The Move of God: God is Rising Up (Psalm 68:1)

God arises. His enemies scatter, and those who hate him flee from his presence.
-Psalm 68:1 (CSB)

Psalm 68 is about:

  • God's majestic power
  • God's triumph
  • God scattering His enemies
  • Praise and thanksgiving
  • The glory of God in his goodness to Israel

Is this verse a prayer request, a declaration, or an invocation?

God arises.  His enemies scatter, and those who hate him flee from his presence.

God shall arise, his enemies shall be scattered; and those who hate him shall flee before him!

God! Arise with awesome power, and every one of your enemies will scatter in fear!

Let God rise up, let his enemies be scattered; let those who hate him flee before him.

Let God ariseLet His enemies be scattered; Let those also who hate Him flee before Him. 

May the true God rise up and show Himselfmay those who are united against Him be dispersed,
    while the people who hate Him run away at the sight of Him.

Up with God!  Down with his enemies!  Adversaries, run for the hills!  Gone like a puff of smoke,
    like a blob of wax in the fire— one look at God and the wicked vanish.

Do something, God!  Scatter your hateful enemies.  Make them turn and run.

God is [already] beginning to arise, and His enemies to scatter; let them also who hate Him flee before Him!

(CSB, ESV, TPT, NRSV, NKJV, VOICE, MSG, CEV, Amplified Classic Edition)

The Young's Literal translation says:
Rise doth God -- scattered are His enemies! And those hating Him flee from His face.

"Doth" is the 3rd person singular present indicative of do.

'Rising up' is what God does and is doing.  The picture here is of God going before his people, and leading them to victory over the enemies of God.  David looks to God's victories, in this psalm: past, present, and future.

I think that Psalm 68 and it's opening verse is about the move of God, God moving.  God moves for and before his people.  "Let God arise", is stating a fact that God is on the move.

God is already moving, so we praise Him for that and worship God as He moves, to vanquish His enemy and save his people.  God is always moving, but there are times when His moving is very obvious or observable, if you have eyes to see.

Psalm 68 celebrates God's moving.  It happened before and it's happening now.  Look and see, celebrate and receive what God is doing.  The kingdom of God is breaking out and building the church, installing the government of God on the earth.  This is what Psalm 68 says and a lot more.

The message is that God is moving and that our whole lives are focused on and arranged around His motion.

These are my notes on Psalm 68:1

Henry Morris:

But this prayer, uttered both by Moses and by David, was fulfilled only partially and locally in those long-ago times.  Its final accomplishment, worldwide in scope, was yet future.  Its final phase began with the resurrection of the rejected and crucified Messiah.  The ancient prayer, "Let God arise" was answered marvelously when Christ arose from the dead.  The enemies that slew Him soon were scattered over the earth, like smoke driven away... (Treasures in the Psalms, 2000)

Thomas Case:

  1. The church of God ever had, and will have, enemies and haters; for against these doth the Psalmist arm himself and the church with this prayer.
  2. The church's enemies are God's enemies; they that hate the church, hate God. "Thine enemies, them that hate thee."
  3. God sometimes seems to sleep or lie still, and let these enemies and haters do what they will for a season. This, also, is implied: he to whom we say, "Arise," is either asleep or lies still.
  4. There is a time when God will arise.
  5. God's rising time is the enemies' scattering time, his haters' flying time.
  6. It is the duty of God's people to pray him up when he seems to be down, and to exalt him in their praises when he doth arise to their rescue and redemption; for these words are both a prayer and a triumph, as they are used both by Moses and David.

Henry Law:

"Let God arise," etc. The moving ark is a type of Jesus going forth to cast down rebel foes. It is high joy to trace the Antitype's victorious march. How mightily the Lord advanced! The strength of God was in his arm. His sword was Deity.  His darts were barbed with all Jehovah's might. "He had on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, King of kings, and Lord of Lords." Revelation 19:16. His foes, indeed, strove mightily.
It was no easy work to rescue souls from Satan's grasp, or to lay low the prison-house of darkness. The enemy rushed on, clad in his fiercest armour, wild in his keenest rage, wily in his deadliest crafts. He plied his every temptation, as a terrific battery.
But the true Ark never quailed. The adversary licked the dust. Malignant passions maddened in opposing breasts. The kings stood up; rulers took counsel; all plots were laid; the ignominious death was planned and executed. But still the Ark moved on.

