The Treasury of David

The Treasury of David is one of several C.H. Spurgeon books that are in the public domain. If you propose to study the Psalms, I suggest you download this as a companion for your other references.

Psalm 68

Explanatory Notes and Quaint Sayings
Hints to the Village Preacher

TITLE.To the Chief Musician, a Psalm or Song of David. We have already said enough about this title when dealing with Psalms 65 and 66. The present is obviously a song to be sung at the removal of the ark, and in all probability was rehearsed when David conducted it with holy joy from the house of Obededom to the prepared place on Mount Zion. It is the most soul-stirring hymn. The first verses were often the battle song of the Covenanters and Ironsides, and the whole Psalm fitly pictures the way of the Lord Jesus among his saints and his ascent to glory. The Psalm is at once surpassingly excellent and difficult. Its darkness in some stanzas is utterly impenetrable. Well does a German critic speak of it as a Titan very hard to master? Our slender scholarship has utterly failed us and we have had to follow a surer Guide. We trust our thoughts may not however prove unprofitable.

DIVISION. With the words of the first two verses, the ark is uplifted, and the procession begins to move. In Ps 68:3-6, the godly in the assembly are exhorted to commence their joyous songs, and arguments are adduced to help their joy. Then the glorious march of Jehovah in the wilderness is sung: Ps 68:7-10, and his victories in war are celebrated in verses Ps 68:11-14. The joyous shouts are louder as Zion comes in sight, and the ark is borne up the hill: Ps 68:15-19. On the summit of the mount, the priests sing a hymn concerning the Lord’s goodness and justice; the safety of his friends, and the ruin of his foes: Ps 68:20-23. Meanwhile, the procession is described as it winds up the hill: Ps 68:24-27. The poet anticipates a time of wider conquest, Ps 68:28-31: and concludes with a noble burst of song unto Jehovah.

Verse 13. Though ye have lien among the pots. Does he mean that the women at home, who had been meanly clad as they performed their household work, would be so gorgeously arrayed in the spoil, that they would be like doves of silver wing and golden plumage? Or, would he say that Israel, which had been begrimed in the brick kilns of Egypt, should come forth lustrous and happy in triumph and liberty? Or, did the song signify that the ark should be brought from its poor abode with Obededom into a fairer dwelling place? It is a hard passage, a nut for the learned to crack. If we knew all that was known when this ancient hymn was composed, the allusion would no doubt strike us as being beautifully appropriate, but as we do not, we will let it rest among the unriddled things. Alexander reads it, “When ye shall lie down between the borders, ye shall be like the wings, “etc., which he considers meaning, “when settled in peace, the land shall enjoy prosperity; “but this version does not seem to us any more clear than our authorized one. Of making many conjectures there is no end; but the sense seems to be, that from the lowest condition the Lord would lift up his people into joy, liberty, wealth, and beauty. Their enemies may have called them squatters among the pots—in allusion to their Egyptian slavery; they may have jested at them as scullions of Pharaoh’s kitchen; but the Lord would avenge them and give them beauty for blackness, glory for grime. Yet shall ye be as the wings of a dove covered with silver, and her feathers with yellow gold. The dove’s wing flashed light like silver, and anon gleamed with the radiance of “the pale, pure gold.” The lovely, changeable colors of the dove might well image the mild, lustrous beauty of the nation when arrayed in white holiday attire, bedecked with gems, jewels, and ornaments of gold. God’s saints have been in worse places than among the pots, but now they soar aloft into the heavenly places in Christ Jesus.

Singing Psalms 68

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