Wednesday, 22 January 2014

Psalm 68 - Messiah leading Israel and his Church from the Wilderness to final Rest.

Another Psalm and Song by David, the sweet singer of Israel. As David's days of adversity gave many occasions for appropriate Psalms, which the Son of David and his Church would later use in their times of trail, so the more prosperous season, when the Ark which had been removed in procession by David to Mt. Zion, and afterwards by Solomon to Moriah, seem to have provided fit occasion for this triumphant song.

It has been called "The Magnificent March." Certainly it traces the stately steps of the Lord in his going out for His Church, from the Wilderness toward final rest.

The plan is as follows:

v1-3. Opening strains, celebrating the LORD as almighty to scatter foes, almighty to make friends exult with joy.
v4-6. General characteristics of his ways - grace to the helpless - to all that do not reject his help.
v7-9. His ways, with Israel in the Wilderness - glorious majesty and gracious bounty.
v10-14. His ways, in bringing Israel into Canaan - the irrestible might of a King on behalf of his people.
v15-17. His ways, in fixing his seat on Zion, the ark being carried up - sovereignty.
v18-23. His ways, in the typical setting out on Zion of an ascended Saviour, the savour of life to his own, though the savour of death to his rejecters.
v24-31. His ways, in the Ark being moved afterwards to the temple on Moriah - Israel gathered around it (v26,27), and the Gentiles flocking to Shiloh there (v29,31). All this typical of the Lord's avert, as true Solomon.
v32-35. The closing doxology to the King of kings on reviewing the whole, and seeing "the Kingdom Come."

Such seems to be the plan. It would carry us beyond our limits to go into full details, since almost every verse is rich and laden with meaning. A few hints may be of use, however, on some of the more difficult clauses.

Some render verse 1, "God shall arise," it shall always be thus, as they sang in Numbers 10:35 and Judges 5:31.

In verse 4, the justified ones singing before their justifier cry, "Make a way for him who rides through the wilderness or plan; the Angel of the Covenant who redeemed them from all evil. It is their King whom they honour in this way and so cry "prepare the way!" as in Isaiah 40:3, and as the Baptist did when he saw the King of the kingdom. His name "Jah" expresses the fullness of being and perfection; and Horsley would add beauty too.

In verse 5, Israel's helpless case in Egypt, Earth's helpless case since the Fall,  the sinners state, "without strength" may all be found here. The "widow's judge" implies his managing and ruling affairs of such as have no other to interpose, like Gideon, or any judge of Israel, putting in order a disordered county, and bore the burden of its cares. And James 1:21 refers to this verse for we have "the fatherless", "the widow" and then the "holiness" of the God we serve.

In verse 8, the ratifying of the covenant at Sinai, in circumstances of awful grandeur, is the theme; and verse 9 speaks of the "rain of gifts" (Hengstenberg) that attended Israel all through the desert - manna, quails, water from the rock - when God's heritage pitched their tents on the flinty and scorched soil of that weary wilderness.

Then, in verse 10, the host of Israel "settle down on It," i.e. the well-known, ever-in-view Land of Promise. The Lord "gave the word" - (Psalm 105:19) - as if at every step there had been repeated like Joshua 5:15, "Shout, for the Lord has given you the land!" and responding multitudes, even of the women of Israel , proclaim the victory, and sing, as Miriam sang at the Red Sea:
"King of armies flee! They flee!
And she who waits at home divides the spoil" (v12)

So easily does the LORD conquer! And now, "You lie down amid the borders, and are as doves;" or rather, they who were "lying among the pots" are now like the dove who has washed itself in the streams, and is basking in the sun whose bright beams glance on its feathers with the sheen of silver and gold.

Yes it was easy for the LORD to scatter kings. "There was snow on Zalmon." They fell before him as snow disappears among the thick-wooded heights of Zalmon (Judges 9:48) in the day of tempest.

Israel now at rest, where is the Ark of the Covenant? Not on Basham, i.e. the range of Antilabanus, though that was a "hill of God" such as a hill as reminded one of the power of Him who holds the hills together by his might (Hengstenberg) - nor yet on other lofty hills such as Tabor, Lebanon or Carmel.

