“And it came to pass, when the ark set forward, that Moses said, Rise up, LORD, and let thine enemies be scattered; and let them that hate thee flee before thee. And when it rested, he said, Return, O LORD, unto the many thousands of Israel.”
— Num. 10:35,36
To understand the vitality of this DIVINE INVOCATION to the performance of the Abrahamic covenant, which was first first uttered from the lips of Moses, as the ark of the covenant was first setting out before the hosts of Israel into the treacherous journey from Paran (Hab. 3:3), is to approach with prepared heart the threshold of this most breathtaking Psalm — 68. “Let God arise, let his enemies be scattered: let them also that hate him flee before him. As smoke is driven away, so drive them away: as wax melteth before the fire, so let the wicked perish at the presence of God. But let the righteous be glad; let them rejoice before God: yea, let them exceedingly rejoice” (Psa. 68:1-3). This DIVINE INVOCATION stands above the many other instances where David (or one of his companions) called upon the Lord in like fashion, for it is in this instance alone where David precisely quotes the invocation of Moses; whereas, all other instances are allusions thereto in principle only. Psa. 68:1-3 is no mere allusion, reckoning upon the inherent principle, but is, rather, an undeniable equating of the two occasions upon which the invocation was declared (the same instance also being spoken of in, Psa. 132:8)!
Here David was bringing the ark on its final ascent, into its final resting place — Zion… This is in direct parallel to Moses bringing the ark upon its first embarkment into the wilderness of wandering! Therefore, David taking up THE DIVINE INVOCATION is, essentially, his estimating of the value of the experience of which he was made to partake at the final ascent — namely, that this final ascent under his hand was as epic as its first under the hand of Moses, and that this rest to which David was conducting it to was the fulfillment, which Moses, at best, only foresaw through the spirit of prophecy (Num. 10:36) — and this prophetic equality Solomon also attributes to his final transferring of the ark, finally into the temple (II Chron. 6:41). David’s invocation here may seem quite audacious of the man, and it would be if it were not for the very staggering events which had transpired in the forgoing (approximately) 50 years.
[Consider diligently: "Divine Acceptance or Divine Rejection"]
Consider, David was raised in a generation wherein the ark of the covenant — the throne of God — had even itself been taken captive by the Philistines! And upon its return to Beth-shemesh, and settling in Kirjath-jearim, it abode there for 20 years even, before anyone mourned after the Lord (which is the sense of I Sam. 7:2)! David was raised with the ark of the covenant in obscurity, and no one enquiring at it in the days of Saul (I Chron. 13:3)… all of this in the context of the Lord “forsaking Shiloh” (Psa. 78:60), and that at the close of approximately 450 years of dark ages in the times of the judges! Therefore, for David to successfully accomplish a recovery of the glory of God (“between the cherubims”, II Sam. 6:2; Psa. 99:1), by bringing the ark safely up to Zion (which the Lord had revealed unto David that he had chosen for himself as a perpetual dwelling place, see Psa. 68:16; 78:68,69; 87:2; 132:8,13,14), and into the tabernacle which David himself (as a modern-day Moses for his generation) had pitched for him (I Chron. 15:1), was no insignificant achievement!
Thus David, most accurately estimating the full scale of the operation of God’s glory which the Lord was reviving in the midst of his reign, was poised to fully realize the magnitude of the work the Lord was doing in this most staggering and singular event portrayed in Psa. 68. Therefore, he is led to seamlessly interweave the events of God’s glory chronicled at Sinai, with his present day experience throughout the song, crescendoing in v. 18, wherein he (referencing Moses) quotes Deborah! “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.” His reference to Moses in this text is undeniable from the immediate context, but when compared to Judges 5 — the song of Deborah — it is plain to see the correlation between the two passages!
Deborah is singing her song in a very similar context to David’s, as she was in the midst of a divine repentance as well (though it would prove only to be partial); thus was made to glorify God in the very same spiritualized language of the the glory of God among the Church first defined at Sinai, just as David was compelled so to do in his generation! That is to say, when Deborah beheld Barak the son of Abinoam ascend Tabor, she was beholding a reenactment of the glory of God as it was, when in days of yore, one Moses, led his captivity captive from Egypt, unto the mount Horeb, and then he ascended up on high, and received gifts for men (elders, prophecy, a law, etc.)!
This must have been a most affecting scene to this dear mother in Israel, and yet her experience is improved upon, for not only did she behold Barak lead the 10k oppressed Israelites unto mount Tabor, but he led them up the mountain with him! This is, therefore, an improvement upon the type of Christ offered in Moses to the Exodus Generation; for Moses brought them to “the mountain that might be touched” (Heb. 12:18), though it was strictly forbidden to be touched (Exo. 19:12,13), but Barak brought them up the mountain with him (Jdg. 4:6,12,14), even as Christ, who would avail beyond all inferior divine repentances (by reason of His perfection), bringing his people to a mountain that may not be touched (for its spirituality), and ascend the “Holy Hill” of "Mount Zion” in “The Heavenly Jerusalem”, WITH his captivity He has taken captive (Eph. 4:8; Heb. 12:22; Psa. 2:6; 24:3)!
