The Shepherd in Zion
(65) Then the Lord awoke as from sleep,like a mighty man who shouts because of wine, (66) and he smote his adversaries as they fled. He put them to everlasting shame. (67) He rejected the tent of Joseph. He did not choose the tribe of Ephraim, (68) but he chose the tribe of Judah, Mount Zion, which he loves. (69) He built his sanctuary like the heights, like the earth which he established forever. (70) He chose David, his servant, and took him from the sheepfolds. (71) From following the nursing ewes he brought him to shepherd Jacob, his people, and Israel, his inheritance. (72) So he shepherded them in accordance with the integrity of his heart and guided them with his skillful hands.
Repetitions again point to the message of this final segment of the psalm. The author uses the verb, “chose,” three times (vss. 67, 68, & 70) along with its antonym, “rejected,” (vs. 67). “Tribe” is used twice in quick succession (vss. 67 & 68). The verb “to shepherd/shepherded” occurs twice (vss. 71 & 72) along with “sheepfolds” (vs. 70) and “guided” (vs. 72). All these references provide a fitting conclusion to this long psalm regarding Israel’s early history climaxing in David’s being chosen to serve as king in Zion.
I. God scattering his enemies in judgment (65 & 66)
II. God choosing Mount Zion for his sanctuary (67-69)
III. God appointing David as Israel's shepherd/king (70-72)
God’s choice of Zion as his dwelling place and of David as his king climaxed all he had been doing for Israel since delivering them from Egypt.
This closing segment of Psalm 78 fittingly brings to an end this lengthy recounting of Israel’s early history from their deliverance from Egypt until their formation as a nation with Zion as their capital. After all that has taken place, God’s covenant nation has been settled in the land of promise with a secure center for worship and with David, a godly monarch, to lead them. Despite the relentless pressure they had faced from their enemies and their woeful record of persistent rebellion, God had never abandoned them but had faithfully fulfilled every promise he had made.
God has likewise given to us who are under the New Covenant in Christ great and wonderful promises. We look forward to the day when Jesus shall reign on earth in the Millennial Kingdom. God will once again establish Zion as his dwelling place, and David’s Son will rule as his Shepherd/King over the whole world. As we look back to the fulfillment of God’s purposes for Israel in establishing the first Davidic kingdom, so we can be confident that he will establish another Davidic kingdom, this one ruled by Messiah, his beloved Son. Jesus came the first time not to rule but to offer his life on the cross as a ransom for many. He is coming the second time to establish God’s dominion over the whole earth. When that takes place, every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord. In the words of Paul, “We wait for the blessed hope, the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ” (Tit. 2:13).