Let God Arise

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Let God Arise
Psalm 68
Many people believe the context of Psalm 68 is the arrival of the Ark of the Covenant at Jerusalem (2 Samuel 6). The Psalm describes God as a conquering warrior who defeats His enemies and rewards His people. As we read the Psalm, we can see that God is carrying the nation of Israel. It’s a beautiful portion of Scripture that shows God marching through history. It begins with a desire for God to arise and ends with the kingdoms of the world blessing God. We will outline the Psalm as follows:
1. God arises, and the people rejoice (1-6).
2. God’s march to Zion (7-18).
3. Anticipation of future glory (19-31).
4. A call to the kingdoms of the world to worship God (32-35).
1. God arises, and the people rejoice (1-6).
A. Moses words (1).
In verse one the Psalmist quotes Moses from Numbers 10:35. As the Israelites traveled from Egypt to the Promised Land, they carried the Ark of the Covenant with them. Each day when the Ark was picked up and the people were about to begin their journey Moses would say “Rise up LORD, and let thine enemies be scattered; and let them that hate Thee flee before Thee.”
The Psalmist recognized that just as God led Moses and the Exodus generation, He was leading the present generation as well. This formula was a warning to the enemies of God and an encouragement to the people of God. When God arises only the foolish would stand in His way.
B. The destruction of the wicked (2).
Verse two shows how easily the wicked are destroyed. God is likened to a wind that drives smoke away and a fire that melts wax. Smoke and wax are no match for wind and fire. The imagery here is of God marching and His enemies perishing before Him.
C. The joy of the righteous (3-6).
When the righteous see the Lord marching with ease through His enemies their response is to rejoice. The righteous are not driven away. They are not melting. They are joyfully worshipping.
You can sense the joy in verse four. We are told in some form, to sing to God three times. The Lord is called by the shortened form of YHWH, JAH. This great covenant God of Israel moves with ease, riding on the heavens.
The character of God is explained in verses five and six:
He is a Father to the fatherless. He protects the orphans.
He is a judge for the widows. Widows were often taken advantage of in that culture. God comes to the side of those who experience injustice.
He places those who have no family in a family.
He sets free the imprisoned.
He punishes the rebellious.
The Psalmists understanding of the character of God is the basis for the joyful worship mentioned in verses four and five.
Israel watched as the Lord rose up for them. He fought their battles. They marched through the Promised Land led by the very presence of God. God fought their enemies. God came to their side. This is true for the believer as well. When we called on the name of the Lord, He came to us. He is our Lord and Savior. He has fought and won the greatest battle for us already. He has defeated death hell and the grave through Jesus Christ. Because of what Christ has done for us we should remember to rejoice.
2. God marches to Zion (7-18).
A. The exodus (7-10).
The Psalmist begins at Mount Sinai. This was where the Law was given to Israel. Exodus 19 records how the mountain was enveloped with smoke and the ground shook. There was no doubt Moses met with God on the mountain. Many signs and wonders occurred during the encampment at Sinai.
God not only showed His power, He also showed Israel He cared. He gave them the rain they needed. He took care of the people and the animals. Even the poor were provided for.
It was a miracle for Israel to be released from Egypt. God broke the back of the Egyptians. Upon release they still had many obstacles to overcome. Obviously, they had to make it through the Red Sea. But after that they had to continue to be provided for. They were a people without a homeland. God by His grace did not just release them from captivity and then leave them on their own. He continued to care for them after the exodus. In the same way God continues to care for His people after He saves them. God does not simply save us and leave us on our own. He continues to go before us. He protects us. He provides for us.
B. The victory over the Gentile nations (11-14).
In verse eleven we see the Lord warns Israel of an attacking enemy. The people of Israel run from tent to tent rousing the men.
The Lord brought fear to the enemy. They immediately turned back. The women divide the spoil at home, which is a symbol of victory in battle. A beautiful example of jewelry is mentioned in verse thirteen.
In verse fourteen we see that the enemies of Israel are scattered like snow upon a mountain. Kings, and the people who followed them to destroy Israel have been killed in battle. There bodies are strewn throughout the mountain like snow.
There is not one particular battle these verses relate to. They state in general terms the fact that God defeated Gentile nations so Israel could settle in the Promised Land.
C. The arrival in Jerusalem (15-18).
The Psalmist now begins to speak of the resting place of the Ark of the Covenant. Mount Zion is located just outside of Jerusalem. This is ultimately where the Ark settled. The Psalmist begins speaking to other mountain ranges. He asks the high mountains of Bashan why they are jealous of Zion. Zion is a much smaller mountain. Even though Mount Zion is small, it is great. It’s great because it is the place where the Lord determines to dwell.
