Psalm 68:11
The Lord gave the word: great was the company of those that published it.
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(11-14) These verses refer to the conquest of Canaan, the long history of which is, however, here crowded into one supreme and crowning moment: a word from God, and all was done.

(11) The Lord gave . . .—Literally, The Lord gives a word. Of the women who bring the news, the host is great. The Hebrew for a word is poetical, and used especially of a Divine utterance (Psalm 19:4; Psalm 77:8; Habakkuk 3:9). Here it might mean either the signal for the conflict, or the announcement of victory. But the custom of granting to bands of maidens the privilege of celebrating a triumph (Exodus 15:20-21; Judges 5, Judges 11:34; 1Samuel 18:6; 2Samuel 1:20), here evidently alluded to, makes in favour of the latter.

By the “great company,” or host, we are apparently to think, not of one large body of women celebrating some one particular victory, but successive and frequent tidings of victory following rapidly on one another—

“Thick as tale

Came post with post.”


The LXX. and Vulg. renderings have been the source of the erroneous view which makes this verse prophetic of a numerous and successful Christian ministry: “The Lord shall give the word to them that evangelise with great might.”

Psalm 68:11. The Lord gave the word — The matter of the word, or discourse here following. He put this triumphal song into the mouths of his people; he gave them those successes and victories which are here celebrated. Or he gave the matter or thing which was published. Having celebrated the goodness of God, which fed them in, and led them through, the wilderness, conducted them into Canaan, watered and refreshed the land with plentiful showers, and rendered it fruitful, he now proceeds to speak of the great victories which God had given them over their enemies, and of the great deliverances he had wrought out for them. Great was the company of those that published it — The deliverances wrought out by God for his people were so glorious and wonderful, that all sorts of persons, women as well as men, that heard of them, broke forth into songs of praise to God for them. Indeed the Hebrew word המבשׂרות, hambasseroth, here rendered, that published it, is in the feminine gender, and therefore refers chiefly to the women, who with songs and music celebrated the victories of the Israelites over their enemies, according to the custom of those times, Exodus 15:20; 1 Samuel 18:6. So also in this procession, besides the singers and players on other instruments, we have the damsels playing with timbrels. The clause here, literally translated, is, Large was the number of women who published the glad tidings; which glad tidings are those contained in the next two verses.68:7-14 Fresh mercies should put us in mind of former mercies. If God bring his people into a wilderness, he will be sure to go before them in it, and to bring them out of it. He provided for them, both in the wilderness and in Canaan. The daily manna seems here meant. And it looks to the spiritual provision for God's Israel. The Spirit of grace and the gospel of grace are the plentiful rain, with which God confirms his inheritance, and from which their fruit is found. Christ shall come as showers that water the earth. The account of Israel's victories is to be applied to the victories over death and hell, by the exalted Redeemer, for those that are his. Israel in Egypt among the kilns appeared wretched, but possessed of Canaan, during the reigns of David and Solomon, appeared glorious. Thus the slaves of Satan, when converted to Christ, when justified and sanctified by him, look honourable. When they reach heaven, all remains of their sinful state disappear, they shall be as the wings of the dove, covered with silver, and her feathers as gold. Full salvation will render those white as snow, who were vile and loathsome through the guilt and defilement of sin.The Lord gave the word - The command, or the order. It is not certain to what the psalmist here refers; whether to some particular occasion then fresh in the recollection of the people, when a great victory had been gained, which it was the design of the psalm to celebrate; or whether it is a general statement in regard to the doings of God, having reference to all his victories and triumphs, and meaning that in all cases the command came from him. The subsequent verses make it evident that there is an allusion here to the ark of the covenant, and to the victories which had been achieved under that as a guide or protector. The entire psalm refers to the ark, and its triumphs; and the idea here seems to be, that in all the victories which had been achieved the "word" or the command came from God, and that its promulgation was immediately made by a "great company" who stood ready to communicate it or to "publish" it.

