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To the chief Musician, A Psalm or Song of David
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 lain 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;
A 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 a 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.
EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL
Its Contents and Composition.—This Psalm, if not the most difficult (J. D. Mich.), is yet the most disputed (Hupfeld), on account of many obscure allusions, rare expressions, and doubtful readings. It is a Titan (Hitzig), the most glowing, the boldest and the most powerful hymn of the whole collection (Hupfeld), a Psalm in the style of Deborah, advancing to the highest pinnacle of hymnic invention and representation (Delitzsch). It is reckoned by some to the later (Gesenius, Ewald, Hupfeld), by others to the latest (Ruding., Reuss, Olsh.), by others still to the most ancient monuments of Hebrew poetry (De Wette, Böttcher, Hengst., Hitzig, Delitzsch), because the highest originality in figures and words is mingled frequently in this lyrical work of art, with unmistakable repetitions of the favorite words of previous writings. These, in many particulars, still need a satisfactory explanation. Yet the Psalm is so transparent in its chief features, so sublime and edifying that it deserves and admits of another application than as a “monument of exegetical extremity and skill,” (Ed. Reuss, 1851). The fundamental thought is as clear as the arrangement and rhythmical organization, namely: The celebration of an entrance of God into His sanctuary on Zion after a victory, and His rule over the world extending itself from thence. The opening strophe with the very first words (Psalms 68:1) awakens the most precious remembrances of Israel by the watch-word of Numbers 10:3-5, and by changing it into the form of a wish refers to circumstances in Israel in which the repetition of those previous events is necessary, and is directly implored (Psalms 68:2) in order to the ruin of the wicked (Psalms 68:3), as well as the joy of the righteous, it transports us into the midst of a victorious march led by God through steppes, in reference to which the righteous are exhorted to praise God with festive joy (Psalms 68:4) as the Father and Helper of the forsaken (Psalms 68:5), who provides a home for the solitary and the prisoner, whilst the rebellious remain in the land which is scorched by the heat of the sun (Psalms 68:6). Then follows a glance at the providential care of God over His people in the Arabian desert after the exodus from Egypt and the revelation on Sinai (Psalms 68:7-10), with a repetition of the words of Deborah, Judges 4:4 sq., which go back to Deuteronomy 33:2; comp. Exodus 19:15 sq., as Habakkuk 3:0 depends upon this Psalm. This forms the transition to the hope expressed in Psalms 68:11-14, of a new victory over hostile kings. For the Divine names, Adonai and Shaddai, after the use of Elohim eleven times, the words Psalms 68:13, and the absence of preterites are in favor of the supposition that the reference here is no longer to previous events, but expected ones, although in allusion to the fact that previous events are to be repeated, namely, the decision by God’s oracle and the celebration of the viotory by festival choirs of women. By this victory it is established that Zion has been chosen by Jehovah for the abiding habitation of historical revelation (Psalms 68:15-16), notwithstanding its littleness in comparison with other mountains. It is comparable with Sinai in holiness, and likewise protected, as well as honored by the presence of God, surrounded by His angelic hosts (Psalms 68:17-18). Israel now likewise feels that he is supported and delivered by this God and Lord (Psalms 68:19-20), and can safely reckon upon the ruin of his enemies (Psalms 68:21-23.) God’s festal march of victory will be seen (Psalms 68:24-25); all the tribes of the people will praise Him (Psalms 68:26-27); the consequences of this act of judgment and deliverance will be felt throughout the whole earth, whilst the great monarchies will submit themselves and mighty kings with their people will turn to God in homage (Psalms 68:28-31), and they are summoned to do this because He thunders down from the highest heavens of old upon the rebellious (Psalms 68:32-33), but to His people, over whom His glory rules from His sanctuary, He gives power from on high. Hence all the world should acknowledge God’s power, and Israel should praise Him (Psalms 68:34-35).
It follows from this survey with sufficient clearness, that this Psalm is not a direct prophecy of Christ, as to His advent, His saving doctrine, His triumphant ascension to heaven, His all-embracing sovereignty and Divine glory (J. H. Mich., after the fathers and most, of the older theologians, especially in connection with the citation of Psalms 68:18 in Ephesians 4:8). Moreover it does not admit of a merely spiritual application (Flamin., Calvin) and typical interpretation (Stier), but it has a Messianic meaning, yet not through the prophetic idea of the reunion of the divided kingdoms and the restoration of the monarchy (Hupf), but through the proclamation of the spreading of the Divine kingdom among the heathen by means of the victorious deeds of the God of historical revelation, who is enthroned upon Zion as in heaven. If this fundamental thought is not recognized, the Psalm falls asunder into two parts, and there is left on the one side, merely the sanctuary of God (J. D. Mich.), or His holy majesty (Clauss), or His march of victory (Herder), on the other side the general feelings, remembrances and hopes of the people (Reuss.). These are then the subject and form the contents of a festival hymn, which can be put in almost any time that we may desire, if we either look away altogether from definite historical events as an occasion for its composition, and merely recognize the lyrical shaping of a general idea, or if we likewise entirely reject the composition by David, as stated in the title. Accordingly it has been actually placed in the times of the Maccabees (Olshausen), especially with reference to the consecration of the Temple, 1 Maccabees 5 (Rudinger), in the time of the rule of the Ptolemies or the Seleucidæ (Reuss), in the period of the exile or shortly afterwards (Ewald, Köster, Hup-feld), in the time of the struggle of Josiah with the Egyptian king Necho (Thenius), of Hezekiah with the Assyrians (Kimchi, Böttcher), of the confederate kings Jehoshaphat and Joram with Moab and Edom, 2 Kings 3:0. (Hitzig), in the time of Solomon (De Wette). There are points of contact, but always at the same time serious objections to these references. The reasons adduced against the time of David and his composition of the Psalm however are very weak. The mention of the Temple may be explained as in Psalms 5:7, and the combination of Æthiopia which was never at war with Israel, with Egypt the beast of the reed, shows clearly that the reference here is not to a victory over Egypt and Cush, but that these are the representatives of the heathen monarchies in general (Hengsten.). Since now Assyria is not mentioned here as one of these powers; since, furthermore, Zebulon and Naphtali are mentioned along side of Judah and Benjamin, and indeed with reference to a joint celebration of victory in Jerusalem, finally, since Jehovah marches with them in the ark of the covenant; we are led back to times previous to and not subsequent to the division of the Davidic empire or indeed the exile, and certainly back of Solomon, for his government was throughout peaceful. In this state of affairs, however, it is unnecessary to remain satisfied with the time of David in general (Calvin). We may think of the removal of the ark to Mount Zion, 2 Samuel 6:0 (most of the older interpreters, finally, Stier, von Hofmann), or of the triumphal return after the happy issue of a war, and indeed in the last case, not so much of the war with the Syrians and Edomites, 2 Samuel 8:0 or 10 (Cler., Rosenm.), as with the Ammonites and Syrians, 2 Samuel 11:0 (Flam., Thol., Hengsten., Reinke, et al.) It is best however not to think of the going forth of the ark at the beginning of the war (Venema, et al.), or of the celebration of victory at its close, but in accordance with the tone and course of thought, of the expression of the certainty of victory which is in part prophetic, in the course of this perilous war, which extended into the second year (Delitzsch), on which occasion the ark of the covenant was carried forth with the army, 2 Samuel 9:11.
