Let God arise, let His enemies be scattered… Psalm 67 (68)

The first use of the opening lines of this Psalm was by the Israelites when the Ark of the Covenant was carried during their wanderings in the desert. The enemies to be scattered were those who fought against Israel on their way to the Chosen Land: the Amalekites, Moabites, Amorites and so forth. The wandering of Israel through the desert was a kind of procession, and so it makes sense that this Psalm was eventually used in Jewish liturgical processions, and later on by Christians for the same purpose.

The Orthodox Christian use of this Psalm is clear: The first three verses are recited after the Procession of Holy Saturday night. After the Procession, we hear St Mark’s account of the Resurrection and we chant “Christ is risen from the dead…”. Between the chanting of this hymn, we recite the opening verses of Psalm 67 (68): “Let God arise, let His enemies be scattered; let those who hate Him flee before Him. As smoke is driven away, so drive them away; as wax melts before the fire, so let the wicked perish at the presence of God” (Psalm 67:1-3).

The interpretation of the whole Psalm can thus be summarised in the following way: Jesus Christ, arising from the dead (“Let God arise”, Verse 1), is triumphant over sin and death (“let His enemies be scattered”, Verse 1), bringing with Him Saints from Hades (“I will bring back from Bashan, I will bring them back from the depths of the sea”, Verse 22), leads the Church in her journey (“O God, when You went out before Your people”, Verse 7) and the Church glorifies Christ for all that He has done for her (“Sing to God, sing praises to His name, extol Him who rides the clouds…”, Verse 4).


Source: AprilMay 2014 Lychnos Edition