Gilbert House Fellowship #371: Psalms 24, 47, 68

THERE IS MORE spiritual warfare in the psalms than we realize!

This week, we study three of David’s psalms that have more going on under the hood than is obvious at first read. Psalm 24 praises God for founding the earth “upon the seas and… the rivers.” In Canaanite religion, Baal became king of the gods after a battle with Yam (“Sea”), the embodiment of chaos (i.e., Leviathan), who is often called “Prince Yam [Sea] and Judge Nahar [River]” in Canaanite religious texts. So, David’s psalm is more than poetic language; it’s a rebuke of the pagan belief that Baal was the one who subdued primordial chaos.

Psalm 47 is a song of triumph, encouraging all people to rejoice that God is King of all the earth, but Psalm 68 is, in our view, a prophecy of a future battle between God and the forces of darkness at a place known in the ancient world as the entrance to the netherworld—Bashan.

It begins with the declaration that “God shall arise, His enemies shall be scattered; and all those who hate him shall flee before Him!” Verses 4 through 10 use storm-god language to praise God, again rebuking the pagans around ancient Israel for ascribing to Baal the characteristics of Yahweh.

And then we get to Psalm 68:15–23, a prophecy of a future conflict at the “mountain of Bashan,” Mount Hermon.

The text of Ps. 68:15 is translated, “O mountain of God,” but the Hebrew, har elohim, can also mean “mountain of the gods.” That’s the better translation in this context. Why? Because the mountain of God is Zion—the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. Verse 16 makes clear that Mount Hermon, the “many-peaked mountain” of Bashan, looks “with hatred” at “the mount that God desired for His abode” (Zion).

Verse 18, which Paul quotes in Ephesians 4:8, describes a military assault by God on Mount Hermon, after which He “ascended on high, leading a host of captives in your train”. 

David praises God for delivering His followers from death. The Hebrew word maveth is a cognate for the name of the Canaanite death-god, Mot, who is the equivalent of the Greek deity Thanatos—the rider on the pale horse in Revelation 6.

Finally, verse 22 describes God’s victory over chaos:

The Lord said,
“I will bring them back from Bashan,
I will bring them back from the depths of the sea…”

Psalm 68:22 (ESV)

However, scholar Nicolas Wyatt argues that this difficult passage is better translated:

From Bashan I shall bring back,
I shall bring back, from the depths, Sea [i.e., Yam, the Canaanite equivalent of Leviathan, or Chaos].

Nicolas Wyatt, The Mythic Mind: Essays on Cosmology and Religion in Ugaritic and Old Testament Literature (Taylor & Francis, 2014), p. 211.

In other words, David prophesied God’s final assault on Mount Hermon and the land of Bashan, which in his day was believed to be the literal entrance to the netherworld (Sheol/Hades), where the Lord will finally destroy Death and Chaos.

In so doing, David presents a prophecy similar to the one recorded a thousand years later by the apostle John:

And the sea gave up the dead who were in it, Death and Hades gave up the dead who were in them, and they were judged, each one of them, according to what they had done. Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire… Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and he first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more.

Revelation 20:13–14, 21:1 (ESV)

If you’re coming with us to Israel, we can’t wait to share the adventure with you! Here’s a link to some helpful tips to prepare from Lipkin Tours.


  1. Is Satan Really here on Earth today?Have you heard of David Pauline’s the 411 Missing Investigator!What is happening to all those missing people? This World has me worried these day’s.

    1. Author

      Yes, that’s what scripture says: Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. (1 Peter 5:8, ESV) And yes, we’re aware of David Paulides. The darkness is rising.

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