“You ascended on high, leading a host of captives in your train and receiving gifts among men, even among the rebellious, that the Lord God may dwell there.” (Psalm 68:18)
This psalm is all about the return of the ark by King David. Having defeated his enemies, the king brings the spoils back to the people. The on high here is, of course, the mount where the ark was finally brought. Our interest in this psalm and in particular this verse is based on Paul’s use in Ephesians 4:8. Paul borrows this verse to make a similar point about David’s son, the Christ. Paul cites the Targum in quoting this verse, and so the wording is a little different.
The Targum translates gives rather than receives. This is probably based on their knowledge that the king often shared the spoils of victory with his soldiers and other leaders. Paul’s reference is to the special gifts that Jesus gives through the Holy Spirit. Paul sees this verse as referencing the second and true king David. Jesus is the one who conquerors and once He has gone on high, to the presence of God, sends the Holy Spirit to distribute the promised gifts.
The temple where God dwells is no longer on a mount in Jerusalem but in the hearts of His people. The church, stone by stone, is the temple of God. It is to these people that gifts are made. In the psalm, the enemy is defeated, and the ark is restored, and worship can begin again. In Ephesians, the King has gone into the Holy of Holies and sent God (Holy Spirit) back down into the hearts (temple) of His people.
Task for Today: Have you received your gift? Are you using your gift? Jesus conquered the enemy so you could receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. If you have the Holy Spirit living in you, then today, follow His guidance, use the gift He has given you to do His work. If you don’t yet have the Holy Spirit, then confess Jesus as Lord, repent of your sins, and be baptized into the death and resurrection of Jesus. If you do this, the Holy Spirit will be given to you.