Psalm 68 - For the director of music. Of David. A psalm. A song.
1 May God arise, may his enemies be scattered;
may his foes flee before him.
2 May you blow them away like smoke—
as wax melts before the fire,
may the wicked perish before God.
3 But may the righteous be glad
and rejoice before God;
may they be happy and joyful.
4 Sing to God, sing in praise of his name,
extol him who rides on the clouds;
rejoice before him—his name is the Lord.
5 A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows,
is God in his holy dwelling.
6 God sets the lonely in families,
he leads out the prisoners with singing;
but the rebellious live in a sun-scorched land.
7 When you, God, went out before your people,
when you marched through the wilderness,
8 the earth shook, the heavens poured down rain,
before God, the One of Sinai,
before God, the God of Israel.
9 You gave abundant showers, O God;
you refreshed your weary inheritance.
10 Your people settled in it,
and from your bounty, God, you provided for the poor.
11 The Lord announces the word,
and the women who proclaim it are a mighty throng:
12 “Kings and armies flee in haste;
the women at home divide the plunder.
13 Even while you sleep among the sheep pens,
the wings of my dove are sheathed with silver,
its feathers with shining gold.”
14 When the Almighty scattered the kings in the land,
it was like snow fallen on Mount Zalmon.
15 Mount Bashan, majestic mountain,
Mount Bashan, rugged mountain,
16 why gaze in envy, you rugged mountain,
at the mountain where God chooses to reign,
where the Lordhimself will dwell forever?
17 The chariots of God are tens of thousands
and thousands of thousands;
the Lord has come from Sinai into his sanctuary.
18 When you ascended on high,
you took many captives;
you received gifts from people,
even from the rebellious—
that you, LordGod, might dwell there.
19 Praise be to the Lord, to God our Savior,
who daily bears our burdens.
20 Our God is a God who saves;
from the Sovereign Lordcomes escape from death.
21 Surely God will crush the heads of his enemies,
the hairy crowns of those who go on in their sins.
22 The Lord says, “I will bring them from Bashan;
I will bring them from the depths of the sea,
23 that your feet may wade in the blood of your foes,
while the tongues of your dogs have their share.”
24 Your procession, God, has come into view,
the procession of my God and King into the sanctuary.
25 In front are the singers, after them the musicians;
with them are the young women playing the timbrels.
26 Praise God in the great congregation;
praise the Lordin the assembly of Israel.
27 There is the little tribe of Benjamin, leading them,
there the great throng of Judah’s princes,
and there the princes of Zebulun and of Naphtali.
28 Summon your power, God;
show us your strength, our God, as you have done before.
29 Because of your temple at Jerusalem
kings will bring you gifts.
30 Rebuke the beast among the reeds,
the herd of bulls among the calves of the nations.
Humbled, may the beast bring bars of silver.
Scatter the nations who delight in war.
31 Envoys will come from Egypt;
Cush will submit herself to God.
32 Sing to God, you kingdoms of the earth,
sing praise to the Lord,
33 to him who rides across the highest heavens, the ancient heavens,
who thunders with mighty voice.
34 Proclaim the power of God,
whose majesty is over Israel,
whose power is in the heavens.
35 You, God, are awesome in your sanctuary;
the God of Israel gives power and strength to his people.
Praise be to God!
Devotional from Esther Swaffield-Bray
Have you ever had one of those moments when you get caught up in the bigness of creationthe world?
- when you lie on my your back looking at a midnight sky of a thousand stars…
- when you are lost in a city; and skyscrapers tower over you
- when you take-off in a plane and see cars become ants in a matter of seconds.
What are those moments for you? Is it when you are lost in creation? When you listen to a symphony? When you are in a cathedral?
At the start of Psalm 68; we are reminded of a God who cannot be contained, who can simply blow away enemies like smoke; who rides in on the clouds. The same God who the prophet Isaiah describes as “filling the Earth with “the whole earth is full of his glory” (Isaiah 6:3)
A God who is infinite. A God who is powerful. A God who is holy and created the heavens and the Earth.
But the writer of Psalm 68 doesn’t stop there, lost on a mountaintop moment.
You see, in verse 5, we pivot from the powerful, to the personal;
from the infinite to the intimate, as we are reminded that such power also has a purpose:
“Father of the fatherless and protector of widows is God in his holy dwelling [we read in verse 4]
God settles the lonely in families,
he leads out the prisoners with singing…”
The Psalm turns from this view of worshipping God’s power and awesomeness, to celebrating his deeply personal love for the weak and hurting: the broken and the imprisoned.enslaved . You see, worship of Father God the King of creation, will lead us to the least, the last and the lost. Wwe see throughout scripture time and time again that the kind of worship God desires is worship that not only kneels before the Father in adoration but that also kneels to love those in need… The poor, the sick, the broken- people right here at home, or people that live in foreign far away placeslands. It is - people that move the heart of the Father.
As James writes to the early church, “27 Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” (James 1.27)
“People” are what move the heart of the Father.
Perhaps some of the most vulnerable people in the world today are the millions of children people caught up in slavery. This millions of unseen, unknown children, men and women who make our clothes, mine for the minerals in our phones and farm our food. Those taken from their families and put to work… exploited... imprisoned. Take Mallesh for instance….
There’s a song by Tim Hughes, that I remember singing as a teenager. It’s called God of justice, and it was . Wwritten in response to some of this stuff. He writes, “Keep us from just singing, move us into action” and I think that beautifully sums up the challenge.
We absolutely should absolutely wonder at the majesty of God and the bigness of the world . God is worthy of all of our awe, all our songs and all our worship. But let’s not stop there. As Psalm 68 demonstrates, that awe and wonder let that callslead us to an encounter with the God’s love and care is for his people.:
We worship a God who is both infinite and intimate;
Powerful and personal;
Wholly holy, yet humbly He loves us, and calls us to love others, particularly the most vulnerable in our world.
Esther works with IJM and is speaking on mainstage at SM this year.