There is a lesson for us here. It is God who makes things great. Very often the Lord chooses small things in order to show His own greatness. He uses the weak, the poor, and the uneducated. The reality is we are all small when compared with God.
While the mountain may be small, the army of God is not. In poetic terms the Psalmist describes the size of the Lord’s army as having twenty thousand chariots. The presence of the Lord is also now in Zion. That fact alone makes it a nation to be feared.
In verse 18 we see the Lord has arrived at His destination. He defeated all who sought to enslave the Jewish people. He exalted Himself in Jerusalem.
It’s interesting that Paul uses verse eighteen to describe the finished work of Jesus Christ. In Ephesians 4:8 he said, “When He ascended up on high He led captivity captive and gave gifts unto man.”
Paul is describing the ascension of Christ and the sending of the Holy Spirit who gifted men and women to do the work of the Lord. It is a blessing to know that our God completes what He starts. Christ left the throne, marched through this world, defeated death hell and the grave and ascended back to the throne. Christ is exactly where He deserves to be. He is on the throne. By His grace He gives us good gifts.
3. Anticipation of future glory (19-31).
A. Our Savior (19-20).
In verse nineteen the Lord is called the God of our salvation. There could be no better title for God than that. In verse twenty we see that God is the One who saves us from death. Salvation is deliverance from death. The wages of sin is death but the gift of God is eternal life. Surely God loads us down with blessings every day. We have more blessings than we can count. But there is no greater blessing than the blessing of salvation from sin and death. There are many gods one can choose to follow. But there is only one God who saves His people from death.
B. Our avenger (21-23). In verse twenty-one we see the Lord will strike a death blow to His enemies. He will strike them in the head. There is nowhere they can hide from god. Even if they are in the depths of the sea, He will find them (22). Verses 22-23 are vivid. They speak of stepping in the blood of your enemies and your dogs licking up your enemies’ blood.
The lesson that we learn from this is vengeance belongs to the Lord. There is no reason for you and me to seek revenge on this earth. The Lord will repay all who have outstanding debts against God and man. This reality should enable us to rest. We will have enemies in this world. We will have ungodly actions committed against us. It is our responsibility to turn the other cheek and allow God to settle all accounts. We can trust that he will do just that.
C. Our King (24-27).
The Psalmist paints a picture of what was a common occurrence in that day. When Kings came home from war they were celebrated with a parade. The processional would move through the streets with singers, musicians, and women with tambourines. The Psalmist says he saw royalty from tribes of Benjamin and Judah along with Zebulun & Naphtali. These tribes of Israel represented the Northern and Southern portions of Israel. Their inclusion symbolized all of Israel.
Israel celebrated their King. He was not a King who was dreaded. His victory mean that evil was being destroyed.
D. Our powerful God (28-31).
These verses show the subjugation that other nations have toward the God of Israel. Because of the great power of the God of Israel the other nations have no choice but to bow before Him. Israel looks forward to the day in which all nations will bow to their God.
An appeal is made for the Lord to rebuke the men who behave like beasts and delight in war. The Psalmist knows that ultimately all nations will pay tribute to the Lord Almighty. The nations of Egypt and Ethiopia are mentioned as examples of nations that needed to submit to the Lord.
It is a sad reality that most of the world will have to submit to the Lord against their own will. Every knee will bow, and every tongue will confess but not from a heart of love. When Christ returns the world will have no choice but to admit that Jesus is Lord.
4. A call to the kingdoms of the world to worship God (32-35).
A. Sing to the Lord (32-33).
Two times in verse thirty-two the nations are told to sing to God. We look forward to the day when the kingdoms of the world join in one choir. We do not look forward to hearing the angels sing as much as we look forward to hearing the people of God sing. We look forward to hearing the redeemed sing because they have more to sing about than the angels do. There are no forgiven angels in heaven. Forgiveness makes you sing better. Every soul in heaven is in the choir and all souls sing of what the Lord has done for them.
B. Proclaim His power (34).
The Psalmist tells the nations they should tell the Lord that He is powerful. They have witnessed what He has done for Israel. God has defeated many nations for His people. Those nations should join together and publicly express the strength of God.
C. Stand in awe of God (35).
Israel was a strong nation because of the God who dwelt in the temple in Jerusalem. This small nation rose in great power. It was a nation that should have been destroyed many times but continued to rise again. It was their God who sustained them. The nations should not stand in awe of Israel. They should stand in awe of Israel’s God.
I love the way the Psalm ends. It says, “Blessed be God!” What else can be said? We see God marching through this Psalm, conquering His enemies, blessing his people and exalting Himself throughout the earth. Blessed be God!
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