Psalm 68:33
To him that rides on the heavens of heavens, which were of old; see, he does send out his voice, and that a mighty voice.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
68:32-35 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.To him that rideth upon the heavens of heavens - The highest heavens. The heaven of heaven would properly mean the heaven above that which is heaven to us; that is, the heaven above the sky. This is represented as the special dwelling-place of God. The Jews were accustomed to speak of three heavens:

(a) The aerial heaven, or the region above us, where the birds fly, and the winds blow;

(b) the starry heavens, or the firmament in which the stars are fixed; and

(c) the heaven above all, the abode of God and of angels.

The word "rideth" here means that he appears there as a conqueror, or that he moves in majesty and glory. See the notes at Psalm 18:10.

Which were of old - The words "of old" refer here to the heavens, and denote their antiquity. He rides upon those ancient heavens. He occupies a position above those ancient works of his power.

Lo, he doth send out his voice - Margin, as in Hebrew, "give." The reference is to thunder. The design of this is to increase the impression of his majesty and power.

And that a mighty voice - See the notes at Psalm 29:3.

32-36. To Him who is presented as riding in triumph through His ancient heavens and proclaiming His presence—to Him who, in nature, and still more in the wonders of His spiritual government, out of His holy place (Ps 43:3), is terrible, who rules His Church, and, by His Church, rules the world in righteousness—let all nations and kingdoms give honor and power and dominion evermore. Upon the heavens; upon the highest heavens, as Deu 10:14, his truest and best sanctuary; by which expressions he prevents all mean and carnal conceptions of God, as if he were confined to the ark or tabernacle, and lifteth up the minds, both of Jews and Gentiles, to heaven, and representeth God as dwelling there in infinite glory and majesty, and from thence looking down upon all the inhabitants of the earth, and ruling them by his almighty power, and therefore most fit to be owned and received by all kings and kingdoms, as their Lord and Governor.

Of old, i.e. from the very beginning of the world; whereas the ark was only some hundred years old. Or,

which are everlasting; for this Hebrew word answers to olam, which looks not only backward to time past; but forward to the future, of which this word is by divers understood, Deu 33:15. This is also opposed to the condition of the ark, and tabernacle, and temple; all which, as David by the Spirit of prophecy well knew, would be abolished and dissolved.

A mighty voice; by which he understands, either,

1. The thunder, called God’s voice, Psalm 29:3, and elsewhere. Or rather,

2. His word, to wit, the gospel, published by Christ and by his apostles, assisted by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven; which might well be called God’s voice, and that a mighty voice, because it produced such great and wonderful effects, as are here above mentioned, in converting all the kings and kingdoms of the earth. To him that rideth upon the heaven of heavens, which were of old,.... Or "eastward" (q); the first, second, and third heavens, which were created from the beginning of time by Christ himself, Psalm 102:25 compared with Hebrews 1:10. These he rode upon when he ascended on high, even far above all heavens, as the apostle says, Ephesians 4:10; and so above the heaven of heavens, when he was made higher than they, and both Lord and Christ; and placed his throne in them, and from thence exercises his government over the whole world: and it may be observed, that it was from Mount Olivet, which was to the east of Jerusalem, that Christ ascended, and so to the eastern part of the heavens, Acts 1:12; see Revelation 7:2;

lo, he doth send out his voice; which is his Gospel, for that is the voice of Christ; which he utters by his ministers, and which his sheep, his people, hearken unto, and can distinguish from the voice of a stranger. This is a voice of love, grace, and mercy; it speaks of righteousness, peace, pardon, and salvation by him, and is very joyful and comfortable to hear. This he sent out by his apostles into all the earth, after his ascension to heaven; and which he has been, more or less, sending out in one place or another, by his ministers, ever since; and in the latter day will send it out more clearly, fully, and largely, by a set of ministers he will raise up for that purpose;

and that a mighty voice; or, "a voice of strength" (r); a strong and powerful voice, such as the Gospel is, when accompanied with the power and Spirit of God. It is a soul shaking and awakening voice; it is an heartmelting and an heartbreaking one; it is a quickening and an enlightening voice; it quickens dead sinners, gives life unto them, and the entrance of it gives light to dark minds: it is a soul charming and alluring one; it draws to Christ, engages the affections to him, and fills with unspeakable delight and pleasure. The Targum interprets this of the voice of the spirit of prophecy; Aben Ezra understands this voice as saying what follows.

