(A Psalm that explores the Old Testament story of salvation represented by the ark leading God’s chosen people from the desert areas outside of Egypt to the top of God’s holy mountain, Zion in Jerusalem and how that alludes to our salvation from death to eternal life through Jesus death on the cross to his ascension back into heaven)

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When I was young I grew up in an Anglican church that worshipped with some pomp and ceremony. I was in the church choir as a boy and we dressed in robes covered with a white surprise and we would march or process into the church singing the opening hymn and march or process out of the church during the singing of the final hymn.

This has all changed now and that church and the one I attend now do not wear robes of any sort and there is no processing in and out of the church however there are many Anglican churches who still worship this way and they are usually known as high Anglican churches as opposed to my church which is known as low Anglican.

However in the worship of the ancient Hebrews in bible times processions or marches to and from worship were a vital part of worship in those days. These processions would have been both colourful and noisy as the priests wore elaborate colourful clothing and lots of loud instruments were played like drums, cymbals and ancient trumpets and there was plenty of loud singing.

One of the most important and significant precessions recorded in the Old Testament was on the day the Ark of the covenant was taken from the house of a man named Obed – Edom to the city of Jerusalem and up to the top of a large hill there known a Mount Zion where David had erected a large tent called “The Sanctuary” which in Solomon’s day became the Temple, which was built on a near by hill to Zion called Mount Mariah recorded in the bible in 2 Samuel 6 and 1 Chronicles 15: and 16. As we saw from Psalm 24 this great ascension of the ark was the climax of the Old Testament story of the salvation of the people of Israel.

In the New Testament another important ascension takes place namely when Jesus rises from the dead after dying on the cross for our sins and ascends into heaven. One final ascension has not happened yet and this ascension is on the last day when Jesus returns and all believers will rise from the dead and ascend into heaven and all non believers will be judged or their sins and rebellion to the rule of God in their lives.

Psalm 68 seems to be a hymn or song composed by David for the great day of the procession of the Ark of the Covenant into Jerusalem. This Psalm and Psalm 24 were probably sung on that day with great joy and rejoicing.

As opposed to Psalm 24, Psalm 68 is long and at times very complex and Old Testament scholars point out a number of verses that have proven to be hard to translate. Even with these problems H.C Leupold quotes and commentator named Maclaren who makes this apt assessment of the Psalm,

“This superb hymn is unsurpassed of not unequalled, in grandeurs, lyric fire, and sustained rush of triumphant praise”.

I hope my explanation of what this Psalm has to say to us today comes close to Maclaren assessment of this Psalm.

I have chosen the theme of “Procession” or “The procession of the mighty saving God of the Bible” as it turns out even Paul saw it this when he quoted verse 18 and of this Psalm and what he sees as its application for us as Christian believers in Ephesians 4: 7 – 13,

“But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it. This is why itsays:”

‘When he ascended on high, he took many captives and gave gifts to his people.’

 (What does “he ascended” mean except that he also descended to the lower, earthly regions? He who descended is the very one who ascended higher than all the heavens, in order to fill the whole universe.)

 So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ”.

The Old Testament story of how he saved Israel out of Egypt is a prelude to how he eventually made a way for all people to be saved from the penalty of their sins through the death and resurrection of his Son Jesus Christ.

All through my explanation of this Psalm I will refer to this as the Psalm only makes sense to us as Christian believers with what Christ has done for us in view.

As I have said before the New Testament interprets the Old Testament and the New Testament is better understood by this interpretation of the Old Testament.

My breakdown of this Psalm is:


We must always remember when interpreting the Psalms that we a dealing with poetry which uses images and ideas that carry with them much meaning and teaching concerning God and his ways. The images in this Psalm come from the concept of the procession of the ark from desert to mountaintop, from captivity in Egypt to the giving of the law at Mount Sinai and then through the wilderness to the Promised Land and eventually to Jerusalem and one of its hills called Mount Zion.

Even though the Psalm never mentions the Ark of the Covenant directly the poetic images of this Psalm all point to it. There are clues we can see that this was written for the arks final journey ascension from the house of a Gentile man called Obed – Edom to up into Jerusalem and finally installed in the Sanctuary on Mount Zion that became the Temple on Mount Mariah a neighboring Hill in Jerusalem of Mount Zion and is now known as The Temple Mount that David bought from a gentile man who used the land as a threshing floor.

The first clue to the idea that this Psalm was a song composed for the procession of the Ark of the Covenant up and into Jerusalem is the Jewish heading, which reads,

“For the director of music. Of David. A psalm. A song”

So this Psalm was written by David and was written to be sung in worship as it was given to the director of music for some obvious momentous occasion during his reign

We will see more and more clues throughout this Psalm to the conclusion that this Psalm was written for the procession of the Ark of the Covenant into Jerusalem.

I have broken this first section of the Psalm into three parts:

  1. A call for the Ark of the Covenant to start it’s journey (1 – 2)
  2. A call to all in the procession to praise God (3 – 4)
  3. God’s classic provision of deliverance (5 – 6) 
  1. A call for the Ark of the Covenant to start it’s journey (1 – 2)

The opening verse of this Psalm reads;

“May God arise, may his enemies be scattered; may his foes flee before him.”

This verse mirrors and echoes the very words Moses spoke each time the Israelites broke camp in the wilderness and commenced being led by God on a great procession through the wilderness following the Ark of the covenant and this is recorded in Numbers 10: 35;

“Whenever the Ark set out, Moses said,

‘Rise up, O Lord! May your enemies be scattered; may your foes flee before you”.

Throughout the Arks procession went the enemies Israel encountered where defeated.

In the book of Joshua Rahab in the walled city of Jericho told the spies Joshua sent into the city the report of this procession through the wilderness with these words:

“We have heard how the Lord dried up the water of the Red Sea for when you came out of Egypt, and what you did to Sihon and Og, the two kings of the Amorites east of the Jordon, whom you completely destroyed”.

Of course this procession of the Ark of the Covenant continued into the Promised Land and it went around the walled city of Jericho 7 days and once the trumpets were sounded God caused the walls to fall down so that the people of Jericho were scattered and destroyed.

It was not that the ark of the covenant had some kind of power in itself like the Indian Jones movies presented but rather it was the Lord God of Israel who gave them power and the ark of the covenant was the earthly symbol of God going ahead and with them.

The New Testament speaks of Jesus making a way for us into heaven and even uses the concept of him leading a great procession into heaven which Paul refers to in Ephesians 4: 7 – 10 when he quotes verse 18 of this Psalm,

‘When he ascended on high, he took many captives and gave gifts to his people.’

 (What does “he ascended” mean except that he also descended to the lower, earthly regions? He who descended is the very one who ascended higher than all the heavens, in order to fill the whole universe.)

Paul speaks of the procession of Christ into heaven in 2 Corinthians 2: 14 where he probably has the Roman victory processions that took place in Rome when their armies returned for a triumphant victory over an enemy of Rome,

“But thanks be to God, who always leads us as captives in Christ’s triumphal procession and uses us to spread the aroma of the knowledge of him everywhere”.

Note that Paul sees this a triumphant march or procession just as it was physically for the Israelites against its enemies so it is for us spiritually against the great spiritual enemies of God which Paul speaks about in Ephesians 6: 10.

The second verse of the Psalm also has elusions to the procession of the Ark of the Covenant in the wilderness when it reads,

“As smoke is blown away by the wind, may you blow them away; as wax melts before the fire, may the wicked perish before God”,

This is of course is a poetic description of the victories Israel had over God’s enemies in the wilderness, the conquest of the land and in the time of Judges and Kings up to the writing of this Psalm by David for the procession of the Ark of the Covenant into Jerusalem.

The enemies of God had no chance of beating the God of heaven and earth and where like smoke blown away by the wind and like a candle burning away by a fire.

But interestingly Numbers 9 speaks of a cloud the tabernacle were the Ark of the Covenant sat covered over it and it was like fire, Numbers 9: 15 – 18,

“On the day the tabernacle, the tent of the covenant law, was set up, the cloud covered it. From evening till morning the cloud above the tabernacle looked like fire.That is how it continued to be; the cloud covered it, and at night it looked like fire.Whenever the cloud lifted from above the tent, the Israelites set out; wherever the cloud settled, the Israelites encamped”.

So when the fire like cloud lifted and was as it were blown away the Ark of the Covenant was packed up and moved leading the procession of the people through the wilderness.

Verse 2 finishes with what will happen to those who oppose God and his people and it simply says, “the wicked perish before God” as the enemies of Israel and their God did in the wilderness and in the land of Canaan that became God’s promised land for his people.

