Numbers 25 & Psalm 68

Numbers 25

    While Israel lived in Shittim, the people began to whore with the daughters of Moab. These invited the people to the sacrifices of their gods, and the people ate and bowed down to their gods. So Israel yoked himself to Baal of Peor. And the anger of the LORD was kindled against Israel. And the LORD said to Moses, “Take all the chiefs of the people and hang them in the sun before the LORD, that the fierce anger of the LORD may turn away from Israel.” And Moses said to the judges of Israel, “Each of you kill those of his men who have yoked themselves to Baal of Peor.”

    And behold, one of the people of Israel came and brought a Midianite woman to his family, in the sight of Moses and in the sight of the whole congregation of the people of Israel, while they were weeping in the entrance of the tent of meeting. When Phinehas the son of Eleazar, son of Aaron the priest, saw it, he rose and left the congregation and took a spear in his hand and went after the man of Israel into the chamber and pierced both of them, the man of Israel and the woman through her belly. Thus the plague on the people of Israel was stopped. Nevertheless, those who died by the plague were twenty-four thousand.

    And the LORD said to Moses, “Phinehas the son of Eleazar, son of Aaron the priest, has turned back my wrath from the people of Israel, in that he was jealous with my jealousy among them, so that I did not consume the people of Israel in my jealousy. Therefore say, ‘Behold, I give to him my covenant of peace, and it shall be to him and to his descendants after him the covenant of a perpetual priesthood, because he was jealous for his God and made atonement for the people of Israel.’”

    The name of the slain man of Israel, who was killed with the Midianite woman, was Zimri the son of Salu, chief of a father's house belonging to the Simeonites. And the name of the Midianite woman who was killed was Cozbi the daughter of Zur, who was the tribal head of a father's house in Midian.

    And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, “Harass the Midianites and strike them down, for they have harassed you with their wiles, with which they beguiled you in the matter of Peor, and in the matter of Cozbi, the daughter of the chief of Midian, their sister, who was killed on the day of the plague on account of Peor.”

(Numbers 25 ESV)

Psalm 68

To the choirmaster. A Psalm of David. A Song.

    God shall arise, his enemies shall be scattered;
        and those who hate him shall flee before him!
    As smoke is driven away, so you shall drive them away;
        as wax melts before fire,
        so the wicked shall perish before God!
    But the righteous shall be glad;
        they shall exult before God;
        they shall be jubilant with joy!
    Sing to God, sing praises to his name;
        lift up a song to him who rides through the deserts;
    his name is the LORD;
        exult before him!
    Father of the fatherless and protector of widows
        is God in his holy habitation.
    God settles the solitary in a home;
        he leads out the prisoners to prosperity,
        but the rebellious dwell in a parched land.
    O God, when you went out before your people,
        when you marched through the wilderness, Selah
    the earth quaked, the heavens poured down rain,
        before God, the One of Sinai,
        before God, the God of Israel.
    Rain in abundance, O God, you shed abroad;
        you restored your inheritance as it languished;
    your flock found a dwelling in it;
        in your goodness, O God, you provided for the needy.
    The Lord gives the word;
        the women who announce the news are a great host:
        “The kings of the armies—they flee, they flee!”
    The women at home divide the spoil—
        though you men lie among the sheepfolds—
    the wings of a dove covered with silver,
        its pinions with shimmering gold.
    When the Almighty scatters kings there,
        let snow fall on Zalmon.
    O mountain of God, mountain of Bashan;
        O many-peaked mountain, mountain of Bashan!
    Why do you look with hatred, O many-peaked mountain,
        at the mount that God desired for his abode,
        yes, where the LORD will dwell forever?
    The chariots of God are twice ten thousand,
        thousands upon thousands;
        the Lord is among them; Sinai is now in the sanctuary.
    You ascended on high,
        leading a host of captives in your train
        and receiving gifts among men,
    even among the rebellious, that the LORD God may dwell there.
    Blessed be the Lord,
        who daily bears us up;
        God is our salvation. Selah
    Our God is a God of salvation,
        and to GOD, the Lord, belong deliverances from death.
    But God will strike the heads of his enemies,
        the hairy crown of him who walks in his guilty ways.
    The Lord said,
        “I will bring them back from Bashan,
    I will bring them back from the depths of the sea,
    that you may strike your feet in their blood,
        that the tongues of your dogs may have their portion from the foe.”
    Your procession is seen, O God,
        the procession of my God, my King, into the sanctuary—
    the singers in front, the musicians last,
        between them virgins playing tambourines:
    “Bless God in the great congregation,
        the LORD, O you who are of Israel's fountain!”
    There is Benjamin, the least of them, in the lead,
        the princes of Judah in their throng,
        the princes of Zebulun, the princes of Naphtali.
    Summon your power, O God,
        the power, O God, by which you have worked for us.
    Because of your temple at Jerusalem
        kings shall bear gifts to you.
    Rebuke the beasts that dwell among the reeds,
        the herd of bulls with the calves of the peoples.
    Trample underfoot those who lust after tribute;
        scatter the peoples who delight in war.
    Nobles shall come from Egypt;
        Cush shall hasten to stretch out her hands to God.
    O kingdoms of the earth, sing to God;
        sing praises to the Lord, Selah
    to him who rides in the heavens, the ancient heavens;
        behold, he sends out his voice, his mighty voice.
    Ascribe power to God,
        whose majesty is over Israel,
        and whose power is in the skies.
    Awesome is God from his sanctuary;
        the God of Israel—he is the one who gives power and strength to his people.
    Blessed be God!

(Psalm 68 ESV)

Something to Consider

Psalm 68: This Psalm celebrates God's continual protection and provision for His people. Throughout this Psalm, David recalls the way in which God led His people through the wilderness and into their inheritance of the land that He had promised them. 

The reference to God ascending to reign anticipates the future resurrection and ascension of Christ when God's ultimate enemy (Satan) will be subdued and His people will ultimately be delivered (salvation). The Psalm focuses on the Conqueror who receives the spoils from the defeated, whereas later the apostle Paul uses this Psalm in focusing on how Christ that Conqueror distributes what He receives to His own.

Therefore it says, "When he ascended on high he led a host of captives, and he gave gifts to men." And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ (Ephesians 4)

As the Israelites would sing this, they should have been overwhelmed with gratitude at the incredible privilege of being God’s ambassador nation that was intended to be a blessing to the rest of the world. May we consider the privilege of being chosen and counted among God's special people and embrace our responsibility to be a blessing to the world around us.