This introduction serves as an invitation to join in an on-going journey of discovery. You will not need to buy tickets nor make travel plans. All that's required is your Bible and a quiet place to read and meditate. Together we'll explore the Book of Psalms, Israel’s hymnal and longest collection of poetry.  

Psalm 68:1-6

Our Awesome God

(H) For the director of the choir, a psalm of David, a song. (1) God will arise, his enemies will be scattered, and those who hate him will flee before him. (2) As smoke is driven away, so drive them away. As wax melts before a fire, so may the wicked perish before God, (3) but the righteous will be glad. They will exult before God. They will rejoice with gladness. (4) Sing to God! Make music to his name! Lift up (a song) to him who rides through the desert plain, whose name is Yah, and exult before him! (5) Father of orphans and defender of widows, God (is) in his holy dwelling place. (6) God causes the solitary to dwell in homes. He leads out the prisoners to prosperity, but the rebellious dwell in a parched land.

The key repetition in this opening segment is found four times in the first four verses: “before him/before God.” First, it is God’s enemies who flee before his wrath (vss. 1 & 2). Then, it is the righteous who rejoice in worship before him (vss. 3 & 4).

Several words describe how God will deal with the wicked: “scattered...flee” (vs. 1), “driven away” used twice as well as “perish” (vs. 2). In contrast, several words express the joyful worship of the righteous: “be glad...exult...rejoice” (vs. 3) as well as “sing...make music...lift up a song,” and a repetition of “exult” (vss. 3 & 4). 

I.  What happens when God appears  (1-4)
II.  What God will do when he appears (5 & 6)

When God appears, his foes will flee for fear of his wrath while the righteous will rejoice because of his mercy.

The psalmist uses two similes in one verse to help his readers grasp just how fleeting and frail our human existence is when we consider the overwhelming power of our eternal God. The first is smoke blown away by a strong wind. The second is wax melting when brought near a hot fire (vs. 2). We all too easily forget how weak we are and how powerful God is until we are brought face to face with the raw forces of nature. Video images of hurricanes, volcanoes, or tsunamis leveling everything in their paths and wildfires driven by strong winds burning entire mountainsides or destroying whole neighborhoods vividly remind us how powerless we are before the awesome might of the God we worship.

For those who do not know God, displays of God’s power can arouse feelings of terror because they foreshadow the day of judgment when all who have rejected their creator will be required to give an account of their lives before him. For those who know God personally through faith in Christ, reminders of God’s awesome power should lead us to worship because they remind us not only that our God alone possesses limitless strength but that he is also a God of infinite love and mercy. He is the one who defends the powerless and the weak, the one who has poured out his grace into our lives.

We should regularly take time to praise him as verse 4 instructs us. The words of Isaac Watts’ great hymn can help us do just that:  “I sing the mighty power of God, that made the mountains rise, / that spread the flowing seas abroad, and built the lofty skies. / I sing the wisdom that ordained the sun to rule the day; / the moon shines full at his command, and all the stars obey. // I sing the goodness of the Lord, who filled the earth with food, / who formed all creatures by his Word, and then pronounced them good. / Lord, how thy wonders are displayed, where’er I turn my eye, / if I survey the ground I tread, or gaze upon the sky.”

Psalm 68:7-14

Psalm 67