We need to let God arise and let His presence do its work among the people of God
The occasion for this Psalm is seen in 2 Samuel 6:1-12, the moving of the Ark from the house of Obed-Edom to Jerusalem. The first attempt ended in failure. They had used a new cart and oxen. When the Ark swayed, Uzzah tried to steady it, and he died as a result. “David was afraid of the Lord that day.” From the account in 1 Chronicles 15:1-29 David found God’s “due order,” i.e. His instructions, for moving the Ark. David discovered that the Levites were to bear the Ark. It was the responsibility of these Levite ministers to carry the presence of the Lord.
The “due order” is in Numbers 1-10. Israel just came out of Egypt, and there was a lot of disorder in the camp. It took time to set the tribes in position in their camp set up, in their work, and in the order of their march. When this was done, Moses said to Jethro, his father in law, “We are journeying unto the place which the Lord said, I will give it you, come with us.” (Numbers 10:29) Then in Numbers 10:35 when the Ark went forward, Moses said, “… Rise up, LORD, and let thine enemies be scattered; and let them that hate thee flee before thee.” All Israel moved forward under Moses.
Now in David’s day (1 Chronicles 15:28) “All Israel brought up the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem with singing, shouting, rejoicing, dancing, joy and with instruments.” This was the occasion for which Psalm 68 was written.
Psalm 68:1-4 (KJV) “Let God arise, let his enemies be scattered: let them also that hate him flee before him. As smoke is driven away, so drive them away: as wax melteth before the fire, so let the wicked perish at the presence of God. But let the righteous be glad; let them rejoice before God: yea, let them exceedingly rejoice. Sing unto God, sing praises to his name: extol him that rideth upon the heavens by his name JAH, and rejoice before him.”
Our minds must understand what happens when God moves forward. When God arises, two things happen: 1) His enemies are scattered, and 2) His people gather unto Him for rest. The word “let” is used seven times in three verses. It basically means, “let God arise and stand up (in a hostile sense towards His enemies) and come on the scene with power to establish His purposes.” In these verses we see two groups of people. One group acts negatively when God rises, and this group runs from His presence. The second group rejoices and gathers unto God. When God arises, what is in our hears will be revealed, such as hate, unforgiveness, depression, etc.
Let God arise… The word “let” is an action word. Give God permission. Release God from confinement. Allow Him to speak out and to participate in solving your problems. Say to the Lord, “Go ahead; do what needs to be done.” The word “let” is a power word. It involves your will, your choice, your decision.
…Let His enemies be scattered… God’s enemies will be scattered, not the pastor’s enemies and not your enemies. The word “enemy” is the word adversary. The man or the woman who sets themselves against God is His adversary. Remember Peter. Jesus rebuked him and called him Satan, i.e. one who resists God. The adversaries in Psalm 68 were the Canaanite nations. God has no problem with the devil. The redemptive work of Christ on the cross took care of the devil’s defeat. The Canaanite list of nations are seen in Genesis 10:15-19 and Joshua 13… The Canaanite spirit today is a spirit in man that resists the “goings forth” of God. We see that spirit in Ephesians 6:10-12… where God is not given first place, where God’s arrangements are not followed, where God’s progress is being hindered. When God arises, these spirits arise to become God’s adversary. When God arises on the scene these enemies scatter. Very often these enemies are in the church… they are not seen until God rises up to do His work.
…Let them also that hate Him flee before Him… There are people who hate God. There are people who have resentments against Him. There are people who blame God for any problem they have. Blaming God fills the heart with resentments, then anger sets in, and then hatred follows. Many people serve God out of fear, but on the inside they resent Him. Many people want salvation, so they serve God religiously with resentment in their heart. When God arises, these feelings come to the surface. Hatred and resentments flee, and love comes in.