  1. A call to all in the procession to praise God (3 – 4)

Verses 3 and 4 answers the question of how the people of God in this victorious procession are to act as they followed the Ark of the Covenant?

Verses 3 and 4,

“But may the righteous be glad and rejoice before God; may they be happy and joyful. Sing to God, sing praise to his name, extol him who rides on the clouds – his name is the Lord – rejoice before him”.

When the actual procession of the Ark of the Covenant actually went up into Jerusalem from the house of Obed – Edom Samuel tells us this in 2 Samuel 6: 12 – 15,

“Now King David was told, “The Lordhas blessed the household of Obed-Edom and everything he has, because of the ark of God.” So David went to bring up the ark of God from the house of Obed-Edom to the City of David with rejoicing.When those who were carrying the ark of the Lordhad taken six steps, he sacrificed a bull and a fattened calf.Wearing a linen ephod, David was dancing before the Lordwith all his might,while he and all Israel were bringing up the ark of the Lordwith shouts and the sound of trumpets”.

This is a perfect outworking of how the Psalm says the people are to act when in the procession of the carrying the Ark of the Covenant in Psalm 68. The people and particularly David where:

  1. Glad and rejoiced
  2. Happy and joyful
  3. Full of songs of praise
  4. Rejoiced before the Lord.

Verse 4 and verse 33 reference to “the God who rides on the clouds” and in verse 33 “to him who rides the ancient skies above, who thunders with a mighty voice”, echo’s teaching we saw in Psalm 29 where God’s voice is the power of the thunder storm.

The God Baal is said by its followers to be riding his chariot across the sky during a thunder storm but the God of Israel is more powerful than Baal as Psalm 29: 10 and 11 declare,

“The Lordsits enthroned over the flood; the Lordis enthroned as King forever.
The Lordgives strength to his people; the Lordblesses his people with peace”.

Here in Psalm 68 the one who rides on the clouds is not Baal but “The Lord” of heaven and earth who we know from Psalm 29: 10 also,

“Sits enthroned over the flood; the Lordis enthroned as King forever”.

We read again the end of verse 4 says,

“Rejoice before him”

Paul taught in a number of places that the Christian life should be lived in an attitude of praise and rejoicing as he teaches in Philippians 4: 4,

“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!”

In 1 Thessalonians 5: 16 – 18 Paul makes it even clearer how we are to live the Christian life which I see is being part of God’s great procession to heaven following Christ,

 “Rejoice always,pray continually,18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus”.

  1. God’s classic provision of deliverance (5 – 6)

My title for verses 5 to 6, “God’s classic provision of deliverance” is inspired by these words of Derek Kidner,

”That deliverance was the classic provision for the homeless, liberation for prisoners and chastening for the rebels”.

These two verses aptly describe the people of Israel in bondage in Egypt and how God delivered them from homelessness, imprisonment in Egypt to salvation and then to being lead in a victorious procession to the Promised Land. The verses read then like this,

”A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling. God sets the lonely in families, he leads forth the prisoners with singing; but the rebellious live in a sun- drenched land”.

So in Egypt owing to the harsh treatment of the Egyptians many Israelites were fatherless, husbandless and certainly all where prisoners as slaves to the Egyptian Pharaoh yet God led Israel forth and as they followed the Ark of the Covenant in the wilderness.

Then he led them victorious into the promised land so they could sing of his deliverance from the enemies of God. Those who sought to defy God are described here as “The Rebellious” and it is like they were left out to rot and dry in a sun – drenched land.

These verses also aptly describe the mission and ministry of Jesus as Jesus makes it clear in Matthew 9: 12 – 13,

“On hearing this, Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick.But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice. For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”

Jesus demonstrated this teaching by his association with tax collectors, prostitutes and even lepers, the social outcasts of his day.

From these kinds of people Jesus called to follow him. The disciples themselves were very ordinary men on the whole who Jesus called and who through the empowerment of the Holy Spirit built the church of Jesus Christ that still continues to this day.

Paul says this about God’s classic provision of deliverance in 1 Corinthians 1: 26 – 30,

“Brothers and sisters, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong.God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are,so that no one may boast before him. It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption”.

I will let James in the bible have the last word on this in James 1: 27,

“Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world”. 


 In the second section of this Psalm David decides to describe poetically the procession of the Ark of the Covenant from its creation at Mount Sinai through the desert wilderness and into the Promised Land of Israel and then up to the city of Jerusalem and on to Mount Zion its final resting place. Although it was moved in the time of Solomon when he built the Temple to another hill in Jerusalem called then Mount Mariah, which became known and is still known today as The Temple Mount.

I have broken this second section of the Psalm into 3 parts:

  1. God’s victorious procession through the desert (7 – 10)
  2. God’s victorious procession leads to victory over his enemies (11 – 14)
  3. God’s victorious procession leads to the mountain top of Zion (15 – 18)
  1. God’s victorious procession through the desert (7 – 10)

The Ark of the Covenant was simply a box that contained the two tablets of stone that God himself wrote the basis of his law the 10 commandments on Mount Sinai in the wilderness outside of Egypt. It also contained samples of Manna (which was the special food God supplied Israel during their wilderness wanderings) and Aarons rod.

The dimensions of this box and how it was to be made and what materials it was to be made of was given by God (see Exodus 25). Even who and how it was to be carried by, God set down. How it was to be carried was a fact David discovered to his horror when he first tried to move the Ark of the Covenant in an ad hock way and a man died as a result.

So the early stages of the Procession of the Ark commence this second part of the Psalm. We read in verse 7,

“When you went out before your people, O God, when you marched through the wasteland”.

This is a clear and direct reference to the wilderness stage of the victorious procession of the Ark of the Covenant, which represented God leading his people through the wilderness at that time.

When I was in Bible College in the early 1970’s a great debate was taking place about how the story of Israel’s wanderings in the desert and the conquest of the Promised land should be interpreted by Christians today.

Some argued that many Christian teachers and believers had spiritualized these historical events and that this was not the correct way of biblically understanding this part of the scriptures. I for a time thought this was so and avoided using what some call the “Wilderness Experience” as a way of explaining difficult times in the Christian life.

However I have changed or at least modified my position on this. My argument is that if we are to interpret the Old Testament by the New Testament then how does the New Testament interpret “The wilderness experience”?

The answer to this question might surprise you and I offer just one example of a New Testament writer’s interpretation of the wilderness experience of ancient Israel. It comes from the writings of Paul in 1 Corinthians 10: 1 – 14 which reads,

“For I do not want you to be ignorant of the fact, brothers and sisters, that our ancestors were all under the cloud and that they all passed through the sea.They were all baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea.They all ate the same spiritual foodand drank the same spiritual drink; for they drank from the spiritual rock that accompanied them, and that rock was Christ.Nevertheless, God was not pleased with most of them; their bodies were scattered in the wilderness.

Now these things occurred as examples to keep us from setting our hearts on evil things as they did.Do not be idolaters, as some of them were; as it is written: “The people sat down to eat and drink and got up to indulge in revelry. We should not commit sexual immorality, as some of them did—and in one day twenty-three thousand of them died.We should not test Christ, as some of them did—and were killed by snakes. And do not grumble, as some of them did—and were killed by the destroying angel.

These things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us, on whom the culmination of the ages has come.So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall! No temptationhas overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be temptedbeyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it”.

Paul in this passage uses the wilderness experience of ancient Israel to warn the people of the church of Corinth about turning away from following the Lord and living the way he wants us to live. He is rightly saying the people of Israel in the wilderness generation only suffered the hardship of the wilderness because they had sinned by grumbling against the Lord and turned away from following his laws.

He even states in verse 4 that the rock the people drank from in the wilderness was Christ. This is referring to the incident in Exodus 17 where we have an example of the people of God in the wilderness grumbling and speaking against Moses and their God. This incident and others like the making of Idols to worship when God was giving Moses the law on Mount Sinai in Exodus 20 and the people grumbling and not having faith in God to help them defeat the people of Canaan after the spies report of the land of Canaan led God to say in Exodus 14: 20 – 26 – 35, is the reasons why the people of that time wandered for 40 years in the wilderness and only there children entered the promised land.

 “The Lordsaid to Moses and Aaron “How long will this wicked community grumble against me? I have heard the complaints of these grumbling Israelites. So tell them, ‘As surely as I live, declares the Lord, I will do to you the very thing I heard you say: In this wilderness your bodies will fall—every one of you twenty years old or more who was counted in the census and who has grumbled against me. Not one of you will enter the land I swore with uplifted hand to make your home, except Caleb son of Jephunneh and Joshua son of Nun.  As for your children that you said would be taken as plunder, I will bring them in to enjoy the land you have rejected. But as for you, your bodies will fall in this wilderness. Your children will be shepherds here for forty years, suffering for your unfaithfulness, until the last of your bodies lies in the wilderness. For forty years—one year for each of the forty days you explored the land—you will suffer for your sins and know what it is like to have me against you.’ I, the Lord, have spoken, and I will surely do these things to this whole wicked community, which has banded together against me. They will meet their end in this wilderness; here they will die.”

