Thou hast ascended on high
Which is to be understood, not of Moses ascending up to the firmament, as the Targum and Jarchi interpret it, of which we nowhere read; nor of David's going up to the high fortresses, as Aben Ezra; nor of God's ascent from Mount Sinai; but of Christ's ascension to heaven, as the apostle cites and explains it in ( Ephesians 4:8 Ephesians 4:9 ) ; which ascension respects him as man, was not figurative, as in ( Genesis 17:22 ) ; but real and local, from earth to heaven, and was certain and visible; he was seen to go up by angels and men; and, because of the certainty of it, it is here expressed in the past tense, though it was then future;
thou hast led captivity captive;
meaning either such who had been captives, in which sense the word is used, ( Psalms 126:1 ) ; and so may design either those who had been prisoners in the grave, but were set free at Christ's resurrection, and went with him in triumph to heaven; or all his people, whom he redeemed by his blood from that captivity and bondage they were in by nature; or rather those who led them captive are here meant by "captivity"; such as sin, Satan, the world, death, and every spiritual enemy, whom Christ conquered and triumphed over; the allusion may be to public triumphs, when captives were led in chains, even kings and great men, that had captivated others: the words seem to be borrowed out of ( Judges 5:12 ) ;
thou hast received gifts for men;
the gifts of the Holy Spirit, qualifying men for the ministry of the Gospel, as they are interpreted by the Apostle, ( Ephesians 4:11 ) ; these Christ received from his divine Father in human nature, when he ascended up to heaven, in order to give them to men; and which he did in a very extraordinary manner on the day of Pentecost. The Targum and Syriac version render it, "thou hast given gifts to men"; and the Arabic version, "and he gave gifts to men", as the apostle, ( Ephesians 4:8 ) ;
yea, [for] the rebellious also;
disobedient and unbelieving F13, as all men are by nature, even God's elect, before conversion, ( Titus 3:3 ) ; who are not only called by grace, and have the blessings of grace bestowed upon them; but some of them have gifts given them, whereby they are fitted to preach the Gospel to others, as Saul, the blasphemer, persecutor, and injurious; and some of those among the Jews, that were concerned in the crucifixion of Christ: though some think the Gentiles are intended, on whom the Holy Spirit was poured forth after our Lord's ascension; and so the Targum interprets it of the rebellious, who become proselytes, and return by repentance;
that the Lord God might dwell [among them];
that is, that they, by the gifts and graces of the Spirit bestowed on them, might become a fit habitation for God; or that "they", the rebellious, being now partakers of the grace of God and his gifts, "might dwell [with] the Lord God"
F13 (Myrdwo) (apeiyountev) Sept. "non credentes", V. L.
F14 (Nkvl) "ut habitent cum Jah, Jehovah", Piscator; "cum Deo", Gejerus; "ut habitent pulchritudinem Dei", Cocceius.