Praise be to the Lord, to God our Saviour,
who daily bears our burdens.
Our God is a God who saves;
from the Sovereign Lord comes escape from death.
Surely God will crush the heads of his enemies,
the hairy crowns of those who go on in their sins.
The Lord says, ‘I will bring them from Bashan;
I will bring them from the depths of the sea,
that your feet may wade in the blood of your foes,
while the tongues of your dogs have their share.’
Your procession, God, has come into view,
the procession of my God and King into the sanctuary.
In front are the singers, after them the musicians;
with them are the young women playing the tambourines.
Praise God in the great congregation;
praise the Lord in the assembly of Israel.
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.
Summon your power, God;
show us your strength, our God, as you have done before.
Because of your temple at Jerusalem
kings will bring you gifts.
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.
Envoys will come from Egypt;
Cush will submit herself to God.
Sing to God, you kingdoms of the earth,
sing praise to the Lord,
to him who rides across the highest heavens, the ancient heavens,
who thunders with mighty voice.
Proclaim the power of God,
whose majesty is over Israel,
whose power is in the heavens.
You, God, are awesome in your sanctuary;
the God of Israel gives power and strength to his people.
Praise be to God!(Ps. 68:19-35 NIV)
The Psalmist praises the Lord because He is God our Saviour. God does not just save us occasionally, He daily bears our burden. Our God is the God who saves. Remember earlier in the Psalm God is described as the one who leads tens of thousands and thousands of thousands chariots. Remember in Daniel, King Darius came to the lions’ den in the morning to ask, ‘has your God been able to rescue you?’ King Darius wasn’t sure. When we consider the powerful picture of God given in this Psalm, we can repeat with the Psalmist that our God is a God who saves. In every occasion our God is able. On this occasion the Lord saves from death. The Lord gives life and He takes away life. No virus, no terrorist, no persecuting government, nor any other power will be able to take life from us until God’s appointed time to take us home to Heaven.
V21-23 contains strong language and we recoil from the blood thirsty, poetic expressions that the Psalmist uses. We need to hear this language in order to awaken us to the horrible nature of sin. The enemy have set out to oppose God and they continue in their sins. As the Lord Jesus Christ prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane, anticipating the cup of wrath that He would shortly have to consume, He speaks of being overwhelmed. Dying for sins is not a light burden. We have been saved from sin. God’s reaction to the sin of the enemy in this and other Psalms, is the reaction that Christ anticipates as He contemplates becoming sin for us. If you think that there are some horrors in the OT, think of the horrors of what took place on the cross during those hours of darkness, when the Lord laid upon Christ the iniquity of us all. It is unlikely that we will underline these verses as our favourites, but they are verses that help us learn about God’s attitude towards sin and rebellion.
God will crush the heads of His enemies. Christ crushed the head of Satan on the cross.
Though the enemy might seek to hide, in the mountains or the sea, God will bring them from their hiding places and gather them together for judgement. God will allow His people to trample in the blood of their foes.
The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. The grace of our Lord Jesus be with you.(Rom. 16:20 NIV)
Vengeance belongs to the Lord. The weapons we fight with are spiritual, but the day of opportunity will soon pass for those who continue in sin and rebellion, and God will bring this all to an end. The picture of the dogs licking the boots of the people of God who have trampled in the blood of the defeated enemy is not a pretty picture, but neither is sin, hell or the lake of fire, a pretty picture. We can learn very vividly what sin is by how God marks sin. If we have a clearer picture of sin, we will have a clearer picture of grace and mercy.
The theme changes in v24 back to the procession of God and His armies coming into view, moving to take up position in the Holy sanctuary. Jesus will lead that future procession, but the glory of that procession draws upon the horrors of the suffering on the cross. The singers, the musicians and the maidens have gone out to meet the procession and the Lord leads His people in triumphal procession. They will have come form the North and the South, from the East and the West. There is that little group from HWEC and that large group from the mega church, they are all part of the great congregation. Mentioning the little tribe and the larger tribe is a poetic way of including everyone, all of the people of God. We won’t be standing back watching this happen, we will be there as part of the celebrations, everybody invited to the top table.
The Psalmist returns to prayer in v28 and with renewed vigour calls upon God to demonstrate His power. God has established His rule in the Holy sanctuary and all the earth will come to Him offering God the homage that is due to Him. The animals that will be defeated are those from the nations that refuse to yield, they will be led by the nose before the Lord. Opposition is not an option, there is no hiding place. The wealth that they have acquired will not come to their aid.
With this picture of final triumph, the Psalmist invites the nations to come now of their own will to the one who rides the skies with His thousands upon thousands of chariots. God thunders forth His word. Respond to that word and come and sing His praise. Acknowledge and proclaim the mighty power of the Lord. God is awesome in His sanctuary, from the sanctuary he gives power and strength to His people. Only one thing to say – Praise be to God!
Lord God, we have a very limited concept of how dreadful sin is. The strong language used to describe sin and Your attitude to rebellion causes us to wince. We seem to have more of a problem with language than we have with sin. Because we have a limited view of sin, we also have not fully grasped grace and mercy. Lord teach us that the glory of forgiveness is only possible because of the horrors of the cross. Lord the glory and grandeur of the triumphant procession of Christ gives us heart to love and serve You. Teach us Your ways for Christ the Saviour’s sake. Amen