The Word Made Fresh
(To the worship leader: a psalm of David; a song.)
1Let God arise and scatter the enemy!
Let those who hate God take flight and run away.
2Blow them away like smoke!
Melt them away like wax!
3Let those who are faithful rejoice and celebrate before God.
Let them triumph and be glad!
4Sing praises to God, people.
Raise a song of triumph to the one who steers the clouds,
the one whose name is Yahweh, the LORD.
Celebrate before our God!
5God is the orphan’s parent. God protects the widowed.
God watches over them from the sacred throne.
6God gives homes to those who are forsaken,
and leads captives to freedom and prosperity.
But those who rebel against God
live in barren wastelands.
7When you led your people, O God,
when you walked with them through the wilderness,
8the ground shook, and the sky poured rain in God’s presence –
the presence of the God of Sinai, the God of Israel.
9It was you, God, who sent plenty of rain,
and restored your heritage for them when it was exhausted.
10Your people found a place to settle.
Your care, O God, provided for those in need.
11The LORD issued the decree,
and a great number of women proclaimed the good news,
12telling the story of the kings of our enemies in flight.
The women divided the spoils.
13Even those camping with the animals
are protected by the wings of a dove,
silver wings with green gold pinions.
14When the Almighty One scattered enemy kings at Zalmon,
snow fell among them.
15See the great mountain of Bashan with its many peaks.
16Why do you look on enviously, peaks of Bashan?
Why are you jealous of the mountain God has chosen,
and on which the LORD will forever reside?
17With twenty thousand mighty chariots –
no, thousands of thousands –
the LORD came from Sinai to the sacred place.
18You came down from the high peak, leading the captives behind you,
accepting gifts from the people, even those living there,
the ones who were against the LORD.
19Acclaim goes to the LORD who bears us up every day.
God is our savior.
20Our God is a God who saves us,
and God, the LORD, brings escape from death.
21God will surely crush the enemy’s hairy heads,
those who daily continue in their guilty ways.
22The LORD said, “I will bring them back from Bashan,
back from the depths of the sea,
23and you will walk in their blood,
and the dogs will also have their share.”
24Your solemn processions into the sanctuary
have been witnessed, O God my King,
25led by the singers, behind whom followed the musicians.
Between them were the young women playing tambourines.
26Praise God in the great congregation!
Praise the LORD, you descendants of Israel!
27There is Benjamin, the smallest tribe,
leading the royalty of Judah walking together,
followed by the royalty of Zebulun and then Naphtali.
28Display your strength, O God,
and show us your might as you have done for us before.
29Kings bearing gifts come to you
at your temple in Jerusalem.
30Scold the wild animals living among the reeds –
that herd of bulls with the calves of the people.
Trample those who lust after recognition,
and scatter those who love violence.
31May bronze from Egypt be brought to you.
May the people of Cush hurry to honor you.
32Sing to God, you earthly kingdoms!
Sing praises to the LORD!
33The One who rides in the ancient heavens
speaks with a mighty voice.
34Power is attributed to God who is majestic in Israel,
and whose might is high above us.
35We are awestruck at God in the sanctuary, the God of Israel
who grants power and strength to the people.
God be praised!
Superscription: the 53rd of the psalms ascribed to David.
1-4: In a land that was regularly overrun by more powerful nations, and even more regularly threatened by its nearer neighbors, we can understand why so many of the psalms have to do with seeking God’s help against adversaries.
5-10: God is seen consistently as the champion of the weak: orphans, widows, the desolate and the prisoners are mentioned in verses 5 and 6. But God’s people are also often described as small and weak among the nations (see Deuteronomy 7:7 and 9:5), and the psalm touches on their miraculous delivery from slavery in Egypt.
11-14: Perhaps a recent victory is behind these verses. The women at home divide the spoils of battle – the reference to silver wings and green gold feathers is perhaps a reference to objects captured from an enemy. Zalmon is a hill near Shechem where one of the early judges of Israel, Abimelech, launched an attack on the tower of Shechem (Judges 9:46-49).
15-20: Bashan is a reference to one of Israel’s early enemies, King Og of Bashan (see Deuteronomy 3:1-3). Verses 17-18 are difficult to place chronologically – Israel was almost never able to field a cavalry of 20,000 chariots. Verse 19 describes a scene that was witnessed often enough by the citizens of Jerusalem. God is given credit for all Israel’s past victories.
21-27: The psalm pictures a great procession into the city and on into the temple compound; the victorious army leads its captives in a processional victory parade for the benefit of the populace.
28-35: The psalm ends with a rising and resounding crescendo of praise to God.
The primary takeaway from this and other songs of battle is that all our victories – whether military, or work-related, or the achievement of personal goals – are life events that should elicit praise to God. Without God we can do nothing.