Psalm 68: Lessons Regarding the Many Reasons to Praise Jesus

Introduction: David prepared Psalm 68 to celebrate the return of the ark to Jerusalem (1 Sam. 6). The return of the ark also brought the hope of the return of God’s Shekinah glory at the future Temple. These events all pointed to Jesus. Through David’s celebration of the return to the ark, the Bible reveals several reasons to celebrate Jesus. He is a God of: (1) deliverance, (2) love / compassion, (3) sovereignty, (4) salvation, (5) fellowship, (6) faithfulness, and (7) majesty.

First, David celebrated God’s power in delivering the Jews from their enemies. You can also praise Jesus for using His power to deliver you as well. Second, David praised God for His love and care for the poor and those in need. You can also praise Jesus for His love and compassion when you are in need. Third, David celebrated that God was more powerful than any force on Earth. You can praise Jesus because He is sovereign, and He uses His power for good. Fourth, David praised God for bringing salvation to His people. You can praise Jesus for making your salvation possible through His atoning death. Fifth, in the context of the return of the ark and the expectation of the future Temple, David celebrated that God’s glory would again dwell with His people. You can praise Jesus for dwelling with you and proving His fellowship through the Holy Spirit. Sixth, David gave thanks because He could trust God to be faithful in delivering the Jews from any future threats they might face. You can also praise Jesus because He is faithful to keep His Word. Finally, David celebrated God’s glory and majesty that would be a beacon of light from His Temple. You can also praise Jesus for also sharing His Shekinah glory and majesty.

1. Deliverance: Praise Jesus for Using His Power to Deliver You. Ps. 68:1-3.

  • David praised God for His victory over His enemies. David used wording from when the Jews left from Mount Horeb to celebrate God’s power to deliver Israel from its enemies: “For the music director. A Psalm of David. A Song. 1 May God arise, may His enemies be scattered, and may those who hate Him flee from His presence. As smoke is driven away, so drive them away; as wax melts before a fire, so the wicked will perish before God. But the righteous will be joyful; they will rejoice before God; yes, they will rejoice with gladness.” ” (Ps. 68:1-3). To emphasize the majesty of the return of the ark, David quoted from Moses when he led the Jews with the ark from Mount Horeb: “Then it came about when the ark set out that Moses said, ‘Rise up, LORD! And may Your enemies be scattered, and those who hate You flee from Your presence.”’ (Nu. 10:35). The ark showed the Jews God’s amazing power to deliver His people from their many enemies.

  • The ark symbolized God’s presence and power to deliver. The psalms celebrated the ark as a symbol of God’s strength: “Arise, LORD, to Your resting place, You and the ark of Your strength.” (Ps. 132:8). No enemy had the power to stand against God: “May God arise, may His enemies be scattered, and may those who hate Him flee from His presence.” (Ps. 68:1). “My God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, My shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold and my refuge; My savior, You save me from violence.” (2 Sam. 22:3). “Blessed are you, Israel; who is like you, a people saved by the LORD, the shield of your help, and He who is the sword of your majesty! So your enemies will cringe before you, and you will trample on their high places.” (Dt. 33:29). Whenever the Jews walked in obedience to God’s will, there was never an enemy who could stand before them. They melted like “wax melts before a fire” (Ps. 68:2; 97:5). “Wax is hard by itself, but put it to the fire, how soft it is. Wicked men are haughty till they come into contact with the Lord, and then they faint for fear; their hearts melt like wax when they feel the power of his anger.” (Charles Spurgeon on Ps. 68)1

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Praise Jesus for delivering you from evil and death2

  • Praise Jesus for delivering you from the evil one and death. Jesus came to save mankind: “She will give birth to a Son; and you shall name Him Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.” (Matt. 1:21). He conquered death for all who believe in Him: “He will swallow up death for all time, and the Lord GOD will wipe tears away from all faces, and He will remove the disgrace of His people from all the earth; for the LORD has spoken.” (Is. 25:8). “For the wages of sin is death, but the gracious gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Rom. 6:23). He deserves your praise for your deliverance.