All this in view, we find David in Psalm 68 standing atop the cresting wave of the fulfillment of the Abrahamic Covenant! Essentially, all that was laying hold of Deborah, concerning that which had laid hold of Moses, was suddenly laying hold of David! Not to say this was the end of his warfare, or that this wave would not finally crest in the close of his reign, but this moment was pivotal, and served as the manifest turning point, where all that would follow were the mere propitious events which must surely seize such an elect and chosen vessel.
This would have been enough if this was simply all that David was seeing, but there was more! More that, though hidden from his eyes, would be progressively revealed through the generations of the Kingdom of God still to come. Namely, this breathtaking moment of David’s realization of the divine repentance, would be taken yet again into the lips of another, as yet another divine repentance in the heart of God would be realized in the future, to the performance of the covenant to end all covenants, by the hand of the Worthy One, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the root of David: Jesus of Nazareth! This is the 1st Century Divine Repentance.
Thus did Paul, standing atop the crested wave of the New Covenant in the full volume of all that was then revealed, declare, “Wherefore he saith, When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men” (Eph. 4:8)! Paul is quoting David, who is quoting Deborah, who is referencing Moses, that he might declare — IN ITS GRAND FULFILLMENT — what Christ (the prophet like unto Moses, Deut. 18:15) has achieved in his heavenly ascension, far above all that any other mere man had ever been able to attain! Hereby, one can easily perceive that this passage (Psa. 68) is exceedingly broad, and serves as A COLLIDING POINT of divine repentances for many generations.
Even so, it does not end there, but after the death of all of the apostles, save John, and after Rome had sacked and burned Jerusalem, scattered the Jews, and plucked down the temple — and yet the end of the world had not come! — then did the Lord reveal yet one more divine repentance to come in the end of the world! And so, John remembering Paul quoting David, who was quoting Deborah, who was referencing Moses, declares, “And I looked, and, lo, a Lamb stood on the mount Sion, and with him an hundred forty and four thousand, having his Father's name written in their foreheads” (Rev. 14:1)! This is, we hope, the 21st Century Divine Repentance.
A further necessary application of this doctrine (Realizing the Divine Repentance), is now most timely that we would consider. In the light of all that is before us, we are now plainly able to see that from Moses —> Deborah/Barak —> David —> Paul —> John, that each of these redeemed saints were made to behold something clearly set before them at the focal point of THE DIVINE REPENTANCE — men of God’s right hand (Psa. 80:17)!
In Psalm 68, as a starting point for us, consider again that David uttered THE DIVINE INVOCATION (v. 1-3), and ere long scaled his way to the staggering height of Realizing the Divine Repentance (v.18), but in the meantime he revealed to all what was the method, or by what means did the Lord ordain that His ascent would be manifest: “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” (v. 13)! What was in focus to David was the reality of the defied Israel rising from the ignominy and reproach among which she lay, and from the dunghill of apostasy in which she wallowed (I Sam. 2:8), then for many centuries standing. To David, this was, inexorably, the course of God’s repentance in his generation, and to this end alone did he live — that Israel might arise (Psa. 45:16,17; 72:17-20; 145:4-7; Acts 13:36)!
This reality is the selfsame thing which Asaph saw, expected, and took careful record of as both a contemporary and companion of David (consider his prayer for the Lord’s guidance of His people, Psa. 77:1-6,20, and the answer received in David as a shepherd over Israel, Psa. 78:65-72). Behold this man’s words, “Let thy hand be upon the man of thy right hand, upon the son of man whom thou madest strong for thyself. So will not we go back from thee: quicken us, and we will call upon thy name. Turn us again, O LORD God of hosts, cause thy face to shine; and we shall be saved” (Psa. 80:17-19). This is very plain, and thus it must be, for our hardness of heart, and our persistent unwillingness to arise, and our unrenewed desires that God himself alone (without human instrumentality) would arise! O God, help us to see what these men saw!
Asaph’s desire was that the Lord would arise! Thus he opened, “Shepherd of Israel, thou that leadest Joseph like a flock; thou that dwellest between the cherubims, shine forth” (Psa. 80:1)! He will reiterate this supplication throughout this peculiarly crafted testimony (so the sense of the title, “Shoshannim-eduth”, or, Lily of Testimony), in the terms of the Lord’s countenance shining upon His people (v. 3,7,14,16,19)! The testimony of Psalm 80 is this: when the Lord shines the light of His countenance upon His people they are “turned”, “made strong”, “saved”, and, “quickened” (v. 2,3,7-11,15,17-19) — or, in other words, they arise!
The reason behind this method is plainly declared in the text, “Before Ephraim and Benjamin and Manasseh stir up thy strength, and come and save us” (Psa. 80:2). Asaph is remembering the very moment when the Lord went forth in the wilderness, when THE DIVINE INVOCATION was first brought forth (in Num. 10:35,36), when the ark of the Lord’s glory AROSE, and literally set forth immediately before the blessed eyes of three tribes — Ephraim, Benjamin, and Manasseh (Num. 10:21-24), which were the 3rd rank among the Israelites in their setting forth (Num. 2:17-24), two ranks before the ark and two behind! Therefore, when Asaph is invoking the Lord to “stir up his strength” before these tribes, he is essentially saying, “Arise, like you did at the first before our fathers in the wilderness!” But more than this, he is stating the most express way a man may arise — he must set the Lord’s rising ever before him (Psa. 16:8)!
