Happy was the occasion of this hymn. David was permitted
to see the joyful day when the ark, the type of the blessed Jesus, was
brought to its resting-place in Zion. It was a fit occasion for joy and
gladness; and joy and gladness were largely manifested. The hymn thus used
looks back to the history, and looks onward to the time when Jesus, having
subdued all foes, ascends in triumph to the heaven of heavens. God's mercies
are throughout abundantly proclaimed. May we realize these mercies, and call
upon our every faculty to give praise!
1-3. "Let God arise, let His enemies be scattered; let
those also who hate Him flee before Him. As smoke is driven away, so drive
them away; as wax melts before the fire, so let the wicked perish at the
presence of God. But let the righteous be glad; let them rejoice before God;
yes, let them exceedingly rejoice."
God's glory is most dear to all His people. It is their
anguish when His name is blasphemed and His cause reviled. Therefore their
constant aspiration that God would arise and gird Himself with strength, and
drive His foes into perdition. The prayer continually goes up that this ruin
may be complete. Let smoke ascend in thick clouds and darken all the view.
Let now a breeze arise; the mass immediately dissolves, and vanishes from
sight. So let the enemies of God be driven into nothingness. As the wax
seems to be a solid mass, but instantly dissolves and flows away when heat
is applied, so let these enemies melt and be nowhere found; but let the
righteous rejoice in God's gladdening favor; let there be no bounds to their
4-6. "Sing praises to God and to his name! Sing loud
praises to him who rides the clouds. His name is the LORD— rejoice in his
presence! Father to the fatherless, defender of widows—this is God, whose
dwelling is holy. God places the lonely in families; he sets the prisoners
free and gives them joy. But for rebels, there is only famine and distress."
How abundant are the topics of our praise! Who can reach
the heights—who can fathom the depths—who can measure the infinitudes of the
incommunicable name, Jehovah! This tells His glory as the cause of His own
being, as the giver of life to all who live. Above the heaven of heavens He
sits, thus surpassing all thoughts of glory. We cannot praise Him according
to His greatness, but let us praise Him according to our abilities. But
though He is thus infinitely great, He condescends to look in pity on the
feeblest and weakest of our race; He supplies parental support to poor
orphans; He does not permit the widow to be oppressed; He causes the inmates
of the house to rejoice in happy fellowship, and mutually to supply each
other's need; He delivers from captivity those who have been bound with
fetters, and leads forth His people from Egyptian bondage.
7-8. "O God, when You went forth before Your people,
when You marched through the wilderness; the earth shook, the heavens also
dropped at the presence of God; even Sinai itself was moved at the presence
of God, the God of Israel."
It is faith's happy exercise to fly back and ponder all
God's gracious dealings from the birth of time. On all there is inscribed
the evidence of His gracious care. All His attributes are manifested
planning and executing mercies for His people. In the work past we have
assurance of His present care and of His never-failing providence. He who
loved the fathers of our family still loves with the same love, and will
love forever. The Psalmist reverts to God's wondrous goodness as He preceded
His people through the wilderness. The redemption from Egypt's bondage is a
pledge of our redemption from the captivity of sin and Satan. The awesome
marvels displayed on Sinai, when the Mount trembled, and terror shook all
hearts, teach us to this day to regard with awe the majesty of our God.
9-10. "You, O God, sent a plentiful rain, whereby You
confirmed Your inheritance, when it was weary. Your congregation has dwelt
therein; You, O God, have prepared of Your goodness for the poor."
Did God supply the need of the camp? Did manna never
cease to fall and the stream to trickle? So to the present hour His bounty
sustains and replenishes His people. They may be poor and needy, but the
Lord thinks on them, and makes preparation for them.
11-12. "The Lord gave the word; great was the company
of those who published it. Kings of armies fled apace; and she who tarried
at home divided the spoil."
It is not the Lord's will that His goodness should be
disregarded or unacknowledged. Therefore in every age He has raised up
faithful men to bear record of His grace and love. How earnestly should we
pray that He would supply a band of faithful ministers, and give them the
tidings that they should proclaim. Then all enemies will flee, and the
weakest will be enriched with spoil.
13-14. "Though they lived among the sheepfolds, now
they are covered with silver and gold, as a dove is covered by its wings.
The Almighty scattered the enemy kings like a blowing snowstorm on Mount
The Lord's people sometimes lie in depths of degradation,
and their hands are soiled by servile work. In Egypt the children of Israel
were debased to the drudgery of the lowest slaves; but the time of vile
service passed away, and they shone brightly as the honored and admired upon
earth. They changed their garbs of degradation for the splendor of
magnificent estate. When in Canaan, God appeared in their behalf, and the
frightened kings fled in vain for concealment; then they shone forth arrayed
in panoply of royal state; the snow-capped mountain glittering beneath the
sun's rays was an emblem of their high supremacy. Believers now may be
poorly clad in clothing of corruption; but yet a little while, and their
corruptible shall put on incorruption, and they shall shine arrayed in glory
far brighter than the sun in his strength.
15-16. "The majestic mountains of Bashan stretch high
into the sky. Why do you look with envy, O rugged mountains, at Mount Zion,
where God has chosen to live, where the Lord himself will live forever?"
Zion is here presented to admiration as far surpassing in
beauty all surrounding heights. This Zion is a type of the Church of Christ.
Where shall we find words to commend its all-surpassing beauty? It is
beautified with the glories of salvation, and shines as the chosen, the
beloved, the honored of the Lord. How utterly vain is the self-exaltation of
other institutions! how contemptible their puny efforts to aggrandize
themselves! They are of the earth and earthy, and with the earth shall be
laid low. The Church is of heaven and heavenly. It is the chosen abode of
God. God is in the midst of her, therefore she shall not be moved. He dwells
forever in her as His favored abode. Never will He leave her or desert her.