  • Rejoice in your deliverance. David urged the Jews to rejoice in God’s deliverance (Ps. 68:3). “But rejoice, all who take refuge in You, Sing for joy forever! And may You shelter them, that those who love Your name may rejoice in You.” (Ps. 5:11). “Be glad in the LORD and rejoice, you righteous ones; and shout for joy, all you who are upright in heart.” (Ps. 32:11). “The righteous person will be glad in the LORD and take refuge in Him; and all the upright in heart will boast.” (Ps. 65:10). “Be joyful in the LORD, you righteous ones, and praise the mention of His holy name.” (Ps. 97:12). Is your gratitude for your deliverance evident to others through your joyful songs of praise?

2. Love / Compassion: Praise Jesus For His Love and Compassion. Ps. 68:4-10.

  • David praised God for His love and compassion for His people. David gave thanks that God is not remote and uncaring. He instead has compassion and love for those in need: “Sing to God, sing praises to His name; exalt Him who rides through the deserts, whose name is the Lord, and be jubilant before Him. A father of the fatherless and a judge for the widows, is God in His holy dwelling. God makes a home for the lonely; He leads out the prisoners into prosperity, only the rebellious live in parched lands. God, when You went forth before Your people, when You marched through the desert, Selah The earth quaked; the heavens also dropped rain at the presence of God; Sinai itself quaked at the presence of God, the God of Israel. You made plentiful rain fall, God; You confirmed Your inheritance when it was parched. 10 Your creatures settled in it; in Your kindness You provided for the poor, God.” (Ps. 68:4-10). All creation will one day rise and praise God for His love and compassion. He provides for all who turn to Him.

  • Jesus has compassion for those in need. David celebrated that God is “A father of the fatherless and a judge for the widows,” (Ps. 68:5, 10). Moses also declared: “He executes justice for the orphan and the widow, and shows His love for the stranger by giving him food and clothing.” (Dt. 10:18). Similar praises for God exist in the psalms and in proverbs: “The LORD will also be a stronghold for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble;” (Ps. 9:9). ‘“Because of the devastation of the poor, because of the groaning of the needy, now I will arise,’ says the LORD; ‘I will put him in the safety for which he longs.”’ (Ps. 12:5). “The LORD watches over strangers; He supports the fatherless and the widow, but He thwarts the way of the wicked.” (Ps. 146:9). “The LORD will tear down the house of the proud, but He will set the boundary of the widow.” (Prov. 15:25). If you are brokenhearted, turn to Jesus. He offers compassion.

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Praise Jesus for His love and compassion for His people3

  • Where God guides, He provides. David praised God for guiding His people through the wilderness to the Promised Land: “God, when You went forth before Your people, when You marched through the desert, Selah” (Ps. 68:7). “And the LORD was going before them in a pillar of cloud by day to lead them on the way, and in a pillar of fire by night to give them light, so that they might travel by day and by night.” (Ex. 13:21). “But He led His own people out like sheep, and guided them in the wilderness like a flock;” (Ps. 78:52). If you are in need, you must first submit to the guidance of the Good Shepherd: “A Psalm of David. The LORD is my shepherd, I will not be in need.” (Ps. 23:1). You should then give thanks for Jesus’ guidance and provision in your life.

  • Sing praise for Jesus’ love and compassion for you. David praised God for His righteous character (Ps. 68:4). “I will give thanks to the LORD according to His righteousness and will sing praise to the name of the LORD Most High.” (Ps. 7:17). “Sing praises to God, sing praises; sing praises to our King, sing praises.” (Ps. 47:6). “Sing the glory of His name; make His praise glorious.” (Ps. 66:2). Are you praising His righteous name?

