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A commentary on the book of Psalms (Volume 2) online

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at the presence of God, the God of Israel."

This part of the Psalm, from ver. 7. to ver. 14. is
the second, in Dr. Chandler's division. It is sup-
posed to have been sung when the procession began,
and to have lasted till Mount Sion was in view.
The prophet goes back to commemorate the wonders
wrought for Israel, when Jehovah, by his presence
in the cloudy pillar, conducted them through the
wilderness : when, descending to deliver the law, he
bowed the heavens and shook the earth, and caused
Sinai to quake from its foundations. The Chris-
tian church singing this Psalm on the day of Pente-
cost, commemorates, under these terms and figures,
her redemption from the spiritual Egypt, by the re-
surrection of Jesus, with mighty signs and wonders,
and the succeeding delivery of the new law from
Mount Sion, after the descent of the Holy Spirit ;
by which the old Jewish dispensation was shaken and
removed, to make way for one that should last for
ever. See Heb. xii. 18 — 28.

" 9. Thou, O God, didst send a plentiful, Heb.
a free, liberal, or, gracious rain, whereby thou didst
confirm thine inheritance when it was weary."

As the heavens, at the command of God, rained

Ps. 68-1


down manna, &c. to strengthen and refresh the well-
nigh famished people, in the wilderness; so, by the
descent of the Spirit from above, bringing with him.
the word of life, the church, in her infant and lan-
guid state, was mightily confirmed and invigorated.

" 10. Thy congregation hath dwelt therein: thou,
O God, hast prepared of thy goodness for the poor."

In the former verse, the Psalmist tells us, that
God hath confirmed, refreshed and revived, his in-
heritance, by the plentiful, and as it were voluntary,
showers of bread and flesh, that he rained down up-
on them. In these words. Dr. Chandler appre-
hends, he speaks of the manner, as well as abundance
of the food thus given them; and renders the verse
thus — " -\rT*7i, Thy food," or, " As to thy food,"
the food which thou gavest them, " ni ii^s They
dwelt in the midst of it ; thou didst prepare, O God,
by thy goodness, for the poor." Thus the history
informs us, that the manna, covered by the dew,
" lay round about the host;" and that the quails were
" let fall by the camp, about a day's journey on one
side, and a day's journey on the other, round about
the camp:" Exod. xvi. 13. Numb. xi. 31. This
was literally " dwelling in the midst of the food God
had provided them." By the ministration of the
word and sacraments, in the Christian church, the
true manna, the bread which cometh down, with the
dew of God's blessing, from heaven, is continually
furnished, for the nourishment of those who *' hun-
ger and thirst after righteousness." It " falls round
about the camp," and, ** as to this thy food, O God,"
we, thy favoured people, have the happiness to

120 [P,. 68.

** dwell in the midst of it:" thus '' thou hast pre-
pared, of thy goodness, for the poor in spirit."

" 11. The Lord gave the word; great "joas the
company of those that published z'/f."

He who supplied his people with food in the wil-
derness, enabled them likewise to vanquish the nu-
merous enemies that opposed them in their passage
through it, the Amalekites, the Amorites, the Midian-
ites, the Moabites, &c. With respect to all these
enemies, '* the Lord gave the word." The Israelites
engaged them, by his order: see Numb. xxi. 34. xxv.
17. and, under his conduct and blessing, obtained
the victory over them. When the enemies of man's
salvation were vanquished by the resurrection of
Christ, and the Heathen nations were to own his
power, again ** the Lord gave the word." It was
published, at first, by apostles, confessors, and mar-
tyrs, and hath been since published continually, by all
the churches, who celebrate in their services the vic-
tories of their Redeemer; as in old time, prophets
and prophetesses, Moses, Aaron, Miriam, Deborah,
and others, with the armies of Israel, sang triumphal
songs, on occasion of temporal, but figurative con-

*' 12. * Kings with their armies did flee apace:
Heb. fled away, fled away: and she that tarried at
home divided the spoil."

When God, by the hand of Moses and his suc-

* Bishop Lowth thinks, with Dr. Hammond, that this verse
was the Song, sung by the choir, mentioned in the verse preced-
ing. Dr. Chandler adds the next verse to it.

