Monday, April 16, 2012

The Wicked Flee Before God

[To the chief Musician, A Psalm or Song of David]

1 Let God arise, let his enemies be scattered: let them also that hate him flee before him.

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.

3 But let the righteous be glad; let them rejoice before God: yea, let them exceedingly rejoice.

4 Sing unto God, sing praises to his name: extol him that rideth upon the heavens by his name JAH, and rejoice before him.

5 A father of the fatherless, and a judge of the widows, is God in his holy habitation.

6 God setteth the solitary in families: he bringeth out those which are bound with chains: but the rebellious dwell in a dry land.

7 O God, when thou wentest forth before thy people, when thou didst march through the wilderness; Selah:

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.

9 Thou, O God, didst send a plentiful rain, whereby thou didst confirm thine inheritance, when it was weary.

10 Thy congregation hath dwelt therein: thou, O God, hast prepared of thy goodness for the poor.

11 The Lord gave the word: great was the company of those that published it.

12 Kings of armies did flee apace: and she that tarried at home divided the spoil.

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.

14 When the Almighty scattered kings in it, it was white as snow in Salmon.

15 The hill of God is as the hill of Bashan; an high hill as the hill of Bashan.

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.

17 The chariots of God are twenty thousand, even thousands of angels: the Lord is among them, as in Sinai, in the holy place.

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.

19 Blessed be the Lord, who daily loadeth us with benefits, even the God of our salvation. Selah.

20 He that is our God is the God of salvation; and unto GOD the Lord belong the issues from death.

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.

22 The Lord said, I will bring again from Bashan, I will bring my people again from the depths of the sea:

23 That thy foot may be dipped in the blood of thine enemies, and the tongue of thy dogs in the same.

24 They have seen thy goings, O God; even the goings of my God, my King, in the sanctuary.

25 The singers went before, the players on instruments followed after; among them were the damsels playing with timbrels.

26 Bless ye God in the congregations, even the Lord, from the fountain of Israel.

27 There is little Benjamin with their ruler, the princes of Judah and their council, the princes of Zebulun, and the princes of Naphtali.

28 Thy God hath commanded thy strength: strengthen, O God, that which thou hast wrought for us.

29 Because of thy temple at Jerusalem shall kings bring presents unto thee.

30 Rebuke the company of spearmen, the multitude of the bulls, with the calves of the people, till every one submit himself with pieces of silver: scatter thou the people that delight in war.

31 Princes shall come out of Egypt; Ethiopia shall soon stretch out her hands unto God.

32 Sing unto God, ye kingdoms of the earth; O sing praises unto the Lord; Selah:

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.

34 Ascribe ye strength unto God: his excellency is over Israel, and his strength is in the clouds.

35 O God, thou art terrible out of thy holy places: the God of Israel is he that giveth strength and power unto his people. Blessed be God.

—Psalm 68 KJV Bible

This is a psalm of David. David probably wrote this song for his procession with the Ark of the Covenant from the house of Obed-edom to Jerusalem (2 Samuel 6:12). In this psalm, David calls for the wicked to flee before God, celebrates God’s victorious march from Egypt to Jerusalem, God’s power exercised in His choice of Jerusalem, and calls on the nations to praise God.

David uses several names for God in this psalm. In verse 1, he uses Elohim (God). In verse 4, he uses JAH (an abbreviation for Yahweh, or Jehovah, the God of Israel). In verse 14, he uses El Shaddai (God Almighty). In verse 16, Yahweh. In 18, Yah Elohim (Jehovah God). In 19, Adonai (Master). And in verse 20, Yahweh Adonai (Jehovah Master).

The Hebrew "selah" is used in verses 7, 19 and 32 of the psalm. The word is thought to be a musical notation to the choir director and musicians. It loosely translates as a break in the song or an instruction to pause and reflect, perhaps with a musical interlude. Some translators suggest the phrase "stop and listen." Others say that a more concise translation would be "let those with eyes see and with ears hear." The word "selah" has been compared to the word "amen" in that it stresses to the listener the importance of the preceding passage. The word "selah" is used in thirty-nine of the psalms.

In verses 1 through 6, David calls for the wicked to flee before God. As the Ark processes to Jerusalem, David asks that God scatter His enemies. In God's presence—symbolized by the Ark—the wicked would perish like blown smoke or melting wax. David encourages the righteous to rejoice greatly at God's coming. As God—the Ark—processes through the wilderness, David calls on the people to prepare the way with physical preparation on the roadway and with great praise and glorifying of God. To those that have no family, God has become their family and their protector. In verse 6, David recalls how God led prisoners out of Egypt and into singing. David also recalls how the rebellious children of Israel died in the wilderness and did not enter the promised land of Canaan.

In verses 7 through 18, David celebrates God’s victorious march from Egypt to Jerusalem. David recalls how a physical manifestation of God's presence (a cloud by day and fire by night) led the children of Israel through the wilderness. At God's presence, the earth quaked and the skies rumbled with storms. In verse 9, David recalls how God, along the journey, provided—or rained—a plentiful supply of quail and manna. God provided shelter for those that had none. In verse 11, David notes how the victories of Israel were commonly celebrated by women with singing and dancing (Exodus 15:20; 1 Samuel 18:6-7). In verse 14, David recalls that when God dispersed the kings of Canaan, it was like snowflakes driven by the wind against the dark wooden slopes of Zalmon, a hill near Shechem. In verse 15, David describes the mountain of “Bashan” as a mountain of God. This may be a reference to 9,100-foot Mount Hermon. David notes how the other mountains almost seem jealous because God has chosen the high place of Zion—Jerusalem—as His dwelling place. God's power is vast. David compares it to the earthy equivalent of chariots, the great war machines of the day. God is more than a match for His enemies. In verse 18, David foretells of God’s Messiah ascending on high, leading captives and bringing gifts. The Apostle Paul makes reference to this passage in describing Jesus (Ephesians 4:8).

In verses 19 through 31, David celebrates God’s power exercised in His choice of Jerusalem. In verse 27, David describes how all the tribes are included in the procession. He makes mention Benjamin, Judah, Zebulun, and Naphtali. In verse 30, David states that God has scattered all those who delighted in war, including the Egyptians, sometimes translated as the “company of spearmen,” and the “beast in the reeds.”

In verse 32 through 35, David calls on the nations to praise God. David encourages those that seek God to praise. David is confident that those who keep God’s commands will be blessed.

Father, why do I try to feebly fight my battles by myself? The enemy is no match for You. I praise You for Your might and Your justice. I will lean on You, my protector, my deliver, my God.


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