However even though only the people who grumbled against the Lord children will see the promised land along with Caleb and Joshua who had faith in God to help them be victorious in battle this did not stop God going out before them and leading them in a victorious procession through the wilderness as verse 7 declares in Psalm 68.

This then leads me to interpret and apply verse 7 that even if we sin and are chastised by God he is still with us helping us by guiding and guarding us if we turn back to him in faith and repentance.

Verse 8, speaks of the great day God spoke with Moses on the top of the mountain known as Mount Sinai it reads,

“The earth shook, the heavens poured down rain, before God, the God of Israel”.

Moses went up the mountain on that great day and the people waited at the foot of the mountain and Exodus 19: 16 – 19 describes the events of that day this way,

“On the morning of the third day there was thunder and lightning, with a thick cloud over the mountain, and a very loud trumpet blast. Everyone in the camp trembled.Then Moses led the people out of the camp to meet with God, and they stood at the foot of the mountain.

Mount Sinai was covered with smoke, because the Lorddescended on it in fire. The smoke billowed up from it like smoke from a furnace, and the whole mountain trembled violently.As the sound of the trumpet grew louder and louder, Moses spoke and the voice of God answered him”.

Note how Exodus 19 describes that when God descended on the Mount Sinai there was a great thunderstorm and lightning and verse 8 of Psalm 68 says, “the heavens poured down rain” which is of course another aspect of a thunderstorm.

Spurgeon commenting on this verse and particularly these words in Exodus 19 says this,

“The passage is so sublime, that it would be difficult to find its equal. May the reader’s heart adore the God before whom the unconscious earth and sky act as if they recognised their maker and were moved with a tremor of reverence”.

Verse 9 speaks of God’s ongoing blessing on his people in his great victorious procession through the wilderness or desert. It reads,

“You gave abundant showers, O God; you refreshed your weary inheritance”

The people for forty years followed behind the Ark of the Covenant through the desert and God provided water, food in the forms of manna and quails and they were always refreshed and blessed even during this time of testing and discipline.

God only disciplines us according to Hebrews 12 because he loves us so even during difficult times we might have because of our sin and disobedience God will still bless us and provide for us. Listen to the excellent words of advice from the writer of the Hebrews in Hebrews 12: 5 – 13,

“And have you completely forgotten this word of encouragement that addresses you as a father addresses his son? It says, “My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and he chastens everyone he accepts as his son.  Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as his children. For what children are not disciplined by their father?If you are not disciplined—and everyone undergoes discipline—then you are not legitimate, not true sons and daughters at all.Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of spirits and live!They disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share in his holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.

Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees.Make level paths for your feet, so that the lame may not be disabled, but rather healed”.

Not that all difficult times in our lives are the result of our sins but they can be caused by the sin of others or are sent by God to test and prove our faith. However we can be assured that for whatever reason we might have a “Wilderness Experience” God will and does not leave us but provides what we need and more as we faithfully follow him in his victorious procession to heaven.

Finally in this first part of the second section is verse 10, which says,

“Your people settle in it, and from your bounty, O God, you provided for the poor”.

I think that David now jumps from the wilderness to the Promised Land and of course the victorious procession of God moved from the 40 years in the wilderness to the Promised Land. All battles led by Joshua followed the Ark of the Covenant the symbol of God being with his people through his covenantal agreement.

God led the people through the wilderness and into the promised land of Canaan and he guided and protected them in both situations. In the promised land he helped them, “Settle in it”, through many successful battles like the city of Jericho  and only the small city of Ai turned out to be a initial defeat for Joshua and Israel. Ai was initially a lost battle because of the sin of Achan who tried to take spoil from Jericho disobeying God’s direct orders. Once Achan’s sin was dealt with Joshua led a successful defeat of Ai.

The second half of verse 10,

“From your bounty, O God, you provided for the poor”

Probably refers to God’s help in defeating the people of Canaan and providing them with all they needed from these victories. Albert Barnes has a slightly different slant on this verse, which is very interesting. He believes the translation should be “tendered the congregations” Translations like the King James 2000 translate this verse like this;

“Your congregation has dwelt therein: you, O God, have provided of your goodness for the poor”.

If this is a better translation of this verse than Barnes comment on it is very worthwhile, he writes;

“For thy flock considered as poor or wretched. That is, Thou has provided for them they had no resources of their own – when they were a poor, oppressed and afflicted people – wanderers wholly dependent on God”.

We know from the New Testament that spiritually in ourselves we are poor and have nothing to bring to our salvation. As Paul makes it clear in Ephesians 2: 9 – 10,

“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast.For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do”.

We are spiritually like the people of Israel in the wilderness having come out of Egypt as slaves for 400 years and having spent 40 years wandering the desert we are poor and have nothing to offer for our salvation or deliverance.

However just as Israel were poor “God provided for them” and God in Christ has provided our salvation and all we have to do is turn in repentance and faith to God and accept God’s free gift of salvation.

  1. God’s victorious procession leads to victory over his enemies (11 – 14)

This second part of the second section of the Psalm spells out how God provided victory over his and Israel’s enemies when they joined in the victorious procession of the Ark of the Covenant.

Verse 11 says,

“The Lord announced the word, and great was the company of those who proclaimed it”.

 As Israel came up against enemies in the wilderness and in the land of Canaan when following the Ark of the Covenant they sought his help and over and over again they had victories over their enemies. The idea that Israel’s victories when following their God and this was part of God’s word to the world has come up in other Psalms before this like Psalm 64: 9,

“All mankind will fear; they will proclaim the works of God and ponder what he has done”.

 I commented in my Psalm talk on Psalm 64 about this principle with these words,

“Another good example of this is in Joshua chapter 2 when the Canaanite women who helped the spies said this about how her people reacted to the news of God helping the Israelites out of Egypt and in the wilderness. She says in verse 11,

“When we heard of it, our hearts melted in fear and everyone’s courage failed because of you, for the Lordyour God is God in heaven above and on the earth below”.

Note how all her fellow Canaanites reacted but it seems only Rahab the lowly prostitute turned that fear of the God of the Israelites into saving faith”.

I have now found that one of my most popular Psalm talks on my web blog page is Psalm 34, which has the title of, “The power of a God centred Testimony”. This Psalm deals with David’s miraculous escape from the Philistine city of Gath, Goliaths old hometown. In this Psalm David is testifying to how he in verse 4,

“Sought the Lord, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears”.

We too have a powerful testimony to tell the world of how we have been saved and transformed by believing and putting our faith in what Christ has done for us on the cross.

Verse 12 of Psalm 68 spells out with a bit more detail God’s provision for his people when they were following the victorious procession of the Ark of the Covenant. It reads,

“Kings and armies flee in haste; in the camps men divide the plunder”.

The first part of this verse is clear as it speaks of the Kings and their armies that opposed the procession of the Ark or the progress of the people of Israel in the wilderness and how they ultimately fled from the battle with the God of heaven and earth as he fought for them.

The second part of this verse has a variety of different translations as the Hebrew words and what they mean is not totally clear. Here is a different translation of this verse that sheds different light on what it might be saying, English Standard version,

“The kings of the armies—they flee, they flee!” The women at home divide the spoil—“

Yes this translation says the women of Israel and the women at home divide the plunder.

This translation introduces us to another key aspect of this Psalm and that is a lot of the verses in it came from the Song of Deborah found in Judges 5 and verses 28 to 30 of that song say this,

“Through the window peered Sisera’s mother; behind the lattice she cried out,
‘Why is his chariot so long in coming? Why is the clatter of his chariots delayed?’
The wisest of her ladies answer her; indeed, she keeps saying to herself,‘Are they not finding and dividing the spoils: a woman or two for each man, colourful garments as plunder for Sisera, colourful garments embroidered, highly embroidered garments for my neck— all this as plunder”?

The story of Deborah who led successfully the armies of Israel against a Canaanite king named Sisera is an amazing story on a number of fronts. Not to mention the fact that a women in Ancient Israel leading a army is incredible alone when women at that time were nothing more than the goods a chattels of a man. Even in Jesus time women status was much the same and it was only the Gospel message and the coming of the Spirit of God to all believers that has change this as Peter refers to in the first Christian sermon preached on the day of Pentecost in Acts 2: 17 – 18,

“‘In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, youryoung men will see visions;your old men will dream dreams.Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days, and they will prophesy”.

