When you, God, went out before your people,
when you marched through the wilderness,
the earth shook, the heavens poured down rain,
before God, the One of Sinai,
before God, the God of Israel.
You gave abundant showers, O God;
you refreshed your weary inheritance.
Your people settled in it,
and from your bounty, God, you provided for the poor.
The Lord announces the word,
and the women who proclaim it are a mighty throng:
‘Kings and armies flee in haste;
the women at home divide the plunder.
Even while you sleep among the sheepfolds,
the wings of my dove are sheathed with silver,
its feathers with shining gold.’
When the Almighty scattered the kings in the land,
it was like snow fallen on Mount Zalmon.
Mount Bashan, majestic mountain,(Ps. 68:7-18 NIV)
Mount Bashan, rugged mountain,
why gaze in envy, you rugged mountain,
at the mountain where God chooses to reign,
where the Lord himself will dwell for ever?
The chariots of God are tens of thousands
and thousands of thousands;
the Lord has come from Sinai into his sanctuary.
When you ascended on high,
you took many captives;
you received gifts from people,
even from the rebellious –
that you, Lord God, might dwell there.
As we look further at this Psalm, remember that the Lord rides on the clouds so that when we come across rain, thunder, and snow we will remember that this has been sent by God. The picture of the Lord going out before His people is of the Lord leading them into battle. The Lord may be marching through wastelands, but He shakes up that earth and from the heavens the rains pour. The enemy is defeated, but the land that was barren is now refreshed, as the Lord gives abundant showers and produces harvest from the previous wastelands. This is our God, the God of our fathers. Out of the Lord’s bounty He has provided for the poor, and the people of God enjoy their inheritance from the Lord. The spiritual lesson is almost obvious. The Lord goes out before the impoverished church in our land. The weakness of our witness can be invigorated by the Lord opening the heavens:
Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the LORD Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it.(Mal. 3:10 NIV)
We already have an inheritance that is kept for us and we are kept for it, but we need that refreshing out of the Lord’s bounty so that we can have a greater sense of joy in our salvation.
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time.(1 Pet. 1:3-5 NIV)
The Lord spoke the word and the battle was won v11. The verse is difficult to translate, but what I think the Psalmist has in mind is the women coming out of the city to greet the victorious army, for example the women who sang about David and Saul
When the men were returning home after David had killed the Philistine, the women came out from all the towns of Israel to meet King Saul with singing and dancing, with joyful songs and with tambourines and lyres. As they danced, they sang:
‘Saul has slain his thousands,(1 Sam. 18:6-7 NIV)
and David his tens of thousands.’
The song of celebration is that kings and armies have been scattered. This is because of the word of the Lord that was spoken. Again verse 12 is a difficult verse to translate. One possible meaning is that the women who stayed behind and didn’t go to battle still have a right to the share of the booty because they looked after the flocks. The prize of the booty is the emblem of the dove with the silver wings and gold feathers.
When the Almighty defeated the armies, they and their weapons were scattered like snow fallen on the mountain. The Almighty who rides on the clouds scatters the armies like snowflakes.
The Psalmist names the names of the impressive mountains, the majestic and rugged mountains. What are these mountains compared to the mountain (Mount Zion) where God chooses to dwell? The glory of the mountain ranges is dwarfed by the holiness of the mountain where the presence of the Lord resides. This is where the throne of God will be forever. Think of the great iconic buildings in the city of London, the places where tourists used to come in their hundreds of thousands to see. Think of the Lord Mayor’s show with its colourful procession, the pomp and circumstance of the trooping of the colour. These events pale into insignificance compared to the gathering of the people of God in HWEC, gathering in the name of Jesus, where Christ is present. The presence of the Lord with His people is what makes the gathering significant. Of course, there are many groups of God’s people across the country where the same could be said. Let us not despise the gatherings of God’s people.
The Captain of the armies of heaven leads a heavenly host that no one can number, ten of thousands, and thousands of thousands. The Lord leads the victory march and approaches Mount Zion to take up His rightful positions in the sanctuary. This foretells that final victory march when the King of glory approaches the holy city to take up residence upon the throne to reign. As the Lord approaches the city, the gates have to yield to His coming. Who is this that comes shouts the sentry:
Lift up your heads, you gates;(Ps. 24:7-10 NIV)
be lifted up, you ancient doors,
that the King of glory may come in.
Who is this King of glory?
The Lord strong and mighty,
the Lord mighty in battle.
Lift up your heads, you gates;
lift them up, you ancient doors,
that the King of glory may come in.
Who is he, this King of glory?
The Lord Almighty –
he is the King of glory.
Then I saw ‘a new heaven and a new earth,’ for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Look! God’s dwelling-place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. “He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death” or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.’
He who was seated on the throne said, ‘I am making everything new!’ Then he said, ‘Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.’
He said to me: ‘It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To the thirsty I will give water without cost from the spring of the water of life. Those who are victorious will inherit all this, and I will be their God and they will be my children. But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practise magic arts, the idolaters and all liars – they will be consigned to the fiery lake of burning sulphur. This is the second death.’(Rev. 21:1-8 NIV)
God took all His enemies captive and in His victory all bowed the knee to confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father.
Lord God, help us to hold in view the end of all things when we will be Your people and You will be our God. Help us to long for your presence, because Your presence makes everything beautiful and holy. Your presence helps us make sense of what we see. Allow the promise of the future to break in upon our present that we might find heart to serve You and praise Your great name, for Christ our Saviour’s sake, in whose name we pray. Amen.