Psalm 68:5
A father of the fatherless, and a judge of the widows, is God in his holy habitation.
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(5) The LXX. and Vulg. prefix to this verse, “They shall be troubled by the face of Him who is,” &c, which seems to indicate that the abrupt introduction of this description of God is due to some loss in the text.

A father of the fatherless, and a judge of the widows.—These epithets of God seem to have become at a very early period almost proverbial.

Psalm 68:5-6. A father of the fatherless — He now proceeds to mention some of the reasons for which God is to be praised. Of these this is one, that he is the patron of such as are injured and oppressed, and have not power to help themselves; is God in his holy habitation — In his tabernacle, or rather, in heaven. Though he is in a peculiar manner present and dwells there, yet the eyes of his fatherly providence and care run to and fro through the earth, to observe and help his people when they are in distress. God setteth the solitary — Hebrew, יחדים, jechidim, such as are left single and alone, and are destitute of help; in families — Hebrew, he causeth them to sit down in houses: he blesseth them with partners in life, and a posterity, and with the safe and comfortable enjoyment of the social blessings attending it. He bringeth out those which were bound, &c. — He setteth captives and prisoners at liberty, as he did the Israelites. But the rebellious — Those that rebel against God, as the Egyptians did; dwell in a dry land — Are deprived of all true comfort, and plagued with manifold calamities. This part of the Psalm, from Psalm 68:1 to Psalm 68:6, inclusive, Dr. Chandler supposes to have been sung just as the Levites took up the ark on their shoulders: and certainly it was a proper exordium to this great solemnity: containing “a solemn acknowledgment of God, a devout prayer for the dispersion of his enemies, and an exhortation to his people to rejoice before him, and to celebrate his praises, who guided their forefathers in the desert; when he redeemed them from Egyptian bondage, avenged them of their enemies, enlarged them into families, enriched them with the spoils of Egypt, and condemned their oppressors to poverty, disgrace, and misery.”

68:1-6 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.A father of the fatherless - Or, of orphans. Compare Psalm 10:14, Psalm 10:18. That is, God takes the place of the parent. See Jeremiah 49:11 : "Leave thy fatherless children, I will preserve them alive; and let thy widows trust in me." This is one of the most tender appellations that could be given to God, and conveys one of the most striking descriptions that can be given of his character. We see his greatness, his majesty, his power, in the worlds that he has made - in the storm, the tempest, the rolling ocean; but it is in such expressions as this that we learn, what we most desire to know, and what we cannot elsewhere learn, that he is a Father; that he is to be loved as well as feared. Nothing suggests more strikingly a state of helplessness and dependence than the condition of orphan children and widows; nothing, therefore, conveys a more affecting description of the character of God - of his condescension and kindness - than to say that he will take the place of the parent in the one case, and be a protector in the other.

And a judge of the widows - That is, He will see justice done them; he will save them from oppression and wrong. No persons are more liable to be oppressed and wronged than widows. They are regarded as incapable of defending or vindicating their own rights, and are likely to be deceived and betrayed by those to whom their property and rights may be entrusted. Hence, the care which God manifests for them; hence, his solemn charges, so often made to those who are in authority, and who are entrusted with power, to respect their rights; hence, his frequent and solemn rebukes to those who violate their rights. See the notes at Isaiah 1:17. Compare Deuteronomy 10:18; Deuteronomy 14:29; Deuteronomy 24:17; Exodus 22:22; Job 24:3, Job 24:21; Jeremiah 7:6; Malachi 3:5; James 1:27.

Is God in his holy habitation - Where he dwells; to wit, in heaven. The design of the psalmist seems to be to take us at once up to God; to let us see what he is in his holy home; to conduct us into his very presence, that we may see him as he is. What a man is we see in his own home - when we get near to him; when we look upon him, not on great or state occasions, when he is abroad, and assumes appearances befitting his rank and office, but in his own house; as he is constantly. This is the idea here, that if we approach God most nearly, if we look upon him, not merely in the splendor and magnificence in which he appears in governing the worlds, in his judgments, in storm and tempest, riding on the clouds and controlling the ocean, but, as it were, in his own dwelling, his quiet heavens - if we look most closely at his character, we shall find that character best represented by the kind and benignant traits of a father - in his care for widows and orphans. In other words, the more we see of God - the more we become intimately acquainted with his real nature - the more evidence we shall find that he is benevolent and kind.

Psalm 68:5.Leave thy fatherless children, I will preserve them alive;

And let thy widows trust in me.

5, 6. are illustrated by the protection to the helpless, vindication of the innocent, and punishment of rebels, ascribed to Him. He now enters upon some of the matters or reasons for which God is to be extolled; whereof this is one, that he is the patron of such as are injured and oppressed, and have not power to help themselves.

