Tuesday, September 20, 2022

2022.09.20 Hopewell @Home ▫ Psalm 68:1–18

Read Psalm 68:1–18

Questions from the Scripture text: Into whose hands was this Psalm entrusted (superscript)? Who wrote it? What is it? What does Psalm 68:1a desire Whom to do? What do verse 1b and verse 1c desire whom to do? What illustration does Psalm 68:2a–b use for what God does to His enemies? What illustration does verse 2c–d use for what happens to the wicked? Whose presence is like the fire? What new group does Psalm 68:3 introduce? What will they do before God? To what extent (verse 3c)? Now whom does Psalm 68:4 address? What does it command them to do? How does it describe Him? What Name are they to praise (verse 4c)? Again (cf. Psalm 68:3a, 3b, 3c), what are they to do before Him (Psalm 68:4d)? How does Psalm 68:5a describe Him? From where (Psalm 68:5b)? What does He do for whom in Psalm 68:6a? What does He do for whom in verse 6b? How does this contrast with those in verse 6c? How does Psalm 68:7 describe the wilderness wanderings? What events are described as the effects of the presence of Israel’s champion/leader (Psalm 68:8)? How does Psalm 68:9 describe God’s care for the promised land? What else was He doing in this (Psalm 68:10)? What great gift does Psalm 68:11 describe? How do Psalm 68:12-14 describe the conquest of the land? What places are jealous of Jerusalem and why (Psalm 68:15-16)? What are its defenses like (Psalm 68:17)? What has its King done (Psalm 68:18)? For what reason?

How great is the church’s help and defense? Psalm 68:1–18 looks forward to the opening portion of morning public worship on the coming Lord’s Day. In these eighteen verses of Holy Scripture, the Holy Spirit teaches us that Israel’s greatness is not in herself but in her King.

The current situationPsalm 68:1-3. This song is sung while there are still enemies of God. For those who have known their Bibles, this song has been sung and prayed in the hardest of times. But God is present, which has opposite results for the wicked (who perish in His presence, Psalm 68:2) and the righteous (who rejoice exceedingly in it, Psalm 68:3).

The God Who makes the differencePsalm 68:4-6. Yah (Psalm 68:4) is the high King in His holy habitation (Psalm 68:5b). But His concern from high in the clouds (Psalm 68:4b) is the lowest among the people: the fatherless and widow (Psalm 68:5a), the solitary (v6a) and those who are bound (Psalm 68:6b).

The Greatness of the Difference God MakesPsalm 68:7-14. How did the people make it through the wilderness? God went before them (Psalm 68:7)! What caused the heavens to drop manna (not rain, as our translation inserts in Psalm 68:8b) and Sinai to shake? The presence of our God (verse 8)! What caused the rain and fertility of the promised land? God’s confirming care (Psalm 68:9)! In all of these great works, God acted according to His compassion for the least among His people (Psalm 68:10).

And how did the people conquer the promised land (Psalm 68:12-14)? Armies and their kings were put to flight (Psalm 68:12a), while Israel was like the mothers and wives who simply waited for their champion to bring them the finest spoil (Psalm 68:12-13). Israel has no king; instead, she has God Who fights her battles for her!

But the center of the greatness is planted literarily between Psalm 68:8-10 and Psalm 68:12-14: the giving of the Word (Psalm 68:11). For, it is far greater that the people would be brought into fellowship with the living God than that they would be brought out of trouble from the enemy.

The Greatest Difference God MakesPsalm 68:15-18. The final verses of the first half of the Psalm focus on this greatest of differences. For, God has not only given His Word to His people, but He has even chosen to dwell among them Himself (Psalm 68:15-16). This is the ultimate plan of God (cf. Revelation 21:3). His people are His true “Sinai” (Psalm 68:17). 

But the One in Whom this difference is made is Immanuel—God with us (cf. Isaiah 7:14; Matthew 1:23). He is the Word (Psalm 68:11), become flesh and tabernacled among us (cf. John 1:14). And He Who descended into the lower parts of the earth (cf. Ephesians 4:9; the virgin’s womb, cf. Psalm 139:13–15) is He Who ascended on high and led captivity captive (Psalm 68:18, cf. Ephesians 4:8). In Jesus, God Himself has ascended His throne as a Man, and by the gifts that He gives in His church, He builds us up into Himself. He Himself, and everlasting and perfect fellowship with Him, is His greatest gift!

What circumstances present you with urgent needs? What gift from God do you need far more?

Sample prayer:  Lord, You have made Your holy dwelling place among Your people. In order that we might be safe and happy in Your presence, You Yourself have atoned for our sin. And it is in Yourself that You have brought us near to Yourself. So, make us to rejoice in Your presence, we ask in Your Name, Lord Jesus, AMEN!

Suggested songs: ARP68B “When With Your People You Went Forth” or TPH68B “O Lord, Thou Hast Ascended”

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