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Wow! I haven't even digested the Psalm 19 study and now you've given me all these goodies in Psalm 68. At some point I need to admit that I'm out of my depth and go back to blogging about tattoos and kissing. ;-)

Thanks for helping me get into ancient sandals and also understand a little about Bashan vs. Sinai. Thanks also for affirming the organization of this Psalm of which someone said, "There is no way to show any progression of thought, and no outline is possible."

Bob MacDonald

John, I am having trouble with the justification of jussives. Many Hebrew verbs seem to occur before the subject - these in the first section seem to be straight Qal imperfect. I could use some lessons in those verb forms though ...


Hi Bob,

Despite the fact that Hebrew is a SVO language, verbs come first more often than not. There are many reasons for this. For example, the vav-consecutive construction, the workhorse of Hebrew narrative, is vav + V + non-obligatory specified subject. Often the subject of a clause carries over from a preceding clause, in which the case the verb may occur in head position.

A verb's default position is nevertheless after an explicit subject if there is one. Compare Psalm 19:2-3 which we just looked at.

Many weak verbs have special jussive forms. That is not the case with the jussives in Ps 68:2-4. You might compare the ancient versions. The Old Greek, for example, translates the mood of the verbs consistently as jussive.

Bob MacDonald

Re the prosodic structure, your division into 3 agrees with the placement of the word Bless - beginning the second section and bracketing the third. I will try a prosodic analysis next (and I am going to scour the UVIC library for comments). The rider is critical to the structure also linking beginning middle and end - I corrected my misspoken paragraph in my first post. So the emendation of desert to clouds (glory?) needs to deal/agree with its mirror at the end.


Have you ever wished misfortune on someone else?
Oh yes. Sometimes to my shame. Once, a lost love drove me to repeated curses and requests for judgment in "loving prayer." Some years later I heard that his first child died as an infant to spinal meningitis. Forgiveness and charity was quick to follow in my heart.

Another time, I joined a friend in praying the "whatever it takes" prayer for her brother and his family who were trying hard to hide from God (like Jonah). Six months later he was killed on the job, and his wife developed cancer. One son ran to drugs and enlisted in the a military service. It took us years (nearly a decade) to trust God enough to even think about praying that way again. But both of her nephews are strong young Christians, one is a pastor of a church in a difficult area.

We don’t usually bring God into our petty affairs
But perhaps we should. If all our pettiness were subject to the scrutiny of the Spirit, wouldn't most of it fall by the wayside as chaff?

A psalm like this one will baffle us unless we allow ourselves to be drawn into its world. In that world, God intervenes in the history of nations, sides with the orphan and the widow, and is subject to no will but his own.
I suppose that is why I like Ps. 68 so much. I need this kind of God in my daily life. Living on the ragged edge of poverty in a distressed armpit of the otherwise beautiful "pacific northwest" makes me keenly aware of how much the widow, orphan, single, poor, unemployed, elderly, disabled, abandoned, downtrodden, etc. suffer at the hands of the successful capitalist in America. Boy do we need a God who can "rise up," no one else does on our behalf.

In that world, God accepts the prayer of the faithful, but responds to that prayer in utterly unpredictable fashion.
Unpredictable is probably an understatement. What if the destruction of God's enemies produced an influx of new family members? When you turn "if you are not for me, you are against me" on its head.... Wouldn't turning an enemy into a friend be an interpretation of "destroying an enemy?"
And what about the Job experience? Wasn't his faith proved and strengthened by the things he endured? Who are we to curb our prayers and deny the wicked their chance at redemption? When God smites, does he not also lift up? And how I long for God to smite, while at the same time I pray for God to save (especially to save the smitten).

No, I don't have a problem with a God who is strong, who heals and who hurts, who metes out judgment and defends with justice. Just because I cannot enjoy the thought of God acting in wrath, or judgment, or violence doesn't put any constraints on Him whatsoever.

But more often than not, I rejoice in a God who will one day shout "It is Finished" once again. I like Ps 68 for its expression of such a view of God -- even if it is constrained by the events and culture of early Israel.


Thank you for a thoughtful comment, CGross.

As soon as Ps 68 is related somehow to the book of Jonah, for example - and this is what Jews and Christians do when they read an entire corpus of literature as the expression of a single voice refracted through a plurality of voices - layers of complexity are added to our understanding of it. As it should be.