John Boys:

"Arise." The mercifulness of God is seen in his patience toward the wicked, implied in the word "arise," for he seemeth, as it were, to sleep (Psalm 44:23), and not to mark what is done amiss.

The Lord is patient, and would have none to perish, but would have all men to come to repentance.(2 Peter 3:9)

He was longer in destroying one city (Jericho, Joshua 6:4), than in building the whole world; slow to wrath, and ready to forgive, desiring not the death of a sinner, but rather he should amend.
He doth not arise to particular punishments, much less to the general judgment, but after long suffering and great goodness.


"Let God arise." In some such words Moses spake when the cloud moved onward, and the ark was carried forward. The ark would have been a poor leader if the Lord had not been present with the symbol.
Before we move; we should always desire to see the Lord lead the way.
The words suppose the Lord to have been passive for awhile, suffering his enemies to rage, but restraining his power.
Israel beseeches him to arise, as elsewhere to "awake, gird on his sword," and other similar expressions. We, also, may thus importunately cry unto the Lord, that he would be pleased to make bare his arm, and plead his own cause.
"Let his enemies be scattered." Our glorious Captain of the vanguard clears the way readily, however many may seek to obstruct it; he has but to arise, and they flee, he has easily over-thrown his foes in days of yore, and will do so all through the ages to come.
Sin, death, and hell know the terror of his arm; their ranks are broken at his approach. Our enemies are his enemies, and in this is our confidence of victory. "Let them also that hate him flee before him."
How fitting a prayer is this for the commencement of a revival! How it suggests the true mode of conducting one: - the Lord leads the way, his people follow, the enemies flee.

James Luther Mays:

"Let God arise!" Psalm 68 begins with this invocation of God as the divine warrior whose victory established his reign in the world and whose strength is the salvation of his people.  The victory and the reign of the divine warrior are its underlying theme.  In this and other respects the psalm is similar to Exodus 15, the great song that praises the Lord for his deliverance from Pharaoh's army.  That song fucuses on the battle at the Red Sea as the victory that led to God's establishment of his people and his sanctuary "on the mountain of his possession."  Psalm 68 focuses on the march from Sinai through the wilderness and the battles with the nations who opposed the progress of God and Israel to the sanctuary that represents God's rule over Israel and the kingdoms of the world. (Psalms: Interpretation: A Bible Commentary for Teaching and Preaching, 2011)

Witness Lee:

Now we come to the highest peak of all the Psalms, Psalm 68...
We will see that in this Psalm we have firstly Christ, secondly the house, thirdly the city, Jerusalem, and fourthly the earth.  But we do not have the law.  The law has been left behind; the law has been dropped.  When we come to the highest peak of all the Psalms, we only have Christ in the house within the city for the whole earth.  These are the four key words of Psalm 68- Christ, the house, the city, and the earth.  If we would understand this Psalm, and indeed all the Psalms, we must understand these four words.  The whole book of the Psalms is found in miniature in Psalm 68...
We may briefly define this Psalm by saying that it tells us how, in God's move on the earth, Christ ascended to the heavens and as a man received gifts from God for the building of God's dwelling place.  The building up of God's house is for the expansion of the cit, and the expansion of the city is for Christ's reigning over the whole earth.  Christ has conquered all His enemies, He has won the victory, He has led captive a train of vanquished foes, He has ascended and been exalted to the highest place in the universe and He has received gifts for building up the house of God.  This house is for the city, and the city is for the whole earth.  Now you have Psalm 68.  Without these points, though you may read this Psalm one hundred times, you will never comprehend it.... We may say that this Psalm has nine major points:
  1. God's Moving on This Earth
  2. God's Victory in Christ
  3. Christ's Ascension
  4. Christ Receiving Gifts
  5. A Dwelling Place For God
  6. The Enjoyment of God
  7. Praise
  8. The City
  9. The Earth

