David composed Psalm 68 to celebrate the arrival of the Ark of the Covenant in Zion.
Psalm 68:1 quotes Numbers 10:35, citing the very words proclaimed when the Ark set out. While God is omnipresent (Psalm 139:7-12), there are places of his special presence (Psalm 16:11). And the Ark not only symbolized God's special presence; it was where God communed with his people (Exodus 25:22).
That is why carelessly handling the Ark was deadly (2 Samuel 6:6-9). But when David followed the divine instructions (2 Samuel 6:13-15; 1 Chronicles 15:1-2, 25-28), he had success and celebrated with great exuberance. This emotional display embarrassed and angered some people (2 Samuel 6:16, 20-23; 1 Chronicles 15:29).
Thus this Psalm celebrates the coming of Israel's God to Jerusalem -- from Sinai to Zion -- accompanied by the armies of heaven (Psalm 68:7-17). But Psalm 68:18 looks beyond David's bringing the Ark; it clearly points to the victory of David's greater Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, who descended into Sheol in order to defeat Satan and the hosts of hell (Hebrews 2:14-15; Ephesians 4:8-10).
The Lord Jesus has plundered the forces of evil and has imparted gifts to his Church (Ephesians 4:11-13), and at the moment of death we now experience what Old Testament believers did not: "Absent from the body, present with the Lord" (2 Corinthians 5:6-8).
After serving Grace Presbyterian Church in Alexandria, Louisiana, Bob was honorably retired on Sunday, September 27, 2015, and given the title "Pastor Emeritus." This was forty years to the day after he became their pastor. He now works for the Presbytery of the Gulf South as...