In his holy habitation; either in his tabernacle, or in heaven. Though he dwells there, yet the eyes of his fatherly providence and care run to and fro to help his people when they are distressed.

A father of the fatherless,.... In a literal sense, so as to show mercy to them, take care of then), and protect them; and this is a character which the great God often assumes, partly to express his power and providence over such, and partly to signify his tenderness, mercy, and goodness to them; and in which he should be imitated by civil magistrates, and by all good men: for it was not only a law in Israel to show regard to such, and take care not to afflict them, but it is also a branch of pure undefiled Christian religion, James 1:27, in attending to which we resemble the great Author of it, who is here intended. Moreover, this may be understood in a spiritual sense of such who are deserted by their friends, or are called to leave father and mother for the sake of Christ and his Gospel; and who are like fatherless ones, in an helpless condition in themselves, and are sensible of it; and will not trust in the creature, nor in any works of their own, but apply to Christ, where they have help and salvation, in whom the fatherless find mercy, Hosea 14:3; and who afterwards, when they are without the presence of Christ, and sensible communion with him, are like orphans or fatherless children; but Christ, who is the father of such, will not leave them so, will have pity on them, show favour to them, provide everything needful for them, and will come and visit them, as in John 14:18; where the word "orphans" or "fatherless" is used of Christ's disciples;

and a Judge of the widows; of such who are widows indeed in a literal sense, and especially that are believers, his elect that cry unto him; see Luke 18:2; and of such who are so in a spiritual sense; even of the whole church of Christ, who may, even now, be said to be in a widowhood estate, as well as under the former dispensation; since Christ, her bridegroom, is gone to heaven, and who yet, in the mean time, is her Judge, protector, and defender; and when she is made ready for him, as a bride adorned for her husband, will come and take her to himself, and she shall remember the reproach of her widowhood no more, Isaiah 54:4;

is God in his holy habitation: in heaven, the habitation of his holiness, where is Christ the high and Holy One; and has respect to the poor and lowly, the fatherless and the widow: or in his church, his holy temple, where he dwells and walks, and grants his gracious presence, and will do to the end of the world, according to his promise; or in his holy human nature, the temple and the tabernacle, in which the Godhead dwells.

A father of the fatherless, and a judge of the widows, is God in his holy habitation.
5. The orphan and the widow are typical examples of the friendless and unprotected who are under God’s special guardianship (Psalm 10:14; Psalm 146:9; Hosea 14:3). They are the subjects of a special clause in the earliest legislation (Exodus 22:22 ff.), which is reechoed by the latest of the prophets (Malachi 3:5). Cp. Isaiah 1:17; Isaiah 1:23.

his holy habitation] Not the temple but heaven, whence He ‘looks down’ to bless His people (Deuteronomy 26:15), and rules the world, espousing the cause of the humblest, whom men are most prone to despise. For the phrase cp. Jeremiah 25:30; Zechariah 2:13; 2 Chronicles 30:27. In Isaiah 63:15 a different Heb. word is used.

Verse 5. - A father of the fatherless, and a judge of the widows, is God. A defender, i.e., of the oppressed and downtrodden (comp. Isaiah 1:17). In his holy habitation. The heavenly and not the earthly dwelling place - whether tabernacle or temple - seems to be intended. God from his holy seat in the highest heaven pours clown his grace and mercy, his defence and protection, on all those who specially need his aid. Psalm 68:5The Psalm begins with the expression of a wish that the victory of God over all His foes and the triumphant exultation of the righteous were near at hand. Ewald and Hitzig take יקום אלהים hypothetically: If God arise, He enemies will be scattered. This rendering is possible in itself so far as the syntax is concerned, but here everything conspires against it; for the futures in Psalm 68:2-4 form an unbroken chain; then a glance at the course of the Psalm from Psa 68:20 onwards shows that the circumstances of Israel, under which the poet writes, urged forth the wish: let God arise and humble His foes; and finally the primary passage, Numbers 10:35, makes it clear that the futures are the language of prayer transformed into the form of the wish. In Psalm 68:3 the wish is addressed directly to God Himself, and therefore becomes petition. הנדּן is inflected (as vice versג ירדף, Psalm 7:6, from ירדּף) from הנּדף (like הנּתן, Jeremiah 32:4); it is a violation of all rule in favour of the conformity of sound (cf. הקצות for הקצות, Leviticus 14:43, and supra on Psalm 51:6) with תּנדּף, the object of which is easily supplied (dispellas, sc. hostes tuos), and is purposely omitted in order to direct attention more stedfastly to the omnipotence which to every creature is so irresistible. Like smoke, wax (דּונג, root דג, τηκ, Sanscrit tak, to shoot past, to run, Zend taḱ, whence vitaḱina, dissolving, Neo-Persic gudâchten; causative: to cause to run in different directions equals to melt or smelt) is an emblem of human feebleness. As Bakiuds observes, Si creatura creaturam non fert, quomodo creatura creatoris indignantis faciem ferre possit? The wish expressed in Psalm 68:4 forms the obverse of the preceding. The expressions for joy are heaped up in order to describe the transcendency of the joy that will follow the release from the yoke of the enemy. לפני is expressively used in alternation with מפני in Psalm 68:2, Psalm 68:3 : by the wrathful action, so to speak, that proceeds from His countenance just as the heat radiating from the fire melts the wax the foes are dispersed, whereas the righteous rejoice before His gracious countenance.

