The Lord announces the word, and the women who proclaim it are a mighty throng: “Kings and armies flee in haste; the women at home divide the plunder. Even while you sleep among the sheep pens, the wings of my dove are sheathed with silver, its feathers with shining gold.” When the Almighty scattered the kings in the land, it was like snow fallen on Mount Zalmon. Mount Bashan, majestic mountain, Mount Bashan, rugged mountain, why gaze in envy, you rugged mountain, at the mountain where God chooses to reign, where the Lord himself will dwell forever? The chariots of God are tens of thousands and thousands of thousands; the Lord has come from Sinai into his sanctuary. When you ascended on high, you took many captives; you received gifts from people, even from the rebellious— that you, Lord God, might dwell there. Praise be to the Lord, to God our Savior, who daily bears our burdens. Our God is a God who saves; from the Sovereign Lord comes escape from death. Surely God will crush the heads of his enemies, the hairy crowns of those who go on in their sins. The Lord says, “I will bring them from Bashan; I will bring them from the depths of the sea, that your feet may wade in the blood of your foes, while the tongues of your dogs have their share. – Psalm 68:11-23
This passage begins with a somewhat revolutionary statement that women are explicitly involved in spreading the word about God: “The Lord announces the word, and the women who proclaim it are a mighty throng”. This had to be somewhat controversial in this patriarchal society, and at this time in history. Jesus certainly broke down some of the same barriers when he encouraged followers of all genders.
The water in this passage comes in the form of snow, one of the rare references to snow in this dry and hot part of the world that I have encountered so far on my walk on water. Back in Psalm 51:1-12 there was a reference to being washed whiter than snow and having a Steadfast Spirit. There was another reference to the “storehouses of snow” in Job 38:16-30 as God explained to Elihu who God is, where He dwells, and answers the question “Does the Rain Have a Father?“. This was partially in response to Elihu’s attempts to explain it to Job in Job 37:1-18.
In this passage snow is compared to the kings scattered by God. It is not entirely clear if the kings are all foreign kings or if some of the scattering affected the Israelite kings. Based on the behavior of some of the kings a good scattering was probably in order for both groups. Either way God is making it clear who is king and who is not. He also has some harsh words for those who “who go on in their sins” — people with “Hairy crowns” with a propensity for wanting to rule all aspects of their lives. We do indeed possess hairy crowns, even those of us whose crown grows thinner every year :).
I really like the part toward the end where it says “Praise be to the Lord, to God our Savior, who daily bears our burdens.” This statement would be equally at home in the new testament and is part of the Reflections of Him that I am continually finding here in the Psalms. I am left wondering how this intimate daily bearing of burdens squared with the Israelite’s perception of God as a God residing in the clouds high above them.
Prayer: God thank You for carrying our burdens daily and loving us even when we are showing off our “hairy crowns”.
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