There are some who take the headship of a man in his home and I would say the church to the extreme by saying that women cannot preach or teach God’s word to mixed audiences where men are present as well. I am not one of them and I believe that women like anyone gifted by God to teach can do so under the leadership of the Holy Spirit and a man who is recognised as the head paster or minister of that church. Even when I preach or teach in the church I too must submit to the same leadership of the churches I visit and preach and teach in.

I must say I respect others both men and women who have a different biblical view on this just as I hope they would respect the view I have on this most controversial teaching in the age we live in.

So back to our verse 12 of Psalm 68, if the translation is correct that women divided the spoil or plunder than this adds to the humiliation of the defeated kings as Sisera found when he was defeated by a women who was part of a long line of people who were part of the great victorious procession of the ark of the Covenant.

Verse 13,

If verse 12 is speculation that it was inspired by the Song of Deborah in Judges 5 than the first part of verse 13 is clearly inspired by verse 16 of Deborah’s song. Let me show you what I mean here is Judges 5: 16,

“Why did you stay among the campfires to hear the whistling for the flocks in the district of Reuben there was much searching of heart”.

And now here is the first part of verse 13 of Psalm 68,

“Even while you sleep among the campfires”

Judges 5: 16 seems to refer to the men of Reuben who stayed back at their camp fires with their flocks of sheep rather than join the army of Israel led by Deborah against the Canaanite king Sisera who was not only defeated by a woman but killed by a woman who drove a tent peg into the temple of his head while he was sleeping.

So if verse 12 refers to women dividing the spoil or plunder of the defeated Canaanites then the first part of verse 13 refers to the men of Reuben who missed out on the plunder and it was the women of other tribes got the spoil or plunder instead.

The second half of verse 13 seems to be a poetic description of some of that spoil or plunder it reads;

“The wings of my dove are sheathed with silver, its feathers with shinning gold”.

The poetic description chosen to represent the spoil taken from the Canaanites probably continues a women’s perspective as we see from Benson’s explanation of these words in verse 13 of “the wings of my dove”,

“Beautiful and glorious, like the feathers of a dove, which, according to the variety of its postures, and of the light shining upon it, look like silver or gold. He is thought to

refer to the rich garments, or costly tents, which they took from the Midianites, and their other enemies, and which, either because of their various colours, or their being ornamented with silver and gold, resembled the colours of a dove, the feathers of whose wings or body glistered interchangeably, as with silver and gold”.

Verse 14 returns to the general over- all defeats of the Kings and nations of Canaan when the victorious procession of the Ark of the Covenant moved into the Promised Land. It reads,

“When the almighty scattered the kings in the land, it was like snow fallen on Zalmon”.

Zalmon seems to be reference to the snow -capped mountains near Shechem or even snow- capped mountains of Basham north of Israel in modern day Syria today.

Spurgeon explains the poetic image used here of snow on a mountain and its reference to the victorious precession of the Ark of the Covenant in the conquest of the Promised land with these words,

“The victory was due to the Almighty arm alone; he scattered the haughty ones who came against the people, and he did it as easily as snow is driven from the bleak sides of Zalmon”. 

  1. God’s victorious procession leads to the mountain top of Zion (15 – 18)

The final part of this second section of the Psalm deals with the climax and completion of the victorious precession of the Ark of the Covenant. As I pointed out in my Psalm 24 talk which we believe is another Psalm / Song written from the ascension of the Ark of the Covenant into Jerusalem this even marked the climax of the Old Testament story. A story, which began with Abraham being called by God to move from Ur of the Chaldeans to the land of Canaan, promised to his descendants.

The story continues to Joseph leading his people into Egypt and there they eventually became slaves of Pharaoh for 400 years eventual saved by God out of Egypt under the leadership of Moses. The story tells of how God made a Covenant with his people and gave them his law, which is summarised by the 10 commandments, which were written by God on to stone tablets and placed in The Ark of the Covenant.

That Ark of the Covenant was carried in front of the people and led a victorious procession through the 40 years of the wilderness wanderings and into Canaan, the Promised Land promised to Abraham and his descendants. This victorious procession included many great and miraculous victories over the enemies of God and Israel and eventually it led to the great day this Psalm was written for when The Ark of the Covenant was carried up into Jerusalem to its final resting place in the Sanctuary and eventually the Temple in God’s holy city of Jerusalem.

Verses 15 and 16 of Psalm describe this final resting place of the Ark of the Covenant this way,

“The mountains of Bashan are majestic mountains, rugged are the mountains of Bashan. Why gaze in envy, at the mountains, at the mountain where God chooses to reign, where the Lord himself dwell forever?”

David had just mentioned the mountain named a Zalmon part of a mighty mountain chain north of Jerusalem towards modern day Syria and he now refers to these mountains again making a amazing contrast of God’s choice of the mere hill of Zion compared to these beautiful breathtaking mountains.

To give you an idea of where these mountains are and why the choice of Zion is an amazing and in some way curious choice I would like to quote one modern writers description of the Mountains of Bashan on the internet, he writes,

“Bashan (including the Golan Heights and southern slopes of Mt. Harmon) stands at what was the northern boundary between Judea and the gentile world. Rising some 9200 feet above sea level, it is a beautiful and impressive site. Well watered, fruitful plains, rugged and snow-capped mountains, clearly the type of place you’d expect to find God”.

All through the bible the choice of God is often both curious and unique and in the case of the mountain he picked out for the special dwelling of his presence on earth in the Sanctuary and eventually temple another example of God’s mysterious choice is evident. David writes like the bigger and more impressive mountains are able to think and gaze down to Zion like a jealous person not happy with the choice of God.

David himself experienced the amazing choice of God who says this through the prophet Samuel when he was the unlikely chosen replacement to King Saul in 1 Samuel 16: 7,

“The Lord does not look at the things man looks at, Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart”.

God’s choice of whom he sets his love upon is a key subject in the New Testament as well. The most famous New Testament passage on this is Romans 9: 14 – 23,

“What then shall we say? Is God unjust? Not at all!

 For he says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy,and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion. It does not, therefore, depend on human desire or effort, but on God’s mercy.For Scripture says to Pharaoh: “I raised you up for this very purpose, that I might display my power in you and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.”Therefore, God has mercy on whom he wants to have mercy, and he hardens whom he wants to harden.

 One of you will say to me: Then why does God still blame us? For who is able to resist his will?”But who are you, a human being, to talk back to God? “Shall what is formed say to the one who formed it, ‘Why did you make me like this?’ Does not the potter have the right to make out of the same lump of clay some pottery for special purposes and some for common use?

 What if God, although choosing to show his wrath and make his power known, bore with great patience the objects of his wrath—prepared for destruction?What if he did this to make the riches of his glory known to the objects of his mercy, whom he prepared in advance for glory”

So God chose the small hill in the city of Jerusalem called Zion as the final resting place of the Ark of the Covenant the physical symbol of God’s abode in heaven now linked with his people Israel through his covenant of grace.

Verse 17 and 18 describe the climax of the victorious procession of the Ark of the Covenant. Verse 17 continues something of the thoughts in verse 16,

“The chariots of God are tens of thousands and thousands of thousands; the Lord has come, from Sinai into his Sanctuary”

If the mountains of Bashan thought Zion was a poor choice for the place of the Sanctuary of God that housed the Ark of Covenant because it unlike them it was a poor choice for its defence than, get this, David says God’s chariots and his heavenly armies of thousands of thousands will defend it.

The victories through the wilderness and in the taking of the Promised Land are a testimony to God’s power and might alone. From Sinai to Zion God’s victorious procession has moved on unhindered by all kinds of earthy opposition.

Finally the central verse of this Psalm appears in verse 18, which I said in my introduction was quoted by Paul in Ephesians 4: 8. Verse 18 says,

“When you ascended on high, you took many captives; you received gifts from people, even fromthe rebellious—that you, LordGod, might dwell there”.

This verse also seems to have taken some of its inspiration from the Song of Deborah in Judges 5: 12,

“Wake up, wake up, Deborah!Wake up, wake up, and break out in song!Arise, Barak!Take captive your captives, son of Abinoam”.

Kidner aptly explains what this verse is actually saying with these words,

“As the Ark, the throne of the invisible God, leads the procession up to its resting place, its progress is a victory march completing the exodus”.

Paul gives us the right Christian interpretation of this verse in Ephesians 4: 7 – 13,

He sees the death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus into heaven as God’s great victory over sin and won for us the bounty of our salvation and the gifts of grace so that we can serve him in this life unto we like Jesus ascend ourselves into heaven. Pauls way of saying this is verse 13,

“Until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ”.