Str. 1.Psalms 68:1. Let God arise.—Elohim is used here instead of Jehovah (Numbers 10:35). We are to take the verb as the imperfect instead of the imperative, yet not as a future (most interpreters), or as a hypothetical present (Vatabl., De Wette, Hengstenberg, Hitzig). For in the one case we would have a promise, in the other, a clause of general application. But we have nothing to do with either of these, but with an expression of prayer in the repetition of those words with which Moses, in marching through the wilderness, after each halt, called upon the ark of the covenant to arise and go forward, not as if the ark was called God Himself (the Rabbins), but because the pillar of cloud and fire, the sign of the Divine presence, rested upon it.
[Psalms 68:2. It may be that the figures of this verse, smoke and war, were suggested by the pillar of cloud and fire, as Hupfeld and Herder contend. At all events, they are frequent in the Scriptures, especially in connection with Theophanies, comp. Psalms 37:20; Psalms 97:5; Hosea 13:3; Micah 1:4.—C. A. B.]
Psalms 68:4. Cast up a highway for Him2 who driveth along through the steppes, Jah is His name.—The name Jah, shortened from Jehovah, is first found in Exodus 15:2, and is probably derived from this passage, as likewise Psalms 118:14; Isaiah 12:2. But that the entire formula, of casting up (namely a highway, Isaiah 57:14; Isaiah 62:10) through the pathless wilderness, has been derived from Isaiah 11:3 (Hupfeld), is a supposition as ungrounded as the assertion (Hitzig) that the previously-mentioned words from Numbers 10:0 have originated from this Psalm. The reverse is true in both cases. The plural ערבות is certainly not to be derived from ערב=evening, and to be referred to the region of the evening (Septuagint, Vulgate, et al.), or that of sunset=gloom of misery and night of misfortune, over which the Lord advances and leads His people to the sunrise (Schegg), or to be regarded in the sense of clouds=heaven (Chald., Rabbins), from whence the Lord is to come. It is the plural from ערבה= sandy desert, which is found not only between Babylon and Canaan, or in Arabia, but likewise on the Jordan.
Psalms 68:6. God, who maketh the solitary to dwell at home.—These are not the childless (Psalms 113:9) who are promised a numerous posterity, but the forsaken, who are to have a home given to them, Isaiah 58:7—[Leadeth forth prisoners into prosperity.—כוֹשָׁרוֹת is found only here. It is interpreted by most of the ancient versions, the Rabbins, A. V., et al., as=chains, as if it were related to קשׁר. But Symm. renders: ἐις , and the Syriac: “into abundance.” Hupfeld regards it as equivalent to the more usual כִּשְׁרוֹן, Ecclesiastes 2:21, from כשֹׁר, a later Hebrew and Aramaic form for ישׁר, and thus properly=the true condition, prosperity.—Only the rebellious.—This is stronger and better than the “but” of A. V. The rebellious are those who refuse the guidance of the God of grace. These are obliged to remain in the dry and parched land, in the wilderness, and “do not come into the land which is fructified by the waters of grace, and shine in fresh green and rich fruits” (Delitzsch).—C. A. B.]
Str. 2.Psalms 68:8.—Yon Sinai before the face of Elohim, the God of Israel.—Sinai is not mentioned as the primitive throne of God, but as the scene of His majesty, as well as the giving of the law and its terrors, and as the starting-place of His march towards Canaan, in contrast with the second throne on Zion (Hupfeld after Geier, et al.). The זֶה is not to be connected with Elohim (Luther, Calvin), but with Sinai, and the expression is derived from Judges 5:5 : From that song of Deborah is likewise derived the expression: “the heavens dropped,” namely, the rain.
Str. 3.Psalms 68:9. Richly with rain didst Thou sprinkle Thine inheritance.—The reference here is hardly to storms to fructify the land (J. D. Mich., Böttcher), or those giving victory (Herder), but either to the manna as the bread of heaven (Joshua 6:0; Psalms 78:24; Psalms 105:40), expressly called rain from heaven, Exodus 16:4; Psalms 78:23 (Venema, Schnurrer, De Wette, Stier, Reuss, Hupfeld), or figurative, not of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit (the older interpreters), but of the bestowal of gifts (Rosenm., Hengstenberg, Delitzsch), which come down from heaven as the rain of willingness, that is, freely, richly (Job 37:6; Psalms 110:3), upon the land of Jehovah (Hosea 9:3), which is likewise called the inheritance of God in Malachi 2:4; Malachi 2:4 (Hitzig, Delitzsch). That we are to think first not of the people (Hupfeld) but of the land (Calvin), follows from Psalms 68:10, where it is said that in it (not among them) God’s living creatures found their dwelling-place (ישׁב). This expression shows at the same time that we are not to think of God’s creatures in general (Geier, J. D. Mich., et al.), or of the quails of the wilderness parallel with the manna (Schnurrer, Hupfeld), but of the congregation, whether we find it designated thereby as the complex of a flock of living creatures, 1 Samuel 18:18 (Rabbins, Calvin, et al.), after the Arabic=people (Hitzig), or as the little creature=herd of God, Micah 7:14; Ps. 79:19 (Luther, et al., Delitzsch), or go back to the root חו and accept the meaning: tent-circle, circular encampment (2 Samuel 23:11; 2 Samuel 23:13).
Str. 4.Psalms 68:11. The Lord gives the word (of authority).—The word means here hardly merely news, namely, of the victory, but with this reference rather, song, hymn of triumph (Calvin, Hupfeld). Since however the female chorus of victory is mentioned directly in connection with the division of booty, and it is better to regard אֹמֶר as a Divine word, either of promise (Psalms 77:8) or of powerful effect (Habakkuk 3:9), and it is designated in Psalms 68:33, as in Isaiah 30:30, as the sound of thunder, and Zechariah 9:14, as the blast of a trumpet, we have here to think not of the watch-word in war (Herder, et al.), but rather of the word of power (Delitzsch, in part Reuss, G. Baur), which not only commands the war and promises the victory, but brings, effects and gives the victory. There is no reference here to the preaching of the gospel (older interpreters).
Psalms 68:12. The kings of hosts are in ironical contrast (Böttcher) with Jehovah Sabaoth. The correct translation: flee, was originally derived from the Rabbins. Previously the word was derived from ידד=love, unite oneself, rather than from נדד.—She that abideth at home, is not the congregation of Israel (Rabbins), but the mistress of the house, “the woman in the tent,” Judges 5:24.
