Psalms 66-69 Leading a host of captives in his train

From Psalms 66-69

19 Psalms Fragment

Once again David sings about the LORD, his enemies and the righteous.

This post is part of my bible in a year series.

Passage and Comments

1 God shall arise, his enemies shall be scattered; and those who hate him shall flee before him!

2 As smoke is driven away, so you shall drive them away; as wax melts before fire, so the wicked shall perish before God!

3 But the righteous shall be glad; they shall exult before God; they shall be jubilant with joy! (Ps 68.1-3)

David understands the LORD to be working all the time. Opposing his enemies and causing the righteous to praise his name. The way David compares the people groups suggests the righteous are glad and exalt because he has dealt with the wicked.

4 Sing to God, sing praises to his name; lift up a song to him who rides through the deserts; his name is the LORD; exult before him!

5 Father of the fatherless and protector of widows is God in his holy habitation.

6 God settles the solitary in a home; he leads out the prisoners to prosperity, but the rebellious dwell in a parched land. (Ps 68.4-6)

The LORD is presented as the ‘father of the fatherless and protector of widows’. In the Old Testament, and to a lesser extent the new, God is always presented to be looking out for the poor and needy, the fatherless and widows. People who need care. I think we’ve lost that emphasis today and we should reclaim it.

David introduces a captivity theme. He leads out the prisoners to prosperity. Every Hebrew will think of the deliverance of Israel from Egypt. They were prisoners and slaves. The LORD rescued them and led them through the wilderness to the promised land. Those who rebelled against him died in the wilderness, not entering the LORD’s rest.

7 O God, when you went out before your people, when you marched through the wilderness, Selah

8 the earth quaked, the heavens poured down rain, before God, the One of Sinai, before God, the God of Israel.

9 Rain in abundance, O God, you shed abroad; you restored your inheritance as it languished;

10 your flock found a dwelling in it; in your goodness, O God, you provided for the needy. (Ps 68.7-10)

The LORD revealed himself in power at Sinai. In control of the elements. He provided them with much needed rain. As they travelled in the wilderness and when they entered the promised land, Israel was needy and the LORD provided for them.

11 The Lord gives the word; the women who announce the news are a great host:

12 “The kings of the armies—they flee, they flee!” The women at home divide the spoil—

13 though you men lie among the sheepfolds— the wings of a dove covered with silver, its pinions with shimmering gold.

14 When the Almighty scatters kings there, let snow fall on Zalmon. (Ps 68.11-14)

When the LORD conquered the inhabitants of the promised land and brought Israel in the women announced the good news. In this cryptic passage David refers to the female choirs which took a prominent part in the war-songs of ancient days (Ex 15.20-21; Jdg 5.1; 1 Sam 18.6-7). Some men however did not participate in the battles and hid but they  enjoyed the plunder. (Spence-Jones, H. D. M. (Ed.). (1909). Psalms (Vol. 2, p. 44). London; New York: Funk & Wagnalls Company).

15 O mountain of God, mountain of Bashan; O many-peaked mountain, mountain of Bashan!

16 Why do you look with hatred, O many-peaked mountain, at the mount that God desired for his abode, yes, where the LORD will dwell forever?

17 The chariots of God are twice ten thousand, thousands upon thousands; the Lord is among them; Sinai is now in the sanctuary.

18 You ascended on high, leading a host of captives in your train and receiving gifts among men, even among the rebellious, that the LORD God may dwell there. (Ps 68.15-18)

David speaks of competition between the mountain of Bashan and Sinai. Bashan was conquered by Moses (Dt 3.1-4). Sinai has proved itself by far to be greater. But now the LORD resides in the sanctuary – the tent of meeting. The place of power, where the LORD dwells is no longer on the mountain, it is in the tent of meeting (Ex 40.34-35).

David keeps referring to the narrative of Israel leaving the Egypt and taking over the promised land. The LORD rescued Israel who were slaves and captives to Egypt. He conquered the promised land for them as they followed him. Instead of keeping all the spoils for himself, he gave them to Israel as gifts, even to the rebellious. He did this that he may dwell in this land. Sinai is now in the sanctuary.

Story of Israel

Click to enlarge.
Click to enlarge.

The narrative of their exodus from Egypt and entry into the promised land is the most significant story of salvation for Israel. Like we have briefly seen in this Psalm there are numerous instances where the story is alluded to and used as a reminder for what the LORD has done for them.

Story of Jesus

When Paul views what God has done in Christ he likes to use references to Israel’s story of salvation to describe what has happened to those who believe in Jesus. The core events of Jesus’ salvation story are obviously his life, death and resurrection. In light of this Paul says to the Ephesians;

4 There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call— 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. 7 But grace was given to each one of us according to the measure of Christ’s gift. 8 Therefore it says,

“When he ascended on high he led a host of captives, and he gave gifts to men.”

9 (In saying, “He ascended,” what does it mean but that he had also descended into the lower regions, the earth? 10 He who descended is the one who also ascended far above all the heavens, that he might fill all things.) 11 And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, 12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, (Eph 4.1-11)

The gifts the LORD gave are not the spoils of war in this case. Rather they are spiritual gifts, spiritual people. Who God uses to build up the church.

Copyright © Joshua Washington and thescripturesays, 2014. All Rights Reserved.