When God gave Israel victory over their enemies in the wilderness and into the Promised Land they through there captivity of them received great material gifts or spoil but through Jesus great victory on the cross and the captives he made we receive great spiritual gifts.

Israel received the material gifts to help set up God’s kingdom on earth but we received God’s gifts of service to establish the Kingdom of heaven. The Ark of the Covenant led a victorious procession into the Promise Land and up and into Jerusalem. Jesus leads a great victorious procession of believers up and into heaven, which the Ark of the Covenant only represented.


It seems that the climax and end of the Psalm has been reached by verses 17 and 18 but in fact we have only come to the middle of this long and amazing Psalm. For now David wants to help us understand what this great victorious precession will bring to his people Israel.

I have broken this third section of the Psalm into three parts as well:

  1. God’s victorious procession gives us victory over death and our enemies (19 – 23)
  2. Gods’ victorious procession comes into sharp view (24 – 27)
  3. God’s victorious procession leads to the Salvation of the world (28 – 31)


  1. God’s victorious procession gives us victory over death and our enemies (19 – 23)

David now wants his people to sing as they march in this great victorious procession of the Ark of the Covenant of the benefits it brings or more particularly the benefits his salvation brings to his people.

In verse 19 he speaks of the daily practical benefits that God’s Salvation represented by God’s physical evidence of his covenant agreement with his people, which is the Old Testament means of Salvation.

Verse 19 speaks of these practical daily benefits this way,

“Praise be to the Lord, to God our Savoir, who daily bears our burdens”

Even in David’s time the benefits of there Salvation in God was not just pie in the sky when they die. Each day God promised to be with them helping them to daily bear their burdens.

Like wise we to are not just following Jesus for the benefits of heaven when we die but Jesus promises to be with us always and in Matthew 11: 28 – 29 he promises to daily help us bear our burdens,

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls”.

Throughout the Psalms of David and through the story of his life in 1 and 2 Samuel and the book of 1 Chronicles we see David going to God in prayer as he faced tremendous burdens and over and over again David finds God helping him carry those burdens. In Psalm 55 verse 22, David says this,

“Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous fall”.

In verse 20 David states the supreme example of God’s help in bearing our burdens, the ultimate burden of life for all us, death.

He writes,

“Our God is a God who saves; from the Sovereign Lord comes escape from death”.

Kidner writes,

“Escape means literally “exit” or “going forth”, and the Christian can reflect with David that while death is apparently a domain with many entrances and no exits, God has made one from which “he brought me forth”.

The victorious procession of the Ark of the Covenant led Israel up into Jerusalem and the earthly representation of heaven on earth the Sanctuary or the Temple but Jesus leads us up and into heaven itself something Old Testament people like David only looked forward to but we look back to how it has been done by God through the death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus Christ God’s Son.

At the end of a long passage in 1 Corinthians 15 that deals with the resurrection of the body Paul makes some amazing claims about God’s victory over death for all Christian believers, 1 Corinthians 15: 54 – 57,

“When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory. “Where, O death is your victory? Where, O death is your sting?”

The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law.But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ”.

Yes in Christ we have the full assurance of escape from death David only looked forward to by faith.

In the next 3 verses of this first part of the third section of this Psalm David goes on to talk about victory over his enemies and because he is the Lord’s anointed King, which we first pick up in Psalm 2, his enemies are God’s enemies also.

Verse 21 says,

“Our God will crush the heads of his enemies, the hairy crowns of those who go on in their sins”.

This verse is saying that God will not only have victory over his enemies he will totally overthrow them poetically portrayed as the crushing of their heads.

Interestingly there is a reference to the crushing of the head of a enemy of Israel in the song of Deborah when Deborah refers to the sticky end of her enemy king, Sisera in Judges 5: 26 – 27,

“Her hand reached for the tent peg, her right hand for the workman’s hammer.
She struck Sisera, she crushed his head, she shattered and pierced his temple.
 At her feet he sank, he fell; there he lay. At her feet he sank, he fell; where he sank, there he fell—dead”.

The strange expression of the hairy crowns is explained well by Kidner when he writes,

“May allude to a practice of leaving the locks unshorn in the hope that wholeness and strength would be thereby preserved”.

God’s enemies can do nothing to stop God’s victory over them a concept explored in the next verse, 22, which says,

“The Lord says, “I will bring them from Bashan; I will bring them from the depths of the sea”.

The enemies of God might flee to the top of great mountains; again David uses Bashan as an illustration of a great mountain. They might even try and hide in the sea and of course Jonah discovered that an ocean is no hiding place from God.

No they can do nothing and go anywhere to avoid God’s judgement of his enemies. Amos puts it this way when speaking of God’s own people, Israel trying to escape his coming judgment in Amos 9: 2 – 3,

“Though they dig down to the depths below, from there my hand will take them.
Though they climb up to the heavens above, from there I will bring them down.
Though they hide themselves on the top of Carmel, there I will hunt them down and seize them. Though they hide from my eyes at the bottom of the sea, there I will command the serpent to bite them”.

The New Testament speaks in a similar way about how all kinds of people on God’s judgment day will try and hide from the coming judgment of God without success, like Revelations 6: 15 – 17,

Then the kings of the earth, the princes, the generals, the rich, the mighty, and everyone else, both slave and free, hid in caves and among the rocks of the mountains.

 They called to the mountains and the rocks, “Fall on us and hide usfrom the face of him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb!17 For the great day of theirwrath has come, and who can withstand it?”

Verse 23 then speaks of what God will do to his enemies once he has found them,

“That you may plunge your feet in blood of your foes, while the tongues of your dogs have their share”.

This is a difficult verse for bible scholars to both translate and interpret but I found that it was Albert Barnes who cleared up both the translation and interpretation for me, he writes,

“A more literal rendering would be, ‘That thou mayest crush – thy foot in blood – the tongue of thy dogs from the enemies, from him’. The idea of ‘dipping’ the foot in blood is not in the passage directly, but the leading thought is that of ‘crushing’ the enemy”.

Concerning the image of the tongues of dogs having their share, Barnes explains,

“The tongues of dogs would be employed in licking up the blood of the enemies”.

This is a gruesome poetic image of the fate of God’s enemies but it seems to suggest both devastation and humiliation which the Judgment of God will bring and did bring in Old testament times as the victorious procession of the Ark of the Covenant met God’s enemies in bloody battle.

  1. Gods’ victorious procession comes into sharp view (24 – 27)

Suddenly in the middle of this third section of the Psalm David seems to be describing the actual victorious procession of the Ark of the Covenant probably as it was on the day the Ark of the Covenant ascended into Jerusalem. It is just like the procession has come round the corner and David is on the roadside describing this great procession.

Why did David put a description of the procession of the Ark of the Covenant in this section of the Psalm?

I think the context of this section answers this question. David has just told us that God’s Salvation, which I think he saw the victorious procession of the Ark of the Covenant, was its earthly representation which had given them victory over death and their enemies and now he wants them to know both physically and spiritually where God’s Salvation will lead them to.

Let me explain, first of all Israel was only saved because God chose to choose them out of his grace to be his special people. To do this he made a covenant agreement with Israel and the agreement was that if they keep his law, summed up by the 10 commandments he would bless them or save them. However if they did not remain faithful to God and showed this by disobeying his law then he would not bless them.

Israel of course throughout the Old Testament failed to keep God’s law and they often were judged by God for this and punished.

However God’s covenant was not a failure because God provided a way for the law to be kept and the sin created by not obeying the law to be paid for. This was all achieved by the coming of Jesus who lived a sinless life and who died on the cross to pay for our sins. So that we could be saved and blessed by God through the grace of God in Christ which is given to us as a gift through faith in him.

Listen to Paul saying exactly this in Romans 3: 21 – 26,

“But now apart from the law the righteousness of God has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify.This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, through the shedding of his blood—to be received by faith. He did this to demonstrate his righteousness, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished—he did it to demonstrate his righteousness at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus”.

Back then to Psalm 68, David knew that The Ark of the Covenant represented God’s covenant agreement with his people Israel and that agreement which created Israel’s special relationship with God was what led his people victoriously from Sinai to Zion.

Zion and the Sanctuary and later Temple on it represented Gods heavenly dwelling with his people on earth so to David the sight of the victorious procession of the Ark of the Covenant going up into Jerusalem and onto Mount Zion was a physical representation of God taking him and people into heaven itself.

So as we read David’s description of this great victorious procession of the Ark of the Covenant we will look at it on two levels: The physical or earthly level and two on the spiritual or heavenly level.

