This psalm was written by David. It talks about God led the Israelites out of Egypt, into the wilderness, into Canaan, and finally God entroned in Zion. The center idea of this Psalm is God has chosen Zion to be His dwelling place (v16). The historical background is probably at the time of the Ark was removed from the house of Obed-Edom into Zion (2 Sam 6). Although v29 mentions temple, the original word is also used for tabernacle. The occasion could not be after Israel’s captivity because four tribes were mentioned in v27, since Zebulun and Naphtali were missing after the exiles.
Paul quoted v18 in Ephesians 4:8. v18 is [You have ascended on high, You have led captive Your captives; …] Paul tell us that the Psalmist was referring to Christ ascension. Thus we know that the Holy Spirit had Christ in mind when He inspire this Psalm. In fact, Christ is the central them of this Psalm. God has chosen to show His present among men at the body of His son, the Church, which is represented by Zion.
This Psalm has a lot of similarities with Judge 5. David may have used Judge 5 as reference when he penned this Psalm.
v1-6: In introduction, celebration and praise to God who defeated the enemies; punished the wicked; provided for the needy.
v7-10: Follow by a glance of formal history, the journey of Israel through the wilderness under the guidance and care of God.
v11-14: The triumphant occupation of the land of Canaan, and the flight of the hostile kings.
v15-18: The choice of Zion as the dwelling place of God, and His solemn entry into it.
v19-23: The psalmist, contemplating the glorious results of God dwelling in Zoin, calls upon all Israel to praise, chiefly because He will punish all the enemies of His people.
v24-27: The procession of God into His sanctuary.
v28-31: All nations, represented by Egypt and Cush shall acknowledge and submit themselves to God who dwelled in Zion.
v32-35: The psalm closes with a summon to all the kingdoms of the earth to praise God
v1: This is a quote from number 10:1 [Then it came about when the ark set out that Moses said, “Rise up, O LORD! And let Your enemies be scattered, And let those who hate You flee before You.”] The enemies are the ones who hated God, and David proclaimed that these enemies will flee from God. David is seeing things from God’s eyes. He is concerned about matter of God. He is not pleading for God to scatter his enemies in this Psalm.
v2-v3: The figures here employed occur also in Hosea 13:3 and Micah 1:4. David is doing a comparison between the wicked and the righteous. Like smoke and wax before fire, the wicked will perish. On the other hand, the righteous will live to praise God with gladness.
v4: David mentioned twice in this verse that God’s name is the theme of his worship song.
v5: [A father for the fatherless and a judge for the widows]: Fatherless and widows have became common place in America. How comforting are these words for the needed in our societies. Men pay attention to the rich and famous. God pays attention and care for the poor and needy. God is both loving and righteous. He is the loving Father, and the righteous Judge.
v6: Spiritually, without Christ, we are all lonely people who long for God who love us and care for us. We are also prisoners of sins and death. But in Christ, we are brought into into God’s house, and in Christ, we are no longer prisoners but our spirit is in prosperity. However the rebellious? A person who reject the gospel but be prosper financially, but spiritual they are in parched land.
v7: The ark is always the first when Israel travel in the wilderness. The ark represented the present of God. When we go through the wilderness of life, we are comforted because God is always leading our ways. [went out] and [marched through] are verbs used in battles. God is the head of His army.
v8: At mount Sinai, God ascended from heaven to earth and the earth quaked. The earth is tremble at the present of God, we should be tremble at the present of the righteous God. When we experience drought in our life, God have the ability and He will cause rains if we trust in Him.
v9: The rain could be: 1) literary rains in the wilderness, 2) various blessings of God in the wilderness, or 3) manna, since Psalm 78:24 mentioned [He rained down manna for the people to eat].
v11: Beginning of the entrance into Canaan.
v12: [Kings and armies flee in hast]: referring to the Canaanites
v13 Doves that have wings with silver and gold. It means peace.
v14: Zalmon is a dark mountain mentioned in Judge 9:48. Snow on Zalmon means the dark mountain has became white. It is a image of God who defeated the Canaanites and give Israelites hope and victory.
v15: Bashan is a must taller mountain than Zion with many peaks. However God, according to His will, chose Zion instead of Bashan as His dwelling place.
v16: That God has chosen God will not change His mind. He will dwell in there forever. God in His mercy has chosen the Church, the NT Zion, and God is dwelling in the Church forever.
v18: Quoted by Paul in Eph 4:8. Like God the father who come to lead Israel out of Egypt, into the wilderness, and finally into Canaan. The ark was moved to Mt. Zion, to be rested in God chosen dwelling place. Jesus left His throne in heaven, came down to die for us. One the third day, He resurrected and eventually ascended into heaven, seated on the right of the throne of God. Jesus took captives from many life from the enemies to be claimed as His rewards. Our redeemed people are the captives of Christ. Paul said Christ gave spiritual gifts to His follower, some apostels, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastor and teachers, to equipped the saints to build up the church. We should give back to Christ, by giving our body as living sacrifice.
v19: The ascended Christ bear our burden daily, He is the High Priest who pray for us on the right hand of God
v20: Christ is our deliverance. Christ die so that our sins can be forgiven. Christ resurrected so that we can escaped from death!
v21: The seed of the woman crushed the serpent’s head!
v22: [Bring them back from Bashan]: Referring to the enemies of God. Bashan is on the east, the Mediterranean sea is on the west. No matter where they are, God will bring them into justice.
v23: Who do not repent and believe in Christ will be the judgement they deserved when Christ return.
v24: The picture of the triumphal procession of the ark into the tabernacle. Christ ascession into His throne in heaven.
v25: Praise the Lord with our songs and music!
v26: [Fountain of Israel]: Christ is the fountain of life, whoever come to Him shall not thirst!
v27: Benjamin and Judah represent the southern kingdom. Zebulun and Naphtali represent the northern kingdom.
v28: God has commanded us to be strong. He desires us to obey Him and will give us the strength to do so.
v29: Submission of nations to God in Zion. One day the nations to acknowledge Christ as the King of Kings
v31: Egypt, who was once enemy of Israel would send enjoy to Israel. The Queen of Ethiopia would come to listen to the wisdom of Soloman. The Gospel of Jesus Christ will be spread to the nations. Nations of the world to come to know Jesus and worship Him (v32).
v33: [ancient times]: Heavens existed long time ago.
v34:-35: strength was mentioned four time in these two verses. God is the awesome God. He will give us strength to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the nations.