3. Sovereignty: Praise Jesus For Using His Sovereignty for Good. Ps. 68:11-18.

  • David praised God because no force can withstand His holy and righteous will. David celebrated God’s providence. Not even the mightiest mountains can deny His will: “11 The Lord gives the command; the women who proclaim good news are a great army: 12 ‘Kings of armies flee, they flee, and she who remains at home will divide the spoils!’ 13 When you lie down among the sheepfolds, You are like the wings of a dove covered with silver, and its pinions with glistening gold. 14 When the Almighty scattered the kings there, it was snowing in Zalmon. 15 The mountain of Bashan is a mountain of God; the mountain of Bashan is a mountain of many peaks. 16 Why do you look with envy, you mountains of many peaks, at the mountain God has desired as His dwelling? Indeed, the Lord will dwell there forever. 17 The chariots of God are myriads, thousands upon thousands; the Lord is among them as at Sinai, in holiness. 18 You have ascended on high, You have led captive Your captives; You have received gifts among people, even among the rebellious as well, that the Lord God may dwell there.” (Ps. 68:11-18). God’s power has no rival: “For behold, the LORD will come in fire, and His chariots like the whirlwind, to render His anger with fury, and His rebuke with flames of fire.” (Is. 66:15). “Your righteousness is like the mountains of God; Your judgments are like the great deep. LORD, You protect mankind and animals.” (Ps. 36:6). You can give thanks that God uses this power for good to help you.

  • Women first proclaimed Jesus’ Good News. David wrote: “11 The Lord gives the command; the women who proclaim good news are a great army: 12 ‘Kings of armies flee, they flee, and she who remains at home will divide the spoils!’” (Ps. 68:11-12). One commentator observes: “This is the message of the Gospel, the Good News of Jesus Christ. God won a great victory through the Person and work of Jesus Christ, and His people gain everything through that victory in a battle they did not directly fight. This is the message that we as a great company are to proclaim. . . The text tells us a great … company of women proclaimed the good news of God’s victory. It is significant that God chose women to be the first messengers of the good news of the victory of Jesus’ resurrection (Matthew 28:1-10Luke 24:1-10).” (David Guzik on Ps. 68) (emphasis in original).4 Both women and men should be evangelists for Jesus.

  • Jesus used His sovereign power to free those held captive to sin. David proclaimed: “18 You have ascended on high, You have led captive Your captives; You have received gifts among people,” (Ps. 68:18). The Apostle Paul quoted David in the book of Ephesians to reveal that David wrote about Jesus: “But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ’s gift. Therefore it says, ‘When He ascended on high, He led captive the captives, and He gave gifts to people.”’(Eph. 4:7-8). Jesus used His sovereign power to free believers from death and give them the gift of eternal life.

4. Salvation: Praise Jesus for Making Your Salvation Possible. Ps. 68:19-23.

  • David praised God for providing a means to save His people. David celebrated that God took the burdens of His sinful people and provided the means for their salvation: “19 Blessed be the Lord, who daily bears our burden, the God who is our salvation. Selah 20 God is to us a God of salvation; and to God the Lord belong ways of escape from death. 21 God certainly will shatter the heads of His enemies, the hairy head of one who goes about in his guilt. 22 The Lord said, ‘I will bring them back from Bashan. I will bring them back from the depths of the sea, 23 so that your foot may shatter them in blood, and the tongue of your dogs may have its portion from your enemies.’” (Ps. 68:19-23). Jesus came to fulfill this promise and provide a path to save His people from death.

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Praise Jesus for His ultimate sacrifice at the cross for your salvation5

  • Praise Jesus for taking your sins to make your salvation possible. David praised God because He “daily bears our burden” (Ps. 68:19) and offered “salvation” and an “escape from death.” (Ps. 68:20). Jesus came from the line of David to fulfill God’s promise through David to save His people: “And has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of His servant David—” (Lk. 1:69). He bore our burdens by taking our sins upon Himself: “and He Himself brought our sins in His body up on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live for righteousness; by His wounds you were healed.” (1 Pet. 2:24). He took our punishment and died for everyone because He loves us: “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish, but have eternal life.” (John 3:16). “For this is the will of My Father, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him will have eternal life, and I Myself will raise him up on the last day.” (John 6:40). “Jesus said to her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life; the one who believes in Me will live, even if he dies,”’ (John 11:25). “Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father except through Me.”’ (John 14:6). “For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all people,” (Titus 2:11). How are you showing your gratitude to Jesus for your eternal salvation?