I have broken this description into four titles:

  1. The procession that leads us to heaven (vs. 24)
  2. The procession that is full of singing and music (vs. 25)
  3. The procession that is characterised by praise to God (vs.26)
  4. The procession that contains all levels of human society (vs. 27)


  1. The procession that leads us to heaven (vs. 24)

 David sights the victorious procession of the Ark of the Covenant and says this,

“Your procession has come into view O God, the procession of my God and King into the sanctuary:”

Note that David does not just see a box being carried up into Jerusalem and onto Mount Zion and the sanctuary he sees what that box or Ark represented non -other than God his king or Lord.

Even for the Christian earthly symbols are important and Jesus knew this so he gave us two namely Baptism and The Holy Communion. Jesus knew how prone we are as human beings to making earthly things into idols so he made these two earthly symbols things that are difficult to be turned into idols.

However even these two Christ given earthly symbols have been corrupted by Christians throughout the ages and even today. Take the communion or breaking of bread and drinking of wine which Jesus said this about the eating of the broken bread in Luke 22: 19,

“This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me”.

Some have taken the words of Jesus literally and turn the bread in their communion service into the actual body of Christ rather than a symbol of it and this has lead them to worship the communion elements not the person the elements help us to remember.

Maybe even some of the Jewish people in David’s time and after fell into the same trap and worshipped the box or Ark rather than who and what the Ark represented.

Then David speaks of where this procession leads to, namely, “the sanctuary” which of course was the earthly or physical representation of God’s heavenly dwelling on earth. This means David believed that by following God the King in this life would lead the follower into heaven itself.

David has spoken about this in a number of Psalms before like Psalm 15 verses 1,

“Lord, who may dwell in your sanctuary? Who may live on your Holy Hill?

 Which is not speaking about just the physical and earthly Holy Hill but heaven itself. We see this more clearly from Psalm 33 verses 13 and 14,

“From heaven the Lord looks down and sees all mankind; from his dwelling place he watches all who live on earth”.

 The book of Hebrews uses a lot of Old Testament images and concepts to teach us what Jesus has done is doing and will do for us. Listen to these words from Hebrews 4: 14 – 16 which is about Jesus who is our God and King who leads us into heaven itself but is and will help us on our journey there,

“Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven,Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess.For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need”.

  1. The procession that is full of singing and music (vs. 25)

David then describes this procession with the words of verse 25,

“In front are the singers, after them the musicians; with them are the maidens playing tambourines”

Music was a major feature of the worship of the ancient Hebrews and also characterises worship today of both Jews and Christians.

Music is so important to David as he spent much time composing new songs like this one for worship for his people in the Sanctuary in his day and the Temple from the time of Solomon and beyond.

Music was so important in the early days of the church that Paul has a special command to the church about it and its importance in Ephesians 5: 18 – 20,

“Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ”.

David believed that by being part of God’s great victorious procession we would be led into heaven itself and what is one of the things that will take place there?

Why it is singing and making heavenly music as John saw in his vision of Heaven in the book of Revelation. Listen to this description of heaven in Revelation 5: 8 – 13,

“And when he had taken it, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb. Each one had a harp and they were holding golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of God’s people.And they sang a new song, saying:

“You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because you were slain,
and with your blood you purchased for God persons from every tribe and language and people and nation. You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God, and they will reign[on the earth.”

 Then I looked and heard the voice of many angels, numbering thousands upon thousands, and ten thousand times ten thousand. They encircled the throne and the living creatures and the elders.In a loud voice they were saying:

“Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honour and glory and praise!”

Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all that is in them, saying: “To him who sits on the throne and to the Lambbe praise and honour and glory and power, for ever and ever!”

  1. The procession that is characterised by praise to God (vs.26)

We have just seen that in heaven there will be much wonderful singing and music but this singing and music has one great purpose and that is to give great praise to God in heaven. So it is in David’s description of the victorious precession of the Ark of the Covenant. He writes in verse 26,

“Praise God in the great congregation; praise the Lord in the assembly of Israel”.

As Christians gathering together to worship and serve each other we to are the great congregation of the Lord the church of Jesus Christ the assembly of God on earth. What should we do when we come together as this great congregation of God’s people on earth?

David’s answer is, “Praise God” and this is what Paul continually encouraged all the churches he wrote to do as we see from Colossians 3: 15 – 17,

“Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.

 Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him”.

  1. The procession that contains all levels of human society (vs. 27)

The final aspect of David’s description of the victorious procession of the Ark of the Covenant is a description of the type of people who took part in it and verse 27 tells us,

“There is the little tribe of Benjamin, leading them, there the great throng of Judah’s princes, and they’re the princes of Zebulon and of Naphtali”.

David now speaks of the types of people in the victorious procession of the Ark of the Covenant as it ascended into Jerusalem and his description covers the full social range of the Nation of Israel of that time.

He starts with an example of what would have been the lower end of Israel society those who were from the smallest tribe of Benjamin, which seems to have been chosen as the people to lead the procession after priests carrying the Ark and the singers and musicians. Kidner suggests why the little tribe of Benjamin might have been chosen to lead the people in the procession, he writes,

“Benjamin may have led the way in memory of the lead it took at Deborah’s battle (Judges 5: 14) or because Jerusalem was within there borders”.

I have a theory too and that is that Benjamin was the tribe the disgraced former king of Israel came from, King Saul and at this stage the prestige of his kingship would have turned very sourer in the minds of the people of the nation at that time. Benjamin truly was now a very lowly tribe not only because of its size. It up to recently through the Kingship of Saul was at the top of the social heap but now through Saul’s disgraced demise was at the bottom of Israel society of that time.

David then speaks of the other end of Israel society the princes or leaders of his own tribe Judah. Judah socially was now in the ascendancy through the recent elevation of David as king. He then speaks of leaders of two northern tribes Zebulun and Naphtali who probably brought up the rear.

So we can see from this description that people from all walks of life and society can and are members of God’s kingdom. As a young man I attended many Christian Conventions help in a place Called Katoomba west of Sydney in what is called The Blue Mountains not far from were I now live in the lower Blue Mountains and when I walked into the main convention hall I was always struck by the large sign at the front of the hall that read, “All one in Christ”.

“All one n Christ” is a term that comes from Pauls letter to the Galatians, Galatians 3: 26 – 28, which reads like this;

“You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus”.

I would consider myself all my life as coming from the lower end of society like Benjamin was in David’s day yet at those conventions I fellowshipped with those who were rich and powerful and who might have come form leading families in the church or society but as the sign said in the eyes of God we are, “All One in Christ”, praise his name!

  1. God’s victorious procession leads to the Salvation of the world (28 – 31)

Just like the victorious procession of the Ark of the covenant ascended up and up into Jerusalem from the plains where it had sat for a few months in a gentiles house of a man named Obed-Edom so this Psalm’s message goes up and up in its scope and grandeur.

In the third and final section of this Psalm the impact of the Ascension of the victorious procession of the Ark of the Covenant and its final resting place on earth is expressed for the world and large. By the time of Solomon David’s son after he had built the temple the prophet words of this third part had been for filled.

Verse 28 seems to be a call to God for God to show again his power and strength,

“Summon your power, O God; show us your strength, O God, as you have done before”.

David is thinking of the implications of the establishment to come soon of God’s Sanctuary and eventually Temple in Jerusalem. From Jerusalem now will be the focus of the witness of the one true God of heaven and earth. David is virtually saying to God bring it on, work your mighty deeds oh Lord from Jerusalem.

Indeed this is exactly what happened and even after 70 years of exile Jerusalem was the centre of the witness of God’s salvation for the world.

Finally it is in Jerusalem or just outside it that on another hill Jesus Christ the Son of God was crucified and the sins of the whole world were paid for for those who turn in faith to him and what he has done for them. As we see in the prophetic words of John the Baptist early in the ministry of Jesus recorded in John 1: 29,

“The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, ‘Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!”

Before I move to the next verse not David’s words at the end of verse 28,

”As you have done before”

David was able to always look back and see God at work, which gave him faith in God in both the present and future. We as Christians look back to Jesus and what he did for us and have faith for the day and future as the writer of the book of Hebrews says in Hebrews 2: 9,

“But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, now crowned with glory and honour because he suffered death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone”.

In the next three verses David looks into the future and sees the results of the victorious procession of the Ark of the Covenants final destination in the world.

In verse 29, David sees with the eyes of faith the Jerusalem sanctuary becoming a great temple that was built some years later by his son Solomon and how that Temple that would house the Ark of the Covenant would draw world leaders, Kings and Queens from the known world of that time, it reads,

Because of your temple at Jerusalem kings will bring you gifts”.

This prophecy of David was for filled even in Solomon time and we read in 1 Kings 10: 1 – 10 of a visit of another countries leader coming to Jerusalem and bringing great gifts because of the wise reign of Solomon and the splendour of his palace and the Temple he had built to glorify God.

