Psalm 68 - Proclaim the power of God
For the director of music. Of David. A psalm. A song.
1) May God arise, may his enemies be scattered;
may his foes flee before him.
2) May you blow them away like smoke—
as wax melts before the fire,
may the wicked perish before God.
3) But may the righteous be glad
and rejoice before God;
may they be happy and joyful.
4) Sing to God, sing in praise of his name,
extol him who rides on the clouds;
rejoice before him—his name is the Lord.
5) A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows,
is God in his holy dwelling.
6) God sets the lonely in families,
he leads out the prisoners with singing;
but the rebellious live in a sun-scorched land.
7) When you, God, went out before your people,
when you marched through the wilderness,
8) the earth shook, the heavens poured down rain,
before God, the One of Sinai,
before God, the God of Israel.
9) You gave abundant showers, O God;
you refreshed your weary inheritance.
10) Your people settled in it,
and from your bounty, God, you provided for the poor.
11) The Lord announces the word,
and the women who proclaim it are a mighty throng:
12) “Kings and armies flee in haste;
the women at home divide the plunder.
13) Even while you sleep among the sheep pens,
the wings of my dove are sheathed with silver,
its feathers with shining gold.”
14) When the Almighty scattered the kings in the land,
it was like snow fallen on Mount Zalmon.
15) Mount Bashan, majestic mountain,
Mount Bashan, rugged mountain,
16) why gaze in envy, you rugged mountain,
at the mountain where God chooses to reign,
where the Lord himself will dwell forever?
17) The chariots of God are tens of thousands
and thousands of thousands;
the Lord has come from Sinai into his sanctuary.
18) When you ascended on high,
you took many captives;
you received gifts from people,
even from the rebellious—
that you, Lord God, might dwell there.
19) Praise be to the Lord, to God our Savior,
who daily bears our burdens.
20) Our God is a God who saves;
from the Sovereign Lord comes escape from death.
21) Surely God will crush the heads of his enemies,
the hairy crowns of those who go on in their sins.
22) The Lord says, “I will bring them from Bashan;
I will bring them from the depths of the sea,
23) that your feet may wade in the blood of your foes,
while the tongues of your dogs have their share.”
24) Your procession, God, has come into view,
the procession of my God and King into the sanctuary.
25) In front are the singers, after them the musicians;
with them are the young women playing the timbrels.
26) Praise God in the great congregation;
praise the Lord in the assembly of Israel.
27) There is the little tribe of Benjamin, leading them,
there the great throng of Judah’s princes,
and there the princes of Zebulun and of Naphtali.
28) Summon your power, God;
show us your strength, our God, as you have done before.
29) Because of your temple at Jerusalem
kings will bring you gifts.
30) Rebuke the beast among the reeds,
the herd of bulls among the calves of the nations.
Humbled, may the beast bring bars of silver.
Scatter the nations who delight in war.
31) Envoys will come from Egypt;
Cush will submit herself to God.
32) Sing to God, you kingdoms of the earth,
sing praise to the Lord,
33) to him who rides across the highest heavens, the ancient heavens,
who thunders with mighty voice.
34) Proclaim the power of God,
whose majesty is over Israel,
whose power is in the heavens.
35) You, God, are awesome in your sanctuary;
the God of Israel gives power and strength to his people.
Praise be to God!
7th Sunday of Easter, Year A, verses 1-10, 32-35
Power is one of the attributes of God. Power is one of those concepts that is often misunderstood. We can see power only as a matter of physical force. Storms and earthquakes are powerful. Strong men, the wealthy, kings, and armies are powerful.
But power is not physical force. Power is simply the ability to act, to accomplish something.
We mistake the power of God if we worship the mighty, the showy,the dramatic. We will proclaim a cartoon of God if we only tell about God's "cinematic" power.
Of course, God works with the immensity of forces in the natural and social world. But God also exercises power in subtle and gentle ways which may escape our notice or even comprehension.
The psalm evokes the conventional power that preoccupies our attention. Enemies are vanquished, foes submit, and the wicked melt in the heat of God's presence.
Yet even more impressively, the psalm sings of the power which seizes our imagination, and makes God our hope. This God is "a father to the fatherless, a defender of widows," who gives the lonely new families, and leads those in bondage into the joy of freedom. This God detests injustice, seeks to humble the haughty, and cates for those in want.
We may notice the Big Spectaculars, but do we also see the way God is acting in small, even microscopic ways, leading us into truth, slowly melting hard hearts and opening closed eyes, is making loving communities, refreshing weary lands, and always seeking the healing of people and the whole wide world.
It is no wonder there is a throng of faithful women, and maybe some men, too, proclaiming the power of God. God's power is great and awesome, not just because it is big, but also because it is tiny, it is all-encompassing, it is wonder-working, it is way-making, it is good and just and loving and right.
"Praise be to the Lord, to God our Savior, who daily bears our burdens."
Author uncredited, Fantasy Surreal God Foot. Public domain, Pixabay license.
* New Revised Standard Version Bible (NRSV), copyright © 1989 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.