Daily Family Worship

Psalm 68: The Ascension Psalm

by | May 16, 2024

psalm 68

This Psalm is a beautiful prophecy concerning Christ – a prophecy that is more animated and exalted than usual in its fervency of spirit. It sets before us a view of the Church, and those things which took place under the New Testament; and all this is done with a representation that is so clear and expressive, that it seems to be a description of things that are actually passing before our eyes, instead of a prediction of things that were yet to come. The Holy Spirit here foretells the resurrection and ascension of Christ, the revelation of the Holy Spirit from heaven, the mission of the Apostles, and the establishment of Jesus’ spiritual Kingdom of grace and remission of sins – in which is preached the good news of Jesus being the true God, and our Savior and Deliverer from death.

The Psalmist also shows here that the kingdom and priesthood of the Old Testament was to be abolished, and that a new and spiritual Kingdom was to be founded – and this would not stand in human strength, nor in many thousands of horsemen and footmen; but in the ministry and power of the Word! In this Kingdom, the grace of Christ and the remission of sins is preached in the Gospel-message. The Apostles are figuratively referred to as “kings and heads of armies” because, by the Gospel and the ministry of the Word, they continually attack the kingdom of the devil and the gates of hell. He also calls them “high hills, rich hills, and the inheritance of God”; “chariots of the Lord of many thousands”; and “the multitude of them that preach good tidings, and sing, and play upon instruments.” This is because the Apostles and ministers of the Word – by preaching the joyful Gospel of grace – continually praise, sing of, and celebrate the immense benefits of Jesus and the mercy of God! Thus, throughout the whole Psalm, the fervent poet-prophet rejoices in the Holy Spirit; and he describes, in a most sweet song, the whole Kingdom of Christ! In the end, he prays that God would be pleased to cause His Church to flourish and grow, and to give His blessing and a happy success to this Kingdom.

But we cannot leave our study of this Psalm until we have dived somewhat into the depths of the 18th verse, for this is the key to unlock the sacred treasury of this whole composition! “Thou hast ascended on high, thou hast led captivity captive: thou hast received gifts for men; yea, for the rebellious also, that the Lord God might dwell among them.” The Holy Spirit Himself is His own commentator here. By His servant, the Apostle Paul, He has taught the Church how to apply this text to the Person of our dear Lord Jesus. By comparing this verse with Ephesians 4:8, and by praying for the illumination of the Spirit’s Di-vine teaching, we are admitted into a blessed understanding of the things concerning Christ which are here recorded. Brother or sister! Observe the words, “Thou hast ascended on high.” This was written by the spirit of prophecy, over a thousand years before Christ was even born! But to the Lord’s Almighty eye, things past, present, and future are all joined together as one inseparable and rapid sequence of events; and so, to Him, future events are as certain and sure as if they were already finished. The Ascension of the resurrected Savior is the subject that is here contemplated; but the entirety of His triumphs over death, hell, and the grave – as well as His exalted state at the right hand of the Majesty in the heavens – is included in this hymn of praise! O what a precious thought to the child of God! Jesus, the Captain of our salvation, has led into everlasting captivity the devil and all his hosts – the ones who had led us into spiritual captivity. By His own death and resurrection, Jesus has forever destroyed the dominion of sin and the grave. Hallelujah! And He received from the Father, as Mediator, all the gifts that He then gave to His people. It pleased the Father that in Him, all fullness should dwell, so that from His fullness, we might receive an abundance of His blessings and grace.

But let us not overlook something that – to you and me, personally considered – becomes the sweetest part of the verse: Jesus received these Ascension-gifts “for the rebellious!” It is as if His blessed Holy Spirit is putting a special emphasis upon this part of Christ’s gifts; they were, and still are, for those who are rebellious. And if that is the case, then why will you refuse to believe that they are for you? O Lord Jesus! We beseech You to come and dwell in our hearts by faith, and to fill them with Your good and precious gifts! 

Lord Jesus, we humbly acknowledge the fact that we may very truly be described as those who are rebellious; but we give thanks to You that You have won the victory over sin, death, and the devil, which had held us captive, and that You have given us an abundance of spiritual gifts and blessings that we do not deserve! Amen.

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