Faithlife Sermons

Psalm 149

Summer Psalter - Psalms 146-150  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  37:41
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Introduction

What causes you to sing? Is it good things? Is it difficult things? Is it your children or your spouse?
When Danielle and I were in college, I would break into song at the most random moments. We’d be at a meal in the dining commons - maybe it was just us - maybe it was with some friends - but some word in the conversation with make a connection to a song in my mind and all of us sudden, I’d be singing some line to a song - it might be a love song or a choral anthem or even some TV show tune. It would be brief - because as Danielle and my kids can tell you, I don’t remember song lyrics well - I keep messing them up.
I wish I could say that my musical moments were (or still are) endearing - but in many ways, they are probably more annoying than anything. I’ve tried to break myself of that habit… but as Chicago once sang - “you’re a hard habit to break.”
Today, as we consider the second to last Psalm in the book of Psalms, we get to consider how who God is and what he has done should cause us to sing - this is one habit that we can get into that we should not break.
As we begin looking at this Psalm, we get to see...

A congregational call to praise Yahweh in song (Ps. 149:1-4)

We often equate worship with music. There have been many times when people have referred to worship as being separate from the sermon or from reading scripture or from praying. While all of that is really worshiping, there is something wonderful that music does in aiding our ability to worship God.
But the Psalmist here doesn’t simply call God’s people to worship or praise God in song, he calls the saints (all of God’s people) to come together to praise God.
Look at what it says in the opening verse of this Psalm.
Psalm 149:1 ESV
Praise the Lord! Sing to the Lord a new song, his praise in the assembly of the godly!
The gathering or assembling of God’s people is a significant part of our corporate worship and our corporate witness to the world. For the people of Israel, it was in the initial gatherings that God gave them his covenant and his laws. It was in those early gatherings that Moses passed along the expectations for the community. Throughout the history of Israel, they were expected to assemble at the temple to offer sacrifices and worship God. Their assembly mattered. What they did at their assembly mattered.
For us, as Christians, our assembly matters as well. It identities us together as a unit. It makes us distinct from other congregations, but it also is a means of us honoring and glorifying God.
Jonathan Leeman, in his book One Assembly, notes that
“the gathering of a local church is an outpost or embassy of heaven. Through preaching and the ordinances, Jesus publically identifies himself with us in the gatherings: ‘I am there among them,’ he said. He tied his authority to the gatherings.”
Leeman continues:
“the church gathering is where Christ’s kingdom becomes visible and active, and Jesus’ word ekklesia (or assembly) communicates this.”
(Leeman, p. 41)
In this Psalm, Israel is called to gather to praise Yahweh. It’s just one of the things they were supposed to do together. It’s one of the things we’re supposed to do…together.
At various times through this pandemic, we’ve been mandated by the governing authorities to be separated - to remain at home and to conduct our gatherings virtually. These times of detachment and dispersed worship were alternatives to the true corporate gathering, but it’s not the same. It’s not a sufficient replacement.
Some of us, myself included, have used this time to observe worship in other places, to watch from a distance the virtual gathering of other churches. I have enjoyed getting to watch how other places do worship, how other preachers preach, and how the worship teams lead. It’s a learning experience for me. But in all of the places that I’ve watched online, I’ve been an outside observer. But it is surely not the same as when we get to come together, to lift our voices together in song. There is something profound that happens when we sing a line of a song, and understand how that has been impactful in each others lives.
Mark Dever, the pastor at Capital Hill Baptist has shared how he has been moved to tears in their corporate worship gatherings as he would sing songs like “It is well” and be able to make eye contact with another brother or sister in Christ - knowing how deeply moving a certain song is to them because of circumstances that God has allowed them to endure.
In our singing, we get to praise God in a few different ways. Let’s briefly consider:
Psalm 149:2–3 ESV
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!
First of all, the Psalmist calls us to...

