This psalm is extolled by commentators as one of the most magnificent hymnal psalms of praise that David wrote – and in some ways, one of the most difficult to outline and interpret. It is widely accepted as having been written at the time of the removal of “the ark of God from the house of Obed-edom to the city of David with rejoicing” ( 2 Samuel 6:12). And that certainly seems to be the case, as it starts out in verse one (“God shall arise, his enemies shall be scattered; and those who hate him shall flee before him!”) – the same way the ark was always put on its journey (see Numbers 10:35).
Throughout the chapter, it echoes the praise for God when on a similar journey among His people, He led them from bondage in Egypt (i.e. verses 4, 6, 7-8). Verse 20 (“Our God is a God of salvation, and to God, the Lord, belong deliverances from death”) is one of few verses in the Old Testament that clearly demonstrates an understanding of God’s saving grace for the righteous in eternity, as we understand now comes to us from the sacrifice of His Son.
But praise for God and His power is the sole intent of this song. Part of Spurgeon’s description of the singing which follows here conjures quite an image:
“With the words of the first two verses the ark is uplifted, and the procession begins to move. In Psalm 68:3-6, the godly in the assembly are exhorted to commence their joyous songs, and arguments are adduced to help their joy. Then the glorious march of Jehovah in the wilderness is sung: Psalm 68:7-10, and his victories in war are celebrated in verses Psalm 68:11-14. The joyous shouts are louder as Zion comes in sight, and the ark is borne up the hill…”
The psalm concludes majestically:
Awesome is God from his sanctuary;
the God of Israel—he is the one who gives power and strength to his people.
Blessed be God!
some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers
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