Provision and Protection
(7) God, when you went out before your people, when you marched through the wilderness (Selah), (8) the earth quaked, the heavens deluged before God, the (Holy) One of Sinai, before God, the God of Israel. (9) Abundant rain you sent forth, God. You restored your parched inheritance. (10) Your people settled there. You provided in your goodness for the poor, God. (11) The Lord gives the command. Great (is) the host proclaiming (it). (12) The kings and (their) armies flee in a panic, and she who remains at home divides the spoils. (13) Though you lie down among the campfires, (you will be like) the wings of a dove, covered with silver and its pinions with shimmering gold. (14) When the Almighty scatters the kings, it is like snow falling on Zalmon.
This second segment of Psalm 68 is considered by many scholars to be one of the most difficult passages to translate in the entire Old Testament. This is due to the obscure references found there, particularly in verses 12-14. As for repetitions, we should note the six uses of “God” (Elohim) (vss. 7-10) as well as three other terms referring to God: “the (Holy) One of Sinai” (vs. 8), “Lord” (Adonai) (vs. 11), and “the Almighty” (vs. 14).
The first four verses probably refer to God’s leading his chosen people in triumph during their conquest of the Promised Land under Joshua’s leadership (vss. 7-10). The statement, “your people settled there,” seems to support this interpretation (vs. 10). The next four verses may well describe how God continued to safeguard his chosen people as they faced their enemies (vss. 11-14). Verses 12 & 13 probably refer to God’s fighting Israel’s battles for her while “she remains at home…(and) divides the spoils” (vs. 12). “The wings of a dove covered with silver...and shimmering gold” probably refer to the nation’s enjoyment of prosperity as the result of God’s blessings (vs. 13) . Snow falling on Zalmon (we’re not sure of the precise location) serves as an apt description of God’s scattering Israel’s enemies (vs. 14). In other words, Israel during the conquest of the Promised Land enjoyed God's overflowing provision and constant protection.
I. God’s provision of the Promised Land (7-10)
II. God’s protection in the Promised Land (11-14)
Just as God provided the Promised Land for his chosen people, so he protected them while they took possession of it.
Psalm 23 contains a statement that summarizes the thrust of this segment: “You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies” (Ps. 23:5). Sitting down to feast while enemies stand by and watch helplessly is a brilliant way to describe the protection enjoyed by those in right relationship with a God who shields them from all danger.
Consider other phrases that describe God’s abundant blessings in this segment. “You went out before your people” (vs. 7). “You restored your parched inheritance” (vs. 9). “You provided in your goodness for the poor” (vs. 10). “She who remains at home divides the spoils” (vs. 12). “Though you lie down among the campfires, (you will be like) the wings of a dove” (vs. 13). God’s covenant nation could rest secure in the knowledge that their loving protector was keeping watch over them. He took care of their every need no matter how threatening the dangers that surrounded them. Just as that was true for ancient Israel, so it is for those who are God's sons and daughters by faith in Christ.