|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
68:15-21 The ascension of Christ must here be meant, and thereto it is applied, Eph 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, Joh 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.
Verse 15. - The hill of God is as the hill of Bashan; rather, a mountain of God is the mountain of Bashan. A sudden transition, and perhaps a quotation from an ancient poem. The special object of the psalmist's thought is not Bashan, but Mount Zion; and what he is about to celebrate is Jehovah's choice of Mount Zion for his dwelling place, and his establishment on it. But he prefers to introduce the subject by a contrast with the great range of Canaan. Bashan, he says, is truly "a mountain of God" - i.e. a very great mountain (see the comment on Psalm 36:6) - "one which seemed in an especial degree to show forth creative power." It is also an high hill; or rather, a mountain of peaks, containing numerous pointed summits. Yet God did not choose one of these for his habitation.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
The hill of God is as the hill of Bashan,.... The church is the hill of God, an excellent and supereminent one, and in which he dwells, as is said in Psalm 68:16; called an hill for its visibility, and especially as it will be in the latter day, when it will be established and exalted above the mountains and hills, the kingdoms of this world, Isaiah 2:2; this is compared to the hill of Bashan for fertility and fruitfulness; hence we read of the kine and bulls, the rams and lambs, and fatlings of Bashan, and of the oaks thereof, Deuteronomy 32:14, Isaiah 2:13; the ordinances of the church are green pastures, where his people become fat and flourishing, Psalm 23:2;
an high hill, as the hill of Bashan; or "an hill of eminences" (h); it had several tops, or little hills that rose up from it; so the church of Christ, though but one hill or church in general, yet there are several little hills belong unto it, or particular congregational churches, of which it consists: for "a mountain abounding with cheese" (i); which fed much cattle, and these produced much milk, of which large quantities of cheese were made, and so is expressive of the fruitfulness of it.
(h) "mons gibborum", Montanus; "vel eminentiarum", Gejerus; "monte frequente gibbis", Junius & Tremellius; "mons fastigiorum", Cocceius. (i) "Mons qui caseis abundat", Tigurine version.
The Treasury of David
15 The hill of God is as the hill of Bashan; an high hill as the hill of Bashan.
16 Why leap ye, ye high hills? this is the hill which God desireth to dwell in; yea, the Loud will dwell in it for ever.
17 The chariots of God are twenty thousand, even thousands of angels: the Lord is among them, as in Sinai, in the holy place.
18 Thou hast ascended on high, thou hast led captivity captive: thou hast received gifts for men; yea, for the rebellious also, that the Lord God might dwell among them.
19 Blessed be the Lord, who daily loadeth us with benefits, even the God of our salvation. Selah.
Here the priests on the summit of the chosen hill begin to extol the Lord for his choice of Zion as his dwelling-place. "The hill of God is as the hill of Bashan," or more accurately, "a hill of God is Bashan," that is to say, Bashan is an eminent mountain, far exceeding Zion in height. According to the Hebrew custom, every great or remarkable thing is thus designated. Where we talk of the Devil's Dyke, the Devil's Ditch, the Devil's Punch Bowl, etc., the more commendable idiom of the Hebrews speaks of the hill of God, the trees of the Lord, the river of God, etc. "An high hill as the hill of Bashan," or rather, "a mount of peaks is Bashan." It does not appear that Zion is compared with Bashan, but contrasted with it. Zion certainly was not a high hill comparatively; and it is here conceded that Bashan is a greater mount, but not so glorious, for the Lord in choosing Zion had exalted it above the loftier hills. The loftiness of nature is nothing before the Lord. He chooses as pleases him, and, according to the counsel of his own will, he selects Zion, and passes by the proud, uplifted peaks of Bashan; thus doth he make the base things of this world, and things that are despised, to become monuments of his grace and sovereignty.
"Why leap ye, ye high hills?" Why are ye moved to envy? Envy as ye may, the Lord's choice is fixed. Lift up yourselves, and even leap from your seats, ye cannot reach the sublimity which Jehovah's presence has bestowed on the little hill of Moriah. "This is the hill which God desireth to dwell in." Elohim makes Zion his abode, yea, Jehovah resides there. "Yea, the Lord will dwell in it forever." Spiritually the Lord abides eternally in Zion, his chosen church, and it was Zion's glory to be typical thereof. What were Carmel and Sirion, with all their height, compared to Zion, the joy of the whole earth! God's election is a patent of nobility. They are choice men whom God has chosen, and that place is superlatively honoured which he honours with his presence.
