Tanak Foundations-Concepts in Psalms 64-68

Psa 64.1-10 is another psalm that dealt with some crisis in the life of David, but the specific event is uncertain. The previous psalm has David in “exile” physically, but spiritually he was still serving Yehovah. This would be a lesson for the Jewish exiles in later years in Babylon. Physical exile doesn’t mean that you can’t serve the Lord. The heading reads, “For the Conductor. A Psalm of David.”

Psa 64.1-6 begins with David’s prayer expressing his tale of woes (v 1). He wants to be hidden from the counsel (Hebrew “sowd” or hidden, secret) of the wicked. On the outside, the leaders were concerned with the prestige of the king, but secretly they wanted to destroy David (v 2). The secret plots against David consisted of a “sharp tongue” like a sword (v 3). They shot at David with their words, and he was blameless in the case of Saul and didn’t see this coming. His enemies did not fear the Lord (v 4). They strengthened themselves with internal arguments and reasonings that allowed them to continue against him, laying snares. Any fear of God or man was non-existent (v 5). They were proud of their evil schemes and their inward thoughts were “bottomless” when it came to devising evil against David (v 6).

Psa 64.7-10 says that God will answer them back with his own arrows (v 7) and their own evil plans will come back on their own heads and all who see them will “shake the head” in scorn and derision (v 8). Then they shall fear Yehovah because of his revealed judgments and consider it a warning or admonishment on their own lives (v 9). Then the righteous will rejoice over the justice of God displayed and the mercy shown to them. The righteous will trust his word of promise and all the upright in heart will glory in the wisdom, righteousness and strength of the Lord and all that he has done for them (v 10).

Psa 65-1-13 is a psalm of David and it is unclear as to the occasion. Some believe it was written at the time of a famine and David entreats Yehovah to send rain and a good harvest. Others believe it was written in a time of great plenty, or when the Ark was brought up to Zion. The heading reads, “For the Conductor, with musical accompaniment, by David, a song.”

Psa 65.1-4 begins by saying praise awaits Yehovah in Jerusalem and to be silent before the Lord because there no words can be the ultimate praise. God’s people will gather to pay their vows because God answered their prayers (v 1). God’s greatness not only attracts Israel, but also the non-Jews (v 2). Even though his sons are like his enemies, God forgives (v 3). Blessed (meaning empowered to be a success) is the man whom God “chooses” (elects) in his own sovereignty (John 15.19; Eph 1.4), to dwell in his courts, speaking of communion with Yehovah (v 4).

Psa 65.5-8 says that God answers the prayers of his people with judgment against their enemies (Exo 14.13-27; Deut 10.17; Rev 6.9). God saves physically and spiritually and can be trusted by all men (v 5). God established the mountains in his power and he has authority over all the earth (v 6). He not only controls the seas, but the roaring of the nations and the people as well (v 7). God impresses all mankind by displaying the signs in the heavens (Gen 1.14; Rom 1.1-32). The solar systems in the universe have precise movement (v 8). Haley’s Comet is an example. It flies through the stars without running into anything every 80 years with precision. That means the other celestial bodies avoid hitting it as well because they are moving too. That is just one, infinitesimal example.

Psa 65.9-13 tells us that God visits the earth and waters it so the earth will prosper. After it rains, he helps the crops by sending favorable winds to the fields and protects the young shoots from disease (v 9). He waters the furrows (the ridges made by plowing) and softens the soil (v 10). He crowns the year with a bounty (goodness) and the ground releases the abundance (v 11). All of this happens in the wilderness as well to feed the wild animals (v 12).

Psa 66.1-20 is a psalm that does not bear the name of David, the first one since Psa 50. All people, both Jew and non-Jew, are called upon to praise God for all of his great works. The heading reads, “For the Conductor. A song with musical accompaniment.”

Psa 66.1-4 is an introduction calling upon all nations to praise Yehovah. (v 1). The word for “sing” is “zamen” and it is related to the word “zemorah” meaning “branch.” We should spread God’s praise and glory like the branches of a tree. The word “branch” is also a term for the Messiah (Isa 11.1; Zech 6.11-13). Yeshua also grew up in Nazareth, meaning “branch.” Then we are given the words to say to the Lord in praise when we praise him for his greatness, and how his enemies “give feigned obedience to thee” because they are motivated by fear. All the earth will worship the Lord (Zeph 3.9) and they will sing praises (v 3-4).

