Psalms – Chapter 68


By Rabbi Jack Abramowitz

In this Psalm, David asks that G-d “arise” and scatter His enemies, using a language parallel to that of Numbers 10:35. (The verse in Numbers is recited when the Torah is removed from the Ark: “Kuma Hashem v’yafutzu oyvecho…”) The main difference is that in Numbers, Moses used language speaking TO G-d (i.e., the second person), while here David speaks OF G-d (i.e., the third person). David continues that G-d’s enemies should be dispersed like a cloud of smoke and they should melt like wax. The righteous, on the other hand, should have gladness and be able to rejoice in G-d.

Sing to G-d, David says, and make music to Him. Praise the One in the highest heights, using the Name that alludes to His greatness (Y-H). G-d is the Father to those who have no fathers and He protects the interests of widows. (That is, even though He is high above, He is still intimately involved with those of us down below, even down to the most downtrodden or oppressed.) He gathers individuals together and forges them into a family unit; He frees the captives when it is time. Only those who deny Him are denied relief.

When G-d took the Jews out of Egypt, He traveled before them, in a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night. The Earth trembled and the skies darkened before G-d when He gave the Torah. G-d provides generous bounty and firmly establishes His people when they are weakened. He settled His “flock” in their land after preparing them in the wilderness for 40 years. G-d gave the Torah at Sinai, appointing Moses and Aaron as teachers to the nation. G-d’s “voice” at Sinai caused the Jews to flee, though they received the reward that is Torah. Israel doesn’t pursue luxury; we prefer G-d’s Torah and mitzvos!

G-d is Almighty and He lays mortal kings low. When He does, His people, who are in the darkness of foreign oppression, will be brought forth to great light. Why are the tall mountains so full of themselves when G-d has chosen Mount Moriah as the site of His Temple? Even after the Temple is destroyed, G-d’s Presence will be felt more keenly there. G-d’s “entourage” of angels when He gave the Torah was 22,000 (the same as the number of Levites, as per Numbers 3:39). Moses ascended Mt. Sinai in order to receive the Torah for us, so that we may get closer to G-d.

David says to bless G-d for all He does for us each day; He presents us with challenges so that we might earn our reward, but He saves us from threats. There are many paths that could lead toward destruction, but G-d will only lead the evil ones down those roads. (The verse refers to the skull of a hairy person. This is taken as a reference to Esau, who was hairy. Esau was wicked but pretended to be pious. Such people are doomed.)

G-d promised to rescue His people from exile and to punish their oppressors. At the Red Sea, He displayed His might so that everyone could see His influence. The Jews praised Him for their redemption with music and song. The Tribe of Benjamin took the lead, meriting them to be the source of Israel’s first king, but they were overtaken by the Tribe of Judah, progenitor of the everlasting Davidic dynasty. G-d gave Israel (or possibly the Tribe of Judah) their power.

G-d’s glory is not just in the Temple; it extends throughout Jerusalem. The kings of the world are destined to eventually turn to G-d. David asks that G-d judge the various destructive nations, who are aggressive and greedy. Aristocrats from Egypt will come to G-d and Ethiopia will also turn towards Him. The nations of the world will sing to G-d in the highest heavens, acknowledging His power and His historic protection of Israel. G-d inspires awe and only He can grant might to Israel.

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