...Verse 1 says, "Let God arise, let his enemies be scattered: let them also that hate him flee before him."  This is a quotation on Numbers 10:35....Psalm 68:1 was the word spoken by Moses....Now Moses' word is quoted by Davis: "Let God arise."  Hence, we see that the background of this Psalm is the move of God in His tabernacle with the ark.
The move of God on this earth is not only the background of Psalm 68, but also the first thought.  In addition to verse 1, there are other verses which speak most expressively of God's move:
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!O God, when you went out before your people,    when you marched through the wilderness, -Psalm 68:4 and 7 (ESV)
...He is not riding through the skies, but through the wilderness, through the deserts of this earth.  The entire earth today is a desert, a wilderness, yet God is riding through and moving on....The first point of the Psalm is that God is moving on this earth. (Christ and the Church: Revealed and Typified in the Psalms, 1994)

Walter Brueggemann and William H. Bellinger, Jr:

Most interpreters understand the text as a whole in terms of a victory song.  The text is the final of four psalms (Psalms 65-68) that are hymns; the cluster of psalms comes to an end with, "Blessed be God at the end of Psalm 68.
...Psalm 68 portrays God as the one who comes to deliver and then is present to bless the community from Zion.
...The victory of God who rules from Zion is at the heart of the text, and it is likely that the community celebrated God's kingship in a variety of worship settings.
...The poetry in the opening call dramatically calls for God to bring about the utter downfall of the wicked.
...The requests in the first three verses (in the "jussive" grammatical form - "Let God rise up") revel in the justice God will bring between the righteous and the wicked as a demonstration of the reign of God.
...Contemporary readers who seek a revelatory word in Psalm 68 may well find themselves in uncomfortable and puzzling territory.  In addition to the obscurities in the text, there are other obstacles.  First, the military imagery in the psalm will disturb some readers.  That language comes from a particular cultural setting and also probably reflects a community that has suffered from military oppression.  The intent of the divine king's action is central to the context.  This God defeats enemies and in so doing protects the vulnerable orphans and widows, the desolate and the prisoners, and brings salvation to the community.  In this psalm, the worshiping community of ancient Israel confesses that they belong to this God who reigns.
...The celebration of the reign of God is not so much about triumphalism(1) as it is about finding life that only this one can grant, as is indicated in the concluding verse(2).  The poem is a way for the community to imagine a life of growth and vitality in which justice for all those in need is possible. (Psalms (New Cambridge Bible Commentary), 2014)

1. (Websters) Definition of triumphalism. : an attitude or feeling of victory or superiority: such as. a : the attitude that one religious creed is superior to all others. b : smug or boastful pride in the success or dominance of one's nation or ideology over others.
2. Awesome is God from his[your] sanctuary;
    the God of Israel—he is the one who gives power and strength to his people.
Blessed be God!
-Psalm 68:35 (ESV)

Psalm 68
This is an excellent psalm, for the psalmist is led by the spirit of prophecy to speak glorious things concerning the Messiah, his ascension into heaven, and the setting up of his kingdom in the world.  
  1. He begins with prayer, both against God's enemies, ver. 1 and 2; and for his people, ver. 3.
  2. He proceeds with praise, (1) For God's having given them victory over their enemies, ver. 11 and 12; and for delivering them out of the hands of their oppressors, ver. 13 and 14. (2) For the special presence of God in his church, ver. 15, 17.
  3. The ascension of Christ, ver. 18; and the salvation of his people by him, ver. 19, 20.
  4. The victories which Christ would obtain over his enemies, and the favours he would bestow upon his church, ver. 21-28.
  5. The enlargement of the church by the accession of the gentiles to it, ver. 29-31.
And concludes the psalm with an awful acknowledgement of the glory and grace of God, ver. 32-35.
Verse 1. "Let God arise" - These words are to be understood of Christ, and his resurrection from the power of sin, death, and the grave, as the head of his people.  "Let God arise;" namely, the incarnate God, who has died for sin, suffered for sinners, and paid the debt of penalty with his own precious blood and death: let him, saith the Holy Ghost, arise victorious over Satan, triumphant over death, and a conqueror over the grave.  The debt is paid, the elect are discharged, the law is magnified, justice is satisfied, God is honored, Satan is foiled, sin is pardoned, and death, hell, and the grave are triumphed over.  "Let God arise," as the mighty conqueror, as the victorious one: therefore his resurrection is applied to his divine person: not that Deity arose or suffered, but the man in union to the divine nature suffered and rose; therefore it is applied to his person as God-man.