Thursday 7 February, 2019

Psalm 149

1 Praise the Lord. Sing to the Lord a new song, his praise in the assembly of his faithful people. 2 Let Israel rejoice in their Maker; let the people of Zion be glad in their King. 3 Let them praise his name with dancing and make music to him with timbrel and harp. 4 For the Lord takes delight in his people; he crowns the humble with victory. 5 Let his faithful people rejoice in this honor and sing for joy on their beds. 6 May the praise of God be in their mouths and a double-edged sword in their hands, 7 to inflict vengeance on the nations and punishment on the peoples, 8 to bind their kings with fetters, their nobles with shackles of iron, 9 to carry out the sentence written against them— this is the glory of all his faithful people. Praise the Lord.

I love the beginning of this psalm. And then I come to sharp swords and vengeance in verse 6.

It’s not certain when this psalm was written. It might have been in the time of Nehemiah, when they did everything with a sharp sword in one hand for fear of attack. It may have been after one of David’s victories. Whatever it was, God was there in their struggles, and praise came before and after.

It reminds me that I’m in a battle too. It’s not a physical battle (I’m very grateful, God). It’s a spiritual battle (Ephesian 6:10-17). I need to be equipped not only with my sharp sword (of the Spirit), but with the whole armour of God. It is my glorious privilege (verse 9) to take my place in that battle and to stand firm.

This psalm reminds me how important praise is in that battle. Praise for what God has already done, but also, in faith, proclaiming the victories He will win. Praise especially in the middle of the battle. Like Jehoshaphat’s army marching out with the Levites in the lead singing praise (and their enemies defeating themselves at the sound of it) in 2 Chronicles 20:1-29. Praise proclaims God’s victory to a world that does not want to submit to it.

Praise the Lord!

(Be careful with this psalm: The second half has been used to justify all sorts of things from the 30 Years War (1618-48) which killed between 3 and 12 million people through to crusades and peasant revolts. The Bible is clear: judgement belongs to God (James 4:22), and all Christians have been given the mission to tell all who will listen about God’s plan to rescue them from sin and judgement (2 Corinthians 5:18-21). My task is reconciliation, not revenge.)

Written by David Cornell

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