The Shouting’s Just Begun
Let God arise, and His enemies be scattered;Let those who hate Him flee before Him. As smoke is driven away, so drive them away;As wax melts before the fire,So let the wicked and guilty perish before [the presence of] God. But let the righteous be glad; let them be in good spirits before God,Yes, let them rejoice with delight. Sing to God, sing praises to His name;Lift up a song for Him who rides through the desert—His name is the Lord—be in good spirits before Him. A father of the fatherless and a judge and protector of the widows,Is God in His holy habitation. God makes a home for the lonely;He leads the prisoners into prosperity,Only the stubborn and rebellious dwell in a parched land. O God, when You went out before Your people,When You marched through the wilderness, Selah. The earth trembled;The heavens also poured down rain at the presence of God;Sinai itself trembled at the presence of God, the God of Israel. You, O God, sent abroad plentiful rain;You confirmed Your inheritance when it was parched and weary. Your flock found a dwelling place in it;O God, in Your goodness You provided for the poor. The Lord gives the command [to take Canaan];The women who proclaim the good news are a great host (army); “The kings of the [enemies’] armies flee, they flee,And the beautiful woman who remains at home divides the spoil [left behind].” When you lie down [to rest] among the sheepfolds,You [Israel] are like the wings of a dove [of victory] overlaid with silver,Its feathers glistening with gold [trophies taken from the enemy]. When the Almighty scattered [the Canaanite] kings in the land of Canaan,It was snowing on Zalmon. A mountain of God is the mountain of Bashan;A [high] mountain of many summits is Mount Bashan [rising east of the Jordan]. Why do you look with envy, mountains with many peaks,At the mountain [of the city of Zion] which God has desired for His dwelling place?Yes, the Lord will dwell there forever. The chariots of God are myriads, thousands upon thousands;The Lord is among them as He was at Sinai, in holiness. You have ascended on high, You have led away captive Your captives;You have received gifts among men,Even from the rebellious also, that the Lord God may dwell there. Blessed be the Lord, who bears our burden day by day,The God who is our salvation! Selah. God is to us a God of acts of salvation;And to God the Lord belong escapes from death [setting us free]. Surely God will shatter the head of His enemies,The hairy scalp of one who goes on in his guilty ways. The Lord said, “I will bring your enemies back from Bashan;I will bring them back from the depths of the [Red] Sea, That your foot may crush them in blood,That the tongue of your dogs may have its share from your enemies.” They have seen Your [solemn] procession, O God,The procession of my God, my King, into the sanctuary [in holiness]. The singers go in front, the players of instruments last;Between them the maidens playing on tambourines. Bless God in the congregations, [give thanks, gratefully praise Him],The Lord, you who are from [Jacob] the fountain of Israel. The youngest is there, Benjamin, ruling them,The princes of Judah and their company [the southern tribes],The princes of Zebulun and the princes of Naphtali [the northern tribes]. Your God has commanded your strength [your power in His service and your resistance to temptation];Show Yourself strong, O God, who acted on our behalf. Because of Your temple at Jerusalem[Pagan] kings will bring gifts to You [out of respect]. Rebuke the beasts [living] among the reeds [in Egypt],The herd of bulls (the leaders) with the calves of the peoples;Trampling underfoot the pieces of silver;He has scattered the peoples who delight in war. Princes and envoys shall come from Egypt;Ethiopia will quickly stretch out her hands [with the offerings of submission] to God. Sing to God, O kingdoms of the earth,Sing praises to the Lord! Selah. To Him who rides in the highest heavens, the ancient heavens,Behold, He sends out His voice, a mighty and majestic voice. Ascribe strength to God;His majesty is over IsraelAnd His strength is in the skies. O God, You are awesome and profoundly majestic from Your sanctuary;The God of Israel gives strength and power to His people.Blessed be God!
Several years ago, I didn’t have an opportunity to watch live the seventh game in the National Basketball Association Championship, so I arranged to see the videotape later.
I alternately cheered and despaired as my team surged ahead and fell behind. Had I known the final score, I could have relaxed.
