Read Psalm 68
For the director of music. Of David. A psalm. A song.
1 May God arise, may his enemies be scattered;
may his foes flee before him.
2 May you blow them away like smoke—
as wax melts before the fire,
may the wicked perish before God.
3 But may the righteous be glad
and rejoice before God;
may they be happy and joyful.
4 Sing to God, sing in praise of his name,
extol him who rides on the clouds;
rejoice before him—his name is the Lord.
5 A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows,
is God in his holy dwelling.
6 God sets the lonely in families,
he leads out the prisoners with singing;
but the rebellious live in a sun-scorched land.
7 When you, God, went out before your people,
when you marched through the wilderness,
8 the earth shook, the heavens poured down rain,
before God, the One of Sinai,
before God, the God of Israel.
9 You gave abundant showers, O God;
you refreshed your weary inheritance.
10 Your people settled in it,
and from your bounty, God, you provided for the poor.
11 The Lord announces the word,
and the women who proclaim it are a mighty throng:
12 “Kings and armies flee in haste;
the women at home divide the plunder.
13 Even while you sleep among the sheep pens,
the wings of my dove are sheathed with silver,
its feathers with shining gold.”
14 When the Almighty scattered the kings in the land,
it was like snow fallen on Mount Zalmon.
15 Mount Bashan, majestic mountain,
Mount Bashan, rugged mountain,
16 why gaze in envy, you rugged mountain,
at the mountain where God chooses to reign,
where the Lord himself will dwell forever?
17 The chariots of God are tens of thousands
and thousands of thousands;
the Lord has come from Sinai into his sanctuary.
18 When you ascended on high,
you took many captives;
you received gifts from people,
even from the rebellious—
that you, Lord God, might dwell there.
19 Praise be to the Lord, to God our Savior,
who daily bears our burdens.
20 Our God is a God who saves;
from the Sovereign Lord comes escape from death.
21 Surely God will crush the heads of his enemies,
the hairy crowns of those who go on in their sins.
22 The Lord says, “I will bring them from Bashan;
I will bring them from the depths of the sea,
23 that your feet may wade in the blood of your foes,
while the tongues of your dogs have their share.”
24 Your procession, God, has come into view,
the procession of my God and King into the sanctuary.
25 In front are the singers, after them the musicians;
with them are the young women playing the timbrels.
26 Praise God in the great congregation;
praise the Lord in the assembly of Israel.
27 There is the little tribe of Benjamin, leading them,
there the great throng of Judah’s princes,
and there the princes of Zebulun and of Naphtali.
28 Summon your power, God;
show us your strength, our God, as you have done before.
29 Because of your temple at Jerusalem
kings will bring you gifts.
30 Rebuke the beast among the reeds,
the herd of bulls among the calves of the nations.
Humbled, may the beast bring bars of silver.
Scatter the nations who delight in war.
31 Envoys will come from Egypt;
Cush will submit herself to God.
32 Sing to God, you kingdoms of the earth,
sing praise to the Lord,
33 to him who rides across the highest heavens, the ancient heavens,
who thunders with mighty voice.
34 Proclaim the power of God,
whose majesty is over Israel,
whose power is in the heavens.
35 You, God, are awesome in your sanctuary;
the God of Israel gives power and strength to his people.
Praise be to God!
Many scholars believe this psalm was written by David when the ark of the covenant, representing God’s physical presence with the Israelites, was brought into Jerusalem. The psalm gives the reader a picture of a processional: singers, musicians, women playing tambourines, all praising God and exalting the Lord. 2 Samuel 6 tells us that when the ark came into the city of David that David himself led the processional, dancing with all his might. He might have even been singing some of the words of this psalm.
Getting the ark to Jerusalem had taken many, many, many years and the only reason it could be brought into the city of God was because Israel’s enemies were finally subdued. God had given His people victory at last and, in this psalm, you can sense David’s relief and joy at God’s physical presence being returned to His people. This is a psalm of celebration and praise.
David praises God for His mighty power. He is the one who rides in on the clouds, shakes the earth, pours down rain from the heavens, crushes his enemies and saves His people. He also praises God for His nearness. He is the one who sets the lonely in families, fathers the fatherless, defends the widow, provides for the poor, and daily bears His peoples’ burdens. And this God, who is powerful and big, but also compassionate and near, was coming even closer to His people through the ark of the covenant. And that’s why David was celebrating so animatedly. This God was coming into their city, at last!
If only we shared that same enthusiasm! David was celebrating a box representing the presence of God being moved closer to His people. We, as believers, have the presence of God living inside us. 1 Corinthians 6:19 tells us that our bodies are God’s temples, where His Holy Spirit dwells constantly. We don’t have to wait for the ark of the covenant to come close or go to the Temple to be near God. We have access to Him at all times. The God that David praises in this Psalm is the same God living inside of us. Let’s praise God for His presence within us and take advantage of His accessibility today.
- Spend time praising God for His might and power that you see in the world around you and then spend time praising God for His nearness, compassion, and care that you’ve personally experienced.
- Do you tend to think of God more in a distant and powerful way or more in a near and personal way?
- Do you take advantage of your nearness to God? If so, how? How could you practice abiding with Christ more today?
By the Way
Paul references Psalm 68:18 in Ephesians 4:8. However, in Psalm 68 it says that God received gifts from His people but in Ephesians 4:8, Paul says that God gave gifts to His people. The Holy Spirit, through Paul, changed this one word to talk about the spiritual gifts God has given His people to build up the church.
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