Psalm 68 – Christmas From the Underground

Bible opened to Psalm 68 with hand holding block of Green and Black's Organic 85 Percent Dark Chocolate

Today’s passage: Psalm 68

Today’s chocolateGreen & Black’s Organic 85% Dark Chocolate

Just so you’ve got an overview of Psalm 68, for that inevitable moment when I zero in on a single line in this 35-verse behemoth: it’s about God’s strength, his protection of his people, and his triumph over evildoers. And when I say “behemoth,” I mean by comparison to its immediate surroundings. The psalms in proximity have been ten, maybe twenty verses long, but man, we ain’t even near Psalm 119 yet. Psalm 119! Dang, son.

But a word about this psalm, Psalm 68. It’s got that discomfiting signature violence against God’s enemies that we’ve seen in David’s other psalms. For example, we have lines such as “Surely God will shatter the head of His enemies, the hairy crown of him who goes on in his guilty deeds” (21) and “…[Y]our foot may shatter them in blood, the tongue of your dogs may have its portion from your enemies” (23). We’ve been down this road before, and we know the difficulties in traversing it. Suffice it to say if you are looking for comfort amidst the daily brutalities of our modern world, this is maybe not the psalm for you.

But here’s what caught my attention today. I recognized this verse from a New Testament quotation:

You have ascended on high, You have led captive Your captives;
You have received gifts among men,
Even among the rebellious also, that the Lord God may dwell there. (18)

Roughly a thousand years after David penned those lines, Paul quotes them in his letter to the Ephesians. Paul interprets them as referring to Jesus Christ, who, having descended into the grave, comes back up bearing spiritual gifts for his people.

But consider the very next verse in Psalm 68: “Blessed be the Lord, who daily bears our burden, the God who is our salvation” (19). The Lord himself bears our burden and saves us. If Paul considers the preceding verse to refer to Jesus Christ, then how much more is it true of this verse itself? Of all the gifts that Jesus Christ gives us, what gift is greater than bearing the burden of our sin and rescuing us from all that’s evil about us? Without him, we’d be crushed under the weight of our own vice–but he gives us life. He lifts the weight.

Question of the Day: Was David aware that he was penning a messianic prophecy when he wrote Psalm 68:18? Why or why not?

 

2 thoughts on “Psalm 68 – Christmas From the Underground

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