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Bible Commentaries

John Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible
Psalms 68

 

 

Verses 1-35

This is one of the grandest of the Pss., but its origin and date are involved in much obscurity. It contains expressions borrowed from the Blessing of Moses (Deuteronomy 33) and the Song of Deborah (Judges 5), and presents several parallels with the exilic prophecy of Isaiah 40-66. It may be assigned with some probability to the close of the exile, in which case it is to be regarded as a triumphant anticipation of God's victory over His enemies in the restoration of His people from the Babylonian captivity. After an inspiring prelude (Psalms 68:1-6) the Psalmist recalls some of God's triumphs in the past—at the exodus and in the wilderness (Psalms 68:7-10), in the conquest of C anaan (Psalms 68:11-14), and. in the choice of Zion as His dwelling (Psalms 68:15-18). God next appears as the present Saviour of His people and as the Vanquisher of their enemies (Psalms 68:19-23). Then comes a picture of a triumphal procession of a reunited Israel in honour of His victory (Psalms 68:24-27), and of heathen kings bringing tribute to Jerusalem (Psalms 68:28-31). A magnificent doxology (Psalms 68:32-35) closes the Ps., which is another of the Pss. for Whit Sunday.

1. Taken from the invocation of Moses at the moving of the ark (Numbers 10:35), with the change of Lord (Jehovah) into God (Elohim).

2, 3. The wicked.. the righteous] the heathen and Israel respectively.

4. Extol.. heavens] RV 'cast up a high way for him that rideth through the deserts': cp. Isaiah 40:3. By his name JAH] RV 'his name is JAH,' an abbreviation of Jehovah, as in Hallelujah.

5. His holy habitation] heaven: see Deuteronomy 26:15.

6. In families] RM 'in a house.' Those.. chains] RV 'the prisoners into prosperity': cp. Isaiah 61:1; Psalms 146:7. Dwell in a dry (RV 'parched')land] like the rebellious Israelites who perished in the wilderness.

7. 8. A free quotation from the Song of Deborah (Judges 5:4-5). Note again the substitution of 'God' for 'Lord.' Selah] see on Psalms 3:4.

8. The heavens also dropped] in the rain which accompanied the thunderstorms of Sinai: see Psalms 77:17.

9. A plentiful rain] here a figure for all the blessings of the sojourn in the wilderness. Omit whereby with RV.

10. Hath dwelt] RV 'dwelt.' Therein] in the wilderness. Hast prepared] RV 'didst prepare.' The poor] or afflicted, the needy wanderers in the desert.

11. Gave the word] secured the victory by his simple command. Great was the company, etc.] RV 'the women that publish the tidings are a great host.' In the East it is the women who celebrate victories with song and dance: see 1 Samuel 18:6, 1 Samuel 18:7. Psalms 68:12-13 are the words of the women.

12. Another echo of Deborah's Song (Judges 5:30). The kings are the kings of Canaan subdued by Joshua.

13. Among the pots] RV 'among the sheepfolds,' another phrase from Deborah's Song (Judges 5:16), where it rebukes the inactivity of the Reubenites. RV reads, 'will ye lie.. sheepfolds, as the wings of a dove,' etc., in the same sense of reproof. But the best rendering is in RM, 'When ye lie among the sheepf olds' (i.e. when ye return to your homes) 'it is as the wings,' etc., describing the brightness and peace of the prosperous time after the conquest of Canaan. Some understand the silver and gold to refer to the spoils of the victors.

14. It was white, etc.] RV 'It was as when it snoweth in Zalmon.' Zalmon was a wooded hill near Shechem (Judges 9:48). The scattered kings of C anaan were like the driven snowflakes seen against the dark green background.

15. RV 'A mountain of God' (i.e. a great mountain: see Psalms 36:6), 'is the mountain of Bashan; an high mountain is the mountain of Bashan.' Hermon, which bounds Bashan on the N., is probably meant. Though it is so lofty God has chosen Zion in preference to it (Psalms 68:16).

16. RV 'Why look ye askance' (i.e. why are ye jealous), 'ye high mountains, at the mountain' (Zion), 'which God hath desired for his abode?'

17. Thousands of angels] RV 'thousands upon thousands.' God enters Zion in a great procession of His heavenly armies: cp. Deuteronomy 33:2. As in Sinai, etc.] RM 'Sinai is in the sanctuary.' The holy associations of Sinai are transferred to Zion.

18. Having taken possession of Zion God has returned to His heavenly throne. Captivity] RV 'thy captivity,' thy band of captives. See Deborah's Song (Judges 5:12). For men.. for the rebellious] RV 'among men.. among the rebellious.' God's conquered enemies pay Him tribute. St. Paul's quotation in Ephesians 4:8 changes 'received' into 'gave.'

19. Loadeth us with benefits] RV 'beareth our burden.'

20. RV 'God is unto us a God of deliverances: and unto Jehovahthe Lord,' etc. The issues from death] the ways of escape from death, which God can provide.

21. Wound] RV 'smite through.' The hairy scalp] the long flowing locks which were the sign of the warrior's strength and of his devotion to his cause. See Deuteronomy 32:42; RM, and the Song of Deborah (Judges 5:2), where we should read 'For that flowing locks were worn in Israel.'

22. Bring; my people] RV 'bring them,' i.e. Israel's enemies, who will be gathered for vengeance from the most inaccessible hiding places. Bashan was a country of intricate and rocky retreats.

23. RV 'That thou mayest dip thy foot in blood, that the tongue of thy dogs may have its portion from thine enemies.' God is still the speaker, and Israel is addressed. For the tone cp. Psalms 58:10.

24. In] RV 'into.'

26. From the fountain] RV 'ye that are of the fountain,' all the descendants of Jacob: cp. Deuteronomy 33:28.

27. With their ruler] RV 'their ruler,' the tribe from which the first king was taken (1 Samuel 9:21).

Council] 'company.' Zebulon and Naphtali (see Judges 5:18) represent the northern kingdom, Benjamin and Judah the southern.

28. Read, 'O God, command thy strength: be strong, O God, thou that hast wrought for us.'

30. The company of spearmen] RV 'the wild beast of the reeds,' the hippopotamus, the symbol of Egypt. Bulls, with the calves of the people (RV 'peoples')] heathen kings and their subjects. Till every one submit, etc.] RV 'trampling under foot the pieces of silver.' God treats the tribute of the heathen with contempt.

31. Egypt] as Israel's ancient enemy. Ethiopia] as one of the remotest of lands.

33, 34 Cp. Deuteronomy 33:26-27.

 


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Bibliography Information
Dummelow, John. "Commentary on Psalms 68:4". "John Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/dcb/psalms-68.html. 1909.

Lectionary Calendar
Friday, November 22nd, 2019
the Week of Proper 28 / Ordinary 33
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