It's a strenuous exercise, but it also makes sense to hear Ps 68 in its singularity. If I'm not mistaken, you agree.

Truman Show 2

What would you be feeling on the day that God’s face fills the space between the earth and sky? Would you be startled by his appearance? Happy to finally put a face to the God you have been longing for, or submerge in fear of the sins you have committed? Those are some of the first thoughts that raced across my mind when I read the title of this post. After reading the Psalm there are parts that would cause the feeling of joy and to overwhelm you, and there are parts that could also cause trepidation to strike upon many. What I particularly enjoyed about this post is Julia Ward Howe. Not only did she write the battle hymn to help soldiers in need, but she wrote it in a way that they could relate to and understand. People like her are very inspirational and instantly grab my appreciation.

Pulp Fiction 4

I can really relate to your personal story you told in this passage, about getting ripped off by that mechanic who sold you a bad car. I wasn't ripped off, but when I lost my brother 3 years ago to cancer, I blamed everyone for it. I let God know about my anger. But I realized that I should wish bad things upon other people just because something horrible in my life happened. I know this now, and when I get mad at someone, or something, I don't wish that something bad will occur because I think God puts us through hard times, so we can appreciate the good in our lives.

True Grit 4

I can really relate to personal struggle like what Pulp Fiction 4 said and what was stated above. It was not so much when I lost my grandfather in 2001 because then I had the faith of a child, but it I was much more recent in my life. I had been dating a girl for 2 and a half years back in February and everything appeared to be going really well. It was a long distance relationship, I go to school in Oshkosh; she goes to school in Marquette Michigan. One day she called me and told me she was breaking up with me. I was devastated, but not as much as I thought I would be.
A couple days went by and she called me again crying because her grandfather just passed away and she was taking it hard. She said she called me because I was the only one who could comfort her. And I took this as a sign from God that we would get back together. Her and I talked all that week. Then she said we needed time so we would not talk again till she got done with school. So we went about that and I saw some things that worried me on facebook. Things that made me think that she had been cheating on me.
And a short while later she got in to a new relationship with some other guy. That night was the night I lost it, I had prayed for signs from God and I have to admit there were and still are some weird things that happened that I cannot explain. At one point I started to blame God and just looked up and yelled why did you do this to me. And then I could only think about how I wanted this new guy to break her heart so she knew how it felt. I feel really bad about thinking all of that because I know that is not what God wants from me and I let him down. Who knows maybe some day we will get back together I just have to have faith that whatever happens is for the best and that is what this Psalm reminds me of. It reminds me that no matter what God will always do what is best for his people. And one final note I am not trying to compare my break up to the lose of a loved one to cancer. I cannot imagine what that is like and it is far worse than any break up.

breaker morant 2

going off of what True Grit 4 stated, " God will always do what is best for his people". After waving goodbye to my big brother as he drove away heading for North Carolina for college i thought my life was over. How was i going to handle waking up everyday without a brother to tease me, or to kill all the spiders i find? I knew he was going away to further educate himself in the hopes of making big money in the future. A year after his graduation he moved back home and is residing in the same city. Living with my brother so far away was a difficult time for my family and I. It was weird not having him around. God sent him there for a reason, and today, i can see what that reason is.

True Grit 2

agree with this article especially, “Let God arise, his enemies scatter, his despisers flee before his face.” This passage is saying that if you have God in your life your enemies cannot hurt you and those who have hurt you will leave you alone. This is my general policy of life. I am scared of things but I am not afraid of getting hurt. I always have a positive outlook on every situation and even in the worst of times I keep my head up. Life is too short and sacred to wish someone harm. In my opinion I would be giving that person too much time and thought out of my life. I only give time to those that are true, and caring to me. Last year two of my friends and a third I did not know got into a drunken driving accident. One of my friends was injured and the other passed away. The third person I did not know was the driver and he was fine. This is a perfect example of how I handle situations. Even though I was devastated about my friend’s death and was angry at the driver, I did not think about him. I spent my time helping my injured friend, who had an alcohol problem. It was horrible to lose a friend but it helped my addicted friend to quit drinking and to go to AAA. It was a positive in a very negative situation.

The Mission 5

I had to laugh at your story about the car because I have been in similar situations. I think everyone experiences a time when anger causes us to wish a misfortune on someone else. I definitely do not do this anymore thought because I would hate to see something bad happen to someone, even if they have upset me.

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