"The chariots of God are twenty thousand." Other countries, which in the former verse were symbolically referred to as "high hills," gloried in their chariots of war; but Zion, though far more lowly, was stronger than they, for the omnipotence of God was to her as two myriads of chariots, The Lord of Hosts could summon more forces into the field than all the petty lords who boasted in their armies: his horses of fire and chariots of fire would be more than a match for their fiery steeds and flashing cars. The original is grandly expressive, "the war-chariots of Elohim are myriads, a thousand thousands." The marginal reading of our Bibles, "even many thousands," is far more correct than the rendering, "even thousands of angels." It is not easy to see where our venerable translators found these "angels," for they are not in the text; however, as it is a blessing to entertain them unawares, we are glad to meet with them in English, even though the Hebrew knows them not; and the more so because it cannot be doubted that they constitute a right noble squadron of the myriad hosts of God. We read in Deuteronomy 33:2, of the Lord's coming "with ten thousands of saints," or holy ones, and in Hebrews 12:22, we find upon Mount Zion "an innumerable company of angels," so that our worthy translators putting the texts together, inferred the angels, and the clause is so truthfully explanatory, that we have no fault to find with it. "The Lord is among them, as in Sinai, in the holy place," or, "it is a Sinai in holiness." God is in Zion as the Commander-in-chief of his countless hosts, and where he is, there is holiness. The throne of grace on Zion is as holy as the throne of justice on Sinai. The displays of his glory may not be so terrible under the new covenant as under the old; but they are even more marvellous if seen by the spiritual eye. Sinai has no excellency of glory beyond Zion; but the rather it pales its light of law before the noontide splendours of Zion's grace and truth. How joyful was it to a pious Hebrew to know that God was as truly with his people in the tabernacle and temple as amid the terrors of the Mount of Horeb; but it is even more heart-cheering to us to be assured that the Lord abides in his church, and has chosen it to be his rest for ever. May we be zealous for the maintenance of holiness in the spiritual house which God condescends to occupy: let a sense of his presence consume, as with flames of fire, every false way. The presence of God is the strength of the church; all power is ours when God is ours. Twenty thousand chariots shall bear the gospel to the ends of the earth; and myriads of agencies shall work for its success. Providence: is on our side, and it "has servants everywhere." There is no room for a shade of doubt or discouragement, but every reason for exultation and confidence.
"Thou hast ascended on high." The ark was conducted to the summit of Zion; God himself took possession of the high places of the earth, being extolled and very high. The antitype of the ark, the Lord Jesus, has ascended into the heavens with signal marks of triumph. To do battle with our enemies, the Lord descended and left his throne; but now the fight is finished, he returns to his glory, high above all things is he now exalted. "Thou hast led captivity captive." A multitude of the sons of men are the willing captives of Messiah's power. As great conquerors of old led whole nations into captivity, so Jesus leads forth from the territory of his foe a vast company as the trophies of his mighty grace. From the gracious character of his reign it comes to pass that to be led into captivity by him is for our captivity to cease, or to be itself led captive; a glorious result indeed. The Lord Jesus destroys his foes with their own weapons; he puts death to death, entombs the grave, and leads captivity captive. "Thou hast received gifts for men," or, received gifts among men: they have paid thee tribute, O mighty Conqueror, and shall in every age continue to do so willingly, delighting in thy reign. Paul's rendering is the gospel one: Jesus has "received gifts for men," of which he makes plentiful distribution, enriching his church with the priceless fruits of his ascension, such as apostles, evangelists, pastors, and teachers, and all their varied endowments. In him, the man who received gifts for man, we are endowed with priceless treasures, and, moved with gratitude, we return gifts to him, yea, we give him ourselves, our all. "Yea, for the rebellious also:" these gifts the rebels are permitted to share in; subdued by love, they are indulged with the benefits peculiar to the chosen. The original runs, "even the rebellious," or, "even from the rebellious," of which the sense is that rebels become captives to the Lord's power, and tributaries to his throne.
"Great King of grace, my heart subdue,
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
15, 16. Mountains are often symbols of nations (Ps 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;
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