Praise God as creator - (vs. 2) -

This is a specific call to recognize God as the creator of all that there is. Everything that exists in nature and in the universe exists because God created it or ordained it. But He created people especially unique. Genesis 1 declares that God made humans in His image. Not only is Israel charged to rejoice in their creator, but they are charged to...

Praise God as Sovereign

For the people of Israel - in the early parts of their history especially - they were a theocracy - God was their King. When Israel rejected God as King, various human surrogate Kings were put in place. It seems, however, the the Psalmist here is calling for the people to acknowledge God as their true King - their true ruler - their true sovereign.
For years, people have called the United States a Christian nation. While we were founded on Christian principles by men who professed some allegiance to God, we are far from a Christian nation. In some ways - that’s not a bad thing. As Christians, we get to live out the principles of our faith and proclaim our allegiance to Jesus through our worship and in our lives. Whether or not our nation honors God in the laws that are passed. We can and should still work for the transformation of the world. We should seek to have Christians in the highest levels of office who pass laws that are in line with the divine will of God. But whether or not there are Christians and biblical laws in Washington, Annapolis, Rockville or Poolesville - we still get to rejoice in God as our King.
But more than just praising God as creator and king, the Psalmist urges God’s people to...

Praise God with movement

Our singing should involve more than just our mouths. The psalmist calls God’s people to dance. We could even re-translate the last line of verse 3 to say “making melody to him with drums and guitars” - we have those - but are we moving, are we dancing, are we truly celebrating God in our worship?
In 2 Samuel 6, there is a tragic and profound story. The Ark of God, which represented His covenant with the people of Israel, was on its way back to Jerusalem after some time being away in the hands of the Philistines. As the the Ark is coming into town, David begins to lead a procession in dancing, in jubilant celebration. He danced before the Lord! He worshiped the Lord with dancing. Unfortunately, his wife thought he was making a fool of himself and looked at him with contempt. David simply replied.
2 Samuel 6:21–22 NLT
David retorted to Michal, “I was dancing before the Lord, who chose me above your father and all his family! He appointed me as the leader of Israel, the people of the Lord, so I celebrate before the Lord. Yes, and I am willing to look even more foolish than this, even to be humiliated in my own eyes! But those servant girls you mentioned will indeed think I am distinguished!”
Am I calling us to go all charismatic? No, not necessarily. I do think that our worship, our singing, should involve our whole bodies. I love getting to see Jackie Adema move her hands in worship. She is dancing before the Lord. Our praise of God should prompt us to move - clapping hands, moving feet, dancing before the Lord.
There is a place for stoic reverence, but there is also a place for joyful exuberance!
The Psalmist concludes this section with a beautiful and profound verse:
Psalm 149:4 ESV
For the Lord takes pleasure in his people; he adorns the humble with salvation.
In some ways, it seems like this first line (the Lord takes pleasure in his people) - summarizes the previous verses - God delights in our praise. He delights in us when we acknowledge who he is. He delights in our singing - whether in tune or out - he delights.
but this second line seems to preview the last half of the Psalm as we get to see...

A call to praise Yahweh for His salvation (Ps. 149:5-9)

The salvation that God brought to Israel was in the form of a military victory. Consider what these verses communicate:
Psalm 149:5–9 ESV
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!
While this Psalm, along with the other psalms that we’re reflecting seem to be the Amen for the entire book of Psalms, this one seems to also acknowledge that there is a practical victory that God has done. In fact some commentators call this a “victory Psalm” and reflect that this psalm may be an expansion or clarification of Psalm 148:14.
Psalm 148:14 ESV
He has raised up a horn for his people, praise for all his saints, for the people of Israel who are near to him. Praise the Lord!
Whether this is one that has happened in the recent past or one that is expected in the near future, the victory is the Lord’s and the people are his instruments.
Israel seemed to be called to arms through this psalm.
As Christians - it seems like a militant action for our faith is inconsistent with what Jesus taught. Jesus called us to act a different way. That being said, it does seem like there is room for Christians who feel called to serve in the military, to be able to do so as citizens of the nation.
But overall - we have to recognize that the praise that Israel is called to bring before God is a praise in song and obedience. They were specifically called, as a Theocracy, to take military action.
We get to rejoice in the fact that God has already achieved victory/salvation - through Jesus Christ.