(q) "ab oriente", Pagninus; "ad orientem", V. L. so Sept. Eth. Syr. Arab. (r) "vocem fortitudinis", Pagninus, Montanus.

To him that rideth upon the heavens of heavens, which were of old; lo, he doth send out his {c} voice, and that a mighty voice.

(c) By his terrible thunders he will make himself be known as the God of all the world.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
33. To him that rideth &c.] The same God who “rides through the deserts” (Psalm 68:4) when He intervenes in human affairs is supremely exalted in the highest heavens (Deuteronomy 10:14; 1 Kings 8:27; Nehemiah 9:6), which like the mountains (Deuteronomy 33:15) are of primeval antiquity.

which were of old] Better, with R.V., which are of old. Cp. Wordsworth’s “the most ancient heavens.”

he doth send out his voice] R.V., he uttereth his voice, as Psalm 46:6. Cp. Psalm 29:3 ff.; Isaiah 30:30.Verse 33. - To him that rideth upon the heavens of heavens (comp. ver. 4; and for the expression "heavens of heavens," see Deuteronomy 10:14; 1 Kings 8:27). Which were of old. In which God dwelt from all eternity - long before he created the "heavens" of Genesis 1:1. Lo, he doth send out his voice, and that a mighty voice. A voice that is heard and obeyed in every part of creation. Now begins the second circuit of the hymn. Comforted by the majestic picture of the future that he has beheld, the poet returns to the present, in which Israel is still oppressed, but yet not forsaken by God. The translation follows the accentuation, regular and in accordance with the sense, which has been restored by Baer after Heidenheim, viz., אדני has Zarka, and יעמס לנוּ Olewejored preceded by the sub-distinctive Rebia parvum; it is therefore: Benedictus Dominator: quotidie bajulat nobis, - with which the Targum, Rashi, and Kimchi agree.

(Note: According to the customary accentuation the second יום has Mercha or Olewejored, and יעמס־לנוּ, Mugrash. But this Mugrash has the position of the accents of the Silluk-member against it; for although it does exceptionally occur that two conjunctives follow Mugrash (Accentsystem, xvii. 5), yet these cannot in any case be Mahpach sarkatum and Illui.)

עמס, like נשׂא and סבל, unites the significations to lay a burden upon one (Zechariah 12:3; Isaiah 46:1, Isaiah 46:3), and to carry a burden; with על it signifies to lay a burden upon any one, here with ל to take up a burden for any one and to bear it for him. It is the burden or pressure of the hostile world that is meant, which the Lord day by day helps His church to bear, inasmuch as He is mighty by His strength in her who of herself is so feeble. The divine name אל, as being the subject of the sentence, is האל: God is our salvation. The music here again strikes in forte, and the same thought that is emphasized by the music in its turn, is also repeated in Psalm 68:21 with heightened expression: God is to us a God למושׁעות, who grants us help in rich abundance. The pluralet. denotes not so much the many single proofs of help, as the riches of rescuing power and grace. In Psalm 68:21 למּות corresponds to the לנוּ; for it is not to be construed תּוצאות למּות: Jahve's, the Lord, are the outgoings to death (Bttcher), i.e., He can command that one shall not fall a prey to death. תוצאות, the parallel word to מושׁעות, signifies, and it is the most natural meaning, the escapings; יצא, evadere, as in 1 Samuel 14:41; 2 Kings 13:5; Ecclesiastes 7:18. In Jahve's power are means of deliverance for death, i.e., even for those who are already abandoned to death. With אך a joyously assuring inference is drawn from that which God is to Israel. The parallelism of the correctly divided verse shows that ראשׁ here, as in Psalm 110:6, signifies caput in the literal sense, and not in the sense of princeps. The hair-covered scalp is mentioned as a token of arrogant strength, and unhumbled and impenitent pride, as in Deuteronomy 32:42, and as the Attic koma'n directly signifies to strut along, give one's self airs. The genitival construction is the same as in Isaiah 28:1, Isaiah 32:13. The form of expression refers back to Numbers 24:17, and so to speak inflects this primary passage very similarly to Jeremiah 48:45. If קדקד שׂער be an object, then ראשׁ ought also to be a second object (that of the member of the body); the order of the words does not in itself forbid this (cf. Psalm 3:8 with Deuteronomy 33:11), but would require a different arrangement in order to avoid ambiguities.