Great was the company of those that published it - Margin, army. More literally, "The women publishing it were a great host." The word used is in the feminine gender, and refers to the Oriental custom whereby females celebrated victories in songs and dances. See Exodus 15:20-21; Judges 11:34; Judges 21:21; 1 Samuel 18:6-7. The idea here is, that when there was a proclamation of war - when God commanded his people to go out to battle, and to take with them the ark, the females of the land - the singers - were ready to make known the proclamation; to celebrate the will of the Lord by songs and dances; to cheer and encourage their husbands, brothers, and fathers, as they went out to the conflict. The result is stated in the following verse.

11. gave the word—that is, of triumph.

company—or, choir of females, celebrating victory (Ex 15:20).

11 The Lord gave the word: great was the company of those that published it.

12 Kings of armies did flee apace: and she that tarried at home divided the spoil.

13 Though ye have lien among the pots, yet shall ye be as the wings of a dove covered with silver, and her feathers with yellow gold.

14 When the Almighty scattered kings in it, it was while as snow in Salmon.

Psalm 68:11

In the next verses we do not sing of marching, but of battle and victory "The Lord gave the word." The enemy was near, and the silver trumpet from the tabernacle door was God's mouth to warn the camp; then was there hurrying to and fro, and a general telling of the news; "great was the company of those that published it." The women ran from tent to tent and roused their lords to battle. Ready as they always were to chant the victory; they were equally swift to publish the fact that the battle-note had been sounded. The ten thousand maids of Israel, like good handmaids of the Lord, aroused the sleepers, called fin the wanderers, and bade the valiant men hasten to the fray. O for the like zeal in the church to-day, that, when the gospel is published, both men and women may eagerly spread the glad tidings of great joy.

Psalm 68:12

"Kings of armies did flee apace." The lords of hosts fled before the Lord of Hosts. No sooner did the ark advance than the enemy turned his back: even the princely leaders stayed not, but took to flight. The rout was complete, the retreat hurried and disorderly; - they "did flee, did flee;" helter skelter, pell-mell, as we say.

"Where are the kings of mighty hosts?

Fled far away, fled far and wide.

Their triumph and their trophied boasts

The damsels in their bowers divide."

"And she that tarried at home divided the spoil." The women who had published the war-cry shared the booty. The feeblest in Israel had a portion of the prey. Gallant warriors cast their spoils at the feet of the women and bade them array themselves in splendour, taking each one "a prey of divers colours, of divers colours of needlework on both sides." When the Lord gives success to his gospel, the very least of his saints are made glad and feel themselves partakers in the blessing.

Psalm 68:13


Gave the word, i.e. the matter of the word or discourse here following. He put this triumphant song into their mouths; he gave his people all those successes and victories which are here celebrated. Or, gave the matter or thing which was published.

Great was the company of those that published it: the works of God on the behalf of his people were so glorious and wonderful, that all sorts of persons, both men and women, that heard of them, broke forth into songs of praise to God for them. The Hebrew word is of the feminine gender, because it was the manner of the Hebrews, that when the men returned victorious from the battle, the women went out to meet them with songs of triumph, Psalm 68:25 Exodus 15:20 Judges 11:34 1 Samuel 18:6. The Lord gave the word,.... The word of the Gospel to his apostles. He committed the word of reconciliation to them; he intrusted them with it, as a sacred depositum; he gave gifts unto them, qualifying them for the ministration of it; he gave them a commission to preach it; and he gave them a door of utterance to speak it as it should be, and an opportunity to publish it. The Targum wrongly interprets it of the word of the law;

great was the company of those that published it; there were in our Lord's time twelve apostles and seventy disciples, who were sent out to preach the Gospel; and many more in the times of the apostles, and since. The word for "company" signifies an "army" (x): Christ's ministers are soldiers, and war a good warfare; they have weapons which are not carnal, but spiritual, and mighty through God, and they are made to triumph in Christ in every place. And the word rendered "those that published" is in the feminine gender; not as suggesting that women would be preachers of the Gospel under the New Testament dispensation, for that is forbidden, 1 Corinthians 14:34; but in allusion to the custom of women in Israel publishing the victories obtained by their armies and generals; see 1 Samuel 18:7; and it may be it is used to denote the weakness of Gospel ministers in themselves, who have the treasure of the word put into their earthen vessels, that the power may appear to be of God, and not of man; so ministers are called maidens, Proverbs 9:3; and this same word is used of them in Isaiah 40:9. And it may be observed, that notwithstanding it is of the said gender, yet it is by the Targum interpreted of men, thus;

"but Moses and Aaron evangelized the word of God to the great army of Israel.''

