PSALM 68 - Messiah: The LORD who goes before His people (to bring them into their rest).
68:1 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.
Moses spoke these words when the Ark set out before Israel in the wilderness. (Num 10:33-36)
Likewise, the Lord goes before His people in all ages. (This theme is briefly stated in v.1-6.)
The remainder of this psalm provides a time line of the Lord's going before His people Israel,
in several specific periods of history (some are yet future). There is but One God, who goes before His people to accomplish His purposes, as history is rolled out like a pre-written scroll. In this Psalm, we are spectators, observing, as...
the Lord...
  1. Brings Israel out of Egypt and through the wilderness, v.7-10
  2. Leads Israel into the Promised Land and displaces its occupants, v.11-14
  3. Watches over Jerusalem, during Israel's dispersions, in the Times of the Gentiles, v.15-17
  4. Ascends into Heaven, having made full provision for His own, v.18-20
  5. Judges His enemies, and restores His people, v.21-23
  6. Returns to the Sanctuary, to dwell among His people, v.24-27
  7. Reigns over all the earth, in His Millennial Kingdom, v.28-35
Let God arise...- In every age, God's people are dependent upon Him
for His protection and deliverance from their enemies,
and for His merciful provision of their daily needs.
68:2 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.
The Lord Himself destroys His enemies. 2Thes 1:8,9; Rev 6:15-17
68:3 But let the righteous be glad;
let them rejoice before God: yea, let them exceedingly rejoice.
Rev 18:20
68:4 Sing unto God, sing praises to his name:
extol him that rideth upon the heavens by his name JAH,
and rejoice before him.
Jah - a shortened form of Jehovah {'the ever-living One'},
the name by which His covenant with Israel is guaranteed and established.
He goes before and above His people, through all ages.
cp. Gen 22:16-18; Ex 6:3; Ex 19:3,4; Deut 33:26-29
(Note: in Deut 33, "Jeshurun" means "the Righteous One".)
68:5 A father of the fatherless, and a judge of the widows,
[is] God in his holy habitation.
Powerful as He is, yet, He personally cares for even the lowest of His people.
Deut 10:18; Psa 138:6; Psa 146:7-9; Luk 18:1-7
68:6 God setteth the solitary in families: {cp. Psa 113:9}
solitary- For this word, the Septuagint uses GK= "monogenes",
which is the NT word for the "only begotten" Son. cp. Psa 22:30
he bringeth out those which are bound with chains:
but the rebellious dwell in a dry [land].
Alternate reading [GWms]:
"God bringeth the exiled home.
He bringeth those who were bound with chains,
even the rebellious who dwelt in a parched land." (ref. to Israel)
cp. Psa 107:8-14; Hos 2:3; Mal 1:3
A. The Lord brought Israel out of Egypt and through the wilderness, v.7-10.
68:7 O God, when thou wentest forth before thy people,
when thou didst march through the wilderness; Selah:
{Ex 13:21}
68:8 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.
cp. Ex 19:16-18; Heb 12:26
68:9 Thou, O God, didst send a plentiful rain,
whereby thou didst confirm thine inheritance, when it was weary.
rain...- The Lord plentifully provided for His people, even in the wilderness, with
water from the Rock, manna from heaven, and (in their land) rain for their crops.
Psa 78:19,20,24-27; Deut 11:10-14
68:10 Thy congregation hath dwelt therein: {ie., in the wilderness}
thou, O God, hast prepared of thy goodness for the poor.
cp. Deut 26:5-9; Deut 32:8-14; 1Sam 2:8; Luk 1:53
B. The Lord led Israel into the Promised Land and displaced its occupants, v.11-14.
68:11 The Lord gave the word:
{ie., He commanded and occasioned victory. [GWms]}
great [was] the company of those that published [it].
The Lord gave the victory.
The people proclaim what He has done, in the following song (v.12-14)...
68:12 Kings of armies did flee apace:
eg., Ex 14:25; Num 31:8; Josh 10:42
and she that tarried at home divided the spoil. {cp. 1Sam 30:24}
68:13 Though ye have lien among the pots, [yet shall ye be as] the wings of a dove
covered with silver, and her feathers with yellow gold.
lien among the pots- alternate reading "remained among the sheepfolds..."
Even those disengaged from the battle, and tending to less dangerous tasks, share the reward of His battle on their behalf. (cp. Judg 5:16)
wings of a dove -
In scripture, doves were the sacrifices of the poor, and also a symbol of peace.
But they also represent fearfulness, and a desire to flee and hide from trouble (eg., Isa 38:14; Hos 11:11). When the children of Israel entered the promised land, they had no confidence in their own strength, their confidence was in the LORD. Because they trusted Him, He rewarded them royally. The timid dove was covered with His...
  • silver - which speaks of redemption.