In Psalm 68:23 the poet hears a divine utterance, or records one that he has heard: "From Bashan will I bring back, I will bring back from the eddies of the sea (from צוּל equals צלל, to whiz, rattle; to whirl, eddy), i.e., the depths or abysses of the sea." Whom? When after the destruction of Jerusalem a ship set sail for Rome with a freight of distinguished and well-formed captives before whom was the disgrace of prostitution, they all threw themselves into the sea, comforting themselves with this passage of Scripture (Gittin 57b, cf. Echa Rabbathi 66a). They therefore took Psalm 68:23 to be a promise which has Israel as its object;

(Note: So also the Targum, which understands the promise to refer to the restoration of the righteous who have been eaten by wild beasts and drowned in the sea (Midrash: מבשׁן equals מבין שׁני אריות); cf. also the things related from the time of the Khaliphs in Jost's Geschichte des Judenthums, ii. 399, and Grtz' Gesch. der Juden, v. 347.)

but the clause expressing a purpose, Psalm 68:24, and the paraphrase in Amos 9:2., show that the foes of Israel are conceived of as its object. Even if these have hidden themselves in the most out-of-the-way places, God will fetch them back and make His own people the executioners of His justice upon them. The expectation is that the flight of the defeated foes will take a southernly direction, and that they will hide themselves in the primeval forests of Bashan, and still farther southward in the depths of the sea, i.e., of the Dead Sea (ים as in Isaiah 16:8; 2 Chronicles 20:2). Opposite to the hiding in the forests of the mountainous Bashan stands the hiding in the abyss of the sea, as the extreme of remoteness, that which is in itself impossible being assumed as possible. The first member of the clause expressing the purpose, Psalm 68:24, becomes more easy and pleasing if we read תּרחץ (lxx, Syriac, and Vulgate, ut intingatur), according to Psalm 58:11. So far as the letters are concerned, the conjecture תּחמץ (from which תמחץ, according to Chajug', is transposed), after Isaiah 63:1, is still more natural (Hitzig): that thy foot may redden itself in blood. This is certainly somewhat tame, and moreover מדּם would be better suited to this rendering than בּדם. As the text now stands, תּמחץ

(Note: The Gaja of the first closed syllable warns one to make a proper pause upon it, in order that the guttural of the second, so apt to be slurred over, may be distinctly pronounced; cf. תּבחר, Psalm 65:5; הרחיק, Psalm 103:12. So also with the sibilants at the beginning of the second syllable, e.g., תּדשׁא, Genesis 1:11, in accordance with which, in Genesis 14:1; Genesis 53:2, we must write השׁתיתו והתעיבו.)

is equivalent to תּמחצם (them, viz., the enemies), and רגלך בּדם is an adverbial clause (setting or plunging thy foot in blood). It is, however, also possible that מחץ is used like Arab. machaḍa (vehementer commovere): ut concutias s. agites pedem tuam in sanguine. Can it now be that in Psalm 68:24 from among the number of the enemies of the one who goes about glorying in his sins, the רשׁע κατ ̓ ἐξοχήν (cf. Isaiah 11:4; Habakkuk 3:13, and other passages), is brought prominently forward by מנּהוּ? Hardly so; the absence of תּלק (lambat) cannot be tolerated, cf. 1 Kings 21:19; 1 Kings 22:38. It is more natural, with Simonis, to refer מנּהוּ back to לשׁון (a word which is usually fem., but sometimes perhaps is masc., Psalm 22:16; Proverbs 26:28); and, since side by side with ממּנוּ only מנהוּ occurs anywhere else (Ew. 263, b), to take it in the signification pars ejus (מן from מנן equals מגה, after the form גּז, חן, קץ, of the same meaning as מגה, מנת, Psalm 63:11), in favour of which Hupfeld also decides.