Pb. 68.] 1^1

cesser Joshua, led his people through the wilder-
ness, into the land of promise, the kings of Canaan,
with their mighty hosts, were discomfited; and the
women of Israel, who ** tarried at home, divided the
spoil" of their vanquished enemies. After the con-
quest of the Midianites, as Dr. Chandler observes,
God ordered the prey to be divided between them
who went out on that expedition, and the rest of the
congregation who continued in their tents: Numb.
xxxi. 27. Thus, in the spiritual war, apostles, con-
fessors, and martyrs, went out to the battle, fought
and conquered; while the benefits of the victory ex-
tended to thousands and millions, who, without being
exposed to their conflicts, and torments, have en-
joyed the fruit of their labours.

" 13. Though ye have lien among the pots^ yet
shall ye he as the wings of a dove covered with sil-
ver, and her feathers with yellow gold."

By " lyhig among the pots,"* or in *' dust and
ashes," is evidently denoted a state of affliction, and
wretchedness, like that of Israel in Egypt, which
was exchanged for one of the utmost dignity and
splendour in Canaan ; one as different from the for-
mer, as a caldron discoloured by smoke and soot, is
from the bright and beautiful plumage of an eastern

* My worthy and learned friend, Mr. Parkhurst, in his He-
brew Lexicon, gives the following account of the word D^nsE'
(derived from nsty, to put or set any thing in order) — rows of
stones, " on which the caldrons or pots were placed. Lying
among tliese denotes the most abject slavery ; for this was the
place of rest allotted to the vilest slaves," So oiur translators
render it, in the margin of Ezek. xl. 43. Dr. Chandler adopts
the same interpretation of the word.

122 [PS. 6a

dove, glistering interchangeably, as with silver and
gold. Thus the church of Christ emerged from a
state of persecution and tribulation, into one of splen-
dour and magnificence. And such is the change
made in the spiritual condition of any man, when he
passes from the bondage of corruption into the glori-
ous liberty of the sons of God ; he is invested with
the robe of righteousness, and adorned with the
graces of the Spirit of holiness.

" 14. When the Almighty scattered kings in it, it
was "white as snow in Salmon."

The purport of this difficult verse seems to be,
that all was white as snow, that is, all was brightness,
joy, and festivity, about mount Salmon, pTsbri
:)bwn when the Almighty, fighting for his people
Israel, vanquished their enemies, m, in or about
that part of the country.

" 15. The hill of God is as the hill of Bashan ; a
high hill, as the hill of Bashan."

When the ark came in view of Mount Sion, the
place of its fixed residence for the future, and proba-
bly when they began to ascend it, Dr. Chandler ap-
prehends, this and the two following verses were
sung. And if these words be read with an interro-
gation, he conceives they will appear suitable to the
occasion, and worthy of the genuine spirit of poetry.
" The hill of God," that hill which God hath chosen
to inhabit, " is it the hill of Bashan, the hill with
its craggy eminences, the hill of Bashan?" Bashan
may boast of its proud eminences, its high summits;
but is that the hill where God will fix his residence?

Ps. 68.] 123

The prophet speaks of Bashan with contempt and
disdain, in comparison of Sion. And this agrees
well with what immediately follows —

"16. Why leap ye, or, why look ye askance with
envy, ye high hills? This is the hill isohich God
desireth to dwell in; yea, the Lord will abide in it
for ever."

The Psalmist, in commemorating God's former
mercies and loving-kindnesses, having] been led to
mention the towering hills of Salmon and Bashan by
a masterly transition, suddenly resumes his original
subject, with a beautiful apostrophe to those moun-
tains, letting them know, that however proudly they
might lift up their heads above the rest, or, in the
language of poetry, " look askance with envy" on
Mount Sion, yet this was the mount, which Jehovah
had determined to honour with his special presence;
thither he was now ascending, with the ark of his
strength; and there, between the cherubim, in the
place prepared for him, he would " dwell for ever:"
till the whole dispensation would be at an end, till
the glory of the Lord should be revealed in human
nature; till God should be manifest in the flesh, and
the true tabernacle and temple should succeed the
typical. After that, the privileges of Sion were
transferred to the Christian church; she became, and
while the world lasts, will continue to be, the " hill
in which God delici^hteth to dwell ;" she will therefore
be justly entitled to the pre-eminence over all that
may seem to be great and glorious in the world.

" 17. The chariots of God are twenty thousand,

124^ [Ps. 68.

even thousands of angels, or, thousands repeated :
the Lord is among them, as in Sinai, in the holy
place^ or, Sinai is in the sanctuary."