When the queen of Sheba heard about the fame of Solomon and his relationship to the Lord, she came to test Solomon with hard questions.Arriving at Jerusalem with a very great caravan—with camels carrying spices, large quantities of gold, and precious stones—she came to Solomon and talked with him about all that she had on her mind.Solomon answered all her questions; nothing was too hard for the king to explain to her.When the queen of Sheba saw all the wisdom of Solomon and the palace he had built,the food on his table, the seating of his officials, the attending servants in their robes, his cupbearers, and the burnt offerings he made atthe temple of the Lord, she was overwhelmed.

She said to the king, “The report I heard in my own country about your achievements and your wisdom is true.But I did not believe these things until I came and saw with my own eyes. Indeed, not even half was told me; in wisdom and wealth you have far exceeded the report I heard.How happy your people must be! How happy your officials, who continually stand before you and hear your wisdom!Praise be to the Lordyour God, who has delighted in you and placed you on the throne of Israel. Because of the Lord’s eternal love for Israel, he has made you king to maintain justice and righteousness.”

10 And she gave the king 120 talents of gold, large quantities of spices, and precious stones. Never again were so many spices brought in as those the queen of Sheba gave to King Solomon.

11 (Hiram’s ships brought gold from Ophir; and from there they brought great cargoes of almugwoodand precious stones.12 The king used the almugwood to make supportsfor the temple of the Lordand for the royal palace, and to make harps and lyres for the musicians. So much almugwood has never been imported or seen since that day.)

13 King Solomon gave the queen of Sheba all she desired and asked for, besides what he had given her out of his royal bounty. Then she left and returned with her retinue to her own country.

As I said before Jerusalem and its Temple would play a major role in the ultimate salvation of the world. Jesus ministered in the Temple and was killed just outside of Jerusalem, which on a whole rejected the message and claims of Jesus and contributed to his death.

However, we know that Jesus death was not a tragic accident or failure of a mission to earth by God but was his plan and way of achieving Salvation for people of every nation. Interestingly Jesus uses the story of the visit of the Queen of Sheba to condemn the people of Jerusalem who rejected his teaching and claims in Matthew 12: 42,

“The Queen of the south will rise at the judgment with this generation and condemn it; for she came from the ends of the earth to listen to Solomon’s wisdom, and now one greater than Solomon is here”.

The Queen of Sheba than was a friendly and God fearing world leader who visited Jerusalem and payed respect and even worship to the God of Israel but now in verse 30 David deals with Hostile world leaders who also will be forced by God to pay him respect and give him precious gifts probably in the form of bounty.

Verse 30 says,

“Rebuke the beast among the reeds, the herd of bulls among the calves of the nations, Humbled, may it bring bars of silver. Scatter the nations who delight in war”.

Most commentators think that the poetic image of, “the beast among the reeds” is referring to crocodiles which lived in the reeds of the Nile and which represent the nation of Egypt which symbolizes all the enemies of Israel and God because they sought to force Israel into bondage and there king, Pharaoh chose to defy the God of Israel like many other foreign kings would do and fail as God defeated them.

This verse is a rebuke of nations who were acting like dumb cattle in there opposition to God and his anointed King and who would be humbled by God in judgment and forced to acknowledge him as God and pay him tribute a Old Testament way of saying pay him the honour and glory he deserves.

This raises again for me the great theme I have been seeing coming through most of the Psalms in books 1 and 2, that theme first raised in Psalm 2: 2,

“The kings of the earth take their stand and the rulers gather together against the Lord and against his Anointed One”.

Then in verses 4 and 5 God’s rebuke of these rebellious Kings and the people who followed them appears similar to the rebuke of verse 30 of this Psalm,

“The One enthroned in heaven laughs; the Lord scoffs at them. The he rebukes them in his anger and terrifies them in his wrath”.

The in verses 6 and 7 the connection of all this to Jesus and the Christian Gospel is made,

“I have installed my King on Zion, my holy hill. I will proclaim the decree of the Lord: He said to me, ‘you are my Son; today I have become your Father”.

These words are the prophetic words of the coming of Jesus God’s Son from Heaven (Zion) who proclaimed the decree or word of the Lord and who will ultimately bring the whole world under his feet when he returns and everyone from every nation will acknowledge him as Lord as we read in Philippians 2: 9 – 11,

Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,  in heaven and on earth and under the earth,  and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father”.

Finally in verse 31, the reference to Egypt and its surrounding area is mad clear,

“Envoys will come from Egypt; Cush will submit herself to God”.

Cush is probably the ancient name for Ethiopia and of course if this is the case the prophecy of this verse was for filled centuries later after the death and resurrection and ascension of Jesus into heaven when we read in Acts 8: 26 – 39 of the conversion of the Ethiopian Eunuch as he rode back to his country reading a scroll containing the book of Isaiah.

This royal envoy from Ethiopia took the Gospel message back to Cush – Ethiopia and led to that country submitting itself to God and even to this day a great Christian church exists in Ethiopia demonstrating the worldwide influence of the victorious procession of Jesus, the New Testament Ark of the Covenant ascension into heaven.


The victorious procession of the Ark of the Covenant and its ascension into Jerusalem comes to its climax and so does the Psalm that was used on the day to help celebrate it. This Psalm was probably used by the ancient Hebrew people as a procession into Jerusalem and into the Temple on the Temple mount as we know that they loved pomp, colourful and noisy processions. Psalms 120 to 134 in the fifth and final book of Psalms are called Songs of Ascent and were used by Jewish pilgrims as they travelled in procession up into Jerusalem and the Temple from the time of Solomon on to the return from exile in Babylon.

So as the pilgrims came up from the desert lowlands of Israel into the hills of Jerusalem they sang songs of worship. Psalm 68 is probably then an early form of a song of ascent first used when the victorious procession of the Ark of the Covenant ascended up into Jerusalem.

So in the final section of this Psalm the worship and praise grows even more and the scope of the significance of the Ark of the Covenant moves further in its worldwide universal significants.

I have broken this final section into two parts:

  1. Mighty world wide praise for a mighty powerful God (verses 32 – 33)
  2. Proclamation of the powerful God of the universe who strengthens his people (34 – 35)
  1. Mighty world wide praise for a mighty powerful God (verses 32 – 33)

 We have noted for some Psalms now that particularly the Psalms attributed to David end on a note of great praise and this Psalm is no exception. In fact this Psalm raises the bar of praise for the mighty powerful God of the universe. Verse 32 and 33 says,

“Sing to God, O kingdoms of the earth, sing praise to the Lord, to him who rides the ancient skies above, who thunders with mighty voice.”

 David calls on all the kingdoms of the world to sing a great praise to the Lord and Albert Barnes points out;

“The psalmist sees the conversion of the world to God to be so certain he calls on all nations to join in the song”.

 This world wide universal praise brought about by the ascension of the Ark of the Covenant into God’s earthly Sanctuary and later Temple is soon in the book of revelation as being universal praise of all living beings in heaven the ultimate destination of the Ark of the Covenant which I believe is there a symbol for the ascended Jesus Christ.

We see this in a passage like Revelation 11: 15 – 19,

The seventh angel sounded his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven, which said:

“The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Messiah,
and he will reign for ever and ever.” And the twenty-four elders, who were seated on their thrones before God, fell on their faces and worshiped God, saying: “We give thanks to you, Lord God Almighty, the One who is and who was, because you have taken your great power and have begun to reign. The nations were angry, and your wrath has come. The time has come for judging the dead, and for rewarding your servants the prophets and your people who revere your name, both great and small—and for destroying those who destroy the earth.”Then God’s temple in heaven was opened, and within his temple was seen the ark of his covenant. And there came flashes of lightning, rumblings, peals of thunder, an earthquake and a severe hailstorm”.

Note how this vision of heaven ends with the Temple there opening and exposing the Ark of the Covenant and then there is a great show of power with the description of a thunderstorm. Likewise the second half of verse 33 speaks of God riding the skies heralded by a great thunderstorm. I spoke on this when commenting on verse 3 and how the idea of God riding on top of a thunderstorm is reminiscent of teaching in Psalm 29 when the idea of the God of Baal rides on the thunderstorm was exploited by David to say the true God of heaven and earth is Lord of the thunderstorm and its loud thunder should remind us of the powerful voice of God that made all things.

In the passage from Revelation 11 I just quoted we have another reference to a thunderstorm in heaven. This does not mean we will see thunderstorms in heaven but rather again the mighty power of God is like a mighty thunderstorm on earth. Many animals cringe and children run with terror when a thunderstorm comes overhead but the power and might of God is far greater than any thunderstorm on earth or anywhere even greater than the 300 year old storm that rages on the planet Jupiter.