  • gold - which speaks of the glory of God manifested upon them. cp. Ezek 16:6-14
68:14 When the Almighty scattered kings in it, it was [white] as snow in Salmon.
the Almighty- HB= Shaddai, a name of God emphasizing His sufficiency...
It is He who strengthens and satisfies His people.
It is He who gives them victory over their enemies.
Salmon- a wooded hill in Samaria, the name means "shade" or "dark," perhaps a "black forest."
The sense may be...
  1. that the garments of the fallen kings stood out against the dark background, or...
  2. that the kings could no more stand before the Lord, than snow can endure the heat of the sun, in this normally hot region. (Note that 'white' is a supplied word.)
C. The Lord watches over Jerusalem, during Israel's dispersions, in the Times of the Gentiles, v.15-17.
68:15 The hill of God [is as] the hill of Bashan; an high hill [as] the hill of Bashan.
alternate reading [NASB]:
"A mountain of God is the mountain of Bashan,
a mountain [of many] peaks is the mountain of Bashan."
Bashan - a well watered, fertile region northeast of the Sea of Galilee.
The inference, here, is that God purposes that the hill which He has chosen (ie., Jerusalem), will be strong and well nourished... even though it may not appear that way, at present.
68:16 Why leap ye, ye high hills?
[this is] the hill [which] God desireth to dwell in;
yea, the LORD will dwell [in it] for ever.
alternate reading [NASB]:
"Why do you look with envy, O mountains with [many] peaks?
At the mountain which God has desired for His abode?
Surely, the LORD will dwell [there] forever."
The many peaks are symbolic of the earth's kingdoms,
which 'leap' {HB= ratsad, watch with envious hostility} to gain dominion over Jerusalem. This is the situation, during the present "Times of the Gentiles," due to God's judgment of His people. But in His time, He will establish His Kingdom as the head of the nations.
cp. Psa 2:6; Isa 2:1-5
68:17 The chariots of God [are] twenty thousand, [even] thousands of angels:
the Lord [is] among them, [as in] Sinai, in the holy [place].
chariots... thousands... angels - cp. 2King 6:16,17; Mat 26:53,54
The Lord has sufficient power to take dominion over the earth.
He will establish His Kingdom over the nations, when He comes to dwell among His people.
D. The Lord ascended into Heaven, having made full provision for His own, v.18-20.
68:18 Thou hast ascended on high,
thou hast led captivity captive:
thou hast received gifts for men; yea, [for] the rebellious also,
that the LORD God might dwell [among them].
Thou hast ascended on high...- Who is being addressed?
Ascending into heaven is beyond the reach of you or me.
This is the prerogative of God... and of His Son. See Prov 30:4
Verse 18 is quoted in the NT in reference to Christ's resurrection & ascension.
See "Eph 4:7-10" and "Acts 2:34,38"
These themes are also contemplated in Psalm 24 (also see the Book Notes, there).
What is the purpose of His 'ascending into Heaven'? -
  • Thou hast led captivity captive.-
    • Christ released sinners from their bondage to sin, death and Satan. Heb 2:14,15
      This Psalm presents the God of Israel as mighty in battle and victorious over all His enemies. This phrase refers to Him parading those enemies as vanquished prisoners. Those, who previously oppressed and imprisoned His people, have been taken captive (Col 2:15). Those, who Christ has redeemed are displayed as testimonies to His glory and victory (Eph 3:10).
    • Christ emptied 'paradise,' taking the spirits of righteous dead men with Him to Heaven.
      Note: This concept is not supported by Psalm 68. It may be a secondary sense of Eph 4:8 (supported by other NT passages, eg., Luk 23:43; 2Cor 5:8; Php 1:23; Heb 12:22-24). If so, it is not the subject under discussion in Ephesians ch.4. [See the Book Notes at Ephesians 4:8.]
  • Thou hast received gifts for men... for the rebellious also.-
    These gifts include:
  • that the LORD God may dwell among them.-
    This transformation, of sinners into saints, is required before the LORD can dwell among His people (v.17) and restore Jerusalem to its rightful status over the nations (v.16). Through His death (by which He put away sin) and resurrection (by which He brings believers into newness of Life), the One who ascended, has accomplished the required work of salvation, for those who turn to Him in faith.
       Only the LORD, the ever-living One, could be victorious over death. This is emphasized by the careful application of various names of God in this Psalm. He is referred to as 'God' {HB= 'El' or 'Elohim,' the Mighty One, occurs 31x}, the Lord {HB='adonai, the Master, the One with all authority, 7x}, 'Jah' {v.4, where His eternality guarantees His everlasting covenant through the ages}, LORD {v.16, the ever-living One dwells for ever}, and LORD God {v.18, 'Jehoval Elohim,' ie., 'the ever-living Mighty One'}. The mighty work of salvation, by which God prepared His people for His eternal Presence, could be accomplished only by 'the ever-living Mighty One,' who died and rose and ascended victoriously into heaven.
