OUR GOD IS A GOD WHO SAVES
Psalm 68: 19 – 26
Our psalm is a hymn, first of assurance, and second a song of anticipation. It affirms great confidence in Israel’s God:
Our God is a God who saves (v20).
In expectation before the temple, seeing only the singers, musicians, and maidens approaching the place of worship - a procession of mere people - the poet with keen spiritual eye and prophetic insight perceives a human and ceremonial representation of the advance of the Messiah:
Your procession has come into view, O God, the procession of my God and king into the sanctuary (v24).
The coming Messiah is a Savior in a comprehensive way. He bears daily burdens (v19). He preserves from death (v20). He overthrows his enemies who naturally oppress his people. His enemies are those who go on in their sins (vv21-23).
The consequence of all these things is the fulsome praise of God:
Praise be to the Lord, to God our Savior (v19). Praise God in the great congregation; praise the Lord in the assembly of Israel (v26).
The faith of Israel was very firmly placed in the One who was to come. He would deal with troubles, with enemies, and with death. Messiah would come in great strength. He would arrive and behave as Sovereign Lord. This inspired forecast would be ratified and verified in very similar words by the father of the Baptist, Zechariah the priest. That which was prophesied is now present. Israel rejoiced in the promise; now the people of God may acclaim the advent of Messiah.
Zechariah produces a two-fold hymn of holy rejoicing (Luke1:68-79). Part one describes Messiah’s purpose. The second part describes the heavenly assignment of John his newborn son. Both portions of Zechariah’s song exult in Jesus as Savior, Rescuer, and Redeemer. The words of psalm and song closely correspond. The sentiments correspond exactly.
There is obvious unity in the offering of praise to God. Salvation in all its aspects is granted. Relief from the hatred and harm of the enemy is pledged. Mercy will abound. Fear will be dispelled. Holiness and righteousness will be bestowed throughout life.
Just as the psalmist can aver that God bears his peoples’ burdens, so the priest can render the assurance that divine upholding will assist believing folk throughout the full stretch of their earthly course.
The Jerusalem procession preceded the coming of the Anointed. John the Baptist would precede Messiah more closely. John would point to the great event of forgiveness of sins in the lives of the penitent, announce the divine mercy, and apprise people of the way of salvation and the path of peace.
Both psalmist and priest declare “that our God saves”. Future and fulfillment are both covered by the faithfulness of God. And we who read both compositions possess the warrant of our faith.