Psalms For Life
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Yahveh Elohim hear our prayers

Psalm 68

Summon your power, God

Lest God seems unconcerned about the evil ravaging our world, David assures us he’s come to live among us and is powerful, compassionate, and determined to bless the weak and set the world to rights.

For the worship leader. A David psalm, a song.

Let God rise up
and his enemies be scattered!
May those who hate him flee before him.
2 Let them be blown away
like a puff of smoke.
May evildoers perish before God
like wax before a flame
3 while those who put their trust in God
rejoice and exult before him
overcome with joy.

4 Sing to God
make music to his name.
Raise a song to Cloud Rider
whose name is YHWH.
5 A father to the fatherless
and a defender of widows
is the God whose house is holy.
6 God provides homes for the homeless
and releases prisoners to joyful freedom
while those who rebel against him
live in a burnt-out land.

7 When you led your people out
marching through the wilderness, God   Selah
8 the earth shook
and the heavens poured
before you, the God of Sinai
before God, the God of Israel!
9 You sent a generous downpour, God
to revive your weary land.
10 When your people settled in the land, God
in your goodness
you provided for the poor.

11 The Lord gave the word
and a huge brigade of women spread the news:
12 “Kings and their armies are fleeing headlong
while the women at home divide the spoils!”
13 Even you who sleep between the sheepfolds
shimmer like the silver-tipped wings of a dove
its feathers glistening with gold.
14 When the Almighty scattered the kings in battle
a blizzard engulfed Dark Mountain!

15 What a majestic multi-peaked mountain
Mount Bashan is!
16 Why, multi-peaked mountain
do you envy the mountain God chose for his home
where YHWH will live forever?
17 With myriads and myriads of chariots
the Lord came up from Sinai into his sanctuary.
18 You ascended its heights
leading captives in parade, YHWH God
and receiving tribute from people—
even from the rebellious.

19 Blessed be YHWH
who bears our burdens day after day
the God who saves us!   Selah
20 Our God is a God who delivers—
Sovereign YHWH delivers us from death.
21 Yes, God will crush his enemies’ skulls
the hairy heads
of those who swagger in their guilt.
22 YHWH says:
“I’ll bring your enemies back from Bashan
and up from the depths of the sea
23 so your feet can tramp through their blood
and your dogs lap up their share too.”

24 People saw your triumphal procession, God
the procession of my God and king
into the sanctuary.
25 The singers came first
the musicians in the back
and the young women beating drums in between:
26 “Bless God in the great congregation, YHWH
you descendants of Israel!”
27 Little Benjamin is out front, leading
with the princes of Judah in company
followed by Zebulun and Naphtali’s princes.

28 Summon your power, God—
the power you exerted
on our behalf before, God!
29 Earth’s kings bring their tribute
to your temple in Jerusalem.
30 Rebuke the beasts lurking in the reeds
the herd of bulls
bellowing among the calves of the nations!
Trample down those who lust after booty
and scatter the nations that delight in war!
31 Envoys will make their way from Egypt
and Nubians stream toward God
with outstretched hands.

32 Sing to God, earth’s kingdoms!
Sing praise to the Lord.   Selah
33 To him who rides
through the heavens’ ancient heights.
Hear the deafening sound of him
thundering across the sky!
34 Ascribe power to God
who reigns in majesty over Israel
and reveals his power in the skies.
35 God is awesome in his sanctuary
the God of Israel
who gives strength and power to his people.
Blessed be God!

David presents Israel’s story here in terms of not God’s accompanying Israel, but rather Israel’s accompanying God on his victory march from Egypt to Zion. Since the Israelites know the component stories so well, David gives highlights with a movie trailer’s style and speed. This makes the psalm a fun, but challenging read. David has YHWH’s superiority over Baal in mind throughout, calling YHWH “Cloud Rider,” a Canaanite name for Baal, whose chariot supposedly thundered across the clouds en route to battle.