       Having finished this work, He is called 'the God of our salvation,' in the following verses.
68:19 Blessed [be] the Lord, [who] daily loadeth us [with benefits,
even] the God of our salvation. Selah.
{Eph 1:3}
68:20 [He that is] our God [is] the God of salvation; {Isa 45:17-22}
and unto GOD the Lord [belong] the issues from death.
...GOD the Lord {Jehovah Adonai, 'the ever-living Master'}-
The final occurrence of the name 'Jehovah,' in this psalm, is a compound name. Not only is He victorious over death, but He has authority over death and its issues {HB= totsa'ot, extremities, outgoings, borders}. He alone has the authority to release men from the bonds of death.
cp. Deut 32:39; Joh 5:21-29; Joh 11:25,26; Heb 2:14-15; Rev 1:18
E. The Lord will judge His enemies, and restore His people, v.21-23.
68:21 But God shall wound the head of his enemies,
[and] the hairy scalp of such an one as goeth on still in his trespasses.
one as goeth on still in his trespass -
cp. Ex 34:6,7; Eze 18:20; Heb 2:1-3; 2Pet 3:3-10
the - ultimately refers to Satan & the Antichrist.
A common OT word for "devils" (HB= sa'ir) is lit., "hairy ones" (cp. English 'satyr'). (eg., the word 'devils' in 2Chr 11:14,15, where Jeroboam established demonic idolatry in the northern kingdom of Israel)
68:22 The Lord said, I will bring again from Bashan,
I will bring [my people] again from the depths of the sea:
Bashan...- Here, this term is applied to the nations of Israel's diaspora.
Although those nations are strong and mighty, the Lord will deliver His people from their grip, and bring them back to their land.
cp. Deut 30:1-9; Isa 11:11-16; Jer 23:5-8
68:23 That thy foot may be dipped in the blood of [thine] enemies,
[and] the tongue of thy dogs in the same.
cp. Rev 14:20; Rev 19:17-21
F. The Lord will return to the Sanctuary, to dwell among His people, v.24-27.
68:24 They have seen thy goings, O God;
[even] the goings of my God, my King, in the sanctuary.
The Lord will come again to His Temple.
cp. Psa 24:7-10; Ezek 44:1-4
68:25 The singers went before, the players on instruments [followed] after;
among [them were] the damsels playing with timbrels.
cp. Jer 31:4,13; Rev 15:2-4
68:26 Bless ye God in the congregations,
[even] the Lord, from the fountain of Israel.
or, "...[you who are] of the fountain of Israel." [NASB]
(ie., you who have sprung from Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.)
68:27 There [is] little Benjamin [with] their ruler,
the princes of Judah [and] their council,
the princes of Zebulun, [and] the princes of Naphtali.
These tribes represent all of Israel...
- - Benjamin and Judah (the southern kingdom)...
- - Zebulun and Naphtali (the northern kingdom).
The divided kingdom will be united under their King. Ezek 37:19-27
G. The Lord will reign over all the earth, in His Millennial Kingdom, v.28-35.
68:28 Thy God hath commanded thy strength:
strengthen, O God, that which thou hast wrought for us.
Psa 138:7,8; Isa 40:27-31; 2Cor 12:9,10; Eph 3:20
68:29 Because of thy temple at Jerusalem shall kings bring presents unto thee.
Isa 60:6-11 Rev 21:23-26
68:30 Rebuke the company of spearmen,
alternate reading: "rebuke the beasts among the reeds" [NASB]
Gentile kings are viewed, here, as animals. (cp. Dan 7, Rev 13)
the multitude of the bulls, with the calves of the people,
Those rebuked include leaders (bulls) and their followers who are like them (calves).
Rev 14:9-12
[till every one] submit himself with pieces of silver:
scatter thou the people [that] delight in war.
Psa 46:6-11
68:31 Princes shall come out of Egypt;
Ethiopia shall soon stretch out her hands unto God.
Psa 72:8-11; Isa 19:18-25; Isa 45:14
68:32 Sing unto God, ye kingdoms of the earth;
O sing praises unto the Lord; Selah:
68:33 To him that rideth upon the heavens of heavens, [which were] of old;
lo, he doth send out his voice, [and that] a mighty voice.
Rev 11:12,15,19; Rev 16:1,15-21
68:34 Ascribe ye strength unto God:
his excellency [is] over Israel, and his strength [is] in the clouds.
68:35 O God, [thou art] terrible
{ie., dreadful, to be feared} out of thy holy places:
out of thy holy places- ie., when the Holy One moves out against the "unholy." (vs.1-2)
the God of Israel [is] he that giveth strength and power unto [his] people. {vs.3-6}
Blessed [be] God.

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