Psalms 68:13. Would you lie between the hurdles? The wings of the dove are overlaid with silver,etc.—The translation: although you now lie between sooty pots, you will become white and shining as the wings of the dove (Rabbins, Calvin, [A. V.], et al.), is certainly false. We are not only to strike out the “although now,” which is inserted in the text, but likewise to put instead of sooty pots either: boundaries (Chald., Jerome), or: hurdles (Kimchi). If the former should be adopted, however, the sense could not be: if you lie between the boundaries, that is to say, on the field in order of battle, you will shine (in the splendor of arms) as the wings of the dove (Luther, Geier). For the dove is a figure of peace or of rapid flight. The two chief explanations are then in this direction, whether we retain the meaning: boundaries (Rosenm., Böttcher, Stier, Hengstenberg), or put in place of this: hurdles, Genesis 49:14; Judges 5:16 (Hupfeld, Hitzig, Delitzsch). The reference is certainly to the rest of the peaceful land and the shepherd’s life, which is likewise recognized in the untenable interpretation: women drinking (J. D. Mich.). If now the dove is regarded as the figure of peace or of domestic life, and at the same time we recognize the fact that the emphasis is upon its shining play of colors, we may take the clause either as scornful, and as a reproachful question, whether they resign themselves to the idle and easy rest, and gaze at the play of colors of the flying dove (J. D. Mich., Herder, Köster), or we may take it as a promise that after the victory, in peace the wings of the dove, that is to say, the people of Israel (Schnurrer) as the dove of God (Delitzsch), Psalms 74:19; Hosea 7:11; Hosea 11:11, or their women (Munting., De Wette, Reuss) will be brilliant in the jewels of the booty which is rich in gold and silver. This, then, in the spiritual interpretation, is referred to the fact that the manifold gifts of the Holy Spirit unfold their splendor in the people (Stier). If now it is objected to this, that it is not the dove or its neck, but its wings which afford the point of comparison, and this is the correct view, and we think accordingly of rapid flight, then it is not the members of Israel which are designated by these expressions, nor the gold and silver field-badges of the enemy which are part, of the booty (Maurer), but these wings themselves; and the glance is inclined to their glistening richness, because it is to be the booty of the Israelites. Whether now we are to regard this again as a promise and a mere figure of the brilliant lot appointed to the people of Israel in the lap of future peace (Hengstenberg), or as a description of the real booty in order to inflame them with a zeal in pursuit of it, and as a reproachful reproof of those who would remain lying in peaceful pursuits or between their boundary stakes (Böttcher, von Hofmann), depends partly on the general view of the context, and partly whether we take the particle עִם, which begins the clause, as a conjunction=if, or as an interrogative particle. We decide for the latter, since such questions of astonishment are used in connection with warlike scenes, 2 Samuel 23:10; 1Ma 7:45 sq.; Jdt 15:4 sq. Moreover the reference back to Genesis 49:14; Numbers 32:5 sq.; Judges 5:16, is manifest, and the mingling of ideas and figures is avoided (Delitzsch), and there is evident not only a thought clear in it-self expressed in a natural and easily understood figure, but at the same time a real advance in the discourse.
Psalms 68:14. When the Almighty scattered kings in it, it snowed on Zalmon (=dark mountain).—God is designated as Shaddaï, which only occurs once more in the Psalms (Psalms 91:1); and in the prophets only in Joel 1:15; Isaiah 13:6; Ezekiel 1:24; in the Pentateuch only in Numbers 24:4; Numbers 24:16; then in Ruth 1:20-21. It is used however, 30 times in Job, whilst the fuller form el shaddaï is found as characteristic (Exodus 6:3) for the time of the Patriarchs, Genesis 17:1; Genesis 28:3; Genesis 35:11; Genesis 43:14; Genesis 48:3 (in the Samaritan text likewise Genesis 49:25), and besides only in Ezekiel 10:5. Now this is connected, not so much with the ancient character of the Psalm (G. Baur.), or with the derivation of this verse (Olsh.), as well as the two preceding (Hupfeld, et al.), from an ancient song, as with the fact that almost all the names of God are found distributed in appropriate places in the Psalm. In accordance with the context, the Hebrew verb, which properly means: “spread out,” is regarded by most interpreters as=“scattered,” and “in it” is referred to the country, whether Moab or some other one and the kings are regarded as hostile princes and captains. For the interpretation of the latter as princes of Israel and as types of the elect of God (Aben Ezra, Stier) or as regents set up here and there by God, through whom light comes in the darkness (Luther, Rosenm.), corresponds neither with the words nor the thought of the text. It is true we might translate: “have a snowy aspect, be as white as snow, to be pure, shine” (Rödiger in Ges. Thesaur., Hitzig), instead of “snow,” but the reference to snow must not be left out of view. The kings here might be compared with a light illuminating the darkness; but their being scattered can be better represented by the figure of the falling of snow; or even the consequence of this by the figure of a snowy appearance. Neither of these figures agree with the disputed meaning of Zalmon: darkness, shade (Chald., Theod., Rabbins, Reuss.), but both are in accordance with the reference to Judges 9:48, where the mountain Zalmon (Sept., Syr.) south of Shechem, is mentioned, whose name may be connected with Zelem=shadow, on account of its well-known richness in forests, and notwithstanding its comparative unimportance, might be chosen here on account of its name, which to the Hebrew ear was adapted for a play upon words (snow on the dark mountain or black forest). Now we have in the text not כִ=as on Zalmon, but בְ=either: on or, in the manner of Zalmon. In connection with the little height and southerly position of this mountain, we cannot think of a snowy mountain or a usual and frequent fall of snow. Thus all the explanations are excluded which find a comparison between the brilliancy of the booty which has fallen from the fugitives (Von Hofmann), or the bleeding bones of the slain (Rivet., De Wette, et al.), and the snow of Zalmon, or regard the snow whiteness of the dark mountain as a figure of the encouragement of the previously sorrowing Israel (Calvin, J. H. Mich., Hengst., et al.). These explanations gain a supportable sense at the most only when Zalmon is at the same time brought forward as a place either of battle or of refuge to the fugitives (Delitzsch), or when there is found in the clause: “then snow fell on Zalmon,” a figurative expression of the thought: then the mountain, to celebrate this joyous event, clothed itself in a bright garment of light (Wetzstein in Delitzsch’s Com.). But for such a geographical and historical reference of the clause with respect to the foundation of the figure, as the mountains of Hauran, consisting of black rocks with the doubtful name of Asalmanos in Ptolemäos for one of its mountains (Wetzstein), or a high mountain of somewhat the same name among the mountain peaks of Bashan (Böttcher) would be more appropriate than the mountain near Shechem, previously the only one of the name known which yet could not be put for the entire land (Von Leng., Hengst.). If we could put the battle there, it would be much more natural likewise to regard the snowing as simply historical than to vex ourselves with doubtful figures which can only be understood by suggestion. With this agrees the interpretation that the fall and ruin of many kings has been designated as a snowing of the slain (De Wette), especially of kings in the black mountains (Böttcher, Thol.). In this case, again, the interpretation that the fall of snow in question rendered the flight of the fugitives more difficult, or cut off all places of refuge (De Dieu), would be more natural than the supposition of a scornful citation from an ancient hymn of victory in accordance with which the rough weather on Zalmon situated somewhat in the south would be given as a reason for the disinclination to march forth to the mountain situated in the north (Herder, Hupf). Since, however, there is no historical statement here, but rather a prophetical declaration, we are rather led to a figurative mode of expression, whose sense, however, is as obscure as its foundation and occasion is unknown. With this result, the translation: “and snowy bright it shines in the dark” (Reuss) must likewise rest satisfied.
