For the director of music. Of David. A psalm. A song.
May God arise, may his enemies be scattered;
may his foes flee before him.
May you blow them away like smoke –
as wax melts before the fire,
may the wicked perish before God.
But may the righteous be glad
and rejoice before God;
may they be happy and joyful.
Sing to God, sing in praise of his name,(Ps. 68:1-6 NIV)
extol him who rides on the clouds;
rejoice before him – his name is the Lord.
A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows,
is God in his holy dwelling.
God sets the lonely in families,
he leads out the prisoners with singing;
but the rebellious live in a sun-scorched land.
This Psalm has been described as the march of God to victory. It traces the establishment of His Kingdom in the past; it looks forward to the defeat of all opposition in the future until all kingdoms of the world acknowledge God as the Lord their God and pay homage to Him.
When God arises no enemy can stand in His presence, they all scatter to the four corners of the earth. Wind and fire are often used as manifestations of God’s presence. The wind blows, and those who would stand defiantly before the Lord are blown away like a puff of smoke. The enemy stand like statues of waxwork mighty warriors. The fire of the Lord’s presence quickly melt them to a mere blob of wax.
The appearance of the Lord does the people of God good. They are glad when they see the Lord at work, changing lives, changing systems of government, establishing righteousness. They rejoice before the Lord, their happiness knows no bounds and they are full of joy.
The Psalmist calls upon the people of God to sing praise to His name. When we are permitted to gather together as a congregation, it may be some time before we are allowed to sing together. Perhaps we’ll use some YouTube recordings of singing so that we at least can listen, but that is a poor substitute for our own congregation singing together. We may not have many of the instruments that the great orchestras have, or the musical talent of the great choirs, but enabled by the Holy Spirit and meditated through the Lord Jesus Christ, our singing rises to Heaven to praise the Lord for who He is and what He has done.
The false gods of the surrounding nation believed that Baal rode the clouds, but the Psalmist attributes that role to the Lord. Our God can muster the clouds and give rain or part the clouds to cause the sun to shine. Notice the reference to rain, thunder and snow in this Psalm. It all comes from God who rides on the clouds.
The name of God is the LORD (Yahweh), the covenant LORD. The warrior LORD comes on His chariot riding the clouds. In the war situation there are many civilians killed in what is euphemistically called ‘collateral damage’, but this warrior God comes to defeat the enemy and protect His people. He is a Father to the fatherless and a defender of widows. Notice through the OT when the people of God have sinned by worshipping other gods and engaging in all kinds of detestable behaviour, that what the Lord challenged them on was their failure to provide for widows and orphans. God is building His Kingdom but He is also building His people to be citizens in that Kingdom. If you are a widow don’t skip lightly over what this Psalm says, God is a defender of widows. If you are without a father, because he has left home or has died, God is a Father to the fatherless. I know in this country at this time the state makes provision. In OT times a widow was often left destitute. But there are many emotional needs, feelings of loneliness and the lack of someone to just share the little things that happen in the course of the day. We can share these things with God. Don’t be afraid that they are too small to be shared with the Lord. Everything is small to the Lord.
The Psalmist asks a rhetorical question, ‘Is God in his holy dwelling?’ The answer is ‘Of course He is!’ We might ask that question differently today, ‘Is God still upon His throne?’ The answer is, ‘Of course He is!’ The God eternal reigns, He never takes His eye of His people, He will never leave us or forsake us.
God cares for the lonely, He places them in families. He leads out the prisoners (exiles or refugees) with singing. Some of you who read this know from experience what it is for the Lord to lead you out of danger to safety, the narrow escape, hiding from those who wanted to harm you, trusting strangers to arrange passage for you to a safe place. How precious to know that real experience of knowing the Lord Jesus kept you safe. All of us were prisoners, held captive by sin and the Lord has led us out with singing.
I waited patiently for the LORD; he turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear the LORD and put their trust in him.(Ps. 40:1-3 NIV)
Arise Lord, do a mighty work in our nation. Turn the hearts of this nation back to You. The structure of our society is systemically rotten, arise Lord and deal with those who oppose the Kingdom of God. Lord from on high, look down upon Your people and save us, bring us again to a place of singing where we together can praise the great Name of our God. We thank You that You have given us a song to sing, and something to sing about. We thank You for recent news of salvation. How great is our God, receive our thanks in Jesus’ name. Amen