As the result of the challenge that has been now expressed in Psalm 68:2-4, Elohim, going before His people, begins His march; and in Psalm 68:5 an appeal is made to praise Him with song, His name with the music of stringed instrument, and to make a way along which He may ride בּערבות. In view of Psalm 68:34 we cannot take צרבות, as do the Targum and Talmud (B. Chagiga 12b), as a name of one of the seven heavens, a meaning to which, apart from other considerations, the verb ערב, to be effaced, confused, dark, is not an appropriate stem-word; but it must be explained according to Isaiah 40:3. There Jahve calls in the aid of His people, here He goes forth at the head of His people; He rides through the steppes in order to right against the enemies of His people. Not merely the historical reference assigned to the Psalm by Hitzig, but also the one adopted by ourselves, admits of allusion being made to the "steppes of Moab;" for the way to Mdeb, where the Syrian mercenaries of the Ammonites had encamped (1 Chronicles 19:7), lay through these steppes, and also the way to Rabbath Ammon (2 Samuel 10:7.). סלּוּ calls upon them to make a way for Him, the glorious, invincible King (cf. Isaiah 57:14; Isaiah 62:10); סלל signifies to cast up, heap up or pave, viz., a raised and suitable street or highway, Symmachus katastroo'sate. He who thus rides along makes the salvation of His people His aim: " is His name, therefore shout with joy before Him." The Beth in בּיהּ (Symmachus, Quinta: ἴα) is the Beth essentiae, which here, as in Isaiah 26:4, stands beside the subject: His name is (exists) in יה, i.e., His essential name is yh, His self-attestation, by which He makes Himself capable of being known and named, consists in His being the God of salvation, who, in the might of free grace, pervades all history. This Name is a fountain of exultant rejoicing to His people.

This Name is exemplificatively unfolded in Psalm 68:6. The highly exalted One, who sits enthroned in the heaven of glory, rules in all history here below and takes an interest in the lowliest more especially, in all circumstances of their lives following after His own to succour them. He takes the place of a father to the orphan. He takes up the cause of the widow and contests it to a successful issue. Elohim is one who makes the solitary or isolated to dwell in the house; בּיתה with He locale, which just as well answers the question where? as whither? בּית, a house equals family bond, is the opposite of יהיד, solitarius, recluse, Psalm 25:16. Dachselt correctly renders it, in domum, h.e. familiam numerosam durabilemque eos ut patres-familias plantabit. He is further One who brings forth (out of the dungeon and out of captivity) those who are chained into abundance of prosperity. כּושׁרות, occurring only here, is a pluralet. from כּשׁר morf .tela, synonym אשׁר, to be straight, fortunate. Psalm 68:7 briefly and sharply expresses the reverse side of this His humanely condescending rule among mankind. אך is here (cf. Genesis 9:4; Leviticus 11:4) restrictive or adversative (as is more frequently the case with אכן); and the preterite is the preterite of that which is an actual matter of experience. The סוררים, i.e., (not from סוּר, the apostate ones, Aquila afista'menoi, but as in Psalm 66:7, from סרר) the rebellious, Symmachus ἀπειθεῖς, who were not willing to submit to the rule of so gracious a God, had ever been excluded from these proofs of favour. These must inhabit צחיחה (accusative of the object), a sun-scorched land; from צחח, to be dazzlingly bright, sunny, dried or parched up. They remain in the desert without coming into the land, which, fertilized by the waters of grace, is resplendent with a fresh verdure and with rich fruits. If the poet has before his mind in connection with this the bulk of the people delivered out of Egypt, ὧν τὰ κῶλα ἔπεσαν ἐν τῇ ἐρήμω (Hebrews 3:17), then the transition to what follows is much more easily effected. There is, however, no necessity for any such intermediation. The poet had the march through the desert to Canaan under the guidance of Jahve, the irresistible Conqueror, in his mind even from the beginning, and now he expressly calls to mind that marvellous divine leading in order that the present age may take heart thereat.

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