The Conquest & Ascension
of the King of King’s

a brief study of Psalm 68, adapted from PCC Prayer Meeting Exhortation on 26 September 2008

Psalm 68 is known as an Ascension Psalm. Most commentators agree that this psalm was written to commemorate the occasion or occasions when the ark of the covenant was brought into Jerusalem.

Some believe that it is a song which celebrates the return of the ark every time it was brought out when Israel went into battle. The reason for this idea is that this Psalm is indeed a battle song! But there is little or no evidence that the ark was actually brought out to battle apart from the time of Eli when the ark was captured by the Philistines!

Therefore, I believe that this Psalm was really written to celebrate the occasion when it was finally brought into Jerusalem by king David. After David conquered Jerusalem and made it his capital, one of the first things he did was to bring the ark into Jerusalem. But the first attempt failed because David had imitated the Philistines to carry the ark on a bullock cart. This was contrary to the law of God, and God struck dead a man by the name of Uzzah who tried to hold the ark steady when he thought it was about the fall into the ground. After the calamity, David decided to leave the ark in the home of Obed Edom the Gittite. It was to remain there for three months until David decided to bring the ark back again. This time the ark was carried on the shoulders of the priests are required by the Law.

The book of Samuel describes the event in the words: “So David went and brought up the ark of God from the house of Obededom into the city of David with gladness” (2 Sam 6:12).

Notice the reference to going up? You see, Jerusalem was situated on a mount, 750 m above sea-level, so when the ark was brought into Jerusalem, it literally ascended. So in verse 18, we read, “Thou hast ascended on high.” The ark represents the presence of God.

But if this psalm is about the ascension of the ark in Old Testament days, then what is its relevance to us today? Well, to answer this question, we must realise that the ascension of the ark of the covenant is a type of the ascension of Christ!

Why do we say that? We say that because the apostle Paul actually makes use of Psalm 68:18 to describe the ascension of Christ! He says in Ephesians 4:8—“Wherefore he saith, When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men.” Now, if you read carefully, you will realise that Psalm 68:18 speaks about receiving gifts whereas Ephesians 4:8 speak of giving gifts. The reason for this difference is that Paul writing under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit felt it necessary to clarify that Christ did not receive gift from men, but rather He received it from the Father in order to give it unto men.

So this Psalm is about Christ! It is about the battles that Christ led His people to fight, and about the significance of His ascension as the Captain of their salvation.

With this in mind, we may entitle this Psalm, “The Conquest and Ascension of the King of kings.” In Revelation 6:2, we have a picture of the King of kings sitting upon a white horse, going forth, conquering, and to conquer. In Psalm 68, we have the picture fleshed out.

This is a rather large psalm with many sections, so we will only be able to give a very brief introduction to it. We may divide the psalm into five sections.

1. The King’s Greatness (v. 1-6)

2. The King’s Conquest (v. 7-14)

3. The King’s Enthronement (v. 15-21)

4. The King’s Victories (v. 22-31)

5. The King’s Glory (v. 32-35)

1. The King’s Greatness

Our Psalm begins by extolling the greatness of our King and how he is to be feared by his enemies. Our King is God. In Isaiah 9:6, where he is spoken of as the Prince of Peace upon the throne of David, he is called “the mighty God.”

1  Let God arise, let his enemies be scattered: let them also that hate him flee before him.  2 … let the wicked perish at the presence of God.

God is to be greatly feared by his enemies because He is holy and righteous God, who will deal in perfect justice. He will fight against all unrighteousness. But those who are righteous, or those who have his righteousness, need not fear. They may instead rejoice and be glad in Him.


3 But let the righteous be glad; let them rejoice before God: yea, let them exceedingly rejoice.  4 Sing unto God, sing praises to his name: extol him that rideth upon the heavens by his name JAH, and rejoice before him.

Our king is the “I AM”, the alone self-existent, living and true God. And yet, he understands all our pains and sorrows. He took on our flesh and suffered with us. He would be a father to the fatherless and a loving judge to the widows who will put their trust in Him. He will bless all that receive Him as king, and free them from the bondage of sin. But those who rebel against Him despite all that he has done will know only cursing and sorrow. They will dwell, as it were, on dry, thirsty land (v. 6).

But consider now…

2. The King’s Conquest

7 O God, when thou wentest forth before thy people, when thou didst march through the wilderness &c…

God our King had led his people through the ages. He is the captain of our salvation. He led our fathers out of Egypt and provided for them in the wilderness (v. 7). He gave them the law at mount Sinai in the midst of thunder and lightning and earthquakes (v. 8). He led them to the Promised Land. He gave them victory over their enemies. He send rain to refresh the land as the people began to settle into the land. He blessed the poor with his goodness (v. 9-10). He defended them against their enemies and gave them victory in their conquests (v. 11).

Our King is the captain of our salvation. He has been doing the same for us. He redeemed us out of Spiritual Egypt. He gave us His Word. He is leading us by His Word and Spirit. He provides for us in our spiritual battles. He gives us victory and rest in the assurance of His love. He will lead us to our everlasting rest; He will turn our afflictions into glory and joy which will culminate in the day of the wrath of the Lamb:

13 Though ye have lain among the pots, yet shall ye be as the wings of a dove covered with silver, and her feathers with yellow gold. 14 When the Almighty scattered kings in it, it was white as snow in Salmon.

