Let God arise, let his enemies be scattered: let them also that hate him flee before him.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Let God arise.—A reminiscence of the battlecry raised as the ark was advanced at the head of the tribes (Numbers 10:35). For interesting historical associations with this verse, see Gibbon (chap. 58), and Carlyle, Cromwell’s Letters and Speeches (Vol. II, 185).Psalm 68:1-3. Let God arise, &c. — As God was in a peculiar manner present in the ark, and as his presence was the great security of the Israelitish nation from the dangers of the wilderness, and the power of their enemies, Moses addressed his prayer to him in these words whenever the ark was taken up for their several marches: see Numbers 10:35. And in these same words the singers began, when, at the command of David, the Levites first took up the ark on their shoulders to carry it from the house of Obed-edom to Zion. There is, indeed, this little difference between the passage in Numbers and this of the Psalm, that the first word of the former in the Hebrew is in the imperative mood, קומה, kumah, Let God arise, whereas here the word is in the future tense, and is literally rendered, God shall, or will, arise. And, in like manner, all the clauses of this and the next two verses are expressed in the same tense, as if they were a prediction of what was to come; his enemies shall be scattered — those that hate him shall flee, &c. — God’s enemies, it must be observed, are also the enemies of his people, and they are therefore said to hate him, because they hate them, and because they hate his laws and government, and his holy image and nature; the carnal mind which is in them, being enmity against him, and not subject to his law, neither, indeed, can it be subject thereto. As smoke is driven away — Which, though it rises from the earth in black and tremendous clouds, is soon scattered and dispersed by the wind; so drive them away — Or, so they shall be driven away, shall be dispersed by a force which, notwithstanding their threatening aspect, they are utterly unable to resist. And as wax melteth before the fire — Which, though to appearance it be of a firm and solid consistence, yet, when brought to the fire, is soon dissolved, and makes no resistance; so let the wicked perish, &c. — And so they shall perish when the Lord is revealed from heaven, with his mighty angels, in flaming fire. But let the righteous be glad, &c. — For God’s gracious appearance in their behalf, and for his settled presence with them.Psalm 3:7. There is an obvious reterence here to the words used by Moses on the removal of the ark in Numbers 10:35. The same language was also employed by Solomon when the ark was removed to the temple, and deposited in the most holy place 2 Chronicles 6:41 :" Now therefore arise, O Lord God, into thy resting place, thou, and the ark of thy strength." It would seem probable, therefore, that this psalm was composed on some such occasion.
Let his enemies be scattered - So in Numbers 10:35 : "Rise up, Lord, and let thine enemies be scattered; and let them that hate thee flee before thee." The ark was the symbol of the divine presence, and the idea is, that whereever that was, the enemies of God would be subdued, or that it was only by the power of Him who was supposed to reside there that his enemies could be overcome.
Let them also that hate him flee before him - Almost the exact language used by Moses in Numbers 10:35. It is possible that this may have been used on some occasion when the Hebrews were going out to war; but the more probable supposition is that it is general language designed to illustrate the power of God, or to state that his rising up, at any time, would be followed by the discomfiture of his enemies. The placing of the ark where it was designed to remain permanently would be a proper occasion for suggesting this general truth, that all the enemies of God must be scattered when he rose up in his majesty and power.
Ps 68:1-35. This is a Psalm-song (see on Ps 30:1, title), perhaps 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 Ps 68:18).
1-3. Compare Nu 10:35; Ps 1:4; 22:14, on the figures here used.
2 As smoke is driven away, so drive them away as wax melteth before the fire, so let the wicked perish at the presence of God.
"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.
