides through the desert
  • [f]. Ps 18:10-11; Dt 33:26; Isa 19:1
  • [g]. Lit Yah
  • [h]. Ps 146:9; Dt 24:17,19; Jr 22:3
  • [i]. Or prisoners with joyous music; Hb uncertain
  • [j]. Lit God, this Sinai
  • [k]. Ex 19:16-18; Jdg 5:4-5
  • [l]. Ps 65:9-13
  • [m]. 1 Sm 18:6-7
  • [n]. Or If
  • [o]. Or campfires, or saddlebags; Hb obscure
  • [p]. Gn 49:14; Jdg 5:16
  • [q]. Or Black Mountain
  • [r]. Mount Zion
  • [s]. Ps 48:1-2; 132:13-14; Isa 2:2-4
  • [t]. Hab 3:8
  • [u]. Or in holiness
  • [v]. Some emend text to Lord came from Sinai into the holy place
  • [w]. Dt 33:2
  • [x]. Lit among
  • [y]. Or even those rebelling against the Lord God's living there, or even rebels are living with the Lord God; Hb obscure
  • [z]. Dt 21:10; Eph 4:8
  • [aa]. Isa 46:3-4
  • [ab]. LXX, Syr read dip
  • [ac]. 1 Kg 21:19; 22:38; 2 Kg 9:36
  • [ad]. Ps 42:4; Isa 60:11
  • [ae]. Or in holiness
  • [af]. Some Hb mss, LXX, Syr read Officials
  • [ag]. Jdg 11:34; 1 Sm 18:6; Jr 31:4
  • [ah]. Hb obscure
  • [ai]. Isa 18:7; 66:20; Hg 2:7
  • [aj]. Probably Egypt
  • [ak]. Or peoples, trampling on those who take pleasure in silver, or peoples, trampling on the bars of silver, or peoples, who trample each other for bars of silver
  • [al]. Or They bring red cloth, or They bring bronze
  • [am]. Modern Sudan
  • [an]. Probably with tribute or in submission
  • [ao]. Dt 33:26
  • [ap]. Ps 29:3-5; 46:6; Isa 30:30
  • [aq]. Ps 29:11; Isa 40:29

Chapter Summary

To the chief Musician, A Psalm [or] Song of David. The Targum makes the argument of this psalm to be the coming of the children of Israel out of Egypt, and the giving of the law on Mount Sinai; in which it is followed by many of the Jewish interpreters: but Aben Ezra rejects such an interpretation of it, and thinks that David composed it, concerning the war he had with the uncircumcised nations, the Philistines and others, 2 Samuel 8:1, &c. And so the title of the Syriac version begins, "a psalm of David, when the kings prepared themselves to fight against him:" and Kimchi says it was composed on account of Sennacherib's army coming against Jerusalem, in the times of Hezekiah, and so delivered by David, under a spirit of prophecy concerning that affair; though he owns that some of their writers interpret it of the war of Gog and Magog, in the times of the Messiah they yet expect. But they are much nearer the truth, who take it that it was written on occasion of the ark being brought to the city of David; seeing it begins with much the same words that Moses used when the ark set forward in his times, Numbers 10:35; and the bringing of which was attended with great joy and gladness, 2 Samuel 6:14; such as the righteous are called upon to express in this psalm, Psalm 68:3. And this being a type of Christ, and of his ascending the holy hill of God, may be allowed of; for certain it is that this psalm treats of the coming of Christ, and of blessings by him, and of victory over his enemies; and particularly of his ascension to heaven, as most evidently appears from Ephesians 4:8; and from prophecies in it, concerning the calling of the Gentiles. Wherefore the latter part of the Syriac inscription of it is very pertinent; "also a prophecy concerning the dispensation of the Messiah, and concerning the calling of the Gentiles to the faith." Jarchi interprets Psalm 68:31 of the Messiah.

Psalms 68 Commentaries

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