Patient One, sometimes the past has a stranglehold on today. Help me to unwrap the past and let your call to the future lead me on.
Read PSALM 149
1 Praise the Lord.[a]
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.
- Psalm 149:1 Hebrew Hallelu Yah; also in verse 9
New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
Open your eyes and spend some time whispering praise and thanksgiving to God.
This psalm starts in a traditional direction but as we read on it becomes clear the writer is blending two themes we don’t normally put together. ‘May the praise of God be in their mouths and a double-edged sword in their hands’ (v 6). You may have found that jarring, so let’s unpack what the psalmist was really saying. First, this psalm is filled with good ideas for praising God. We are encouraged to sing ‘a new song’ (v 1) to the Lord, with dancing and all kinds of instruments (v 3). When I’m in church, I sometimes wonder what the people around me are thinking. We may all be singing from the same hymnbook, but one may be angry with their spouse, another feeling defeated by sin, another critical of the clergy. Perhaps a new song begins with a change of heart, not just a change of tune. Another idea I love is how the psalmist encourages faithful people to ‘sing for joy on their beds’ (v 5), which is better than sleepless fretting, although I suspect my wife would prefer that I praise God in my heart!
Second, the psalmist moves unapologetically into praying for vengeance, which is challenging to reconcile. We need to remember, however, that ‘the nations’ referred to here (v 7) worshipped idols, did detestable things, and were intent on destroying the people of God.1 Nor should we forget the ‘imprecatory psalms’, those that invoke judgment and punishment on God’s enemies,2 though we should not use them to justify attacking anyone who disagrees with us. As the apostle Paul said, ‘For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world, and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms’.3 That’s our real enemy.
Do you have anyone you’d consider an enemy, or who seems out to get you? Pray for them today.4
I thank you Lord, for the Word of God, the true sword of the Spirit. I ask for more diligence in regarding, studying, embracing, and obeying your teaching. Help me Lord.
1 Deut 7 2 E.g. Psalms 69,109 3 Eph 6:12 4 Matt 5:44
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