“Awesome is God from His sanctuary; . . . He is the one who gives power and strength to His people. Blessed be God!” (Psalm 68:35).

Please read Psalm 68. Underline its key words; circle the verse numbers that are special to you. Then consider the following reflections on an unusual Psalm filled with joy and thanksgiving for the power and greatness of God.

“Awesome is God from His sanctuary; . . . He is the one who gives power and strength to His people. Blessed be God!” (Psalm 68:35).

King David begins by tracing the history of God’s providential care in Israel’s history. With confident faith he declares: “God shall arise, His enemies shall be scattered” (verse 1). These are almost the same words used by Moses as he led the children of Israel through the wilderness, moving the ark of the covenant from Sinai to Jerusalem, its ultimate destination. Whenever the ark set out, Moses prayed: “Arise, O Lord, and let your enemies be scattered” (Numbers 10:35). It was a call to the Lord of Host to lead His people safely along the way. God could do this because He rode “through the deserts” and “marched through the wilderness” (verse 4, 7). He defeated His enemies along the way, while women divided the spoil and sang: “The kings of the armies–they flee, they flee!” (verse 12). His enemies were scattered, blown away like smoke, melted like wax melts before fire (verse 2). God proved over and over that He was truly “Father of the fatherless and protector of widows” (verse 5). In all His goodness, God “provided for the needy” (verse 10). No other god was as powerful and protective as “the One of Sinai,” the “God of Israel” (verse 8). The one true God is still all-powerful! “The righteous shall be glad; they shall exult before God; they shall be jubilant with joy!” (verse 3).

The theme verse quoted above states that God is “awesome” — a word which originally meant “full of terror” then much later came to mean “amazing, astonishing, marvelous, stupendous, sublime, wonderful, and worthy of praise.” When used of God we should not think of the weakened word “awesome” which has evolved in modern English to describe a good sandwich, a large library, a piece of rock music or a child’s poster made in art class. Words may fail to express the full meaning of “awe,” but we know it when we experience it! God is “awesome” in the sense that His holiness, power, actions, character and blessings evoke deep reverence in our hearts, an overwhelming feeling of astonishment at His marvelous greatness. Psalm 68 is about our awesome God before whom we are motivated to bow in His presence, to be astounded at His greatness and to praise Him for all He has done and continues to do.

Maclaren, a Bible commentor wrote: “This superb hymn is unsurpassed, if not unequalled, in grandeur, lyric fire, and sustained rush of triumphant praise.”

God chose Mount Zion as His dwelling place. His choice was not based on physical beauty or geographical height (there were other mountains in the northern fringe of Bashan that rose over 9,000 feet with multiple peaks more striking in appearance (verse 15). God did not choose any of the peaks of Bashan. The ark of God found its home on Mount Zion, a mere 2,500 feet above sea-level and not known for any peaks. How like God–to choose what is lowly and insignificant over what is impressive as His holy mountain! (verse 15). There “thousands upon thousands” of God’s chariots would await his orders (verse 16). We join the psalmist as he rejoiced in the all-powerful God: “Blessed be the Lord, who daily bears us up; God is our salvation” (verse 19).

Centuries later the apostle Paul quoted Psalm 68:8 when He spoke concerning Jesus: “When He ascended on high He led a host of captives, and He gave gifts to men” (Ephesians 4:8). Paul said Jesus Christ, “descended to the lower regions of the earth, then ascended far above the heavens”! The “gifts” He gave to men were “apostles, prophets, evangelists, shepherds and teachers” who will faithfully teach the word of God to the Body of Christ so His church will “attain the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood” (Ephesians 4:12-14). People who think the church of Christ is unimportant need to contemplate the fact that God planned its establishment, prophesied its spiritual mission, announced that its head would ascend back to heaven and gave gifts of leadership in Psalm 68. Something that important to God ought to be very important to us!

David declared that “God settles the solitary in a home; He leads out the prisoners to prosperity” (verse 6). It is a beautiful picture of the church, where even today those who are alone, who have no earthly family to turn to in the hour of need, find the greatest family on earth, a family of brothers and sisters, mothers and fathers and children all around them (Mark 10:29-31). Many have discovered that the spiritual family in Christ is closer to them than their physical, earthly family. In addition, the psalmist declares that God “leads out the prisoners.” This is especially true for those who have found themselves enslaved by sinful habits, addictions, poor decisions, enduring the loss of both physical and spiritual freedom! Jesus promised: “You shall know the truth and the truth will set you free” (John 8:32). In God’s church-family we are able to live as “people who are free” (1 Peter 2:16).

Our blessed God wants people of all nations, colors and languages to hear the joyful news of salvation. The gospel should be proclaimed in Israel, Africa and other “kingdoms of the earth” (verse 32). (Gentile) Kings “shall bear gifts” to God (verse 29). “Nobles shall come from Egypt; Cush shall hasten to stretch out her hands to God” (verse 31). The divine mission to spread the message of salvation is the greatest, most important mission ever assigned to mankind! Because Christians take this great commission seriously, we anticipate that on the morning of the resurrection we will see the fruits of our labors: people of all races, cultures and ages enter the gates of heaven. God will give light and “by its light will the nations walk, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it.” On either side of heaven’s river the “tree of life” will bear fruit “for the healing of the nations” (Revelation 21:23-24; 22:2). The universal church is God’s vehicle for accomplishing the spread of the gospel (Ephesians 3:10). Each of us should ask ourselves: what am I doing to take the gospel to those at home and in the nations of the world?

Praising God for all He is and all He has done is certainly an important thing for individual believers to do in the privacy of their own homes and among their own family members. However, there is another place where it is important for us to praise God: in the assembled church. The psalmist wrote: “Bless God in the great congregation” (verse 26). It is vital that all Christians find a place to serve and praise our Blessed God in the local congregation of God’s church. God’s people from every nation should “sing praises to the Lord…to Him who rides in the heavens; the ancient heavens.” (Verse 32-33). Let each one of us “Ascribe power to God” because “He is the one who gives power and strength to His people” (verse 35). “Let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near” (Hebrews 10:24-25).

During the COVID-19 pandemic most of us have been unable to assemble as a church. Now that things have improved in our nation, we are anxious to assemble together. This will not only be our privilege; it will be our duty.

As we go about our duties this day, remember three simple words:

“Blessed be God!” (verse 35).

(All scripture quotations are from the English Standard Version.)


About davidtarbet1

Minister of Evangelism, Church of Christ, New Milford, Connecticut Editor: Christ for Today Director, The White Rock Fund, Dallas, Texas
This entry was posted in assembly, awesome, Bashan, COVID-19, Ephesians 4:8-14, God Leads Out Prisoners, God Settles the Solitary in Homes, God's Power, Hebrews 10:24-25, importance of the Church, Mt. Zion, Numbers 10:35, Revelation 21:23-24, Revelation 22:2, Sing Praises. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to PSALM 68

  1. Tarbet Paula says:

    Very good thoughts & encouraging always.

  2. keithbodling says:

    Loved the encouraging words. Thanks David

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