What is now described in Psalm 68:25-28, is not the rejoicing over a victory gained in the immediate past, nor the rejoicing over the earlier deliverance at the Red Sea, but Israel's joyful celebration when it shall have experienced the avenging and redemptive work of its God and King. According to Psalm 77:14; Habakkuk 3:6, הליכות appears to be God's march against the enemy; but what follows shows that the pompa magnifica of God is intended, after He has overcome the enemy. Israel's festival of victory is looked upon as a triumphal procession of God Himself, the King, who governs in holiness, and has now subjugated and humbled the unholy world; בּקּדשׁ as in Psalm 68:18. The rendering "in the sanctuary' is very natural in this passage, but Exodus 15:11; Psalm 77:14, are against it. The subject of ראוּ is all the world, more especially those of the heathen who have escaped the slaughter. The perfect signifies: they have seen, just as קדּמוּ, they have occupied the front position. Singers head the procession, after them (אחר,

(Note: This אחר, according to B. Nedarim 37b, is a so-called עטור סופרים (ablatio scribarum), the sopherim (sofrim) who watched over the faithful preservation of the text having removed the reading ואחר, so natural according to the sense, here as in Genesis 18:5; Genesis 24:55; Numbers 31:2, and marked it as not genuine.)

an adverb as in Genesis 22:13; Exodus 5:1) players upon citherns and harps (נגנים, participle to נגּן), and on either side virgins with timbrels (Spanish adufe); תּופפות, apocopated part. Poel with the retension of ē (cf. שׁוקקה, Psalm 107:9), from תּפף, to strike the תּף (Arab. duff). It is a retrospective reference to the song at the Sea, now again come into life, which Miriam and the women of Israel sang amidst the music of timbrels. The deliverance which is now being celebrated is the counterpart of the deliverance out of Egypt. Songs resound as in Psalm 68:27, "in gatherings of the congregation (and, so to speak, in full choirs) praise ye Elohim." מקהלות (מקהלים, Psalm 26:12) is the plural to קהל (Psalm 22:23), which forms none of its own (cf. post-biblical קהלּות from קהלּה). Psalm 68:27 is abridged from ברכו אדני אשׁר אתם ממקור ישראל, praise ye the Lord, ye who have Israel for your fountainhead. אדני, in accordance with the sense, has Mugrash. Israel is here the name of the patriarch, from whom as from its fountainhead the nation has spread itself abroad; cf. Isaiah 48:1; Isaiah 51:1, and as to the syntax ממּך, those who descend from thee, Isaiah 58:12. In the festive assembly all the tribes of Israel are represented by their princes. Two each from the southern and northern tribes are mentioned. Out of Benjamin was Israel's first king, the first royal victor over the Gentiles; and in Benjamin, according to the promise (Deuteronomy 33:12) and according to the accounts of the boundaries (Joshua 18:16., Joshua 15:7.), lay the sanctuary of Israel. Thus, therefore, the tribe which, according both to order of birth (Genesis 43:29.) and also extent of jurisdiction and numbers (1 Samuel 9:21), was "little," was honoured beyond the others.

(Note: Tertullian calls the Apostle Paul, with reference to his name and his Benjamitish origin, parvus Benjamin, just as Augustine calls the poetess of the Magnificat, nostra tympanistria.)

Judah, however, came to the throne in the person of David, and became for ever the royal tribe. Zebulun and Naphtali are the tribes highly praised in Deborah's song of victory (Judges 5:18, cf. Psalm 4:6) on account of their patriotic bravery. רדם, giving no sense when taken from the well-known verb רדם, falls back upon רדה, and is consequently equivalent to רדם (cf. Lamentations 1:13), subduing or ruling them; according to the sense, equivalent to רדה בם (1 Kings 5:30; 1 Kings 9:23; 2 Chronicles 8:10), like המּצלם, not "their leader up," but ὁ ἀναγαγὼν αὐτοὺς, Isaiah 63:11, not equals רדיהם (like עשׂיהם, ראיהם), which would signify their subduer or their subduers. The verb רדה, elsewhere to subjugate, oppress, hold down by force, Ezekiel 34:4; Leviticus 25:53, is here used of the peaceful occupation of the leader who maintains the order of a stately and gorgeous procession. For the reference to the enemies, "their subduer," is without any coherence. But to render the parallel word רגמתם "their (the enemies') stoning" (Hengstenberg, Vaihinger, and others, according to Bttcher's "Proben"), is, to say nothing more, devoid of taste; moreover רגם does not mean to throw stones with a sling, but to stone as a judicial procedure. If we assign to the verb רגם the primary signification congerere, accumulare, after Arab. rajama VIII, and rakama, then רגמתם signifies their closely compacted band, as Jewish expositors have explained it (קהלם או קבוצם). Even if we connect רגם with רקם, variegare, or compare the proper name regem equals Arab. rajm, socius (Bttcher), we arrive at much the same meaning. Hupfeld's conjecture רגשׁתם is consequently unnecessary.

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