Paul Kretzmann Commentary - Psalms 68:1 - 68:17

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Paul Kretzmann Commentary - Psalms 68:1 - 68:17

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This Chapter Verse Commentaries:

Of the Messiah's Exaltation.

To the chief musician, a psalm or song of David, the event which was the immediate cause for writing this powerful hymn, according to most commentators. being the placing of the Ark of the Covenant in the tent of David on Mount Zion, 2 Samuel 6, the general thought of the psalm being the celebration of God's entrance into His Sanctuary on Zion and His rule over the whole world. But the entire psalm is typical of the Messianic victories, certain sections being even directly prophetic, as Paul shows, Eph_4:8. References to contemporary history only are both forced and feeble. While it is true that the opening words of the psalm echo an exclamation from the early history of Israel, yet the expansion of the fundamental thought shows that a glorious victory of the Lord Jehovah over all His enemies and the establishment of His Kingdom of Grace is the fact which the inspired singer celebrates. Add to this the fact that the Lord is represented as blessing His people, as imparting spiritual benefits also to the heathen, a standing characteristic of Messianic prophecy, and the trend of the psalm must be admitted without question.

The Victories of Jehovah

v. 1. Let God arise, let His enemies be scattered,
the ancient exclamation which signaled the departure of the Ark of the Covenant from a camp in the wilderness, Num_10:35, the prayer receiving its real significance in the application of its contents to the mighty leadership of Jehovah in the New Testament; let them also that hate Him flee before Him, as His countenance is directed against them in anger.

v. 2. As smoke is driven away,
vanishing into nothing, so drive them away; as wax melteth before the fire, so let the wicked perish at the presence of God, the very strongest pictures of human weakness and puny evanescence being used to show their helplessness before the face of the Lord.

v. 3. But let the righteous be glad,
since they, clothed with the righteousness of God, have every reason to rejoice before Him always; let them rejoice before God, since they can freely stand before His face by virtue of the redemption of Christ; yea, let them exceedingly rejoice. Note the heaping of synonymous expressions to indicate the exceeding exuberance of the happiness of faith.

v. 4. Sing unto God, sing praises to His name,
extolling His divine essence and attributes, as revealed in His Word; extol Him that rideth upon the heavens, rather, cast up a road for Him who driveth along through the steppes, the picture being taken from the custom of Oriental monarchs to have all obstructions removed from the route which they intended to follow, the filling up of low places being included in such preparations, by His name JAH, His name is Jehovah, for by this name He reveals Himself as the God of salvation, who manifests the power of His mercy toward all those who accept Him in faith, and rejoice before Him, since this name is for His people of all times a source of the greatest happiness.

v. 5. A Father of the fatherless,
taking care of orphans as their true Father, and a Judge of the widows, the mighty Advocate of those who have lost their natural protector on earth, is God in His holy habitation, both His holy justice and His almighty power coming into consideration in their defense.

v. 6. God setteth the solitary in families,
the forsaken will have a home given to them, Isa_58:7; He bringeth out those which are bound with chains, liberating those who are bound, both expressions finding their fulfillment in the miraculous effect of the Gospel proclamation on the hearts of men, Isa_49:8-10; Isa_61:1-3; Luk_4:21. But the rebellious dwell in a dry land, where the parching heat of the sun torments them, where they are far from the land which is made fruitful by the waters of God's grace. The poet now refers to some examples of the miraculous leading of God, in order to emphasize His mercy toward His people in the Messianic period.

v. 7. O God, when Thou wentest forth before Thy people,
in the pillar of fire, when He led them through the wilderness, when Thou didst march through the wilderness; Selah:

v. 8. the earth shook,
in a mighty earthquake, the heavens also dropped at the presence of God, their heavy storm-clouds coming down to rest upon the mountain; even Sinai itself was moved at the presence of God, the God of Israel, Exo_19:16-19. The name "God of Israel" is most fitting in this connection, for from the event at Sinai dates the position of Israel as the covenant people.

v. 9. Thou, O God, didst send a plentiful rain,
said of the rich bestowal of spiritual gifts as experienced by Israel, the covenant nation, whereby Thou didst confirm Thine inheritance when it was weary, reviving them when they were parched with thirst, even as the mercy of God in the Gospel sustains the languishing at all times.

v. 10. Thy congregation hath dwelt therein,
in the inheritance, in the Land of Promise, like a herd of sheep under the gentle leadership of a good shepherd; Thou, O God, hast prepared of Thy goodness for the poor, as a Host liberal with His spiritual gifts and blessings toward the needy of the earth.

v. 11. The Lord gave the word,
that of authority, with which He intended to come to the aid of His people, the Word of Salvation. Great was the company of those that published it, the reference being to the choruses of women who usually celebrated the victories of Israel, Exo_15:20-21; Jdg_11:34. Even so in our days the victories of the Cross are celebrated in hymns sung by man and woman, young and old, all Christians joining in the choruses of thanksgiving in honor of the great blessings of God.

v. 12. Kings of armies,
hosts being mentioned in ironical contrast to Jehovah Sabaoth, did flee apace, in utter rout; and she that tarried at home, the woman in the tent, the mistress of the house, in this case the congregation, the Church of Christ, divided the spoil, dealing out richly to all her children the gifts of God's mercy, as assured by Messiah's victory.

v. 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,
literally, "If you are encamped between cattle pens, the wings of the dove are covered with silver, and her pinions with iridescent sheen of gold"; that is, the period of the Messiah is one of great spiritual prosperity, combined with a peaceful enjoyment of God's blessings, the riches granted by the Gospel being compared with the wonderful play of colors on the feathers of the dove as she preens them in the sun.

v. 14. When the Almighty scattered kings in it,
dispersing the attacking hosts of princes, it was white as snow in Salmon, the agreeable whiteness of the snow on the dark mountain picturing the relief which comes to the spiritual Israel with the victory over the enemies.

v. 15. The hill of God,
the abode of His Church, is as the hill of Bashan; an high hill, a mount full of peaks, as the hill of Bashan.

v. 16. Why leap ye, ye high hills?
the other many-peaked mountains looking with envy upon this abode of the Lord and His Church. This is the hill which God desireth to dwell in; yea, the Lord will dwell in it forever, and all the powers of darkness will not be able to overthrow the spiritual Zion.

v. 17. The chariots of God are twenty thousand,
many myriads, even thousands of angels, the innumerable hosts of the angels of God; the Lord is among them, as in Sinai, in the Holy Place, Deu_33:2. Thus the victorious might of Jehovah is set forth over against all the puny power of the kings of hosts, whose efforts to overthrow the Church of God are invariably frustrated, Mat_16:18.