"For the Conductor, by David,
a song with musical accompaniment.
Let God arise, let His enemies be scattered;
And let His foes flee from before Him.
As smoke is dispersed so disperse them,
as wax melts before fire." - Psalm 68
What does it mean “Let God arise”
“Yakum Elokim” (in Hebrew)?
“Yakum” has been translated as "arise"
but there is also another meaning of the word "Yakum"
in Hebrew. In the Torah portion about Noah (Genesis 7:23) it is written:
"And He blotted out all the existence that was on the face of the land..."
"Vayamach et Ha yakum asher al p'nei ha adama..."
The word "yakum" is translated as ”all the existence."
As the Torah passage continues, the meaning is explained further:
"from man to animals to creeping things and to the bird of the heavens;
and they were blotted out from the earth."
In the context of the story of Noah, "yakum" refers to all that exists on earth
before the flood.
What do we know about “Elokim?”
In the the Torah (Genesis 1:1), it is written: "In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” (“Bereishis bara Elokim et ha shamayim v’et ha aretz”) The earth that was without form, the heavens that were yet to be, were created by God. The word "Elokim" refers to God.
Thus, “Yakum Elokim” could also be translated as "all that exists is God."
As the psalm unfolds, images of war are brought forth. "Enemies," "foes," "smoke," "fire," "orphans," "widows," "prisoners," "marching" and "legions" are all part of the words that form Psalm 68.
The “enemies” mentioned in the first sentence of Psalm 68 have been interpreted in varying ways. Rashi interprets them as Amalek, the evil which has arisen in each generation who battles relentlessly and persecutes mercilessly those who serve God. Radak writes that the enemies are the Assyrians who laid siege to Jerusalem under command of Sennacherib. Meiri reveals they refer to the battle of Gog and Magog preceding the Messianic age.
There is the reluctant acknowledgement that the evil which exists in the world, however horrible and dreaded, is part of the world that God created.
When we recite the prayer of Psalm 68 we are asking God to arise and to change the course of evil in the world - to make it flee as smoke is dispersed and to change its form as wax is melted. Thus, the psalmist pleas not for the utter obliteration of evil doers, of those who cause needless suffering in the world. Rather the psalmist pleas that God change their form. The psalmist implores God to make them as smoke which has dispersed and as wax which has melted. They can no longer cause harm.
Perhaps there is an insight in the words of Psalm 68. As we strive to do good and to overcome evil in this world, we understand that God is the Source who gives us the strength we need. He is the One who rises up, and causes goodness to ultimately triumph.
We also understand that there is a oneness that encompasses every aspect of life: "Yakum Elokim" "All that exists is God."
As Psalm 68 concludes:
“You are awesome God, from Your holy sanctuaries. God of Israel, He gives might and power to the people.
The Source of all Blessing is God.”