The writer to the Hebrews says in Hebrews 10: 31,

“It is a dreadful (or fearful) thing to fall into the hands of the living God”.

  1. Proclamation of the powerful God of the universe who strengthens his people (34 – 35)

The Psalm finishes with call for mission to the world (verse 34) and a final word of praise (verse 35).

In the last Psalm talk on Psalm 67 I spoke on how God made and called the people of Israel for two special reasons. These tow reasons are expressed in God’s word to Moses in Exodus 19: 5 – 6,

“Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession. Although the whole earth is mine,you will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words you are to speak to the Israelites.”

So it seems for many Israelites or Jews throughout history the first part of this verse was picked up namely, “then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession” as Israel and the Jews often failed to look out to the wider world and instead became elitist and self righteousness. Let me say many Christians have acted the same way as well.

However the second part of Israel’s calling is, “you will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation”. Israel was chosen then to take the message of the true God of heaven and earth to the world.

Verse 34 speaks of this mission to the world as well,

“Proclaim the power of God, whose majesty is over Israel, whose power is seen in the skies”.

Note how David wants his people to “Proclaim the power of God” which in the previous verse was made clear. God’s power he writes is seen in two ways:

  1. Whose majesty is over Israel”
  2. “Whose power is seen in the skies”

This is the two ways we know there is a God, the first is the best and greatest way which is God has revealed himself through the people of Israel and out of them comes Jesus who is “The word become flesh and made his dwelling among us” John 1:14.

We know God because he did not stay hidden from us but revealed himself to us through the Jews first in the Old Testament and then finally through Jesus Christ, God become flesh that is the basis of the New Testament. This is the main reason why Christians over the centuries have sought to translate the bible into other languages even languages spoken by a small number of people so they too can read the revelation of God in their own tongue and the proclamation of the Gospel can come to them as well.

Secondly even people who have not got the bible or heard of his revelation to the Jews first and then through the coming of Jesus there is the general revelation of nature itself.

This works something like this. When a person looks at the skies and the world around them they see design and order which points to a designer who they figure is someone greater and more powerful than them.

Paul speaks of this in Romans 1: 18 – 23,

“The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.

For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and they’re foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools andexchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like a mortal human being and birds and animals and reptiles.

Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another”.

I watched the film on Nelson Mandela last night at his character said that if God was there and interested in the world he would not have kept his people in bondage under the control of the minority white population and therefore we need to save ourselves.

What I say is yes, people are in bondage even those minority whites as we are all in bondage to sin. God knows this and has done something about it by sending his son to die for our sins. Later in the movie the Mandela character says people learn to hate but love is what they are born with. The bible says we are born in sin and naturally hate and need to learn love. The love of God expressed in the giving of God’s son on the cross is the way many people have learnt how to really love and this has transformed lives and societies throughout history.

People today want to deny God and the authority of the scriptures to make a better world. I tell you we only have a better world because of the word of God and the Christian message and to give that up will only lead to a world that is more and more caught up in sin and bondage as Mandela bravely fought against all his life.

The last thing Jesus said to his disciples on earth before he ascended into heaven, the second great ascension in the bible was proclaim the Gospel to the entire world. This is recorded for us in Mark 16: 15 – 16,

 “He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.

This command in Mathew’s Gospel is slightly different but is saying the same thing with more depth. He says Jesus says we are to go into all the world and make disciples and then teach them to obey everything I have said.

So as Christians we have a similar calling to the nation of Israel namely to be a kingdom of priests or ministers proclaiming the power of God to the world.

The final verse, 35 raps up this song sung when the victorious Ark of the Covenant processed into Jerusalem and it says,

“You are awesome, O God, in your sanctuary; the God of Israel gives power and strength to his people. Praise be to God”.

Maybe David now sees the Ark of the Covenant in its final resting place, the sanctuary on Mount Zion in Jerusalem and as he sees it there he acknowledges how awesome God is established with his people in Jerusalem symbolized by the Ark of the Covenant in the Sanctuary and later in the Temple.

When Jesus actually died an amazing miracle took place that is loaded with incredible meaning for the world. We read of this miracle in Luke 44 – 46,

“It was now about noon, and darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon,for the sun stopped shining. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two.Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit. When he had said this, he breathed his last”.

What is the significance of the curtain in the temple was torn which mark tells us was torn top to bottom?

Well behind that curtain sat the Ark of the Covenant and only once a year was one man allowed to enter, The High Priest to sprinkle blood from a sacrifice.

Now as Jesus died and made the way for all men and women to enter God’s presence and go to heaven. The writer to the Hebrews has an entire chapter devoted to explaining the significants of this. Hebrews chapter 10 and I will give you the gist of what he says by quoting Hebrews 10: 1 – 14,

The law is only a shadow of the good things that are coming—not the realities themselves. For this reason it can never, by the same sacrifices repeated endlessly year after year, make perfect those who draw near to worship.Otherwise, would they not have stopped being offered? For the worshipers would have been cleansed once for all, and would no longer have felt guilty for their sins.But those sacrifices are an annual reminder of sins.It is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.

 Therefore, when Christ came into the world, he said: “Sacrifice and offering you did not desire, but a body you prepared for me;with burnt offerings and sin offerings
you were not pleased. Then I said, ‘here I am—it is written about me in the scroll—
I have come to do your will, my God.’”

First he said, “Sacrifices and offerings, burnt offerings and sin offerings you did not desire, nor were you pleased with them”—though they were offered in accordance with the law.Then he said, “Here I am, I have come to do your will.” He sets aside the first to establish the second.And by that will, we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.

Day after day every priest stands and performs his religious duties; again and again he offers the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But when this priest had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God,

And since that time he waits for his enemies to be made his footstool.For by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy”.

So David saw the Ark of the Covenant in the earthly sanctuary in Jerusalem and praised God as being awesome. We see Jesus ascended on high in the heavenly Jerusalem and our praise should be for an awesome saving God.

David completes the Psalm by saying because God is with his people on earth symbolized by the Ark of the Covenant in the Sanctuary in Jerusalem God gives strength to his people.

We can say that because Jesus has died for our sins on the cross rose from the dead and ascended to the heavenly Jerusalem and is with us because he has given us his Holy Spirit then we too have strength and this is the strength of God. As the writer to the Hebrews says in Hebrews 2: 9 – 18,

“But we do see Jesus, who was made lower than the angels for a little while, now crowned with glory and honour because he suffered death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.

In bringing many sons and daughters to glory, it was fitting that God, for whom and through whom everything exists, should make the pioneer of their salvation perfect through what he suffered.Both the one who makes people holy and those who are made holy are of the same family. So Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers and sisters. He says, “I will declare your name to my brothers and sisters;in the assembly I will sing your praises”.

 And again,

“I will put my trust in him.

And again he says,

“Here am I, and the children God has given me.”

Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might break the power of him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil—and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death. For surely it is not angels he helps, but Abraham’s descendants. For this reason he had to be made like them,fully human in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people.Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted”.

With all this in mind we can join with David and say as he says at the end of his, superb hymn which is unsurpassed of not unequalled, in grandeurs, lyric fire, and sustained rush of triumphant praise”. (Maclaren)

 “Praise be to God”.

 I conclude my talk as usual with a poem / song and a prayer.


(Based on Psalm 68)


Praise the Lord who leads us

In a victory song.

As we follow Jesus he helps all day long.

Jesus died to save us

Gave his life for me

Join the great procession

That leads to victory

He is with us always

As we walk his way

Jesus is the answer for our world today.





Rise up God and lead us

On faiths journey now

You have gone before us

And given us your power.

We fight mighty forces

That oppose you Lord

Bless us with your power

Remind us of your word.

You are with us always

As we walk your way

Jesus is the answer for our world today.


Lord you rose to glory

To make a way for us

We are week and needy

But you bless us if we trust

Your great strength will give us

The crown of life above

Help us Lord to trust you

And daily know your love.

You are with us always

As we walk your way

Jesus is the answer for our world today.


Lead us Lord in Triumph

As we go your way

Help us Lord to praise you

And find your strength each day.

So we march together

In your victory throng

Help us tell your message

Help us sing your song.

You are with us always

As we walk your way

Jesus is the answer for our world today.


By:  Jim Wenman



Father above we thank you that you sent your Son to earth to die for our sins on the cross and make us a way to heaven. Help us to always march in the great procession of faith and realise we are not alone for many other believers are marching with us. Help us to proclaim your message of love by what we say and do so that others may join the great procession of faith that leads to be with you in heaven for all eternity. In Jesus name we pray Amen.