Verse 2 tells how God deals with hatred. Just as wind drives smoke away and just as fire melts wax, that is how God deals with His enemies. The word “wicked” refers to the person, the sin, and the environment in which they live. The word “perish” refers to being undone with no way of escape and being destroyed. During the week Christians often pick up the products of the world and the environment of the times, and they bring this into the church service. When God arises in the service, what wind does to smoke and what fire does to wax so God does to your problems. Problems melt in the presence of God. The negatives in your life are dealt with. Our spirit needs to say, “Arise, Oh God, in me.” We need to confess to the Lord, “I’ve been your adversary. I have been resisting You and fighting You, and I have not been giving You first place. Lord, arise and deal with my resentments and hatreds. Lord, remove from me the contaminations that I have picked up from the environment around me.”
The positive side of the arising of God (Psalm 68:3-4)
Notice the seven responses that come from within our spirit.
- Let the righteous be glad… Let them be joyful, merry… When God arises respond joyfully… Psalm 5:11 says, “Let those who put their trust in thee, rejoice, let them shout for joy.” Psalm 66:1… talks of a joyful noise. Psalm 63:5… talks of joyful lips. Psalm 149:2… talks of being joyful in your King. The word joyful also means to “spin around in bodily motion”…
- Let them rejoice before God… The Hebrew word for rejoice as used here means to, “to leap, to jump” in the presence of God. Psalm 149:3 says, “let them praise the Lord in the dance”… The O.T. dance is not like the western culture dances… Its leaping and skipping in a circle… When God’s presence comes into the service a “leaping spirit” comes into our spirit. Our physical bodies wants to give expression by what it can do…(move, leap, dance, shake) It wants to feel what our spirit feels…The joy of God’s presence.
- Let them exceedingly rejoice… The word exceedingly means, “to be bright and cheerful”… Brighten up when God arises… Its seen first in your eyes… If people are miserable in church they will change when they see the arising of God.
- Sing unto God… The word sing means “to vocalize like a strolling minstrel”… Sing to God… not to the song leader… Job 38:3-7… talks of the morning stars singing together. When people are redeemed heaven sings again… (Luke 15, Hebrews 2:12) Jesus sings too… did you know that…
- Sing praises to His name… this is referring to the instruments accompanying the voice… The instruments sets the tone… ie… the key… It puts “spirit” in the melody… When there is a good tone… you can worship easier… (1 Chronicles 25:1) When God’s presence is in the church It sets up the “key”… the “tone”…
- Extol Him that rideth upon the heavens by His name Jah… The word extol means “to magnify, to make Him larger, to lift Him up”… A magnifying glass enlarges… zero’s in… brings objects closer. The story here is that when Israel was on a march a lot of dust was made… the dust made it hard for them to see the “cloud and the fire”… They were told to focus on the light… Get your eyes upon God… When God arises… focus on Him and not on the dust that some program is raising. Zero in on God… Pin point on God and not on your problem… God’s presence will melt your problem.
- And rejoice before Him… re-joy… ie… rejoice again and again… do it over again… repeat the joy… be triumphant… Joy releases you… un-binds you… loosens you up. When God arises don’t put on a serious solemn frown or get starry eyed or spaced out… God says, “Rejoice”… God is a happy God…
Past triumphs are reviewed
Psalm 68:5-6 (KJV) “A father of the fatherless, and a judge of the widows, is God in his holy habitation. God setteth the solitary in families: he bringeth out those which are bound with chains: but the rebellious dwell in a dry land.”
God’s ministry… What God does when He arises… God’s creative activities… He is a Father to the fatherless… a judge or advocate for the widows… God sets the lonely in a family… sets free those who are bound with habits… ie… God brings out those who have been locked in… He gets people out of their shell so to speak… He gets people talking again… He gets people involved in life again… brings refreshing to those who live in a dry land… God goes before the people to lead them in what they are to do… In other words… compassion, mercy, care, grace is given when God arises… We must believe this…
Psalm 68:7-14 (KJV) “O God, when thou wentest forth before thy people, when thou didst march 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. Thou, O God, didst send a plentiful rain, whereby thou didst confirm thine inheritance, when it was weary. Thy congregation hath dwelt therein: thou, O God, hast prepared of thy goodness for the poor. The Lord gave the word: great was the company of those that published it. Kings of armies did flee apace: and she that tarried at home divided the spoil. Though ye have lien among the pots, yet shall ye be as the wings of a dove covered with silver, and her feathers with yellow gold. When the Almighty scattered kings in it, it was white as snow in Salmon.”
