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Bible Commentaries

Peake's Commentary on the Bible

Psalms 68


Psalms 42-83 are Elohistic, i.e. they use the word God (Elohim) and avoid the proper name Yahweh, probably from motives of reverence. Here and there, however, the name Yahweh has crept into the text by a natural slip of the scribes.

Verses 1-35

LXVIII. A Song of Triumph.— The most difficult of all the Pss. In some places the text is so corrupt that it defies any attempt at emendation, and the VSS give little, if any, help. The historical allusions are obscure. The poet makes use of older works, especially of “ Deborah’ s Song” in Judges 5.

Psalms 68:1-6 . Praise of God for His power and lovingkindness. This section begins with a quotation from Numbers 10:35, the words used when the Ark moved forward in the forty years’ wandering through the wilderness.

Psalms 68:4 . rideth through the deserts or rather steppes ( cf. Isaiah 40:3).

Psalms 68:7-14 . God’ s care of Israel in the past. The poet illustrates this by his picture, borrowed from Judges 5, of the great victory over the Canaanite kings at the battle of Megiddo in Central Palestine.

Psalms 68:8 . The words “ even yon Sinai” here and in Judges 5:5 are an erroneous gloss. They are ungrammatical and are absent in one of the oldest MSS of the LXX. Besides the poet is thinking of the time of Deborah, not Moses.

Psalms 68:13 f. is unmeaning as it stands, and no emendation helps matters much. The “ snow that fell at Salmon” is also unintelligible: perhaps the poet knew some traditional feature of the story lost to us. Salmon was near Shechem.

Psalms 68:15-23 . Yahweh is enthroned on Zion for the deliverance of His people.

Psalms 68:15 . A mountain of God: i.e. a mountain fitted by its height to be the abode of superhuman beings. But even the peaks of Bashan, the range on the NE. of Palestine, may well look with envy on Zion.

Psalms 68:17 . Read perhaps, “ He hath come from Sinai into the sanctuary.” Sinai was His old home.

Psalms 68:18 . ascended on high: perhaps to contend with the powers of the air and sky ( cf. Isaiah 24:21).

Psalms 68:22 . Some have interpreted this as a reference to the exploits of Judas Maccabæ us in Gilead, as recorded in 1 Maccabees 7. The Ps. has also been placed later, in the time of Alexander Jannæ us (p. 608), who died in 78 B.C. There is, in fact, no certain or even probable indication of date. Here we have a Jewish leader hard pressed by the foe but cheered by a priestly oracle with promise of deliverance and revenge. That is all that we know.

Psalms 68:24-27 . The Festal Procession. Judah. Benjamin, and Galilee were the orthodox Jewish lands in the Maccabean times. So here again we may have a faint sign that the Ps. is Maccabean.

Psalms 68:26 a . Translate, “ Bless God in the choirs.”

Psalms 68:27 . their ruler: read, “ in front.”

Psalms 68:28-35 . Zion the spiritual centre of the whole world. God is to maintain His rule in Jerusalem: nay, the Temple is to attract foreign kings. Egypt and Ethiopia are specially mentioned.

Psalms 68:30 . except the last clause, is hopelessly corrupt. We only know that beasts are the symbols for foreign kings.

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Bibliographical Information
Peake, Arthur. "Commentary on Psalms 68". "Peake's Commentary on the Bible ". 1919.