The first major section of Psalm 68 (verses 4-18) continues with these words in verses 11-14:
"The Lord [Yahweh] gives the command;
great is the company of those who bore the tidings:
'The kings of the armies, they flee, they flee!'
The women at home divide the spoil,
though they stay among the sheepfolds--
the wings of the dove covered with silver,
its pinions with green gold.
When the Almighty scattered kings there,
snow fell on Zalmon."
1. After describing Yahweh bringing his people into the land of Canaan to conquer the peoples there and settle there as their land (verses 9b-10a), the psalmist now describes victories over the Canaanites which the Israelites enjoyed because of Yahweh's intervention. As Yahweh led his armies (here the Israelites--see 1 Samuel 17:45), "commanding" them on the battlefield as a field general would command his troops, the "kings" of the different Canaanite city-states fled before them. See, for example, Israel's defeat of the five kings of Jerusalem, Hebron, Yarmuth, Lachish, and Eglon described in Joshua 10.
2. When an army in the ancient Near East went off to battle, the wives and daughters of the fighting men waited anxiously at home for their husbands and fathers to return with spoil taken from their defeated foes--verse 12b. See the interesting description of Sisera's mother and her friends in Judges 5:28-30.
3. The identity of the "dove" mentioned in verse 13b-c is uncertain. It may refer to: (a) part of the spoils the Israelites took from their enemies--perhaps a "trinket" in the shape of a dove made of wood and covered with silver and gold; (b) Israel--as in Psalm 74:19; Hosea 7:11; 11:11; (c) the release of doves to celebrate the victory.
4. If "Zalmon" is a place, no one knows where it is located. On the other hand, "snow fell on Zalmon" may be a popular saying, like "stars fell on Alabama," denoting joy that accompanied Israel's victory over her enemies.
When God's people win victories over powerful enemies, it is never because of their weapons, superior strategy or planning, or personal ingenuity or fortitude; it is because Yahweh intervenes and gives his people the victory. Praise God, our universal king.
John T. Willis