Yahweh brought security - through Jesus - Oh praise Him!

Notice what the Psalmist writes in verse 5:
Psalm 149:5 ESV
Let the godly exult in glory; let them sing for joy on their beds.
This seems like an odd place for a worship service. How are we to worship God, to praise God, on our beds? Several commentators suggested that this reference to beds may imply security or safety. Think about this, when there is peace - whether political, emotional, relational, or spiritual - rest and security are more clearly felt.
In Jesus, we have security because there is no shame (Rom. 8:1). He has brought us eternal life and hope.
Romans 8:1 ESV
There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.
We also get to see this salvation as...

Yahweh dealt with the consequences of our sin through Jesus - Oh praise Him!

1 Peter 2:21–24 ESV
For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps. He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly. He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.
Elsewhere we read:
2 Corinthians 5:21 NLT
For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ.
Finally,...

In Jesus, God has ushered in a new way of living - Oh praise Him!

Just as God gave the people if Israel his expectations of them in the covenant, so too, Jesus, in the Sermon on the Mount (Mt. 5-7) gave us some insight into how we should live - humbly, truthfully, as peacemakers, generously, without judgment or anxiety.
There is something beautiful that we get to experience when we place our lives in Jesus’ capable hands. His death and resurrection has given us eternal peace. We have no fear of judgment in coming before God. The Holy Spirit still has some work to do in us, making what is true eternally be true now - that’s called sanctification. But what’s more, we have been given a new way of living, new marching orders of peace making.
Friend, if you’re not yet a follower of Christ, if you’ve not yet received His free gift of eternal life and hope, I pray that you will.

Closing thoughts

It’s time to come together - for those of you at home - we have a seat for you. I know some of you are staying home because it’s difficult for your kids to be here. We’re making adjustments for that on September 12. Others are staying home because you can’t stand these masks - I understand it’s inconvenient. It was inconvenient for Jesus to go to the cross for you and me. The least we can do is put up with masks for an hour or two on Sundays - honoring our risen savior. I know there are others who have health concerns and fears about this virus - let me encourage you to cast your anxieties on the Lord - he cares for you. Our singing may be muffled by these masks, but our singing is incomplete without you!
For you who are here faithfully each week. Let us continue to praise God with all that we are. Let us proclaim to the watching world the hope that we have in Jesus Christ - the safety and security that we have in him.
Let us also live obediently. Where Israel was called to make their praise known in song and with the sword, I think it’s important for us to recognize that our praise should be proclaimed in song and in obedience to God. Our lives Monday through Saturday should reflect our praise that we proclaim on Sunday! How is your speech? How are you doing loving your neighbor - or even just getting to know them? How are you doing stewarding the resources that God has given you?
References
Barry, John D., Douglas Mangum, Derek R. Brown, Michael S. Heiser, Miles Custis, Elliot Ritzema, Matthew M. Whitehead, Michael R. Grigoni, and David Bomar. Faithlife Study Bible. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2012, 2016.
Boice, James Montgomery. Psalms 107–150: An Expositional Commentary. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2005.
Bratcher, Robert G., and William David Reyburn. A Translator’s Handbook on the Book of Psalms. UBS Handbook Series. New York: United Bible Societies, 1991.
Jamieson, Robert, A. R. Fausset, and David Brown. Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible. Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1997.
Leeman, Jonathan. One Assembly. Wheaton, IL. Crossway, 2020.
Wiersbe, Warren W. Be Exultant. 1st ed. “Be” Commentary Series. Colorado Springs, CO: Cook Communications Ministries, 2004.
Wilcock, Michael. The Message of Psalms 73-150: Songs for the People of God. The Bible Speaks Today. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2001.
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