Psa 66.5-7 tells us to “come and see” the works of Yehovah and gives some examples like the incident at the Red Sea and the passing over the Jordan (v 5-6). He rules with a rod of iron (Isa 2.1-22) and keeps watch on the nations and warns the unrighteous not to exalt themselves (v 7).

Psa 66.8-12 gives us more reasons to praise Yehovah for all people. He preserves his people and tests them as silver. They may go “through it all” and are even led by God into a net and trapped by the wicked. They went through fire and water, but God brought them out into a blessing.

Psa 66.1-3-15 tells us that a believer will go into the house of the Lord (Temple) and offer Korban Olot (burnt offerings) and pay his vows that he promised as gratitude for his deliverance. He would pay his vows with the best of animals. Psa 65.15 ends with “Selah” meaning we should pause and think about what was just said, and to prostrate.

Psa 66.16-20 tells us that the vow of the psalmist was not fulfilled by korbanot (offerings alone). He would also speak words and declare the goodness of the Lord and what he has done for his “soul” to all who would hear (v 16-17). But just bringing korbanot is not enough without obedience. He did not regard iniquity (in particular idolatry) in his desires because God will not hear (v 18). But Yehovah did hear, and gave the writer more reasons to praise him (v 19). The writer concludes with a blessing to God who has heard his prayer and has been shown mercy (v 20).

Psa 67.1-7 is similar to the Aaronic Blessing in Num 6.24-26 and the writer knew he had a need for mercy. He wanted this blessing for the sake those perishing who did not know “thy way” (the Torah) and so that salvation may be known to them (Acts 2; Amos 9.11; Isa 11.9). Paul said Yehovah was concerned with the non-Jews also (v 2). He wanted the non-Jews to acknowledge Yehovah, and let them worship and revere him with extended hands (Hebrew “yadah”). This is the calling of Israel. They were to take the Torah to all the nations and teach them about Yehovah (v 3). God was coming to judge the nations in his kingdom, so the non-Jews should sing for joy (v 4, and the non-Jews will also praise Yehovah because “the earth has yielded its produce.” This speaks of a prosperous harvest (John 4.35-36) and alludes to the resurrection (v 5-6). Israel will be blessed (empowered to succeed) so that the Torah and the Messiah can spread out to all the world (Gen 28.14). Then the Jew and the non-Jew will know the Lord (v 7).

Psa 68.1-35 has a theme about the revelation at Sinai according to the Targum and it is the song of the day for the second day of Shavuot. Some scholars believe it was written when David brought the Ark to the city of Jerusalem (2 Sam 6). The heading reads, “For the Conductor. A Psalm of David. A song.”

Psa 68.1-6 tells us that God triumphs over his enemies. Psa 68.1 quotes Moses in Num 10.35 when the Ark would move out and forward with the people. It is also said when the Torah scroll is removed from the Ark in a synagogue service. This expresses the need of God’s people to have Yehovah go before them to defeat their enemies. As smoke has no ability to stand, so, too, will God’s enemies be driven away. In the same way melts before the “fire” of Yehovah (pillar of fire), the wicked will perish before the Lord (v 2). But the tzadikim (righteous) are glad in God’s presence and the people sing to Yehovah and “cast up a highway (in their hearts) for him who rides (on the Ark, which was a “Maaseh Merkavah” or “the work of the chariot” which was seen as a throne) through the desert, or “aravah” (v 3). His name is “Yah” (Hebrew letters Yod and Hay) (short for Yehovah) which is made up of the letters Yod, Hay, Vav, Hay (v 4). Even though God is on his throne in Hebrew, he is still involved with the weak and helpless. He is a father to the fatherless and a judge for the widows. This alludes to Israel in exile (Lam 1.1, 5.3). He still cares for the helpless and those of low stature and not completely lost (v 5). He makes a home for those without a family and can bring out those who are in some sort of bondage due to poverty. But this promise does not apply to the wicked (v 6).