Str. V., Psalms 68:15-16. A mountain of God is the mountain of Bashan, a mount full of peaks, the mountain of Bashan. Why do ye look with envy, ye many peaked mountains, on the mountain on which God has chosen to dwell?—The sense is the same whether we regard these and the following words as vocatives as an address to the mountains (Munting., De Wette, Reuss) or as a simple sentence (most interps.). The mountains of Bashan consisting of basalt, now rising up like columns into sharp points, and then conical in truncated peaks, even if we do not reckon in lofty Hermon (Olsh., Hupf., Hitzig), as boldly formed masses of rock of gloomy majesty, make the impression of antiquity and invincibility when compared with the Cis-Jordanic mountains, especially with Zion, which consist of porous limestone and milder forms (Delitzsch). They are thus adapted to a figure of worldly power in contrast with the congregation of God. Besides they were for the most part inhabited by heathen nations hostile to the people of Israel. The reference here is to lurking (Sept., Isaki, Kimchi), and so crafty and hostile (Aquil., Jerome), or envious and jealous looking over at them (J. H. Mich., and most interps.), not to the leaping of these many-peaked mountains (Chald., Luther), nor coagulated (Sept.), stiff with ice (J. H. Mich.). Yet it is unnecessary to think of the actual hostility of those nations (Böttcher, Ewald, Hengst.) The use of this expression in order to contrast Bashan with Zion is explained not only from the dangers threatening the Theocracy from the north, but is occasioned by the fact, that notwithstanding the previous conquest of Bashan by Moses, these mountains were not selected as the seat of the Theocracy (Herder, De Wette), although they as Sinai were ancient mountains of God, properly a mountain of gods (J. H. Mich., Hupf., Hitzig) Psalms 36:6, and not a ridge of godlike greatness (Böttcher), one favored by God (Hengst.), a high mighty mountain (De Wette, et al.), or one conspicuous as a basaltic mountain above all other creations of God (Delitzsch). From the erroneous opinion that the mountain of God could only mean Zion (finally again Stier), the ancient versions and interpreters have made it the subject of the clause and the mountain of Bashan the predicate and found the sense: the mountain of God is a fruitful mountain; Bashan being taken as the type of fruitfulness. Then they put, the heights in the place of the many peaks, because they did not understand the vowel points, and explained it symbolically of spiritual elevation. Only since J. D. Mich, and Herder has the true interpretation, been known, to which however, Rivetus (comm. in pss. proph. Amst. 1545) pointed in vain.
Psalms 68:17. The chariots of God are myriads, thousands and again thousands, the Lord among them—(it is)a Sinai in sanctity.—Over against the warlike powers of the kings of hosts (Psalms 68:12), the infinitely superior power of God is designated with expressions which are derived from the characteristics of warlike power, Psalms 20:7; Habakkuk 3:8; Habakkuk 3:15, and are therefore symbols not only of sovereign power (Hengst.), but at the same time of triumphant victory (Schnurrer). They remind us, on the one side, of the fiery horses and chariots that carried up Elijah and surrounded Elisha to protect him (2 Kings 2:11; 2 Kings 6:17), and on the other of the holy myriads (Deuteronomy 33:2) surrounding God on Sinai, and therefore bringing before the soul the innumerable angels of God (Daniel 7:10; Matthew 26:53). And thus they lead in this passage not to the ascension of Christ (most of the older interps.), but yet symbolize more than Divine providence and help (Calvin), namely, the all-conquering presence of the God of revelation and holiness on Zion in its analogy with His previous presence on Sinai. In favor of this is likewise the final clause of Psalms 68:17, which is not: on Sinai in the sanctuary (Sept., Vulg., Chald. [A. V.]), but either: Sinai in the sanctuary (most interps. after L. de Dieu), or: a Sinai in holiness (Delitzsch). The latter gives the most suitable sense: that Zion affords a sight as Sinai afforded it when God in His appearance surrounded it with holiness. The former interpreters, however, would give the distorted thought that Sinai now or, as it were, has entered into the sanctuary, and thus Zion has become a second Sinai, in an unclear form. For it is much less natural to suppose that Zion itself has become Sinai by the presence of the ark with the tables of the law than to be reminded of the presence of God in the midst of innumerable multitudes of His angels (Deuteronomy 33:2), the latter, however, not as Galatians 3:19; Hebrews 2:2 (Hengst.) as the mediator of the law-giving, but as the company surrounding His throne and as heavenly attendants in general. We have to do here, however, not with these servants and their use, but with a beholding the glory of the God who manifests Himself on Zion as on Sinai as the heavenly king, and our attention is drawn not to that which happened, as it, were, in the sanctuary, but to that which Zion is when compared with Sinai, namely, a place of the revelation and manifestation of this God. Thus it is not said that Sinai, with its glory of thunder and lightning (Böttcher), is now in the sanctuary, but that Zion as Sinai brings into view the majestas tremenda of Jehovah. Hence it is preferable to take בַּקּדֶשׁ (comp. Psalms 68:24) as Psalms 77:13; Exodus 15:11=in the, namely, well known holiness. Under these circumstances, we are not forced to the conjecture, which is very natural, it is true, on account of Deuteronomy 33:2, to read בָּא מסּיני=He has come from Sinai into the (namely, well-known) sanctuary (Pott, Köster, Maurer, Olsh., Hupf., [Perowne]), instead of בָם סִינַי. Besides this has against it, the fact that, God has not entered into the sanctuary in Zion in the midst of His heavenly hosts, but ascended from Sinai to the height of heaven again as after every descent to earth, and that this fact is directly brought forward in Psalms 68:18. It would be much simpler to suppose that a מ has fallen away from before Sinai (Hitzig). But then we would have the untrue thought: the Lord among them, (coming) from Sinai in holiness=in unapproachableness, 1 Samuel 6:20.—The closing word is consequently a closer definition of the noun Sinai which immediately precedes; but it is not the Lord, but Zion as the place of His revelation, which is a Sinai like this. A false derivation of שִׁנְאַן has occasioned the translation: thousands of happy ones or gladly rejoicing ones (Sept., Vulg.). The literal translation of the clause is thousands of repetition.3
Psalms 68:18. Thou hast ascended up on high. Thou hast led captives captive, Thou hast taken gifts of (=consisting of) men, and even the rebellious, in order to dwell as Jah Elohim.—The dwelling of Jehovah on Zion being referred to, it is natural to think of the “height of Zion” (Jeremiah 31:12; Ezekiel 17:23; Ezekiel 20:40) as the aim of the procession (Hitzig), yet not of the return of the ark which has just taken place (De Wette), but of the first entrance of God into Zion (Ewald, Reuss, Olsh.) after the storming of the citadel of Zion, 2 Samuel 5:7 (Delitzsch), without its being necessary to regard the captives particularly as the bond-slaves of the sanctuary, the Nethinim,Exodus 8:20; comp. Numbers 17:6 (Böttcher), as the Gibeonites (Joshua 9:23). But the “height” without any further additions, and with the article always elsewhere, means the height of heaven as the dwelling of God, Psalms 7:7; Psalms 18:16; Psalms 93:4; Psalms 102:19 (Hengst., Hupf.), and Psalms 68:33 likewise here points to this, yet there is no mingling of the heavenly and earthly figure and seat of God (Hupf.) here, but the biblical view of the ascent of God into heaven after that He had made Himself known on earth in deeds of omnipotence and love and had conducted the cause of His people there, Psalms 47:5 (Hengst.). Likewise the preterite here refers to such a historical manifestation, and the following expressions show that it has to do with such deeds of God for His people, by which hostile nations were subjected, their gifts of homage brought and accepted, the testimonies of the victorious dwelling of Jehovah among His people increased and confirmed. The enthronement of God in the heaven, His ascent and descent, His dwelling in His house on Zion