Wednesday of All Saints – Psalm 149

1 Praise the Lord!
Sing to the Lord a new song,
    his praise in the assembly of the godly!
Let Israel be glad in his Maker;
    let the children of Zion rejoice in their King!
Let them praise his name with dancing,
    making melody to him with tambourine and lyre!
For the Lord takes pleasure in his people;
    he adorns the humble with salvation.
Let the godly exult in glory;
    let them sing for joy on their beds.
Let the high praises of God be in their throats
    and two-edged swords in their hands,
to execute vengeance on the nations
    and punishments on the peoples,
to bind their kings with chains
    and their nobles with fetters of iron,
to execute on them the judgment written!
    This is honor for all his godly ones.
Praise the Lord!

Did you notice the hard-left turn in verse 6? The first 5 verses are a cheerful admonition to the people of God to praise him for the Lord’s pleasure in the people and his salvation of the humble. Children are dancing and people are making music. It sounds like a parade or a festival. Even the invalids can get in the act as praises are called for from those godly who lie on their beds.

But then, in the second half of verse 6, the psalm suddenly changes. The people praising God have two-edged swords in their hands. They are executing vengeance on the nations and punishment on peoples. Kings and nobles are imprisoned and shackled. God’s foreordained judgment is visited upon them. After that, the “hallelujah” at the end of the psalm sounds different.

The Christian does well who remembers that he or she holds a dual citizenship. There will be a day when your U. S. passport will be meaningless; your baptismal certificate will be critically important. On that day we will be completely subject to a wholly other system of justice. There is much to say about the relationship between the eternal and earthly justice. For now, the psalmist would make a very important point about that other, divine justice for you. The joy of the humble, the children, and the saints of God in the first part of the psalm is connected to the justice in the second. God renders his justice for your sake. He tells the nations who stand before him in the judgment, “If you gave a cup of cold water to the least of these my brothers, you gave it to me.” Wise is the Christian who lives in that justice, who lets God take his vengeance in his time, and who knows that Jesus sees and knows everything that happens to him or her.

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