The earth shook, the heavens also dropped at the presence of God: even Sinai itself was moved at the presence of God, the God of Israel.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Exodus 19:16-18.
The heavens also dropped at the presence of God - That is, dropped down rain and food. The idea is that the very heavens seemed to be shaken or convulsed, so that rain and food were shaken down - as ripe fruit falls from a tree that is shaken. Compare the notes at Isaiah 34:4. So also, Isaiah 64:1-3. The meaning is not that the heavens themselves dropped down, but that they dropped or distilled rain and food.
Even Sinai itself was moved - This was true; but this does not seem to be the idea intended here, for the words "even" and "was moved" are not in the original. The Hebrew is, literally, "This Sinai;" meaning probably" this was at Sinai," or, "this took place at Sinai." The correct translation perhaps would be, "The heavens distilled rain at the presence of God, this at Sinai, at the presence of God."
At the presence of God, the God of Israel - The whole region seemed to be moved and awed at the presence of God, or when he came down to visit his people. The earth and the heavens, all seemed to be in commotion.The earth; either,
1. Metonymically, the inhabitants of those parts of the earth, by comparing Exodus 15:14. Or,
2. Properly, by comparing Psalm 114:5-7. There was a great earthquake, as a token of God’s dreadful presence.
Dropped, i.e. poured down great showers, which accompanied those mighty thunders, as usually it doth. Was moved; or, dropped; which may be repeated out, of the former clause; was even melted or dissolved with fear. It is a poetical representation of the terribleness of God’s appearance. Psalm 114:1. It may also design the dread and trembling of the inhabitants of the earth, when they heard of the wonderful things God did for his people, Exodus 15:14;
the heavens also dropped at the presence of God; the Targum supplies, dew; to which may be added, quails and manna: though it rather seems to design a large shower of rain, which followed the lightning and thunder, when the law was given;
even Sinai itself was moved at the presence of God, the God of Israel: it is said to quake greatly, Exodus 19:18. The words of this verse and Psalm 68:7 seem to be borrowed out of the song of Deborah, Judges 5:4. Like effects followed the promulgation of the Gospel, even a shaking of the heavens and of the earth as an emblem of the removing of the ceremonial rites and Mosaic ordinances. Let it be observed, that Christ, who went before the Israelites in the wilderness, and whom they tempted and rebelled against, is called the God of Israel.The earth shook, the heavens also dropped at the presence of God: even Sinai itself was moved at the presence of God, the God of Israel.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)8. shook] R.V. trembled.
dropped] Torrents of rain accompanied the thunders and lightnings. Cp. Psalm 77:17 f.
at the presence of God] Cp. Psalm 68:1-4.
even Sinai itself was moved] R.V., Even yon Sinai (trembled). The words yon Sinai come in somewhat abruptly here, while in Judges they follow quite naturally upon the clause “the mountains quaked.” A verb however can be supplied from the first line, and there is no need to alter the text.
the God of Israel] The use of this title here is significant. It was from Sinai that the covenant-relation between Jehovah and His people dated. Cp. Exodus 24:8; Exodus 24:10.Verse 8. - The earth shook, the heavens also dropped, at the presence of God (see Exodus 19:16-18; Deuteronomy 5:22, 23). The "dropping" of the heavens was the descent of a thick thundercloud upon the mount, which rested upon it, and spread around a dense and weird darkness. Even Sinai itself was moved at the presence of God; literally, yonder Sinai, as if it were in sight, and could be pointed at. The God of Israel. Our God, who did all these great things for us. 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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