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Psalms of Praise; The Victory of the Faithful - Psalm 149

Psalms Of Praise  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  20:15
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Something new

Have you ever been in a situation where there is a sense that there is a new day dawning?
It might be when you are in a family situation and there is an incredible breakthrough in a difficult family situation.
It might be that it is in the context of a health crisis and you are not sure if someone is going to survive and then the sun rises on the next day and the person is stronger and you know that they have made it through the night.
It might be that you are part of a community, perhaps a town that has been struggling for a while and then one or two things change. Someone takes a risk and makes a new investment, they open a shop, something different, something which no one has tried before and they manage to attract some new trade to the town.
Perhaps a derelict building is demolished in preparation for something new and then someone else joins in and the whole town is transformed.
I have seen this happen in a town and what is even more exciting is to see this happen in a congregation.
There is a new sense, something big is beginning to happen.
God is about to do a marvelous thing!
In Psalm 149:1 we see this

We see the Jubilant Praise of a Secure People -Psalm 149:1-5

Congregation to Read
Psalm 149:1–5 NLT
Praise the LORD! Sing to the LORD a new song. Sing his praises in the assembly of the faithful. O Israel, rejoice in your Maker. O people of Jerusalem, exult in your King. Praise his name with dancing, accompanied by tambourine and harp. For the LORD delights in his people; he crowns the humble with victory. Let the faithful rejoice that he honors them. Let them sing for joy as they lie on their beds.

The expectation of Israel as a secure people - Psalm 149:1-5

Throughout the history of the people of Israel there has been an expectation, the expectation of a new day, a day when the Lord will bring his people into an eternal victory over their enemies.
Psalm 149, as one of the last five Psalms which form what is known as the Psalms of Praise, it speaks explicitly of this expectation.
In its historical context it was most likely written when the nation of Israel returned from the Babylonian captivity. There was an expectation, a new hope of a bright future.
A future where the temple worship would be restored, the nations fortunes improved and peace would reign, as we know things didn't turn out this way but...
But beyond this there is something more, something which looks beyond their current experiences and hopes for the immediate future to the end of all time.
Psalm 149 is a hymn or a song that looks forward to the end of time the day when the Lord will finalize all of history in a great victory.
This victory will be so complete, so overwhelming that it will be celebrated in unexpected ways.
If you have a look at verse 5 you will see the strange idea of singing for joy as people lie on their beds.
Now I have heard of people singing in the shower, screaming out a favorite song at a concert or the team song on a bus trip to a sporting match. Or singing on the church bus on the way to camp, although that does get rather annoying after a while. I have even heard of teenagers singing whilst jumping on their bed with a group of friends.
But the idea of singing for joy in praise of God whilst lying on your bed is...... different.
The hope of the people of Israel when they read this Psalm was one of an expectation of peace and this is the idea that verse five is communicating. You can't sing for joy whilst lying on your bed if you dare not even lay down to sleep because the enemy is outside the walls of the city laying siege to it and looking to storm the walls.
This is why this Psalm speaks of a security which the people waited for expectantly. They looked forward with joy to a time when there would be praise for the Lord because he was king over all. A time when there would be dancing and singing, instead of war and fear.
A time when there would be celebration instead of death.
When we look at the type of instruments mentioned, the harp and the Tambourine or Timbrel there is something that we don't often realize. This dancing & music isn't the normal worship of the temple. We actually believe that the tambourine wasn't allowed as an instrument of worship in the temple because it was associated with women dancing and possibly with Canaanite religion. But it was an instrument that the people used in processions and times of fun. When Psalm 149 talks of dancing and joyful celebration it is talking of a party.
A party which continues forever a party where people can sing for joy as they recline, lying on their bed's or couches as was the custom around a celebration meal at a festival or other great event..
You can only do this when you are assured of your security.

The experience of the church as a secure people - Psalm 149:1-5

What was true of Israel as they looked forward expectantly to a time of security is partially fulfilled in our experience.
For this reason we are to praise the Lord Our victory is not like that of Israel who were restored from exile. Our victory is Salvation; the victory of Christ over sin and death.
Our security is far more than the security of the absence of war, our security is the presence of the King in our midst.
Our security is far more than the security of a people who have learnt to be obedient to the law through the trials of exile, our security is the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit who writes his law on our hearts.
This Psalm calls the church of today to sing a new song.
A song to our king, our creator.
As verse 5 puts it God has honoured or glorified us. He is the one who has acted, he is the one who has cleansed us from sin. He is the one who has brought about this state of peace which we are honoured to enjoy.
There can be no greater security than the security which the Lord himself has brought about.
This security though comes with a sting for those who are not part of the Kingdom of God.

We see the Militant Praise of A Victorious People - Psalm 149:6-9

Congregation to read

Let the praises of God be in their mouths,

and a sharp sword in their hands—

7 to execute vengeance on the nations

and punishment on the peoples,

8 to bind their kings with shackles

and their leaders with iron chains,

9 to execute the judgment written against them.