Salvation is her walls and bulwarks. Heaven and earth shall pass away, but
God will rest forever in His loved abode.
17-18. "The chariots of God are twenty thousand, even
thousands of angels; the Lord is among them, as in Sinai, in the holy place.
You have ascended on high, You have led captivity captive; You have received
gifts for men; yes, for the rebellious also, that the Lord God might dwell
The terrors of Sinai are an instructive study. God is
represented as moving in majestic procession, attended by countless hosts of
angels. Let us clasp to our hearts the precious knowledge that He sends
forth these spirits to be our constant guardians and to minister to our
protection. The ark ascending Zion's hill has a prophetic voice. It
foreshadows our Jesus returning to take His seat at God's right hand, the
mighty Conqueror over sin and death and hell, and all the legion who had
fought against Him. The cruel enemy who had subjugated man is dragged as a
captive fast bound to our Lord's victorious chariot. The Conqueror receives
for His people the gifts and graces which He had so gloriously won; He pours
down sanctifying graces into His people's hearts, that so their hearts may
be a fit abode for the indwelling God.
19-23. "Blessed be the Lord, who daily loads us with
benefits, even the God of our salvation. He who is our God is the God of
salvation; and unto God the Lord belong the issues from death. But God shall
wound the head of His enemies, and the hairy scalp of such an one as goes on
still in his trespasses. The Lord said, I will bring again from Bashan; I
will bring my people again from the depths of the sea; that your foot may be
dipped in the blood of your enemies, and the tongue of your dogs in the
The goodness of our God each day heaps blessings on us so
vast that we can scarcely bear the load; for each, responsive thanks should
swell to heaven. His crowning blessing is eternal salvation and deliverance
from the grasp of death. Let us study the title—"God of our salvation." Let
us study the blessing—Escape from "the issues of death." But while His
people thus live and are thus saved, what terrors overwhelm the wretched
multitudes who reject His offers of pardon and of life! What dreadful images
predict their doom!
24-25. "They have seen Your goings, O God; even the
goings of my God, my King, in the sanctuary. The singers went before, the
players on instruments followed after; among them were the damsels playing
The grand design of public ordinances is here commended.
The ways and works of God are openly proclaimed. His character is displayed.
True worship should exhibit God in the wonders of His grace and love, His
power and glory. We should attend the service of the sanctuary with hearts
intent to learn saving lessons of redemption's design and work. Happy the
worshiper who retires bearing testimony, 'I have seen the goings of my God,
Every faculty and every arrangement should be devoted to
render due praise. In the infancy of the Church external rites were
diligently used to teach the truth that devotion should engage all our
powers. Now that the true light shines and symbols have passed away, the
essence of true devotion should grow stronger.
26-27. "Bless God in the congregations, even the Lord,
from the fountain of Israel. There is little Benjamin with their ruler, the
princes of Judah and their council, the princes of Zebulun, and the princes
Happy is the congregation from which true praise ascends
to heaven! It is the very foretaste of heaven, when united voices swell the
chorus, and harmony with one heart is raised by delighted crowds. All who
spring from the common lineage of Israel are here invited to this blessed
work. But the call applies to us; for if we are Christ's, then we are
Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise. Let us obey, and bless
the Lord in the assemblies of His people. In this happy service all the
families of man should join. The tribes were all assembled to bring the ark
with all rejoicing to the hill of Zion. So all ranks, all stations, all
degrees should gladly join in publicly ascribing honor to our God.
28. "Your God has commanded your strength; strengthen,
O God, that which You have wrought for us."
The covenant of grace contains all things needful for the
Church's well-being. The command is therein registered, that strength for
all service and all work should surely abound. It is our privilege to
convert these provisions into prayer. Acceptance surely awaits the petitions
which wrestle with God for the performance of His pledged design, and for
perfecting the work begun in His servants.
29-31. "Because of Your temple at Jerusalem kings
shall bring presents to You. Rebuke the company of spearmen, the multitude
of the bulls, with the calves of the people, until everyone submit himself
with pieces of silver; scatter the people who delight in war. Princes shall
come out of Egypt; Ethiopia shall soon stretch out her hands unto God."
The public acknowledgment of God in the services of the
temple shall attract extensive attention and awaken general homage. God's
power shall subdue all adversaries. The rebels, senseless as creatures of
the lowest grade, shall bring tokens of submission. The cruel, who take
pleasure in the miseries and carnage of war, shall be dispersed. Potentates
from afar shall recognize the supremacy of God, and shall flock to do
homage, and to lay their treasures at His feet. Wise indeed are the rulers
who reverence the King of kings and Lord of lords, and who rejoice to be His
32-35. "Sing to God, you kingdoms of the earth; O sing
praises to the Lord. To Him who rides upon the heavens of heavens, which
were of old; look, He sends out His voice, and that a mighty voice. Ascribe
strength to God; His excellency is over Israel, and His strength is in the
clouds. O God, You are awesome out of Your holy places; the God of Israel is
He who gives strength and power to His people. Blessed be God."
It is the wisdom as also the duty of the kingdoms of the
earth to give glory to God. The exhortation is predictive, and tells of the
coming day, when the kingdoms of this world shall become the kingdoms of God
and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever. All worship of
idols, of stocks and stones, shall be cast to the bats, and God shall be
adored enthroned in the heaven of heavens, and spreading awe throughout the
world by the voice of His thunder. Let all might and power be ascribed to
God. Let Him be adored as the giver of all strength to His people. Worthy
indeed is He that every voice of every inhabitant of earth should shout from
the inmost soul; "Blessed be God!"