It is certain, those who most clearly behold the shining forth of the Lord from between the cherubims, behold His strength stirred up, and they shall arise and follow — captivated —behind him in His glorious train! It was in the language of Divine Repentance which Asaph described the Lord’s arising in the Exodus Generation (“Stir up thy strength”, v. 2). And rightly so, for it was after that the Lord had said he would not go among the armies of Israel (Exo. 33:3), and after that he had determined the destruction of all of the tribes for their whoredoms at mount Sinai (Exo. 32:10), that, Lo! Asaph beheld Him “stirring up His strength” before Ephraim, Benjamin, and Manasseh! This same signal language is understandably employed by David (Psa. 35:23; 44:23-26), and Isaiah (Isa. 42:13,14) in describing this most staggering act of Divine Repentance as well!
O that the Lord would thus cause His countenance to shine upon His people in this day!
Understanding this application of the Divine Repentance (God raising up men of His right hand), we can clearly see why David, after calling upon the Lord to “lift up” and “shew” Himself (Psa. 94:1,2), was looking about him, on his left and right, saying to his companions, “Who will rise up for me against the evildoers? or who will stand up for me against the workers of iniquity” (Psa. 94:16)? David, like the Lord, sought a man (Isa. 59:16; 63:5; Jer. 5:1; Ezek. 22:30)!This is why the closing chapters of the chronicles of David are so significant.
God sought to teach David this lesson, in a most impressive way in the closing scenes of his life. If the the closing chapters of David’s earthly ministry are II Sam. 21-23 (24 being an appendix, to transition between the life of David and Solomon), then there is immediately discovered a shocking theme! II Samuel 21 closes with David’s last battle, and the subsequent riddance of the giants from Canaan, by the hand of other men than David! We hear then, in II Samuel 22, the song at this time which such exploits of the Lord (wrought in love), inspired from the lips of David. Finally, in II Sam. 23, as David reflects, at first with subtle (though resigned) lamentation upon the state of his house in reference to the covenant of the Lord with him, yet he can abide there but briefly, and at last closes with a catalogue of the exploits of what the Lord had done through the mighty men which He had made strong for Himself! And through this divinely inspired progression in the narrative, we can clearly perceive the instruction the Lord is boldly teaching David in the closing scenes of his life — “Stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord”!
It was not that David was forgetful or unaffected by all that the Lord had wrought through his own earthen vessel, for this was a reality that he could not escape since his rise in the sheep cote, but there was something new that was taking the preeminent place in his soul. David was deeply instructed of the Lord to behold His arising in His people, yea, even till he felt his life hanging in the balance before his eyes, and that the Lord must arise for him!... and then, at his wit’s end, the Lord arose — in Abishai (II Sam. 21:15-17)! The Lord himself caused David once to pray, “Cast me not off in the time of old age; forsake me not when my strength faileth. For mine enemies speak against me; and they that lay wait for my soul take counsel together, saying, God hath forsaken him: persecute and take him; for there is none to deliver him. O God, be not far from me: O my God, make haste for my help” (Psa. 71:9-12)… This was, undoubtedly, the Lord causing him to soberly anticipate in this prayer, when a young, strong, man of war, the hour when he would fail of his own strength (even that which he had always reckoned upon in, and by, the Lord). This would almost seem to cast a shade upon the glorious testimony of David as a worthy contender for the promises, and promised land of God, for the worthy testimony of war, according to the covenant, was, “[They] waxed valiant in fight” (Heb. 11:34)! But here, David’s strength failed him, and he “waxed faint”! But God’s glory in this man’s testimony is preserved in this particular, most astonishing — crucial to behold — manifestation of the Lord’s salvation… by the hand of His people! For, it was through Abishai, that the Lord Himself came to “help” David (Psa. 71:12)! As it is written, “But Abishai the son of Zeruiah succored him” (II Sam. 21:17)!
The end of David’s story is not so much what the Lord did through him, as much as what the Lord did for him, through his friends. To behold this operation of God’s glory in the establishment of men of His right hand, is, as it were, to see what only the seasoned seaman should hope to see of the heights, depths, length and breadth of the vast, unfathomable ocean, at his final voyage… It is the ascent of Pisgah’s height, and the casting eye of a life worth three lifetimes, finally beholding the desired haven… It is the blinding effulgence of “salvation”, to the eyes that have lived a long life to behold it! And thus beholding this blissful scene of — THE LORD ARISING — was David laid to rest with his fathers in peace.
These realities which so illustriously have been set forth in the testimony of the life of David and his companions, will be the fuel which shall finally propel THE DIVINE REPENTANCE to end all divine repentances — in THE COVENANT to end all covenants — to THE GENERATION to end all generations!