This is the glorious privilege of his faithful ones.

Praise the LORD!

The expectation of Israel as a victorious people - Psalm 149:6-9

Unlike the church of today Israel was given a militant role. Israel was God's agent of judgement on the Canaanite peoples for their incredible evil idolatry.
When God promised the land to Abraham and his descendants there was a specific statement that the Canaanite peoples were to be wiped out for their evil. Genesis 15:16, Deuteronomy 20:16-18 and Leviticus 20:2-5 show us that Israel was to be a militant warrior nation used as God's agents to rid the land of the sin of child sacrifice which defiled the land.
This concept of a holy war continued throughout Israels history. God was on their side when they walked in obedience to him and he would fight on their behalf against their enemies.
This is why we shouldn't be surprised when Psalm 149:7-9 speaks of two edged swords, vengeance and punishment.
God punishes sin, this is a matter of justice. How can we declare that we believe in justice being done here on earth when someone does wrong; yet deny God the right to execute judgement against individuals and nations for their acts of evil?
Psalm 149:9 speaks of the judgement that is written against nations. The law of the Lord has been given it needs to be obeyed.

The experience of the Church as a victorious people - Psalm 149:6-9

But the church needs to be careful. All to often we have fallen into the trap of thinking that we are Israel, called to be God's divine agents of judgement on some modern day Canaanites.
This has been a huge mistake made by the church and also by nation states which have a Christian heritage.
Listen to just two examples where passages such as Psalm 149 have been misused to justify a militant Christianity.
Militarism which has always ended in disaster

It was by means of this Psalm that Caspar Scloppius in his Classicum Belli Sacri, which, as Bakius says, is written not with ink, but with blood, inflamed the Roman Catholic princes to the Thirty Years’ religious War. And in the Protestant Church Thomas Münzer stirred up the War of the Peasants by means of this Psalm. We see that the Christian cannot make such a Psalm directly his own without disavowing the apostolic warning, “the weapons of our warfare are not carnal” (2 Cor. 10:4). The praying Christian must there transpose the letter of this Psalm into the spirit of the New Covenant; the Christian expositor, however, has to ascertain the literal meaning of this portion of the Scriptures of the Old Testament in its relation to contemporary history.

Psalms 73–150: An Introduction and Commentary The Church Militant (149:6–9)

By contrast, the church’s enemies are ‘not … flesh and blood, but … the spiritual hosts of wickedness’; and her weapons are not those of the world Our two-edged sword (cf. 6) is the word of God, created to ‘destroy arguments (or ‘sophistries’, NEB) and every proud obstacle to the knowledge of God’. Our equivalent of binding kings with chains (8) is to ‘take every thought captive to obey Christ’ (2 Cor. 10:5; cf. Eph. 6:12; Heb. 4:12). The Apocalypse, for all its fiery imagery of final judgment, describes the church’s victory as congruous with that of Calvary. ‘They have conquered … by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death’ (Rev. 12:11).

This is the judgment written by the cross against ‘the ruler of this world’ (John 16:11), who is the power behind the kings of verse 8. God has appointed glory for all his faithful ones at a higher level than was clearly visible in the Old Testament. Such are the battle-honours of the genuinely holy war.

Yes we will one day see that ultimate victory, but it is a victory which Christ has won on the cross.
We know from Revelation that it is Christ who has fought and won the battle; our responsibility is not to be militant and take up arms

Our responsibility; to be a faithful people

If we want this security & victory we need to understand that it comes not from militancy or exuberant celebration, it comes from faithfulness.
The New Testament church had to understand this truth or they would have given up as soon as persecution struck.
2 Thessalonians 1:4–12 NLT
We proudly tell God’s other churches about your endurance and faithfulness in all the persecutions and hardships you are suffering. And God will use this persecution to show his justice and to make you worthy of his Kingdom, for which you are suffering. In his justice he will pay back those who persecute you. And God will provide rest for you who are being persecuted and also for us when the Lord Jesus appears from heaven. He will come with his mighty angels, in flaming fire, bringing judgment on those who don’t know God and on those who refuse to obey the Good News of our Lord Jesus. They will be punished with eternal destruction, forever separated from the Lord and from his glorious power. When he comes on that day, he will receive glory from his holy people—praise from all who believe. And this includes you, for you believed what we told you about him. So we keep on praying for you, asking our God to enable you to live a life worthy of his call. May he give you the power to accomplish all the good things your faith prompts you to do. Then the name of our Lord Jesus will be honored because of the way you live, and you will be honored along with him. This is all made possible because of the grace of our God and Lord, Jesus Christ.
A new day has dawned.
The day when we the church through the work of Christ now live is security & victory.
The security of Christ who has saved us from the penalty of our sin
The victory of Christ who has defeated death and given us eternal life

The Question for each of us

Is this new day your experience?
Israel looked forward to this day in hope.
The church lives in this day secure.
Where do you stand?
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