and among His people agree very well with one another, and are not only symbols and types, but are actual guidances and real foundations of history, which come to fulfilment and completion in and through Christ. Thus this passage (Ephesians 4:8 sq.) is referred to the victorious march (Colossians 2:15) of the triumphant Redeemer, yet from the stand-point of fulfilment it is applied in such a way that the thought comes out that the conqueror has not taken to himself these gifts, which constitute his spoils, for his own enrichment, but for the benefit of men. For there the reference is to “giving ” the gifts, as likewise in the Syriac and Chald., yet here the reference is to “taking.” But this difference vanishes when we regard the tribute, which sometimes is designated as gift and present (2 Samuel 8:2; 2 Samuel 8:6), as consisting of men (Ewald). These are here not the slaves of the temple (Böttcher), or proselytes (De Wette), or the apostles and evangelists as the servants of God (J. D. Mich.), but those who voluntarily submit themselves in distinction from those who are directly mentioned as made subjects by compulsion. For it is very natural that the clause: “and the rebellious also,” should depend upon the verb (Geier), as the second object subordinate to the first object, “gifts of men.” It is true we might put instead of this expression: gifts among men (Olshausen), that is to say, on earth (Hengstenberg); but the interpretation: and among the rebellious also (Delitzsch), would demand that we should supply the preposition, which would be difficult, and the interpretation: and the rebellious likewise, namely, give Thee (Hengstenberg), would require together with the supply of the verb, a transposition of form. By our interpretation the clause of design unites naturally with the preceding, its structure demanding not that Jâh Elohim should be taken as subject (Delitzsch)=in order that he may dwell, that is to say Jah Elohim continue to dwell. It would be more natural to regard these as vocative (Hengstenberg, Hitzig). But this would make the clause of design too insignificant, or give it a wrong sense, if we should unite it with “ascend,” which besides is against the accents. Hence we take the two last words as a closer definition not only of the subject addressed in all the preceding verbs, but at the same time of His dwelling, as it is brought about by His actions which characterize the conqueror. Thus the connection of the two names of God in this very passage is explained. This is not so much the case if the whole line is regarded as an independent clause: and the rebellious likewise are to serve for a dwelling of Jehovah Elohim, or: dwell with Jehovah Elohim (De Wette, Maurer, Hupf.), whether it is taken as active or as passive. At the same time this would give the prophetical idea of a future conversion of the heathen an unusual manner of expression and one which is less suitable to the context. It leads rather to the thought of a revelation of power and glory made by the God of Israel as the heavenly king and the conqueror of hostile powers, in order that He may dwell on Zion as He is enthroned in heaven, as Jehovah Elohim. There is no reference here to His dwelling in the hearts of men as the third sanctuary (J. D. Mich.)
Str. VI. Psalms 68:19. Blessed be the Lord day by day! Are we burdened—He, God, is our help.—By a change of the disputed accentuation (Bähr after Heidenheim), the designation of time, “day by day,” is by many attached to the second member of the verse (Chald., Isaki, Kimchi). Then the sense is simply: He burdeneth Himself for us (Delitzsch), helps us bear it (Ewald), bears us or is burdened with us (Jerome, Hupfeld); for עמם is not used of the heaping up of benefits (Calvin, Rudinger, et al.), and since it is here connected with ל, and not as usual with על, and since הָאֵל offers itself as an appropriate subject of the clause, this interpretation is more preferable than the explanation: the God of our help and our salvation daily loadeth us [A. V.], which would lead to an entirely different course of thought. But we may divide the second member into an antecedent and consequent, whilst we connect the designation of time with the first clause; and then the context is in favor of leaving the subject undetermined (L. de Dieu, Hengstenberg, Hitzig). As a matter of course, הָאֵל is not like הוּא אֵל . We have only translated it thus for perspicuity. The definite article renders God prominent as the well-known God of Israel, who alone is the real and true God.
Psalms 68:20. Jehovah the Lord has for death ways of escape.—The reference here is not to issues in death for the enemies (Symmach., the Rabbins, et al.), but ways of deliverance (Calvin), by which we may go forth free (Hitzig) with respect to death (Stier), or at the expense of death (dat. incomm.); an expression so comprehensive that it can mean the departure from death to eternal life, as that in contrast with death, from anxiety of death in peril of life. There is an expression of the highest triumph in the rhymes at the end of the verses, 20, 21, 25 (Böttcher).
Str. VII. Psalms 68:21. The hairy scalp is best understood of a head with luxuriant growth of hair, the sign of the bloom of youth and power (Hupfeld, Delitzsch), as the unshorn head with bristly hair (Böttcher) is the figure of desolate, wild nature (Stier), or defiant wildness (Geier). It cannot be decided whether there is meant here a prominent person who was then particularly hated (Olsh)
Psalms 68:22. Bring back.—The context shows that this does not promise the bringing back of those who have met with misfortune upon mountains or on the sea (Chald. and the Talmudists), nor the deliverance of those threatened with great dangers (Vat., Stier, et al.), nor the leading back of the Israelites scattered in the whole world (Reuss, Olshausen), but the reaching the beaten enemies, whether they have hidden in inaccessible places in the mountain-forests of Bashan, or in the abysses of the sea, that is, the salt sea (Isaiah 16:8; 2 Chronicles 20:2), in order that the people may take vengeance upon them, Numbers 21:34; Deuteronomy 3:2; Amos 9:2 (Geier, et al.)
Psalms 68:23. That thou mayest wash thy foot in blood.—According to the present reading, timchaz, we must translate: in order that thou mayest crush (namely them) with thy foot in blood (Hengstenberg). But this is contrary to the accents. If on the other hand the last words are not regarded as adverbial, but according to the accents as the object of the verb: that thou shakest, that is, violently movest thy foot in blood, then we come in conflict with the meaning of the word, comp. Psalms 68:21 and Psalms 110:6; Numbers 24:8; Numbers 24:17. Hence it is appropriate to change the reading into tirchaz, Psalms 58:10=that thou mayest bathe (almost all recent interpreters), and this is more acceptable than to change the letters into תֶחֱמַץ (Hitzig), in order to get the sense: that he may become red (Kimchi, Vatab., et al.), or become brilliant (Ewald), or dip one-self=become colored (Septuagint, Vulgate, Syr., Flaminius, Calvin, Rudinger [A. V.]).—The tongue of thy dogs have its part in the enemies.—Almost all the older interpreters take the closing word, מִנֵּהוּ, as a preposition (=of it), and refer it either to the enemy partly distributively, partly to the one who according to Psalms 68:21 goes about proudly and securely (most interpreters), or to the blood (Calvin, Geier, Gesenius, Hengstenberg.) We must then either supply a verb, e.g., drink, or lick, or obtain. This would be hardly admissible and would be harsh after “of their enemies.” It is natural to think of the verb מִנָּה (Isaki, comp. Job 7:3; Jonah 2:1; Daniel 1:10); but the sense: He gave the tongue of thy dogs its part of the enemies (J. D. Mich.), is inconsistent with the construction. Accordingly we must regard it as a substantive, either one not found elsewhere, yet usual in the Chald., מֵן (Hupfeld and Delitzsch after the proposition of Simon), in connection with which לשוֹן, which occurs elsewhere as a fem., is considered as a masc., as perhaps Psalms 22:15; Proverbs 26:28, or the well-known word which we get by correcting the form into מְנָתוֹ, Psalms 63:10 (Olshausen), with the meaning: portion of food (Psalms 11:6; Psalms 16:6), which is more appropriate than מְמֻנֵּהוּ (Hitzig), in order to get the idea of assignatum=the allotted portion.
