“Blessed be the Lord;
who daily bears us up;
God is our salvation.”
~Psalm 68:19 (NRSV)
In the Christian tradition, and inevitably the Jewish, there’s the presence of a provocative paradox; the celebration of hope in eventual victory, even from the deepest mire. This Psalm is of that ilk.
Psalm 68 is a hymn of thanksgiving on behalf of the community of God. Importantly, when recited, it compels the freshening of confidence for what the Lord, through history, has already done. Even as one of the earliest Psalms, in the behest of Exodus 15 (the Songs of Moses and Miriam), it has a vital role in the oral tradition of Israel—that the Sovereign Dominion of the Almighty will conquer.
Through God, Enemies Are Conquered
The life of belief in God is happily resplendent in this: where there are enemies, and processes of life that seem overwhelmingly formidable, even to the very nature of life, which is a struggle, there is victory through relationship with God.
This theme—that enemies are ultimately conquered, and that the godly are resurrected—is a refrain through this Psalm. Therefore, it is good to read a Psalm such as this when we’re lowly.
Even though the structure is a relative mishmash, and there are numerous hermeneutical (or interpretive) problems with it, it proves inspiring to read, especially aloud. Nuances of victory, and hope for those not so blessed, spring up throughout.
Resting On Holy Tradition
The strength of belief in the Lord is our reliance on our spiritual history—allusions to God’s faithfulness through the ages. Nothing really abides our faith better than knowledge, that which can now be personally owned, of events where commitments to trustworthiness proved wholesome toward actual redemption.
God came through for the people of God.
When we read how others have endured, and we imagine what they went through, what was required of them in the expression of their faith, we gain a glimpse of their forbearance. Even though we imagine the path inordinately tough, we bear up too. We rationalise that if others could trust and endure suchlike, so can we.
The Christian life, in a human context, relies heavily upon knowing what we’re capable of. When we read of inspirational feats, though we marvel, we begin believing these feats are possible for us, also.
Perhaps the greatest fact of God is our living Lord redeems at the lowest common denominator—God is friend, most of all, to the lowly who hope, alone, in the justice and righteousness of the Lord.
This Psalm’s ultimate conclusion is the crucifixion and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ: in whom we have victory (1 Corinthians 15:54-56).
From the lowest of states, pining in sorrow, loneliness, betrayal, grief or despair, we draw deeper into the victory of God as we read this Psalm. Read aloud it cheers us up.
As we find ourselves, from time to time, in the lowly state—by sorrow, loneliness, betrayal, grief or despair—we draw deeper and polarised into the victory of God; that which the Lord will achieve for us, and has already, through the Lord Jesus.
© 2012 S. J. Wickham.