And it may also be observed, that this word which signifies a "publishing of good news", is derived from a root which signifies "flesh" denoting, that the good tidings of the Gospel, or of peace and pardon, righteousness, life, and salvation, published in it, are by an incarnate Saviour, or through his assumption of our flesh, and suffering in it.

(x) "exercitus", Pagninus, Montanus, Gejerus, Cocceius.

The Lord gave the word: great was the company of {h} those that published it.

(h) The fashion then was that women sang songs after the victory, as did Miriam, Deborah, Judith and others.

11. The Lord giveth the word:

The women that publish the tidings are a great host.

God’s word is sovereign (Psalm 33:9; Isaiah 30:30). He has only to command, and the victory is won. Forthwith are heard the songs of the women proclaiming the good news. Victories were commonly celebrated by the Israelite women with song and dance. Cp. Psalm 68:25, Exodus 15:20 f.; Judges 5; Jdg 11:34; 1 Samuel 18:6 f. It is a less satisfactory explanation to regard the word as the song of triumph which God puts in the mouth of the singers.

11–14. With a few graphic strokes the poet recalls the victories by which Canaan was won and retained. He refers to the times of the Judges as well as to the original conquest under Joshua.Verses 11-23. - From God's mercies to his people at Sinai and in the wilderness, the psalmist goes on to consider those connected with the conquest of Canaan, and the establishment of David's widespread rule. The passage is difficult and obscure, perhaps from its embodying fragments of the earlier Hebrew poetry. It is also full of curious transitions, and of ellipses which make the meaning doubtful. Verse 11. - The Lord gave the word. The reader naturally asks - What word? Commentators answer variously: "the watchword" (Cheyne); "promise of victory" (Kay); "the word of command" (Dean Johnson); "announcement of an actual victory gained" (Hengstenberg). I should rather understand a sort of creative word, initiating the period of strife (comp. Shakespeare's "Cry havock, and let slip the dogs of war!"). Great was the company of those that published it; literally, great was the company of the women that heralded it. The reference is to the female choirs which took a prominent part in the war songs of ancient days (see Exodus 15:20, 21; Judges 5:1; 1 Samuel 18:6, 7). The Psalm begins with the expression of a wish that the victory of God over all His foes and the triumphant exultation of the righteous were near at hand. Ewald and Hitzig take יקום אלהים hypothetically: If God arise, He enemies will be scattered. This rendering is possible in itself so far as the syntax is concerned, but here everything conspires against it; for the futures in Psalm 68:2-4 form an unbroken chain; then a glance at the course of the Psalm from Psa 68:20 onwards shows that the circumstances of Israel, under which the poet writes, urged forth the wish: let God arise and humble His foes; and finally the primary passage, Numbers 10:35, makes it clear that the futures are the language of prayer transformed into the form of the wish. In Psalm 68:3 the wish is addressed directly to God Himself, and therefore becomes petition. הנדּן is inflected (as vice versג ירדף, Psalm 7:6, from ירדּף) from הנּדף (like הנּתן, Jeremiah 32:4); it is a violation of all rule in favour of the conformity of sound (cf. הקצות for הקצות, Leviticus 14:43, and supra on Psalm 51:6) with תּנדּף, the object of which is easily supplied (dispellas, sc. hostes tuos), and is purposely omitted in order to direct attention more stedfastly to the omnipotence which to every creature is so irresistible. Like smoke, wax (דּונג, root דג, τηκ, Sanscrit tak, to shoot past, to run, Zend taḱ, whence vitaḱina, dissolving, Neo-Persic gudâchten; causative: to cause to run in different directions equals to melt or smelt) is an emblem of human feebleness. As Bakiuds observes, Si creatura creaturam non fert, quomodo creatura creatoris indignantis faciem ferre possit? The wish expressed in Psalm 68:4 forms the obverse of the preceding. The expressions for joy are heaped up in order to describe the transcendency of the joy that will follow the release from the yoke of the enemy. לפני is expressively used in alternation with מפני in Psalm 68:2, Psalm 68:3 : by the wrathful action, so to speak, that proceeds from His countenance just as the heat radiating from the fire melts the wax the foes are dispersed, whereas the righteous rejoice before His gracious countenance.