When God marches… things begin to happen… the earth shakes and moves… ie… rejoices when God acts… (Acts 4:31… the place was shaken) Note… the heavens dropped at the presence of the Lord… WOW… We used to sing… “Heaven came down and glory filled my soul”… The heavens dropped manna… rain… Heaven dropped health, removed sickness… When heaven dropped God confirmed the peoples inheritance when they were weary. (Paul taught the people “not to get weary in well doing) When heaven dropped down God prepared goodness for the people… When heaven dropped down He gave the Word to live by… When heaven came down a great company of people spread the Word… When heaven came down the kings (demonic powers) fled… When heaven came down the people that laid down among the pots (hospital beds) God covered them with the wings of a dove (Himself… the Holy Spirit) When heaven came down and the kings were scattered it was white as snow in Salmon… ie… God made everything clean… The word Salmon refers to an illusion… or a mirage… God gave them a refreshing picture… a vision of their future to encourage them to move forward. We need this from time to time.
God prophesies of the Messiah
Psalm 68:15-18 “The hill of God is as the hill of Bashan; an high hill as the hill of Bashan. Why leap ye, ye high hills? this is the hill which God desireth to dwell in; yea, the LORD will dwell in it for ever. The chariots of God are twenty thousand, even thousands of angels: the Lord is among them, as in Sinai, in the holy place. Thou hast ascended on high, thou hast led captivity captive: thou hast received gifts for men; yea, for the rebellious also, that the LORD God might dwell among them.”
God reveals Christ sitting in the sanctuary… Prophetically… Christ in the church as the head of the church. Everything is fertile when Christ is there… Even the natural surroundings desire the presence of Christ. Paul talks in Romans 8 about the earth groaning… It too wants release from the satanic spoiling of the environment. Every hill cries our… “Dwell in me”… When Christ is in the church He also is there to do warfare… The angels are there to do their ministry… v-18 tells of the gifts of the Spirit being released… ie… leadership… Note also… for the rebellious also… Some people seem rebellious because their talents are being wasted… Idleness… ruins a lot of good Christians. Many Christians have sat under leadership training only to sit and do nothing… Christ’s presence changes all that.
When God arises, Jesus and the Church triumph
Psalm 68:19-35 “Blessed be the Lord, who daily loadeth us with benefits, even the God of our salvation. Selah. He that 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 goeth 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 thy foot may be dipped in the blood of thine enemies, and the tongue of thy dogs in the same. They have seen thy 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 with timbrels. Bless ye 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 of Naphtali. Thy God hath commanded thy strength: strengthen, O God, that which thou hast wrought for us. Because of thy temple at Jerusalem shall kings bring presents unto thee. Rebuke the company of spearmen, the multitude of the bulls, with the calves of the people, till every one submit himself with pieces of silver: scatter thou the people that delight in war. Princes shall come out of Egypt; Ethiopia shall soon stretch out her hands unto God. Sing unto God, ye kingdoms of the earth; O sing praises unto the Lord; Selah: To him that rideth upon the heavens of heavens, which were of old; lo, he doth send out his voice, and that a mighty voice. Ascribe ye strength unto God: his excellency is over Israel, and his strength is in the clouds. O God, thou art terrible out of thy holy places: the God of Israel is he that giveth strength and power unto his people. Blessed be God.”
Christ turns the church outward… ie… gets them into the harvest fields… He loads the people with benefits to give out to those who need help. Jesus and the Church are ministers of salvation… Paul teaches about “doing the works of the ministry”… Christ and the Church do some restoration work… such as… releasing people from the devil’s bondages that were put on them. God deals with those of His people who go on sinning. Christ and the Church release the talents in people… some sing, some evangelize, some play instruments, some worship, some are given the same gifts that we see in Romans 12… some people are given strength to bear fruit… When Christ and the Church work together people come out of darkness (Egypt, Ethiopia) and into the light. When Christ and the Church work together every knee bows to Christ. In these verses a mandate is given to go out into all the world and preach the gospel. The purpose… is to fill the whole earth with His glory… The whole earth will one day say, “Blessed be God”… “Arise… Oh God… and take Your rightful place.