The Psalmist, in the preceding verse, had declared
Sion to be the habitation of Jehovah. In this verse
is described the majesty and magnificence of his ap-
pearance there, as a mighty conqueror of the enemies
of his people, riding upon the cherubim, as in a tri-
umphal chariot, with all the hosts of heaven, as it
were, in his retinue. Thus God descended on Sinai,
with the fire, the cloud, and the glory; thus he
manifested himself, when taking possession of '' the
holy place" prepared for him in Sion ; 2 Chron. v.
13. and in some such manner we may suppose king
Messiah to have entered heaven at his ascension,
when he went up in the clouds, with power and great
glory, and all the attendant spirits joined his train,
rejoicing to minister to their Lord, and increase the
pomp and splendour of that glorious day.

" 18. Thou hast ascended on high; thou hast led
captivity captive; thou hast received gifts from men;
yea, for the rebellious also, that the Lord God
might dwell among them.'*^

When the ark had ascended mount Sion, and was
deposited in the place assigned for it, the singers are
supposed, by Dr. Chandler, to have proceeded with
this part of the Psalm, in which they celebrated the
ascension of their God and King, by the symbol of
his presence, to the heights of Sion, after having
subdued their enemies, and enriched his people with
the spoil of the vanquished, and the gifts of the tri-
butary nations; of whichmuch was probably employed

Ps. 68.]


in the service of the tabernacle, and afterwards in
building the temple, first designed by David, " that
the Lord God might dwell," and have a fixed, per-
manent habitation, among his people. But this
whole transaction, like many others of old, being a
figurative one, the apostle, Ephes. iv. 8. has applied
the words before us to our blessed Saviour (the true
ARK, on which the glory rested), who personally
ascended up to the highest heavens, " led captivity
captive," by triumphing over his conquered enemies,
and having received gifts from his heavenly Father,
as the fruits of his victory, gave them unto men, as
was most conducive to the establishment of his
church, " that the Lord God might dwell among
them. Thou hast ascended on high ;" thou O
Christ, who didst descend, from the right hand of
the Majesty in the heavens, to the lower parts of the
earth j art again ascended, from the lower parts of the
earth to the right hand of the Majesty in the hea-
vens: "thou hast led captivity captive;" thou hast
conquered the conqueror, bound the strong one, re-
deemed human nature from the grave, and triumph-
antly carried it, with thee, to the throne of God;
" thou hast received gifts for men, yea, for the rebel-
lious also;" and, being thus ascended into thy glory,
thou hast received of the Father the promise of the
Spirit, with all his gifts and graces, to bestow upon
the sons of men;* even upon such as heretofore have
not only broken thy laws, but appeared in arms
against thee; yet of such as these, converted by the

* The Psalmist mentions these gifts as received : " Thou hast
received gifts for men ;" the apostle, in his citation, showeth us
the end for which they were received ; " He gave gifts imto

126 [Ps. 68.

power of thy Gospel, wilt thou form and establish a
church; "that the Lord God may dwell among
them;" that so, of thy faithful people, gathered from
all parts of the world, may be built up a living tem-
ple, ** a habitation of God through the Spirit."

'^ 19. Blessed he the Lord, ivho daily loadeth
us *with benefits: Heh, carries, or^ supports us; even
the God of our salvation. 20. He that is our God,
25 the God of salvation: and unto God the Lord
belong the issues from death, Heb. the goings forth
to death, o?*, of death."

The preceding survey of God's dispensations con-
straineth the church to break out into an act of
praise, and to bless the preserver of men, the author
of eternal "salvation;" in whose hands are the
"goings forth of death;" in other words, who has
"the keys of death and the grave;" Rev. i. 18. who
is possessed of power to confine, and to release; to
kill, and to make alive.

" 2L But God shall wound the head of his ene-
mies : and the hairy scalp, w, crown, of such a one
as goeth on still in his trespasses."

The meaning is — God shall strike deep, or ex-
haust the blood of the head of his enemies, even the
hairy crown of him that goes on in his guilty prac-
tices ; where the emphasis consists in the description

men." Or rather, as the best critics have observed, in the He-
brew idiom, to " take gifts for another," is the same as to '* give
them to another." Thus we read, 1 Kings iii. 24. "Take me a
sword;" that is, give or bring it me. Gen. x\A\\. 5. " I will take
a bit of bread ;" that is, for you, or to give it you,—" and comfort
ye your hearts."

P«. 68.] 127

of God's enemies, who were such as persevered in
their criminal actions. This verse begins a predic-
tion of that vengeance, which the person, who was
" ascended on high," would infallibly execute upon
his impenitent enemies, and which was shadowed
forth in the destruction of the enemies of Israel, by
David, after that the ark of God was placed upon
the hill of Sion. See 2 Sam. viii. The expres-
sions, " the head," and the '* hairy crown," denote
the principal part, the strength, the pride, and the
glory of the adversary, which was to be crushed, ac-
cordinff to the original sentence: " He shall bruise
thy head." Gen. iii. 15.

