Enthronement Processional

(Psalm 68:0)

I. Assembling – Victory Shout (Psalm 68: 1-3)

Let God . . . rise . . . up!
May his foes be scattered!
Yes! may all who hate him
flee his awesome presence.
May your gusts of breath
clear the smoke away!
God is here among us –
his fire those waxworks melt.
Oh! may they shrivel up,
his laser gaze pole-axe them!
Let all his saints be glad,
ecstatic in God’s presence;
seeing him in action,
in song let them make merry.

II. Setting Out – Rejoicing (Psalm 68: 4-6)

Sing to God your praises,
sing praises to his name –
the only rightful rider
of the storm-cloud throne.

Enjoy the Lord!
Sing out his praise!
What a thrill!
Here he comes!

A father to the orphans,
an advocate for widows
is . . this . . God
whose palace is remote,
yet here on earth prepares
a homestead for the lonely,
and leads [us] prisoners out
into prosperous welfare –
only the rebellious
languish in the desert.

III. On the Move – Recounting Moses’ Exodus (Psalm 68:7-10)

O God, when you led forth
your liberated people,
when YOU marched through
those arid, barren wastes –
                            (Oh can you just imagine?)
the earth could only quake;
but th’heavens distilled blessed rain,
acknowledging your presence.
Even Sinai shook
upon the grand arrival
of the God of Israel.
Rain fell in abundance –
refreshment from our God,
confirming your inheritance
when ‘twas dehydrated.

Those you had created
then settled in your land.
You provide, good God,
for the poor at all times.

IV. Approaching the City – Recounting Joshua’s Conquest
(Psalm 68: 11-14)

YHWH the edict uttered.
What a crowd of women
announced the gladsome news!
‘Military kings
scatter, yes they scatter!’
Housewives share the plunder.
Those who lodge by campfires,
saddlebags for bedsteads,
feel like home-bred doves
with bejewelled pinions.

When God Almighty
was scattering those kings,
[their litter dropped in haste
resembled] falling snow
on [the dark hills of] Zalmon.

V. Ascension to Zion – Recounting David’s Reign (Psalm 68: 15-18)

Bashan’s rugged mountains
[even lofty Hermon],
why stare in gawping envy
at the mount God chooses
for his royal palace
where he’ll dwell forever?
The chariots of YHWH –
thousands upon thousands
[of angels ranked in legions]
accompany from Sinai
his procession in his temple.
When you ascended yonder –
following behind you
a train of conquered captives –
gifts were laid before you,
tribute from the rebels,
[furnishing with glory]
this residence, O Lord God,
where you will dwell forever.

VI. Arrival at the Temple – Anticipating (Psalm 68: 19-23)

Praise . . . be . . . to YHWH,
our God of serial triumphs,
who daily bears our burdens,
                                    (Oh can you just imagine?)
our God of deliverance.
From YHWH-in-control
comes our own escape from death.

Without a doubt, this God
will crush our foes’ proud skulls,
the hairy crowns of those
persisting in their sins.

YHWH boasts: ‘I’ll bring them
back from east of Jordan
and depths of western sea –
that you may steep your feet
in your opponents’ blood,
even the tongues of dogs
will not be denied their share.’

[End of Outdoor March]

VII. Processional of Victory – Narration (Psalm 68:24-27)

Your processional, O God,
at last comes into view,
my God, my King advancing
into his sanctuary.
The singers take the lead;
musicians then follow,
accompanied by maidens
playing tambourines.

Praise God in the concourse
of assembled Israel –
thunderous praise to YHWH!

[Saul’s] small tribe of Benjamin
heads the ranks of singers;
there, too, Judah’s princes,
[David’s royal] throng;
[Deborah’s northern] nobles
from Zebulun and Naphtali.

VIII. Processional – the Hymn of Celebration (Psalm 68: 28-31)

Command your power to act,
O God; reveal your strength.
as you have done before.
Because of your sanctuary
in Jerusalem
kings bring gifts to you.

Rebuke the Beast-on-the-Nile
and his allied herd of bulls
among the calves of nations.
Humbled by you, let it bring
talents of silver as tribute.
Scatter war-mongering nations
who revel in war as sport.
Ambassadors of peace
from Egypt will submit
before our God . . . who . . . won.

IX. God Enthroned – Awesome Wonder (Psalm 68: 32-35)

Sing, O kingdoms of earth,
sing praise to YHWH, the Lord,
                                    (Oh can you just imagine?)
who rides his storm-cloud throne
across the ancient skies,
who thunders with loud voice.
Proclaim the power of God
who reigns in majesty
over Isra-el
[our very name: ‘God-governed’]
whose power abounds on high.

You fill us full of awe,
O God in your sanctu’ry.
The God of Isra-el
bestows his power and strength
upon his rescued people.

Praise . . . be . . . to God!

Hugh Thompson

(March 18, 2002 – Torun, Poland)

Notes on the Psalm

1. Stanza I, lines 1-4: cf Numbers 10:33-36. No longer was there for them, nor is there for us, a visible pillar of cloud or an ark of the covenant to lead the battalions of God’s troops. But, after every conflict that God leads his people into, they can expect a victory parade to follow (v 36).

2. Stanza II, lines 4-5: Canaanite literature claimed that Baal, the god of thunder and rainstorms, rides a storm-cloud throne from place to place. The Scriptures claim this right exclusively for YHWH (see Psalm 68:33; 18:9; 104:3; Isaiah 19:1; Matthew 26:64).

3. Stanza III, lines 1-11: cf Judges 5:4-5,20-22; Habakkuk 3:3-6.

4. Stanza IV, lines 7-8 refer to soldiers in camp.

5. Stanza IV, lines 13-14: ‘Zalmon was a mountain near Shechem (Judges 9:46-48), but others identify it here as Jebel Druze, a dark volcanic mountain east of Bashan. Its name appears to mean “the dark one” – in distinction from the Lebanon range (‘the white one’, composed of limestone) – and white snow scattered on ‘the Dark Mountain’. The reference may then be to abandoned weapons littering the field from which the kings had fled headlong (see 2 Kings 7:15)’ [N I V Study Bible].

6. Stanza VII, lines 1-11 were apparently composed for a solo singer (‘my’).

7. Stanza VII, lines 16-17: see Judges 4:6; 5:2,18.

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