Your procession is seen, O God,
the procession of my God, my King, into the sanctuary—
25 the singers in front, the musicians last,
between them virgins playing tambourines:
26 “Bless God in the great congregation,
the Lord, O yout who are of Israel’s fountain!” (Ps 68:24-26 ESV)
Reading this psalm this morning seemed so foreign and I couldn’t help but be struck by the distance between us and the ancient text. We haven’t experienced a general or leader returning triumphantly from battle, much less one returning triumphantly with the rebels in tow and the spoils of victory generously distributed among the people. That is what this psalm describes. The verses above draws us back to a recurring experience among the people, one in which God enters the sanctuary where the congregation is gathered. It is a call to worship. It reminds me that we are called to worship by the announcement of our King’s victory over His (and our) enemies, particularly sin and death, and come into the sanctuary to receive from the spoils of His victory. Worship is to be this kind of scene.
In the Ephesians 4:8 Paul quotes from this psalm (verse 18) and then explains who/what these spoils of victory are in verse 11, “And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers.” This is especially interesting as these could very well also be the captives, once rebellious, restored with new positions from the King to care for the people from which they come.
What is the result of the King entering the sanctuary in such victory? It is to establish Israel and draw praise from the kings of the earth (v 32) and give power and strength to His people (v. 35). Paul’s take on this is found in Eph 4:12 and following, “to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ.” The news of victory (the gospel) calls us into a congregation, gives us reason to worship, and sends us out with power and strength to draw praise from the kingdoms of the earth. What an amazing picture!
Have you ever thought of worship in this way?
Chronological Reading Plan plus Psalms: Num 33-34, Ps 68