Today we are like doves lying amongst the pots having our feathers blacken by the soot suffering and affliction. But the day is coming when we shall be as doves adorned with gold and silver. “For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory” says the apostle Paul (2Cor 4:17).

That day of our vindication is also the day of the wrath of the Lamb when kings shall be scattered and righteousness shall cover the earth like snow in Salmon. For this reason, we must press on following our King as we march to the Celestial City.

But make no mistake. Our King has already conquered, and was enthroned as we see in the third part of this psalm…

3. The King’s Enthronement

Jerusalem or Mount Zion was favoured by the King of kings to be the mount on which his throne, the ark of God would ascend (v. 15-17). The Church, the anti-type of Jerusalem is favoured to be the capital of the King of kings.

Our Lord is seated enthroned and “upholding all things by the word of his power.” He is sitting at “the right hand of the Majesty on high” after he “he had by himself purged our sins” (Heb 1:2-3). From there our Lord has sent His Spirit and continues to send us the gifts of the Spirit that we may build one another up in the church. Verse 18—

18 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.

The apostle Paul, as we mentioned quotes this verse in Ephesians 4:8 to show how when Christ ascended to heaven, He received gifts from the Father to give unto the Church. His greatest gift is none other than the Holy Spirit, by whom the LORD God dwells amongst us (v. 18); by whom we who were rebellious are made little by little more and more like our Saviour.

Oh may we learn to praise Him for His benefits as we are exhorted to do on verse 19—

19 Blessed be the Lord, who daily loadeth us with benefits, even the God of our salvation.…. 20 He that is our God is the God of salvation; and unto GOD the Lord belong the issues from death.

Our king knows who are his. He blesses them daily with a life abundant and free. But let not any person who ‘goes on still in his trespasses’ think that his benefits is for everyone; for our king does not bless hypocrites. He will rather punish them (v. 21).

But make no mistake, for the Spirit is an earnest of our inheritance. We have not received complete rest in Him. The war is won, but there are still battles to be fought. He has conquered and is conquering. In Him we shall be more than conquerors. So consider…

4. The King’s Victories

22 The Lord said, I will bring again from Bashan, I will bring my people again from the depths of the sea: 23 That thy foot may be dipped in the blood of thine enemies, and the tongue of thy dogs in the same.  24 They have seen thy goings, O God; even the goings of my God, my King, in the sanctuary &c.

Our King will fight for us and deliver us. When we follow after Him obediently, we shall have the victory. “We are more than conquerors through him that loved us” (Rom 8:37). “Thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1Cor 15:57).

As we experience victory in each battle we fight, let us sing with joy amongst God’s people (v. 25). Let us exhort and encourage one another, great or small, young of old, to fight valiantly (v. 26-30). Then shall we be used of the Lord to lead others to himself (v. 31).

Indeed, let us seek, as we taught in the previous psalm, to call unto the world to join us to worship the Lord. This is the call in the final part of this great psalm…

5. The King’s Glory

32 Sing unto God, ye kingdoms of the earth; O sing praises unto the Lord… 33 To him that rideth upon the heavens of heavens, which were of old; lo, he doth send out his voice, and that a mighty voice.  34 Ascribe ye strength unto God: his excellency is over Israel, and his strength is in the clouds.

As the people redeemed and led by the King of kings, we must sing praises unto Him. But we must not stop there, for gratitude demands that we make him known to others that others may praise him too. So let us call upon the kingdoms of the earth to join us to ascribe glory and strength unto our Lord.

Let us acknowledge how great He is. But let us not forget, ourselves, to bless His holy name for all that He has done for us:

35 O God, thou art terrible [thou art awesome] out of thy holy places: the God of Israel is he that giveth strength and power unto his people. Blessed be God.


We must conclude.

War is not popular or pleasing subject to discuss. But war is the central theme in the Scripture. Indeed, it may be argued that all the wars in the world are the offspring of the mother of all wars, the War of the Ages, even the war between the Seed of the Serpent and the Seed of the Woman.

Psalm 68 is a celebration of the victory of the Seed of the Woman. The Lord Jesus, the King of kings and Lord of lord is the Seed of the woman. He secured victory in the War on the Cross of Calvary and his resurrection from the grave. But the war is not completed yet. There are battles still to fight.

Therefore we thank God for this Psalm. This psalm was used whenever Christians went out to war for the sake of Christ. It was the favourite Psalm of Charlemagne (747-814 AD), the father of Europe, and one of the most pious of the Christian emperors who sought to conquer Europe for Christ. It was the battle song of the French Huguenots who were persecuted for their biblical faith. It was the favourite psalm of Oliver Cromwell, the Puritan general.

But make no mistake, this psalm is not only for times of religious wars for Christ, for there is a constant battle raging, for which the apostle Paul instruct us to fight with the full armour of God. This psalm, therefore, should be sung by all of us to encourage ourselves in the battle in the knowledge that Christ has secured the victory. He is sitting on the right hand of the majesty on High. He has given us the Spirit, and he continues to give us whatever we need for the battle. Let us therefore fight on bravely, looking unto Jesus, the Captain of our Salvation, until the day when we shall rest with Him in the Celestial City no more ever to fight again. Amen.

—JJ Lim