Sir. VIII. Psalms 68:24. They have seen Thy processions, O God, the processions of my God, of my King in holiness.—The subject is not specifically designated, but concretely thought, and therefore is not to be weakened into an indefinite subject. The perfect does not favor the march against the enemy, as Psalms 77:13; Habakkuk 3:6, but the triumphal procession after the victory, with which the following clauses agree. The supposition of a procession “into the sanctuary” (Hupf., et al.), is against the form of the word, that of a procession “in the sanctuary” (De Wette, Hengstenberg), against usage, hence it is better to translate as Psalms 68:17 b. [in holiness].
Psalms 68:26. Ye from the fountain of Israel—The fountain of Israel is not Christ as the fountain of salvation (many older interpreters), but the ancestor from whom the people sprang, Isaiah 48:1; Isaiah 51:1. The sense is the same whether we regard this verse as the shout of the poet, as Judges 5:9 (Hengstenberg), or as part of the song of the singers and damsels.
Psalms 68:27. All portions of the people with their princes are to be represented in this festival gathering. Two southern and two northern tribes are mentioned as representatives; and first Benjamin, because the first royal conqueror of the heathen sprang from it, and because the sanctuary was in its boundaries (Deuteronomy 33:12; Joshua 15:17; Joshua 18:16); then Judah, as the home of David; then follows Zebulon and Napthali, celebrated for their bravery in the song of Deborah (Judges 5:18, comp. Psalms 6:6), which are found in Is. 8:23, in an entirely different connection. Benjamin is called the little, not as the youngest son of Jacob (De Wette), but on account of the little extent of its territory and the small number of its inhabitants, 1 Samuel 9:21. The word רֹדֶם is obscure, it cannot mean: “its prince” (Septuagint, Geier, De Wette), but rather: he who conquers it, that is to say, its ruler [A. V.] What then does this mean? Since רדה elsewhere is used only of violent subjugation, the reference to the marshal keeping the procession in order (Clericus, Delitzsch), is just as objectionable as the reference to the rule over the Israelites, whether taken historically (Stier, et al.) or prophetically (Hupfeld). Nothing remains then but to go back further than the immediately preceding verses and consider the enemies conquered by the Benjaminites under Saul, 1 Samuel 14:47 sq. (Hengstenberg) as the object of the ruling. [Moll thus translates: There is little Benjamin, their conqueror (namely, the conqueror of the enemies mentioned previously).—C. A. B.] The word רִגְמָתָם is still more obscure. For those are demonstratively false derivations, by which they seek to get the meaning princes (the ancient versions, Jerome, Flaminius, Cocc, et al.), by means of the idea: embroidered clothing, or purple. The word ragam means: stone. But the meaning=their stone=their rock=their support or strength (Rosenm., after L. de Dieu), brings a strange thought into the context in a word strange to this thought; and the translation: their stoning, that is, their (the enemies) subduing by the use of sling-stones, or with an allusion to the sling of David (Rivet., Böttcher in his Proben, Hengst., Baihinger), is at least an obscure expression for a remote thought. The explanation: their throwing one upon another=overthrow (Böttcher, in Æhrenlese), is scarcely better. By means of the Arabic (Gesenius, Hitzig, Delitzsch), however, we may get the idea of a thickly pressed throng, a mass of people (Luther, et al.), in connection with which we may think of Judah as the most numerous tribe affording the great masses (Stier, Köster), without being obliged to change the reading into רִגְשָׁתָם(Hupfeld), which word besides would afford the idea of a noisy crowd. It is true we miss the copula, “and,” or the preposition “with,” since the supposition of an apposition is excluded by the sense of the word. Yet the style and circumstances admit of the asyndet. juxtaposition of princes and their multitudes of people. This seems much more tolerable than the translation: there is Benjamin, little,—following the princes of Judah with their crowds (Hitzig), which is connected with another explanation and position of רֹדֶם in the clause.
Str. IX. Psalms 68:28-29. Thy God has commanded, etc.—Since the sudden address to Israel is strange, and God is again addressed directly in the following clause, and all the ancient versions have the vocative in the first member, it is natural to change the reading from צִוָּה אֱלהֶיךָ intoצַוֵּה אֱלֹהִים, that is, O God, command (Dathe, Böttcher, Ewald, Olshausen, Hupfeld), yet it is unnecessary. So likewise we need not think of an address (of the Ephraimite poet) to a king (Jehosaphat) who had come to the help of his people with an army, and with reference to this translate still further: the powerful help of God, as Thou affordedst it to us (Hitzig). This is opposed, not to speak of other objections, by the immediately following undoubted address to God in the words: “From Thy temple.” For there is no occasion for attaching these words to the preceding clause, and then translate: “to Jerusalem,” and connecting this with the following clause (Hupfeld, [Perowne]). The temple is the place in which the kings will offer their gifts, and this temple is at Jerusalem, that is to say, rises up above Jerusalem. The interpretation of מִן as, because of, or on account of Thy temple (Symm., Luther, Geier, Ewald, [A. V.]), gives an incorrect sense, the interpretation: from the temple to Jerusalem (Böttcher), as a statement of the extent of the procession which brings the presents, gives an unnatural local limitation. It is unnecessary, moreover, to connect Psalms 68:29 a. closely with 28b. (De Wette), or to undertake a transposition of the members into the pretended original order, Psalms 68:28 a.Psalms 68:29a.Psalms 68:28b.Psalms 68:29b. (Olshausen). If we find the transitive interpretation of עַזַז=roborare, objectionable, notwithstanding Proverbs 8:28; Ecclesiastes 7:19, and in spite of the example of the Septuagint, Symm., Flaminius, Calvin, et al., and the consent of Delitzsch and Hupfeld, we may translate: show or prove Thyself mighty (most interpreters) in that which (J. H. Mich., Rosenmüller), or: Thou who, Isaiah 42:24 (Köster, De Wette, Olsh.), has wrought or done for us.