" 22. The Lord said, I will bring again from
Bashan; I will hvin g mi/ peojjle again from the depths
of the sea : 23. That thy foot may be dipped in
the blood of thi?ie enemies; and the tongue of thy
dogs in the same."

Abner, in his conference with the elders of Israel,
to bring them over to David's interest, tells them,
" The Lord hath spoken of David, saying. By the
hand of my servant David, I will save my people
Israel out of the hand of the Philistines, and out
of the hand of all their enemies:" 2 Sam. iii. 18.
Thus Jehovah had promised to repeat in Israel, by
David, his glorious acts ; to work as signal victories
and deliverances for his people, as he had formerly
done in the field of Bashan, and at the Red Sea;
when they saw their enemies dead at their feet. By
the glorious resurrection, and triumphant ascension
of king Messiah, by the conquests of the Gospel,
and the unparalleled overthrow of its opposers, were

128 [Ps. 68.

these figures realized, and these shadows changed
into substances.

" 24. They have seen thy goings, or, marches
in procession, O God ; even the goings, or, marches,
of my God, my King, in, o?-, into the sanctuary."

When the ark was safely deposited, the sacrifices
were offered, the solemnity well-nigh concluded, and
the whole assembly about to return back, Dr. Chand-
ler supposes the singers to have struck up, and join-
ed in the remaining part of this noble anthem. These
words contain a sort of triumph, because this great
work of translating the ark was now so happily ac-
complished. The people of Israel had a pledge and
earnest of those mighty things which God would do
for them, by the joyful and victorious manner in
which, with the ark of his presence, he had taken
possession of the place prepared for him on mount
' Sion, and gone " into the sanctuary." A like pledge
and earnest of her future enlargement and exalta-
tion, was the ascension of her Lord and Head, to the
Christian churcli.

'' 25. The singers went before, the players on
instruments ybZZotOc?^ after; among them were the
damsels playing with timbrels."

The joy and gladness expressed by David, and
the house of Israel, when in solemn procession, with
the sound of vocal and instrumental music, they
" brought up the ark of Jehovah, and set it in its
place," 2 Sam. vi. 5, 15, 17. may be considered as
a prelude to that voice of universal exultation, with
which the Christian church, in her holy services,

Ps. 68.1 1^9

(loth now celebrate the resurrection and ascension of
her Redeemer.

" 26. Bless ye God in the congregations, even
the Lord, from the fountain of Israel."

" Bless ye God in the congregations;" in this
form of words the Israelites are supposed, when ac-
companying the ark, to have reciprocally exhorted
and encouraged each other to exert their utmost
powers in the sacred employment of blessing and
thanking God: " even the Lord from the fountain
of Israel:" the "fountain of Israel" is the same with
the " stock, or family of Israel." See Isa. xlviii.
I. The sense of this latter clause therefore is,
" Bless the Lord, ye who are sprung from the stock
of Israel;" thus is the duty of blessing and thanks-
giving enforced on the congregations of the faithful,
in all ages.

" 27. There is little Benjamin "with their ruler,
the princes of Judah and their council, the princes
of Zebulun, and the princes of Naphtali."

The literal rendering of this verse is — " There
is little Benjamin their ruler, the princes of Judah
their council, the princes of Zebulun, and the princes
of Naphtali." In this enumeration of the tribes of
Israel, that were present at the removal of the ark,
four only are mentioned; Benjamin and Judah, who
dwelt nearest to the city of David; Zebulun and
Naphtali, who were the farthest distant from it; to
show, as Dr. Chandler observes, the unanimity of
the whole nation, and of all the tribes far and near,
in attending this solemnity, to testify their willing
acknowledgment of David for their king, and the

130 [Ps. 68.

city of David for their capital, where all the great
solemnities of religion should be performed, and
their annual festivals continually celebrated. Ben-
jamin, though the youngest tribe, is named first, and
called the " ruler;" because from that tribe sprang
Saul, the first king of Israel. The attendance of
this tribe showed, that all envy and opposition to
David, from Saul's party, was at an end. Upon David's
accession to the crown, Judah became the royal tribe,
and supported the throne by its counsels. Zebulun
and Naphtali were tribes of eminent learning and
knowledge. See Gen. xlix. 21. Judg. v. 14. Thus,
after the publication of the Gospel, the nations flock-
ed into the church, both those that were near, and
those that were afar off; power, wisdom, and learn-
ing, submitted themselves to the kingdom, and con-
spired to set forth the glory, of Messiah.