The more lowly Zion is selected, and here the sovereign Lord comes with all his hosts. There is resides, as in a pavilion - in that Holy of Holies which combines the manifestation of justice and mercy at the mercy-seat  for Sinai is in the sanctuary. He is as much present here as when the law was given on Sinai.

There, though unseen except by the eye of faith, he reigns, more mighty in his angelic heavenly hosts than ever was king with his chariots, so that Israel need no more fear a Jabin with his nine hundred chariots of iron (Judges 4:2). An anointed eye, like his in 2 Kings 6:27, might see these armies in Israel's land at any moment, under the rule of Israel's king.

Ascended to Zion, no more wandering from place to place, the Ark is the centre of blessing to Israel - there worshippers get gifts; there daily benefits are dispenses. And in this is Typified the Savio9ur, no more a wanderer on earth from place to place, seated at the Father's righht hand, and showering down his gifts on man - the antitype infinitely greater than the Type, and his gifts infinitely more spiritual and plentiful (Eph 3:8).

Here is (v7), a "Selah" the mark of solemn thought; for here is a great mystery of love (v19).

The words are literally rendered, "You have received gifts among men."

Here is a constr.praegn. for "received, and given out among men" (Eph 4:18), even among the rebels.

And then follows, "At the tabernacling of Jah Elohim" (v16), that is at the time when he pitched his tabernacle. But, there is reference

1. To the type on Zion
2. To the days of his First Coming
3. To the still future Tabernacling, Rev 21:3

But again let the harp sing of Him who is thus exalted, mighty to save, and mighty to overcome his enemies. The LORD is "God of our Salvation" and "Selah" calls us to ponder.

Then repeated:
"The God of Israel is God to us, as to salvations.
And to the LORD belong the issues, as to the death" (v21)

He dashes his foes in pieces, cleaving their hairy scalp from the head from which the helmet has been struck. Yes says the Lord,
"I will turn the foes back from Bashan,
I will turn him back from the depths of the sea." (v22)

Though they were to make lofty Bashan their fortress or hide in the caverns of the deep (Amos 7:3, Ob 4)

But all is not yet over. The Ark moves again! It moves to Moriah - to Solomon's temple. Then see the royal procession (v24), and hear the songs of happy thousands under the reign of that Prince of Peace -
"Bless God in the congregations,
The Lord, in the congregations, from the fountain of Israel."

There the gathered tribes are seen; the south sends Benjamen, once their ruler (as it sent Saul, 1 Sam 14:7, and so became the conquering tribe) and Judah, their prince or bulwark. The north is represented by Zebulon and Naphtali. God gave strength to them.

The Gentiles too are there (v29). What a type of the latter days, when the true Solomon, Prince of Peace, has come from the Father's right hand to his own throne - from Zion to Moriah! Then, more fully than in the first Solomon's days, it will be sung:

"He has rebuked the Best of the Reed,
(The Hippopotamus, who, like leviathan, is the type of Antichrist.)
The assembly of mighty ones (bulls, Psalm 22:12),
With calves of the nations." (v30)

These mighty kings and their subjects - bulls and calves - with their leader, are rebuked and destroyed; and along with there, the money-worshipper, "who crouches with pieces of silver;" or rather
"He who prostrates himself on pieces of silver"

The nations that delight in war are scattered, for it is the reign of the Prince of Peace. Egypt sends princes to Zion, and Ethiopia is quick to submit to God. Thus we are led on to the closing strain - the shout of joy over earth now delivered and under the LORD's sway
"You kingdoms of earth, sing to God!
Chant to the Lord!
Who rides in the heaven on ancient heaven."
(i.e. who claims as his domain the inmost recess of the eternal heaven.)
Lo! He utters a mighty voice when he speaks. (v33)

He calls on the universe for praise in v34. But even in that universal hallelujah there is prominence to Israel - "His majesty is over Israel." (v34) as if Israel's land were the spot of the universe where is manifested glory is to be seen in its particular radiance -
"God of Israel, you are a terrifying God from the holy place (v36)
"Giving strength and might to this peculiar people! Blessed be God!"

Let every soul cry "Blessed by God!" Let that be the heart-cry of earth forever. And let it not fail to be ours, while we trace in such a record as this, Messiah leading Israel and his Church from the Wilderness to final Rest.

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