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!
Picture the vivid images that accompany great sporting victories. Picture players holding aloft the victory trophy, singing the victory song, and running the victory lap of honour. Picture the “ticker-tape” victory parade, with the great triumph celebrated and acclaimed through the city streets. That picture is just a miniature of the victory celebration of Psalm 68. For the Psalm celebrates a victory that didn’t just bring trophies, but life.
Psalm 68 celebrates the greatest victory God won for his Old Testament people. This is the victory over Egypt in the massive event of the Exodus. This is where Israel was given life by God, where Israel came to life through the rescue of God. Starting and ending with overwhelming praise, the heart of the Psalm pictures a victorious march that starts in Egypt, where the victory is won, and culminates in Jerusalem, where the victory is celebrated (verses 7-18). God’s power is celebrated as he shares his victory spoils with his people, giving them ascendancy over all others (verse 19-31). Here’s a ticker tape parade and victory song that leaves all sporting celebrations for dead.
Yet for all the wonders of God’s Old Testament victory, it is dwarfed by another victory. As spectacular as the ascension of Israel was, there is a much greater ascension, which leaves it for dead. This is the ascension of Jesus. This is when Jesus ascends to heaven after his death and resurrection. This is when King Jesus showers the spoils of his eternal victory over sin and death on all who trust in him. The Apostle Paul quotes from verse 18 of this Psalm to describe the magnitude of Jesus’ ascension victory (Ephesians 4:8). This is the ultimate victory of Jesus that brings life to the dead and showers grace upon his people. This is the victory that was won in Jerusalem and journeys to the ends of the earth and into all eternity. This is the victory that you are part of by faith in the victorious King Jesus.
Head: What have you learnt about Jesus from Psalm 68? What have you learnt about yourself?
Heart: How does it make you feel that you are part of the greatest victory ever won?
Hands: In both the original Psalm itself and its fulfilment in the church, God’s victory is celebrated corporately, as God’s people declare God’s praises to each other. How might you celebrate the gospel more as you seek to encourage your brothers and sisters in Christ?
Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank you for the ultimate victory Jesus has won in his death, resurrection and ascension to heaven. Thank you that he has showered life and grace on his people, including me. Please help me to get caught up in celebrating his victory even in the difficult time we are now experiencing. Please help me to speak words that encourage my brothers and sisters to celebrate also. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.