As the result of the challenge that has been now expressed in Psalm 68:2-4, Elohim, going before His people, begins His march; and in Psalm 68:5 an appeal is made to praise Him with song, His name with the music of stringed instrument, and to make a way along which He may ride בּערבות. In view of Psalm 68:34 we cannot take צרבות, as do the Targum and Talmud (B. Chagiga 12b), as a name of one of the seven heavens, a meaning to which, apart from other considerations, the verb ערב, to be effaced, confused, dark, is not an appropriate stem-word; but it must be explained according to Isaiah 40:3. There Jahve calls in the aid of His people, here He goes forth at the head of His people; He rides through the steppes in order to right against the enemies of His people. Not merely the historical reference assigned to the Psalm by Hitzig, but also the one adopted by ourselves, admits of allusion being made to the "steppes of Moab;" for the way to Mdeb, where the Syrian mercenaries of the Ammonites had encamped (1 Chronicles 19:7), lay through these steppes, and also the way to Rabbath Ammon (2 Samuel 10:7.). סלּוּ calls upon them to make a way for Him, the glorious, invincible King (cf. Isaiah 57:14; Isaiah 62:10); סלל signifies to cast up, heap up or pave, viz., a raised and suitable street or highway, Symmachus katastroo'sate. He who thus rides along makes the salvation of His people His aim: " is His name, therefore shout with joy before Him." The Beth in בּיהּ (Symmachus, Quinta: ἴα) is the Beth essentiae, which here, as in Isaiah 26:4, stands beside the subject: His name is (exists) in יה, i.e., His essential name is yh, His self-attestation, by which He makes Himself capable of being known and named, consists in His being the God of salvation, who, in the might of free grace, pervades all history. This Name is a fountain of exultant rejoicing to His people.

This Name is exemplificatively unfolded in Psalm 68:6. The highly exalted One, who sits enthroned in the heaven of glory, rules in all history here below and takes an interest in the lowliest more especially, in all circumstances of their lives following after His own to succour them. He takes the place of a father to the orphan. He takes up the cause of the widow and contests it to a successful issue. Elohim is one who makes the solitary or isolated to dwell in the house; בּיתה with He locale, which just as well answers the question where? as whither? בּית, a house equals family bond, is the opposite of יהיד, solitarius, recluse, Psalm 25:16. Dachselt correctly renders it, in domum, h.e. familiam numerosam durabilemque eos ut patres-familias plantabit. He is further One who brings forth (out of the dungeon and out of captivity) those who are chained into abundance of prosperity. כּושׁרות, occurring only here, is a pluralet. from כּשׁר morf .tela, synonym אשׁר, to be straight, fortunate. Psalm 68:7 briefly and sharply expresses the reverse side of this His humanely condescending rule among mankind. אך is here (cf. Genesis 9:4; Leviticus 11:4) restrictive or adversative (as is more frequently the case with אכן); and the preterite is the preterite of that which is an actual matter of experience. The סוררים, i.e., (not from סוּר, the apostate ones, Aquila afista'menoi, but as in Psalm 66:7, from סרר) the rebellious, Symmachus ἀπειθεῖς, who were not willing to submit to the rule of so gracious a God, had ever been excluded from these proofs of favour. These must inhabit צחיחה (accusative of the object), a sun-scorched land; from צחח, to be dazzlingly bright, sunny, dried or parched up. They remain in the desert without coming into the land, which, fertilized by the waters of grace, is resplendent with a fresh verdure and with rich fruits. If the poet has before his mind in connection with this the bulk of the people delivered out of Egypt, ὧν τὰ κῶλα ἔπεσαν ἐν τῇ ἐρήμω (Hebrews 3:17), then the transition to what follows is much more easily effected. There is, however, no necessity for any such intermediation. The poet had the march through the desert to Canaan under the guidance of Jahve, the irresistible Conqueror, in his mind even from the beginning, and now he expressly calls to mind that marvellous divine leading in order that the present age may take heart thereat.

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