5. Fellowship: Praise Jesus For Offering His Fellowship to You. Ps. 68:24-27.

  • David praised God for promising to again dwell with His people. In connection with the return of the ark, David celebrated that God would one day again dwell with His people: “24 They have seen Your procession, God, the procession of my God, my King, into the sanctuary. 25 The singers went on, the musicians after them, in the midst of the young women beating tambourines. 26 Bless God in the congregations, even the Lord, you who are of the fountain of Israel. 27 Benjamin, the youngest, is there, ruling them, the leaders of Judah in their company, the leaders of Zebulun, the leaders of Naphtali.” (Ps. 68:24-27). “They have seen Your procession, God, the procession of my God, my King, into the sanctuary.” (Ps. 68:24). “Again we find a transition. The conquest of Canaan is complete - God is gone up into his sanctuary. The nations are led captive or put to tribute, Rebels are crushed; the last remnants of them sought out, brought back, and delivered into the hands of Israel. Now we have a description of God’s ‘goings in the sanctuary’ (ver. 24). Some critics suppose a particular occasion to be pointed at; but the expression ‘goings’ rather indicates something habitual, or, at any rate, recurring. God is from time to time glorified in his sanctuary by ceremonies which the poet describes.” (Pulpit Commentary on Ps. 68).6 These verses also point to Jesus’s relationship with believers.

  • Jesus calls you to be in fellowship with Him. David looked forward to a time when God’s people could again fellowship with God. God has also called all people to fellowship with Him through Jesus: “God is faithful, through whom you were called into fellowship with His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.” (1 Cor. 1:9). When the Church of Laodicea accepted Jesus as its Lord and Savior but then failed to walk with Him, Jesus called them into fellowship with an offer to dine with them, a symbol of intimate friendship at that time: “Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me.” (Rev. 3:20). Becoming a believer is just the first step in your walk with Jesus.

  • You should also desire and seek out fellowship with Jesus. David desired most the opportunity to dwell in God’s presence: “One thing I have asked from the LORD, that I shall seek: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the LORD and to meditate in His temple.” (Ps. 27:4). Jesus also wants you to seek out His fellowship as the thing that you most desire in life. When you seek out Jesus’s fellowship, He will bring you joy and peace. “Peace I leave you, My peace I give you; not as the world gives, do I give to you. Do not let your hearts be troubled, nor fearful.” (Jo. 14:27). “The LORD will give strength to His people; the LORD will bless His people with peace. “ (Ps. 29:11). Are you seeking out Jesus’ fellowship each day?

  • Celebrate Jesus’ desire to be in fellowship with you. With the return of the ark, David led the Jews in joyful celebrations: “25 The singers went on, the musicians after them, in the midst of the young women beating tambourines.” (Ps. 68:25). “And David was dancing before the LORD with all his strength, and David was wearing a linen ephod.  So David and all the house of Israel were bringing up the ark of the LORD with joyful shouting and the sound of the trumpet.” (2 Sam. 6:14-15; 1 Chr. 13:8). This recalled the celebration when Miriam led the Jews to celebrate God’s salvation of the Jews from Pharaoh's army at the Red Sea (Ex. 15:20). Jesus’ desire to live and fellowship with you should also cause you to sing for joy: “Then those who sing as well as those who play the flutes will say, ‘All my springs of joy are in you.”’ (Ps. 87:7). Are you singing songs of praise that Jesus loves you and desires to be with you?

  • Show that you are in fellowship with Jesus by how you treat others. Even though the tribe of Benjamin backed Saul over David, David showed grace by allowing members of this tribe to lead the procession returning the ark (Ps. 68:27). Jesus also calls on you to forgive those who hurt you and to love your enemies (Matt. 5:44; Lk. 6:27-28; Jo. 13:34).

