Ps 68:1-35. This is a Psalm-song (see on Ps 30:1, title), perhaps suggested by David's
victories, which secured his throne and gave rest to the nation. In
general terms, the judgment of God on the wicked, and the equity and
goodness of His government to the pious, are celebrated. The sentiment
is illustrated by examples of God's dealings, cited from the Jewish
history and related in highly poetical terms. Hence the writer
intimates an expectation of equal and even greater triumphs and summons
all nations to unite in praises of the God of Israel. The Psalm is
evidently typical of the relation which God, in the person of His Son,
sustains to the Church (compare Ps 68:18).
1-3. Compare Nu 10:35; Ps 1:4; 22:14, on the figures here used.
before him—as in Ps 68:2, from His presence, as dreaded;
but in Ps
68:3, in His presence,
as under His protection (Ps 61:7).
3. the righteous—all truly pious,
whether of Israel or not.
4. extol him … heavens—literally,
"cast up for Him who rideth in the deserts," or "wilderness" (compare
Ps 68:7), alluding to the poetical
representation of His leading His people in the wilderness as a
conqueror, before whom a way is to be prepared, or "cast up" (compare
by his name JAH—or, "Jehovah," of
which it is a contraction (Ex 15:3; Isa 12:2) (Hebrew).
name—or, "perfections" (Ps 9:10; 20:1), which—
5, 6. are illustrated by the protection to the
helpless, vindication of the innocent, and punishment of rebels,
ascribed to Him.
6. setteth the solitary in
families—literally, "settleth the lonely" (as wanderers) "at
home." Though a general truth, there is perhaps allusion to the
wandering and settlement of the Israelites.
rebellious dwell in a dry land—removed
from all the comforts of home.
7, 8. (Compare Ex 19:16-18).
thou wentest—in the pillar of
thou didst march—literally, "in Thy
tread," Thy majestic movement.
8. even Sinai itself—literally, "that
Sinai," as in Jud 5:5.
9, 10. a plentiful rain—a rain of gifts,
as manna and quails.
10. Thy congregation—literally, "troop,"
as in 2Sa 23:11, 13—the military aspect of the people
being prominent, according to the figures of the context.
therein—that is, in the land of
the poor—Thy humble people (Ps 68:9; compare Ps 10:17;
11. gave the word—that is, of
company—or, choir of females,
celebrating victory (Ex 15:20).
12. Kings of armies—that is, with their
she that … at home—Mostly women
so remained, and the ease of victory appears in that such, without
danger, quietly enjoyed the spoils.
13. Some translate this, "When ye shall lie
between the borders, ye shall," &c., comparing the peaceful rest in
the borders or limits of the promised land to the proverbial beauty of
a gentle dove. Others understand by the word rendered "pots," the
smoked sides of caves, in which the Israelites took refuge from enemies
in the times of the judges; or, taking the whole figuratively, the rows
of stones on which cooking vessels were hung; and thus that a contrast
is drawn between their former low and afflicted state and their
succeeding prosperity. In either case, a state of quiet and peace is
described by a beautiful figure.
14. Their enemies dispersed, the contrast of
their prosperity with their former distress is represented by that of
the snow with the dark and somber shades of Salmon.
15, 16. Mountains are often symbols of nations
46:2; 65:6). That of Bashan,
northeast of Palestine, denotes a heathen nation, which is described as
a "hill of God," or a great hill. Such are represented as envious of
the hill (Zion) on which God resides;
17. and, to the assertion of God's purpose to
make it His dwelling, is added evidence of His protecting care. He is
described as in the midst of His heavenly armies—
thousands of angels—literally,
"thousands of repetitions," or, "thousands of thousands"—that is,
of chariots. The word "angels" was perhaps introduced in our
version, from De 33:2, and Ga 3:19. They are, of course, implied as
conductors of the chariots.
as … Sinai, in the holy
place—that is, He has appeared in Zion as once in Sinai.
18. From the scene of conquest He ascends to
His throne, leading—
captivity captive—or, "many captives
captive" (Jud 5:12).
received gifts for men—accepting their
homage, even when forced, as that of rebels.
that the Lord God might dwell—or
literally, "to dwell, O Lord God" (compare Ps 68:16)—that is, to make this hill, His
people or Church, His dwelling. This Psalm typifies the conquests of
the Church under her divine leader, Christ. He, indeed, "who was with
the Church in the wilderness" (Ac 7:38) is the Lord, described in this
ideal ascension. Hence Paul (Eph 4:8) applies this language to describe His
real ascension, when, having conquered sin, death, and hell, the Lord
of glory triumphantly entered heaven, attended by throngs of adoring
angels, to sit on the throne and wield the scepter of an eternal
dominion. The phrase "received gifts for (or literally, among)
men" is by Paul, "gave gifts to men." Both describe the acts of
a conqueror, who receives and distributes spoils. The Psalmist uses
"receiving" as evincing the success, Paul "gave" as the act, of the
conqueror, who, having subdued his enemies, proceeds to reward his
friends. The special application of the passage by Paul was in proof of
Christ's exaltation. What the Old Testament represents of His
descending and ascending corresponds with His history. He who descended
is the same who has ascended. As then ascension was an element of His
triumph, so is it now; and He, who, in His humiliation, must be
recognized as our vicarious sacrifice and the High Priest of our
profession, must also be adored as Head of His Church and author of all
her spiritual benefits.
19-21. God daily and fully supplies us. The
issues or escapes from death are under His control, who is the God that
saves us, and destroys His and our enemies.
21. wound the head—or, "violently
destroy" (Nu 24:8; Ps 110:6).
goeth on still in …
22. Former examples of God's deliverance are
generalized: as He has done, so He will do.
from Bashan—the farthest region;
depths of the sea—the severest
afflictions. Out of all, God will bring them. The figures of Ps 68:23 denote the completeness of the
conquest, not implying any savage cruelty (compare 2Ki
9:36; Isa 63:1-6; Jer 15:3).
24-27. The triumphal procession, after the
deliverance, is depicted.
They have seen—impersonally, "There
have been seen."
the goings of my God—as leading the
procession; the ark, the symbol of His presence, being in front. The
various bands of music (Ps 68:25)
follow, and all who are—
26. from—or literally, "of"
the fountain of Israel—that is, lineal
descendants of Jacob, are invited to unite in the doxology. Then by one
of the nearest tribes, one of the most eminent, and two of the most
remote, are represented the whole nation of Israel, passing forward
28, 29. Thanks for the past, and confident
prayer for the future victories of Zion are mingled in a song of
29. thy temple—literally, "over"
Jerusalem—His palace or residence
(Ps 5:7) symbolized His protecting
presence among His people, and hence is the object of homage on the
part of others.
30. The strongest nations are represented by
the strongest beasts (compare Margin).
31. Princes—or, literally, "fat ones,"
the most eminent from the most wealthy, and the most distant nation,
represent the universal subjection.
stretch out her hands—or, "make to run
her hands," denoting haste.
32-36. To Him who is presented as riding in
triumph through His ancient heavens and proclaiming His
presence—to Him who, in nature, and still more in the wonders of
His spiritual government, out of His holy place (Ps 43:3), is terrible, who rules His Church,
and, by His Church, rules the world in righteousness—let all
nations and kingdoms give honor and power and dominion evermore.