Rise up, O God, and scatter your enemies. Let those who hate God run for their lives (Psalm 68:1).
Psalm 68 is complicated and filled with images from Israel’s history, God helping the oppressed, and through it all, a thread foreshadowing the ultimate return of Jesus.
I have a gift of taking the profound and making it mundane. Sorry!
But when I read this Psalm, I think of a three-layer chocolate cake. The first layer – our victory; the second layer – Israel’s victory over enemies; and the third layer – Jesus’s ultimate victory.
I love chocolate, and three layers of chocolate seem a great way to express the joy of ultimate victory. There is celebration throughout this Psalm, like a birthday party, or a joyous victory celebration.
Praise God, all you people of Israel; praise the Lord, the source of Israel’s life (v. 26).
The first layer: My victory!
Surrounded by unnumbered thousands of chariots, the Lord came from Mount Sinai into his sanctuary (v. 17).
“Surrounded by unnumbered thousands of chariots” is one of my favorite images from the entire Bible describing Jesus. No matter my situation, I find hope when I consider my Lord with thousands of chariots riding to my rescue.
Jesus with “millions of angels” is a Father to the fatherless and a Defender of widows (v. 5), He sets prisoners free and gives them joy (v. 6), and each day He carries us in His arms (v. 19).
The second layer: Israel’s victory!
Verse one of Psalm 68 is a quotation from Numbers 10:33-35 and was used by Moses on the days when the Israelites moved their camp while following the cloud of God’s glory.
O God, when you led your people out from Egypt, when you marched through the dry wasteland, the earth trembled, and the heavens poured down rain (vv. 7-8).
For any nation or any people undergoing persecution or literal invasion:
Summon your might, O God. Display your power, O God, as you have in the past (v. 28).
The third layer: The Lord’s victory!
There are images of the end-times victory of Jesus throughout this Psalm. The Apostle Paul quotes verse 18 in Ephesians 4:8-10 when he describes the final glory of Jesus:
That is why the Scriptures say, “When he ascended to the heights, he led a crowd of captives and gave gifts to his people.” [This is from Psalm 68:18.] Notice that it says “he ascended.” This clearly means that Christ also descended to our lowly world. And the same one who descended is the one who ascended higher than all the heavens, so that he might fill the entire universe with himself (Ephesians 4:8-10).
The best way to read the three layers of Psalm 68 is to take three days.
On the first day ask yourself, “What hope do I find by reading this chapter?” The second day ask, “What victory could Israel or any nation under attack find in this chapter?” And the third day think, “Jesus, help me to rejoice in your final victory as I read this chapter.”
While reading on all days, emphasize “God” (whether aloud or in your mind) as you read. “God” or “Lord” – these names are mentioned at least 45 times in Psalm 68.
Victory comes from our Lord God!