Through the Bible Day by Day
To the chief Musician, A Psalm or Song of David. Let God arise, let his enemies be scattered: let them also that hate him flee before him.
THE LEADER OF HIS PEOPLE
This is one of the grandest odes in literature. It was probably composed when the Ark was brought in triumph from the house of Obed-edom to the newly acquired hill of the Lord, 2Sa_6:1-23. It is evidently a processional hymn, intended to be sung by bands of white-robed priests and Levites. In this paragraph the Ark was lifted to the shoulders of its bearers, while a measured strain was chanted, Psa_68:1-6. Then, as the procession moved forward, the march through the wilderness was recited, Psa_68:7-11.
Let God arise! These opening words are borrowed from the formula used by Moses, Num_10:35. Through the smoke of many a battlefield have they rung out! Cromwell’s “Ironsides” charged to their music. In Psa_68:5-6 we learn that God has a special care for lonely people and prisoners. The former He introduces to families, Joh_19:26-27. The latter are brought out into prosperity. Psa_68:11, r.v. seems to have a modern fulfillment in the exodus of noble women from happy homes in Christian lands to publish the gospel of Christ to the heathen.
Kings of armies did flee apace: and she that tarried at home divided the spoil.
THEIR MIGHTY DELIVERER
The processional march still continues. Presently Mount Zion comes in sight, and the neighboring hills are depicted as eying it enviously for its selection in preference to themselves. In Psa_68:17-18 the glad throng begins to climb the sacred slopes of Zion, amid still more triumphant strains; and in Psa_68:19, etc., the gates of the sanctuary stand wide open to welcome the festal crowds.
How great the contrast between the blackened appearance of a smoky caldron, and the lustrous sheen of a bird’s pinions as they flash in the sunlight! Psa_68:13. Yet that is the contrast between what we were, and what we now are. Zalmon, Psa_68:14 -perhaps a reference to the wooded hill near Shechem, mentioned in Jdg_9:48. The hostile kings were scattered as snowflakes are driven before the wind and melt in the sun. The hill Bashan, Psa_68:15, is a snow-clad summit, but Zion is greater, since God is there. In the triumphant words of Psa_68:18, the singer quotes Jdg_5:12, and they are applied in Eph_4:8 to our Lord’s ascension. Note the r.v. rendering of Psa_68:19 -that the Lord daily beareth our burdens. Singers, minstrels, and girls with timbrels, Psa_68:25 -all have a share in the Church’s joy.
Bless ye God in the congregations, even the Lord, from the fountain of Israel.
THE GOD OF THE WHOLE EARTH
The constituent parts of the procession are now described, and in these closing verses the triumphal note rings out. It tells of the confidence of Israel in her ultimate dominance of the world, which was to be not physical, but moral and spiritual.
The psalmist sees tribe after tribe passing into the sanctuary, and indicates each as it goes by Zebulun and Naphtali were mentioned in Deborah’s song, already quoted. They are specially noticed here, because they who have done well in the wars of the Lord will ever be rewarded. Among the results of God’s enthronement among His people is the submission of the kings of unnamed lands. In Psa_69:30, r.v., the beast of the reeds is probably the crocodile, and refers to Egypt. Bulls and calves refer to the princes of surrounding nations and their subjects. Ethiopia reaches out her hands, offering tribute. The whole world is subdued to worship before the great God of Israel. He giveth strength and power unto His people. Let us avail ourselves of His gracious provisions. Let us ask Him to command our strength, Psa_68:28; Psa_68:35.