Psa 68.7-10 tells us about God’s presence with Israel in the wilderness. He went before them with a cloud by day and fire by night (v 7). The earth shook when the Torah was given and the heavens dropped heavy storm clouds upon the mountain, and Sinai quaked (Exo 19.16-19) at the presence of the God of Israel. This shows Israel’s covenant position (v 8). He sent plentiful “rain” (an idiom for teaching-Deut 32.2) and revived the people when spiritually thirsty to confirm the covenant he had made (v 9). The “Kahal” (assembly) settled in Canaan like sheep, and God blessed the poor and the needy among them also (v 10).

Psa 68.11-14 says the Lord gave the word that he would aid the people and many women proclaimed the news about God’s victories in their songs (an ancient practice) like in Exo 15.20-21 (v 11). Armies (“hosts”) fled before Yehovah Tzavaot (Lord of the armies) and the women who remained at home divided the spoil (v 12). When Israel rests between the sheepfold, the doves are covered with silver and their wings with gold, meaning Israel was once lowly but will now be blessed and glorious when the Lord scattered the kings in Canaan (v 13).

Psa 68.15-19 tells us that the mountain of God (Zion) is as the mountain of Bashan (a high mountain). Bashan is in the Golan Heights and a mountain that is part of the heritage of God with many peaks (v 15). But God chose Zion over Bashan for his dwelling place (v 16). The chariots of God (angels) are many and the Lord is among them like at Sinai. Israel didn’t have or need literal chariots (v 17). God has ascended on high after a victory and led captivity captive (God dealt with the enemy) and he received gifts of tribute from them (v 18). This verse is quoted by Paul in Eph 4.8 and applied it to the ascension of Yeshua after the resurrection when he led those who were resurrected with him from Sheol to Heaven on Yom Ha Bikkurim (Matt 27.51-53).

Psa 68.19-23 gives praise to God who wins the battles against the enemies of Israel. He gives us benefits daily and helps us bear our loads that seem heavy to us. Bearing a load alludes to forgiveness (v 19). God is a God of salvation and provides outlets and ways to escape death (v 20). But God will crush the head of his enemies (Geb 3.15; Hab 3.13), whose defiant wildness (“hairy crown” meaning long hair) refuses to submit to God and his Torah (v 21). God will search out and find his enemies and bring them to judgment (v 22). Israel’s feet will be covered in the blood of their enemies after a great slaughter, and even the dogs will lick up their blood, like Jezebel in 1 Kings 21.19 (v 23).

Psa 68.24-27 tells us about the triumphal procession after a victory with the Ark (v 24), with singers and players following, with the women playing tambourines (v 25). All the descendants of Abraham (“the fountain of Israel”) will bless Yehovah (v 26). Benjamin (the smallest tribe) is among them, with the leaders of Judah (in the south) and Zebulon and Naphtali (the remotest tribes in the north). This alludes to the greatest and the lowliest tribes together will praise Yehovah (v 27).

Psa 68.28-31 speaks of the confidence Israel should have for future victories. God has ordained that his strength and power be demonstrated on Israel’s behalf (v 28). In the end, kings will bring tribute to God in Jerusalem (v 29). David asks God to rebuke all oppressors, the “bulls” (strong nations like Egypt) who grovel at money and accept bribes are military minded (v 30). Envoys will come out of Egypt and Ethiopia (ancient enemies) to worship the God of Israel (v 31). Ll 68. 32-35 tells us that all the nations of the earth will praise Yehovah (v 32), who rides on the heavens (God’s throne-Ezek 1) from ancient times (Olam). Acknowledge God as the mighty ruler over Israel. His strength and power is in the heavens, far above any interference from man. God is awesome from the heavenly sanctuary (Hebrew root is “mikdash” or “kedusha”), which is also connected to the earthly sanctuary. The Temple was called the “Beit Ha Mikdash” meaning the “house of Kedusha.” Yehovah gives strength and power to his people Israel.

Posted in All Teachings, Articles, Idioms, Phrases and Concepts, Prophecy/Eschatology, The Feasts of the Lord, The Tanach, Tying into the New Testament

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