6. Faithful: Praise Jesus Because He is Faithful to Keep His Word. Ps. 68:28-31.

  • David gave thanks that God would be faithful to subdue Israel’s future enemies. David further celebrated that God would continue show His strength to faithfully protect His people: “28 Your God has commanded your strength; show Yourself strong, God, You who acted in our behalf. 29 Because of Your temple at Jerusalem Kings will bring gifts to You. 30 Rebuke the animals in the reeds, the herd of bulls with the calves of the peoples, trampling the pieces of silver; He has scattered the peoples who delight in war. 31 Messengers will come from Egypt; Cush will quickly stretch out her hands to God.” (Ps. 68:28-31). “The psalmist now turns to the future. First, he prays that God will complete the work which he has begun by continually strengthening Israel (ver. 28). Then he rises to prophecy. Kings and princes shall bring presents to Zion; empires shall prostrate themselves; Egypt and Ethiopia shall hasten to bow down; all the kingdoms of the earth shall ultimately ‘sing praises unto the Lord.’ Israel and the God of Israel will thus be glorified exceedingly.” (Pulpit Commentary on Ps. 68).7

  • God is faithful to keep His promises. David celebrated that God would be faithful to continue to bring victories for His people (Ps. 68:28-31). “You are my King, God; Command victories for Jacob.” (Ps. 44:4). God promised that He would bless those who bless Israel and curse those who curse it: “And I will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you I will curse. And in you all the families of the earth will be blessed.” (Gen. 12:3). God will continue to be faithful to keep His promises to Israel.

  • God is faithful to keep all His promises.  Also as our example, Moses celebrated God’s faithfulness:  “Know therefore that the LORD your God, He is God, the faithful God, who keeps His covenant and His lovingkindness to a thousandth generation with those who love Him and keep His commandments;”  (Dt. 7:9).  “ . . . I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, . . . showing lovingkindness to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments.”  (Ex. 20:5-6).  “and I will remember My covenant, . . .”  (Gen. 9:15).  Do your prayers also praise God for His faithfulness?  

  • Jesus is also faithful.  As part of the triune God, Jesus is also faithful to keep His promises to you:  “God is faithful, through whom you were called into fellowship with His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.”  (1 Cor. 1:9).  He is faithful, even when we are not:  “If we are faithless, He remains faithful, for He cannot deny Himself.”  (2 Tim. 2:13).   This means that you can trust His many promises to you.  But you cannot have faith in His many promises if you don’t know them.  How many of Jesus’ promises can you name?

7. Majesty: Praise Jesus For Sharing His Glory and Majesty. Ps. 68:32-35.

  • David praised God for His awesome majesty in His sanctuary. Finally, David proclaimed that all the kingdoms of the Earth would one day sing praises to God’s shekinah glory: “32 Sing to God, you kingdoms of the earth, sing praises to the Lord, Selah 33 To Him who rides upon the highest heavens, which are from ancient times; behold, He speaks with His voice, a mighty voice. 34 Ascribe strength to God; His majesty is over Israel, and His strength is in the skies. 35 God, You are awesome from Your sanctuary. The God of Israel Himself gives strength and power to the people. Blessed be God!” (Ps. 68:32-35). With Solomon’s Temple, God’s shekinah glory returned to Israel as its light (2 Chr. 7:1). “So have I seen You in the sanctuary, to see Your power and glory.” (Ps. 63:2).

  • Praise Jesus for His majesty. David repeatedly praised God for His glory: “Come and see the works of God, who is awesome in His deeds toward the sons of mankind.” (Ps. 66:5). “For Your righteousness, God, reaches to the heavens, . . .” (Ps. 77:13). Jesus “ is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature,” (Hebr. 1:3). He is also the light of the world (Jo. 8:12). His light now burns inside you as a beacon to the lost (Matt. 5:14). Are you praising Jesus for His glory and sharing His light with you?

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