A few weeks ago I had a conversation with some of our members about my motivations for the study of God’s word. I have been teaching the Bible for over forty years, which by my obvious youthful appearance must mean I started when I was about four years old! I can’t explain exactly how it happened, but there was something in my father’s preaching that gripped me at a very young age. My desire was to know as much as he knew about the Bible. I have not reached that place after all these years, which has kept me in constant pursuit of the goal.
Psalm 68 caused me to reflect on this as I thought back to one of my father’s favorite topics, which was the preaching of the Tabernacle. I have to go back a long way to the first time I heard his series of messages on the subject. It must have been about 1960, and when I heard it I was hooked. The types of Christ found in Tabernacle worship became the foundation of my studies in the Word of God. All of the major doctrines of scripture are found there as they most gloriously display the magnificent work of our Lord Jesus Christ.
You might ask, “What has this to do with Psalm 68?” This is a very good question. The hint comes in verse 1 in which David said, “Let God arise, let his enemies be scattered: let them also that hate him flee before him.” Compare this to Numbers 10:35: “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.” The subject of the psalm is thus identified. It is the movement of the Ark of the Covenant. This part of the Tabernacle worship is the most prominent because it represents the power of God in the presence of Jesus Christ.
The Ark was most useful on the Day of Atonement when the high priest went into the Holy of Holies to sprinkle the blood of the sacrifice on the mercy seat, a part of the Ark. This took place only once each year as the high priest made atonement for the sins of the entire nation. When sin is atoned, God is satisfied, and when Israel was sanctified the power of God was with them.
The power of the Ark struck fear into Israel as God strictly prohibited anyone to touch it (Numbers 4:15; 2 Samuel 6:6-7). Israel’s enemies also greatly feared the Ark: “And when the Philistines heard the noise of the shout, they said, What meaneth the noise of this great shout in the camp of the Hebrews? And they understood that the ark of the LORD was come into the camp. And the Philistines were afraid, for they said, God is come into the camp. And they said, Woe unto us! for there hath not been such a thing heretofore.” (1 Samuel 4:6-7).
The Ark of the Covenant has always fascinated me. There is much missed by those who never care to explore its significance in Old Testament worship. My dad loved this study and his passion for it was passed on to me. I cannot imagine I would understand what I know about doctrine if had not been for this blessed study. We went through the Tabernacle in 2005, and I am not sure that I wouldn’t want to research and revise those messages for another time.
Psalm 68 tells of David’s movement of the Ark from the house of Obed-Edom to Jerusalem. It was a thrilling journey filled with singing, sacrifice, and jubilant praise. Soon it would find a permanent home in the exquisite temple built by Solomon. The Ark continued to be the focal point of worship until Israel disobeyed God and turned to idolatry. When this happened, the Ark was taken away and the power of God has not since returned to Israel. However, we have been studying Israel’s future glory which is assured when the Ark’s antitype, Jesus Christ, will rule from Jerusalem in the temple of the millennial kingdom.
We pray that we will learn the lesson of obedience well. With obedience will come blessing. Without it, the power of God will never be a part of our lives.
Pastor V. Mark Smith