" 28. Thy God hath commanded thy strength:
strengthen, O God, that which thou hast wrought
for us."

The former part of this verse contains a comfort-
able assurance given to the church, that God had
made provision, and issued out orders, for her estab-
lishment and security. In the latter clause is a
prayer, that he would accomplish all his counsels
coDcerning her; and, as he had begun a good work,
so that he would vouchsafe to perfect it unto the day
of the Lord.

" 29, Because of thy temple at Jerusalem, shall
kings bring presents unto thee."

David foretells, that on the establishment of the
then church, and worship in Jerusalem, the kings of

Ps. 68.]


the Gentiles should come, and make their oblations
at the* temple of God; which happened in his days,
and those of his son Solomon, as an earnest and
figure of that plenary accession of the kings of the
earth to the church of Christ, which was to take
place in the latter days, under the Gospel. See 2
Sam. viii. 9 — 11. 1 Kings v. 1. x. 1, 24. 2 Chron.
ix. 23. Isa. Ix. 3, 6. Matt. ii. 11. Rev. xxi. 24.

" 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."

We have here a prophetical prayer against the
enemies of the Israelitish church. The whole verse,
when literally translated, runs thus — " Rebuke the
wild beast of the reeds, the congregation of the
mighty among the calves of the nations, skipping, or
exulting, with pieces of silver ; scatter the people
that delight in war." By the " wild beast of the
reeds," is to be understood the Egyptian power, de-
scribed by its emblem, the crocodile, or river-horse,
creatures living among the " reeds" of the Nile.
The " calves of the nations" intend the objects of
worship among the Egyptians, their Apis, Osiris, &c.
around which the " congregation of the mighty"
assembled. And by their " skipping with," or,
" exulting in, pieces of silver," may either be meant
their dancing at their idolatrous festivals with the

* Tlie tabernacle is called bn^n, 1 Sam. iii. 3. This might,
otherwise, seem inconsistent with the supposed occasion of the
Psalm, and the times of David, when there was yet no temple
there. Bishop Lowth.

132 [Ps. 68.

tinkling instruments called " sistra," which might
be made of" silver ;" or else it may imply their " glo-
rying in pieces of silver, "or, " in their riches," The
last member of the verse is plain, " Scatter the
people that delight in war." The whole is evidently
a prayer of the prophet to this effect, that it would
please God to bring down and overthrow the
strength, the pride, and the idolatry of Egypt, that
ancient adversary and oppressor of Israel.*— The
Christian church, in like manner, through faith in
the power of her Lord, risen from the dead and
ascended into heaven, prayeth for the confusion of
her implacable enemies, who delight in opposing the
kingdom of Messiah.

"31. Princes, or, ambassadors, shall come out
of Egypt : Ethiopia shall soon stretch out her hands
unto God."

The hostile powers being overthrown, and the
church of Israel fully established, the nations around
her, even those which had been most given to idola-
try, sued for her friendship, and came to Jerusalem,
with their gifts and oblations; as, in like manner,

* Iricrepa regem Egyjiti populo tuo invidentem, increpa etiam
optimates qui inter populos honore et viribus eminent, argenteis
clavis, vel aliis insignibus omati. — BossuET. See Bishop Lowtli,
Praelect. vi. ad fin. edit. 8vo. The sense of the verse cannot be
better expressed, than it is by Mr. Merrick in his version :

The beast, that from his reedy bed.
On Nile's proud banks, uplifts the head.
Rebuke, indigiiant ; nor the throng
Forget, from whose misguided tongue
The heifer and the grazing steer,
The offered vow, unconscious hear ;
"While to the silver's tinkling sound,
Their feet in solemn dance rebound*

Ps. 68.]


after the defeat of Maxentius and Maximin, the
Roman empire, with all its tributary provinces, was
added to the church of Christ.

" 32. Sing unto God, ye kingdoms of the earth :
O sing praises unto the Lord."

" Rapt into future times," the prophet exhorteth,
not Judea only, but all " the kingdoms of the earth,"
to unite in chanting forth the praises of their God
and Saviour. In the fulness of time, this exhorta-
tion was heard and obeyed. For Eusebius thus
describes the state of the church in the days of
Constantine: " There was one and the same power
of the Holy Spirit, which passed through all the
members: one soul in all; the same alacrity of faith;
one common consent in chanting forth the praises of
God." Euseb. Eccles. Hist. b. x. chap. 2, And it

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