"As smoke is driven away." Easily the wind chases the smoke, completely it removes it, no trace is left; so, Lord, do thou to the foes of thy people. They fume in pride, they darken the sky with their malice, they mount higher and higher in arrogance, they defile wherever they prevail: Lord, let thy breath, thy Spirit, thy Providence, make them to vanish for ever from the march of thy people. Philosophic scepticism is as flimsy and as foul as smoke; may the Lord deliver his Church from the reek of it. "As wax melteth before the fire, so let the wicked perish at the presence of God." Wax is hard by itself, but put it to the fire, how soft it is. Wicked men are haughty till they come into contact with the Lord, and then they faint for fear; their hearts melt like wax when they feel the power of his anger. Wax, also, burns and passes away; the taper is utterly consumed by the flame: so shall all the boastful power of the opposers of the gospel be as a thing of nought. Rome, like the candles on her altars, shall dissolve, and with equal certainty shall infidelity disappear. Israel saw, in the ark, God on the mercy-seat - power in connection with propitiation - and they rejoiced in the omnipotence of such a manifestation; this is even more clearly the confidence of the New Testament church, for we see Jesus, the appointed atonement, clothed with glory and majesty, and before his advance all opposition melts like snow in the sun, the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in his hands. When he comes by his Holy Spirit, conquest is the result; but when he arises in person, his foes shall utterly perish. THE ARGUMENT
let his enemies be scattered; let them also that hate him flee before him: the sense of these two clauses is the same; his enemies, and those that hate him, are the same persons; and to be scattered and flee express the same things; for enemies, being discomfited, flee and scatter. Some interpret this of the watch set to guard our Lord's sepulchre; who, upon his rising from the dead, were filled with great fear and dread, and scattered, and fled to the priests, to acquaint them with what was done: others, of the Jewish nation in general, who were enemies to Christ; and hated him, and would not have him to reign over them; against whom he rose up and exerted his great strength; came in his kingdom and power against them; poured out his wrath upon them to the uttermost; which issued in the utter destruction of them, as a body politic; and in the entire dispersion of them in all countries, which remains until quite recently. Or rather the whole is to be applied to Satan, and to his principalities and powers; the professed enemies of Christ, personal and mystical; who, when he arose and exerted his mighty power in his conflict with them, in the garden and on the cross, were spoiled and dissipated, and obliged to fly before him: and who at the same time overcame the world, made an end of sin, abolished death, as well as destroyed him which had the power of it; see Numbers 10:35.<
(a) The prophet shows that even though God permits the wicked tyrants to oppress his Church for a time, yet eventually he will take revenge on them.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)1. God shall arise, his enemies shall be scattered
And they that hate him shall flee from his presence.
Psalms 67 begins with an echo of the priestly blessing of Numbers 6:24 ff, and the opening words of Psalms 68 are based upon the prayer or watchword used when the Ark, the symbol of the Divine Presence in the midst of Israel, set forward on its journeys in the wilderness (Numbers 10:35). But the Psalmist translates the prayer of Moses
“Arise, Jehovah, and let thine enemies be scattered,
And let them that hate thee flee from thy presence,”
into a positive expression of confident assurance that God is about to arise and manifest His power on behalf of His people. Most versions ancient and modern (except the Genevan, which has the future throughout Psalm 68:1-3) render Let God arise; but the form of the verb is against this rendering, and if the words had been meant as a prayer, it would have been more natural to retain the direct invocation of the original.
before him] Better, from his presence (lit. face) as in Psalm 68:2; Psalm 68:8; and so also in Psalm 68:3-4.
1–3. The advent of God brings terror and destruction to His enemies, blessing and joy to His people.Verse 1. - Let God arise, let his enemies be scattered; let them also that hate him flee before him. Compare the chant with which the ark set forth in the wilderness, "Rise up, Lord, and let thine enemies be scattered; and let them that hate thee flee before thee" (Numbers 10:35). Both utterances are expressions of confidence, that, whenever God arises, his enemies will be scattered and dispersed before him. Neither refers to any one special occasion. Psalm 67:1) with words of the priest's benediction in Numbers 6:24-26. By אתּנוּ the church desires for itself the unveiled presence of the light-diffusing loving countenance of its God. Here, after the echo of the holiest and most glorious benediction, the music strikes in. With Psalm 67:2 the Beracha passes over into a Tephilla. לדעת is conceived with the most general subject: that one may know, that may be known Thy way, etc. The more graciously God attests Himself to the church, the more widely and successfully does the knowledge of this God spread itself forth from the church over the whole earth. They then know His דּרך, i.e., the progressive realization of His counsel, and His ישׁוּעה, the salvation at which this counsel aims, the salvation not of Israel merely, but of all mankind.
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