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Thursday, April 21, 2016

PSALM 68
 

 
 
Hold on to your hat, cowboy. 
We're galloping off, and if you're as green as me,
galloping means my seat meets the leather only now and then.
That is to say, the view is continually before us,
but the saddle is not smoothly held,
and the rider is jarred by an umph here and there.

 
"To Him who rides upon the highest heavens,
which are from ancient times."
(verse 33)


 
"As an able and skilful rider manages his horse;
so does God the sun, moon, planets and all the hosts of heaven."
(Adam Clarke)

 
"Him who rides through the deserts" (NASV)
"Extol Him that rideth upon the heavens."(KJV)
 

 
This is a l-o-n-g psalm, one that commentators have called a labyrinth with precipices, in other words, hard to put a lasso on.  Nevertheless, it has stunning views.  Most agree that David is indeed the author when the Spirit was upon him, and that it was written to be sung when the ark was being brought into Jerusalem.  

 
Remember that after the ark was sent back by the Philistines, it first rested in Aminadab; then it stayed with Obed-edom, nearly sixty years in each place.  It was David's joy and honor to bring the ark to its proper place in Jerusalem.  He led the procession dancing with all his might while wearing a lion ephod;  and all the house of Israel followed with shouts and instruments of music in a triumphant manner.  "The sweet singer of Israel made this anthem" for when the ark was lifted up onto their shoulders to begin the parade...


 
"Let God arise." 
 
Everything else dissipates or melts away before Him.
"As smoke is driven away...As wax melts."
(verses 1-2)
 
"But let the righteous be glad;
let them exult before God;
Yes, let them rejoice with gladness.
Sing to God, sing praises to His name;
Lift up a song for Him who rides through the deserts,
Whose name is the Lord, and exult before Him."
(verses 3-4)
 
When the ark had previously been stolen, "the glory departed from Israel." Now all was joy and gladness.  It is a faint reminder of Jesus' triumphal entry when palm branches were waved and coats strewn across His path.


 
"A father of the fatherless,
and a judge of the widows,
is God in His holy habitation.
God setteth the solitary in families."
(verses 5-6, KJV)
"God makes a home for the lonely."
( verse 6, NASV)

 
As David seeks to bring the Ark of the Covenant to its home, after the praises and exultations, he sings of the ones closest to God's heart, the homeless, the fatherless, the widows, the lonely.  Amazing!  These are verses to cling to.  I have prayed them over friends.  As one who has adopted the fatherless, who married someone who was orphaned, this is especially touching to realize no one is out of God's observant care.  God sees.  God knows.  It also is a confirmation that God does not want us to be lonely.  He understood that in the Garden, "It is not good for man to be alone."  He established marriage and families.  Sometimes singles need to be adopted too.


 
 
Much of the rest of the Psalm reminds us of when the Ark of the Covenant led them through the desert wanderings. "O God, when Thou didst go before Thy people, When Thou didst march through the wilderness, The earth quaked; The heavens also dropped rain at the presence of God.  Sinai itself quaked in the presence of God...Thou didst shed aboard a plentiful rain, O God (the dropping of mana); Thou didst confirm Thine inheritance when it was parched (the rock that became a spring of water).  Thy creatures settled in it (the quail); Thou didst provide in Thy goodness for the poor, O God." (verses 7-10)  "I will bring them back from the depths of the sea." (the parting of the Red Sea) (verse 22)

 
"The chariots of God are myriads,
thousands upon thousands;
The Lord is among them as at Sinai,
in holiness."
(verse 17)


 

"Behold, He speaks forth with His voice, a mighty voice.
Ascribe strength to God;
His majesty is over Israel;
And His strength is in the skies.
O God, Thou art awesome from Thy sanctuary (holy places)
The God of Israel gives strength and power to the people.
Blessed be God!"
(verse 33-35)


 
"'O God, thou art terrible out of thy holy places.'  The sanctuary and heaven.  Out of the former He had often shone forth with consuming splendor...He had often appeared in terrible majesty in storms, thunder, lightning, etc...Therefore, that people must be invincible who have this strong and irresistible God for their support.  'Blessed be God.'  He alone is worthy to be worshipped.  Without Him, nothing is wise, nothing HOLY, nothing strong; and from Him, as the inexhaustible Fountain, all good must be derived.  His mercy over His creatures is equal to His majesty in the universe; and as He has all good in His possession, so is He willing to deal it out; to supply the utmost necessities of His creatures." (Adam Clarke)


 
Perhaps this is what it means in verse 17 "in holiness, in that holy place."  The Ark of the Covenant represents--is the hint of--what will come when we are invited to enter into the holy of holies.  This is what our God has provided.   The mighty and awesome God who sees our need and does not want us to be lonely. He invites us to come back to the intimacy of Garden fellowship, to walk and talk with Him. 


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