David recounts some of God’s victories over those who tried to keep Israel from reaching Canaan, where God was enthroned in Zion’s sanctuary. David humorously personifies towering Mount Bashan, Baal’s alleged home, furious because YHWH had overlooked it to make Mount Zion—a mere fraction of Bashan’s height—his home instead. David effectively says, “Eat your heart out, Bashan! God really did choose squat, little Zion, over you!”

David says God will bring the Israelites’ enemies back from Bashan and from the depths of the sea so the Israelites can tramp through their blood. He’s referring to enemies from both north and south (Pharoah’s army), all hellbent on Israel’s destruction. Despite their steely determination, all who stand against God’s people are destined to be crushed in keeping with Gen. 3:15.

David prays YHWH will subdue Israel’s enemies, pictured as stealthy crocodiles and bellowing bulls. And everywhere God blesses the overlooked: the homeless, fatherless, widows. Even the shepherds who slept with their sheep, instead of going to war, glitter with booty. This likely refers to the family of Jael, the woman who crushed the skull of the Canaanite commander asleep in her tent, countering Deborah’s negative reference to shepherds in her victory song (Jdg. 5:16).

Why does God’s taking up residence in Jerusalem call for universal celebration? Because it means he’s redeeming our undeserving race, releasing the oppressed from their burdens, ridding our world of evil and war, and enacting justice for all.[1] Thus, we ask him to finish his great redemptive work, and we resist evil, longing for that glorious day when all earth’s peoples bow before him.


Thank you, Jesus, that your love overcame hate on the cross. You ascended Zion’s hill and disarmed the powers of evil to bless the weak,  bear my burdens daily, and ultimately judge the earth and fill it with your glory. May your kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven. Amen.

In your free moments today, meditate on these words:

Blessed be YHWH
who bears our burdens day after day
the God who saves us!


[1] David’s chiasm puts the emphasis here on God’s saving actions both daily and when we’re facing death: A: Praise the God who rides through the heavens (vv. 1-6), B: God rescues and judges (vv. 7-14), C: Zion’s God dominates Bashan (vv. 15-17), D: God’s release of captives (v. 18), E: GOD RESCUES US DAILY (v. 19), E: GOD RESCUES US FROM DEATH (v. 20), D: God’s crushing his enemy (v. 21), C: Zion’s God dominates Bashan (vv. 22-24), B: God rescues and judges (vv. 25-31), A: Praise the God who rides through the heavens (vv. 32-35).


Every translator of the Psalms must decide how to handle God’s personal name, YHWH or YHVH, which occurs repeatedly in its Hebrew text. Translators of the King James Version usually translated it “LORD” (all caps) and sometimes transliterated it (badly) as “Jehovah.” Likewise, all modern translations either translate or transliterate it. Some other options for translating it are “the Eternal,” “the Almighty,” or “the Sovereign Lord.”

While translating it aims to make it more accessible to readers, transliterating it seems to me more faithful to the text since it’s not a word at all, but rather God’s uniquely personal name. This roots it more firmly in the biblical story as the name God revealed to Moses on Mount Sinai. Meaning “the self-existent One who answers to no one,” the name YHWH set Israel’s God apart from all the gods of Israel’s neighbors.

Personal names are, well, very personal. Even the sound of a name can evoke strong emotion. I’ve chosen to transliterate only YHWH’s consonants since the earliest Hebrew manuscripts contain only consonants, the vowels being added much later. My aim in doing so is to honor God’s name and set it apart, as unique.

One problem with YHWH is that we aren’t sure how it was pronounced since Jews long ago stopped saying it out of reverence. (They read Adonai instead whenever they come to YHWH in the text.) I take the advice of my esteemed Hebrew professor, Raymond Dillard, who advocated pronouncing it as Yahveh (Yah·vay). He favored that over the standard Yahweh since the modern Hebrew pronunciation of its third consonant makes the name sound more robustly Jewish. It also makes it sound more robust, period.

Finding strength in the ancient psalms

May these psalms be a light to you in dark times. You can read more of Mark Anderson's writings on Christianity, culture, and inter-faith dialogue at Understanding Christianity Today.