Str. X., Psalms 68:30. Rebuke the beast of the reed, &c.—This is not the boar (Bochart, Oedmann) or the lion (Isaki), whether as a symbol of Syria (Lowth, Schnurrer) or a figure of strong enemies in general (Böttcher); still less is it the serpent or the dragon as the symbol of Babylon (Gesenius); but either the crocodile, Psalms 74:13; Ezekiel 29:3 (De Wette), or since this animal lives in the Nile itself, and not in the reeds, better, the hippopotamus, Job 40:21 (Hengst., Hitzig, Delitzsch) as the symbol of Egypt (Isaiah 30:6), whose emblem is the reed, Isaiah 36:6. The bulls (literally, the strong ones) are by their connection with calves of the peoples not used as figures of the gods (Hitzig), but of leaders and princes (most interpreters). The proper expression: “peoples,” is used epexegetically alongside of the figurative and “calves” (Geier), or has mingled with it into a mixed idea.—Stamping along with silver pieces.—This is very obscure. The sing. masc. embraces all the rebuked in one. The participle designates the action as simultaneous with the rebuking. This already affords many strong objections to the usual translation: that they may submit themselves. Besides רפם only means: to stamp, accordingly since the Hithpael is used here, it should be translated: being in a state of stamping, or: letting himself to stamp. The latter does not suit the words: “with uncoined pieces of silver.” We abide therefore by the former; for the meaning: stamping upon one’s self=casting one’s self violently and fiercely to the earth (Delitzsch), condemns itself. And the translations: all trots itself near (Böttcher previously), or: all that bestirs itself (Böttcher finally), lack a sure foundation. The same is true with the explanation: people that bind themselves to servitude for gold (Reuss)=crowd of hirelings. So likewise the explanation: those who there tread under foot (Luther), or who tread one another under foot (Köster) for pieces of silver, that is, for the sake of booty, is untenable; and the reference of the participle (prosternens sibi) to God as the subject of the following clause dispergit (Maurer) would give rise to a hard construction. This reference to God may be retained and a suitable sense gained in two parallel members of the verse by changing the מ into ה, the participle into the imperative (Hupf.). and by changing the vowel points, and thus partly making the preterite בַזַּר which is taken by many (Sept., Ewald, Böttcher, Reuss, Olsh., Hitzig) as an imperative, into the real imperative בַזֵּר partly making the substantive בְּרַצֵּי into the participle בְרֹצֵי (De Rossi, Olsh., Hupfeld), which is likewise referred to by some who follow the sense (Sept., Symmach., Pott, Clauss). It is then said of God: act towards them stamping (that is, trampling upon them), who desire silver; scatter the people who desire war. These changes are, however, pure conjectures, although, as a whole, since, with the exception of one consonant, they only affect the vowels, they are easier and more in accordance with the context than to change מִתְרַפֵּם into מִתְיַפִּם that is, adorn themselves (Hitzig). For although women, perhaps even men, mean to adorn themselves with strings of gold and silver coins, likewise with nose-rings, yet such a decoration with pieces or lumps of silver is not known to be characteristic of the nations referred to, even if we should overlook the impropriety of this designation for the peoples and princes just characterized as animals.
Psalms 68:31. Magnates shall come out of Egypt.—The חַשְׁמַנִּים from which the Maccabees claimed the name of Asmoneans are apparently the perillustres, the illustrious. The usual derivations from the Arabic are untenable (Fleischer in Delitzsch’s commentary). The meaning: couriers (Böttcher) is unsafe, and has little propriety; that of elders (Sept., Vulg., Arm) is without etymological support; that of the Chasmoneans as the inhabitants of the Egyptian province of Ashummim (J. H. Mich.) is without historical basis or occasion; that of fat, that is, rich, strong, distinguished (Hupf.) is possible. In accordance with the sense and context they are the magnates (Chald., Rabbins).—Cush shall send forth speedily his hands to God.—Cush, that is Ethiopia, with Egypt as in Isaiah 45:14, is here used as the name of the land with the fem. form, and is connected with תָּרִיץ=make to run; but it is immediately treated as the name of the people by the masc. suffix in יָדָיו apparently because the “hands” are mentioned. Accordingly it is the less necessary to change the reading into יָדֶיהָ as enallage gen. (Jeremiah 8:5; Job 39:3; Job 39:16) occur as well as enallage num. (Psalms 62:4). And since as well the context as the expression “make the hands run” are better suited to the offering of tribute than to the lifting up of the hands in prayer, there is no occasion for changing the reading into תָּרִים (Hitzig), in order to get the latter idea.
[Str. 11.Psalms 68:32. To Him who drives along in the primeval heaven of heavens.—Delitzsch: “The Psalmist stands so entirely in the midst of this final glory that floating along in faith above all the kingdoms of the world, he calls upon them to praise the God of Israel. לָרֹכֵב connects itself with the ruling idea of שִׁירוּ The heaven of heavens, Deuteronomy 10:14, are designated by קֶדֶם as primeval (perhaps as according to their origin reaching out far above the heavens of the earthly world of the 2d and 4th days of creation); God drives along in the primitive heavens of heavens, Deuteronomy 33:26, since He by means of the cherubim, Psalms 18:10 extends his efficiency to all places of this infinite distance and height.”—See He sounds with His voice, the mighty voice.—Hupf., Delitzsch, et al., regard the mighty voice as in apposition with His voice, and this seems best. Riehm, however, would make the mighty voice the object and translate thus: He makes a mighty voice to sound with His voice. This would be more literal, but somewhat tautological.—C. A. B.]
Str. 12. [Psalms 68:34. Ascribe strength to God—Delitzsch: “Give back to Him in acknowledgment and praise the omnipotence which He has and proves. His glory rules over Israel as its defence and confidence. His power, however, embraces all created things, not only the earth, but also the highest regions of the heaven. The kingdom of grace reveals the majesty and glory of His redemptive work (Ephesians 1:6), the kingdom of nature His all-prevalent omnipotence.”—C. A. B.]
Psalms 68:35. Fearful art Thou, God, from Thy holy places.—Most ancient versions and many codd. have the singular; but the plural is certain and, is not merely used poetically (Hupf.), but either because the one sanctuary embraced a number of holy places, Jeremiah 51:51; Amos 7:9 (most interps.), or because the reference here is at the same time to earthly and heavenly sanctuaries (Hitzig).
DOCTRINAL AND ETHICAL
1. In times which threaten danger to the people of God, nothing better can be done than to call upon the heavenly King imploring His interference in behalf of His people. For the rising up of the Almighty is connected with the destruction of the power of their enemies, who are unable to resist Him, and with the rejoicing of the pious in the assurance of victory. “This is the sum of the matter: although God is quiet for a time whilst the ungodly cruelly and wickedly afflict the church, yet He finally rises up to avenge it, and believers have protection enough in His help, when once He stretches forth His hand against the ungodly” (Calvin). This is the “great theme which is repeated again and again and in constantly new features in the history of the kingdom of God on earth until finally the last judgment takes up into itself all the previous judgments of God and completes them” (Tholuck).
2. God declares by His names not only how he would be named and addressed by man, but He likewise reveals in them His essential nature, and He confirms the truth of this revelation by corresponding acts, by which the rebellious are judged and terrified, whilst the obedient and God-fearing are delivered from their misery and comforted in their necessities. Therefore this name of God is to the pious at the same time the means of thankful adoration and invocation, and the. occasion of strengthening their faith for the joyous remembrance of the comforting and fearful government of God in history, especially in guiding His people through a hostile world.