You don’t have to wait until it’s all over to know the score – God tells you now.
Psalm 68 opens with festive jubilant assurance. David finds himself awash in victory-God has risen, His enemies have been scattered, and His foes have fled. God is victor.
What happened to the opponents? They are smoke blown away and wax melted by fire. Smoke and wax have in common no solidity. Your problems, like David’s, seem oh so real- but they’re headed for a meltdown. Suddenly, they’ll be vaporized. Be happy thinking about that prospect.
In the end, the Lord does come through. He rides the clouds, but His eye is on the needy: a father to orphans, defender of widows. He sets the lonely in families and leads forth the prisoners with singing. These are all now safe- while “the rebellious live in sun scorched land.”
Our memories are fallible. Sometimes we only remember the good things of the past while at other times we only remember the bad. I’m not sure just what determines which we remember but I do know that too often we fail to remember God’s victories- both those from our own experiences and the ones recorded n Scripture. If we can couple God’s past deliverances with our assurance of the future blessings in Him, it should give us a present confidence.
In Psalm 68, David recounts the history of the Lord helping His people. In the same way God led the Israelites out of the bondage of Egypt, He also leads us out of the place where we are captives to sin and bondage. As He led them through the wilderness, He brought them to Mount Sinai where they were given the Ten Commandments and the law. In the same way He brings us into the place where He drives into our lives deep values and principles. He also brings us through the deserts of emotional and spiritual dryness into a new land of abundant showers and protection.
In Psalm 68, David sees the curtains of heaven open and the full dimension of God’s eternal triumph on earth. Even the “mountains of Bashan” are no match for the mountain of Zion- the place of God’s eternal reign.
Through the prophetic vision, David watches the procession of those who are affected by God’s redemptive acts for humanity- marching from Sinai and cumulating at the sanctuary of Zion. It was in the holy city of Zion-heaven that Jesus entered the sanctuary “once for all by his own blood, having obtained eternal redemption.(Hebrews 9:12)
In those hours on the cross while he suffered for us, He seemed so helpless but if somehow our eyes can be opened as those of Elisha and David so that we can behold “The chariots of God are tens of thousands and thousands of thousands.” Christ knew it would only take one word and those unseen sources would be available to Him. Far too often, in times of trials, we fail to see the awesome power of God.
Verse 18 is used by Paul in Ephesians to describe the ascension of Jesus into the courts of heaven, with captives in His train. In the case with Paul, the captives are those freed by Jesus, and in addition to this instead of receiving gifts from men, He, as He is exalted gives gifts to them.
We are now included in that grand procession, except we have not yet broken through the visible into the invisible throng that is already on Mount Zion. Our present burdens will not overwhelm us because we praise the Lord who “daily bears” them and we praise with this assurance: “Our God is a God who saves.”
In our march in life, we not only celebrate the victory God has won and safety for ourselves but also the just sentence that is carried out on the enemies of God.
The next thing that we note is the presence of those in the procession: singers, musicians, girls with tambourines, the little tribe of Benjamin, the great throng of Judah’s princes along with the princes of Zebulun and Naphtali.
This procession ends with the presentation of offerings of tribute. It is especially important to note this phrase: “Envoys will come from Egypt; Cush will submit himself God.” Cush who was the ancestor of Babylon and the hunter of God’s people, will be forced to submit to the Lord.
It may well be that in our game of life, we feel like we are so many points behind with only a few minutes to play. Psalm 68 reminds us to take our eyes off the scoreboard as it is now and look at the way it ends for those who trust the Lord. After all we already know who wins, therefore “Sing to God, O kingdoms of the earth…Proclaim the power of God…You are awesome, O God…. Praise be to God.
Let us ask God’s forgiveness for sometimes losing sight of the goal and getting so caught up in our present needs that overwhelm us. Let’s ask Him to help us not forget that He always has the last word and that He is not only the beginning but also the end(Alpha and Omega). As Paul wrote, “He who has begun a good work in us will complete it.”