3. Although God condescends from His heavenly throne to His people in their pilgrimage on earth and their wanderings through the wilderness and becomes their leader and protector in personal nearness, yet He does not lose His Divine power and glory. On the contrary, He partly makes them known and partly renders them effective in behalf of His congregation. And He has not only done this once in passing by on Sinai and in connection with the march of the Israelites through the wilderness, the Almighty God would have an abiding dwelling among His people on earth, Exodus 25:8; Exodus 29:45. For this purpose He maintains the covenant relation entered into with Israel on Mt. Sinai and reveals His Divine glory which is everlastingly the same, when He as King of Israel and His people’s protect or and benefactor establishes His throne on Mt. Zion, which humble hill He, as the God who accepts the poor and exalts the humble in free grace, has selected as His typical and symbolical dwelling-place, exalted it above all the lofty mountains and proud peaks as the only true mountain of God, and made it the centre of His historical revelation to the world as well as His all-conquering Divine sovereignty (comp. Micah 4:1-3; Isaiah 2:11 sq.), since natural advantages must yield to the gifts of grace, as well as worldly power to the omnipotence of God, the only sovereign and Lord.
4. As God has drawn personally nigh to His people on Sinai, without giving up His heavenly glory or Divine omnipotence, so He has again ascended to the heights of heaven without withdrawing His presence of blessing and protection from His people. This latter is, on the one side, only symbolically shown in the Old Testament, and on the other side mediated by forms of worship; hence another descent and ascension is indispensable, which is likewise promised, believed in, hoped for, and implored. However, we can trace what is referred to here; namely, that all the ways of God, His coming and going, His descent and ascension, afford to His people, and through them to the world, acts of deliverance and gifts of blessing. Moreover, with respect to God Himself, they appear as steps of victory and as marches of triumph, whose spoils He uses as well for the salvation of the world as for His own glory.
5. The acts of God in Israel thus gain, on the one side, a universal historical, and, on the other, a prophetical character. In the first respect, it is shown that the God of historical revelation has the real Divine power and deserves all adoration, that is to say, that Jehovah is Elohim, and as such has His dwelling in heaven and on earth. In the latter respect, it is shown that every victory of Israel over hostile peoples gained by undoubted help from God is a real advance towards the end of spreading abroad the kingdom of God over all the world and of the recognition of His glory among all nations.
6. When now God not only drives thundering about in the. heavens, whose origin is back of the beginnings of human history, but sends forth from Zion a terrible judgment upon the enemies of His people, whereby the mightiest monarchies are destroyed, the most warlike nations scattered, and voluntary gifts of homage gained from the most distant lands, whilst elsewhere compulsory tribute is removed and the triumphant victor applies the rich booty taken from the conquered to the good of His people, and bestows upon them victory and peace after the sorrow of war: then it is becoming for the congregation to praise in their assemblies this God whose government is alike exalted in nature and history, in all their trouble to testify their faith in Him who glorifies Himself in His people by His grace as well as by His power, and to make themselves constantly more and more the willing and appropriate instruments of spreading about the blessed operations of the Divine victory and triumph.
HOMILETICAL AND PRACTICAL
The omnipotence of God is as destructive and terrible to His enemies as helpful and comforting to His friends.—The names of God correspond with His acts: both mutually explain and confirm one another and throw light upon God’s being.—In God His people have the mightiest protector, the most loving provider, the most reliable guide.—God not only has His throne in heaven, but He dwells likewise in the midst of His people; but from both sanctuaries He sends forth His grace and truth as well as His power and glory.—When God marches forth with His people, it may be at first into the wilderness; but the goal, the promised land, will surely be reached.—We should not only pray God to come to our help, but, on the one side, prepare the way for Him. on the other follow His guidance.—Whether God has descended to the earth or gone up on high again, all is for His glory and our good.—When God triumphs over all His enemies, He uses the spoils of victory for the good of His people.—God conquers all the powers of the world in order to spread abroad His kingdom among all nations.—God not only reveals Himself once, but at different times and in different places and in many ways, but always and above all as the same holy God.—God helps His people in war, and leads to victory, but His purpose is peace.—It matters not how many friends we have and what earthly means we possess, but that God is with us.—He who does not voluntarily submit himself to the gracious God will be compelled to submit by the power of the Almighty.—No one can hinder God’s ways and will. He knows how to carry out His will and attain the end of His ways.—Sinai and Zion are the mountains of God as Israel is the people of God, not on account of natural advantages, but the divine election of grace.—The fairest places on earth are where God draws near the world for its salvation; the choicest hours those in which God communes with His people; the most precious assemblies those in which the mighty deeds of God are celebrated.
Starke: God regards the enemies of the church as His own enemies; therefore if they continue in their wickedness, utter ruin and everlasting trembling await them.—When God espouses the cause of His people, nature must tremble and melt.—The world, without the gospel, would be a hot hell in which the miserable would languish; but by the gospel it becomes a paradise for the pleasant dwelling of believers and the strong refreshment of those who hunger after grace.—The day, the burden, the help and the praise depend one upon another.—Although the gospel is proclaimed by weak men, it has a Divine power.—Spread abroad the glory of Christ’s power wherever you can.—Arndt: No man can hinder it because it is God’s work, God’s power and strength, God’s arrangement and command.—Renschel: It is impossible that the Christian Church should perish; for God is not only a guest in it, but He dwells therein forever as the host.—Baihinger: The nations can see God’s glory in Israel, His power in the firmament, but they may mistake the preaching.—Tholuck: Israel is the scene of Divine revelation and the people from whom God’s salvation is to come upon all others.—Guenther: Zion is the kingdom of God; all others, even the mightiest, are worldly kingdoms and must decay.—Diedrich: God is to be praised as the destroyer of the ungodly and the deliverer of His people; He is the God who will glorify Himself in the entire race of man.
[Matt. Henry: Those who go on still in their trespasses and hate to be reformed God looks upon as His enemies and will treat them accordingly.—Public mercies, which we jointly share in, call for public thanksgivings, which all should join in.—Nor is any attribute of God more dreadful to sinners than His holiness.—Barnes: Nothing more clearly marks the benignity and the wisdom of God than the arrangement by which men, instead of being solitary wanderers on the face of the earth, with nothing to bind them in sympathy, in love, and in interest to each other, are grouped together in families.—Perowne: God is both the loving Father and the righteous Judge; and the several classes of the lonely, the destitute, the oppressed, the captives, are mentioned as so many instances of those who have experienced both His care and His righteousness, in order that from these the conclusion may be drawn in all similar cases.—Spurgeon: When a man has a rebellions heart, he must of necessity find all around him a dry land.—Happy people! though in the wilderness, for all things are ours in possessing the favor and presence of our God.—God’s election is a patent of nobility. They are choice men whom God has chosen, and that place is superlatively honored which He honors with His presence. The Church of God, when truly spiritual, wins for her God the homage of the nations.—When we are reconciled to God, His omnipotence is an attribute of which we sing with delight.—C.A.B.]
[Perowne: “The figure is borrowed from the custom of Eastern monarchs, who sent heralds and pioneers before them to make all the necessary preparations—to remove obstructions, etc., along the route which they intended to follow. Great military roads were mostly the work of the Romans, and were almost unknown before the Persian and Grecian periods.”—C. A. B.]
[The word is a ἀπ. λεγ., and is rendered by the Targ. and Saadia followed by A. V.: thousands of angels—C. A. B.]
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Lange, Johann Peter. "Commentary on Psalms 68". "Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical". https://www.studylight.org/