PSALM 149 TALK:  PRAISE GOD WITH THE OLD NEW SONG OF GOD’S LOVE

PSALM 149 TALK:  PRAISE GOD WITH THE OLD NEW SONG OF GOD’S LOVE

 (This is the fourth of the last five Psalms of the book of Psalms often called The Hallelujah Psalms and this Psalm features a call to praise God with what I call old new story of God’s love. A story of how even though we deserve the terrible judgement of God we can be saved from that judgment by trusting in God’s saving love made possible by the death and resurrection of his Son, The Lord Jesus Christ.)

(THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide”.

INTRODUCTION

In 1867 a successful business man with a gift to write tunes for hymns named William Doane attended a YMCA convention Rally in Montreal Canada and at that meeting he heard a man named Major General Russell read some of a long poem written a year earlier by an English missionary nurse named Katherine Hankey. Hankey was working as a missionary in South Africa when she came down with a serious illness that nearly killed her and during her yearlong bedridden recovery she wrote a long two- part poem called “Old, Old Story”.

Doane along with everyone at that convention meeting was emotional moved by the touching words of Katherine Hankey and parts of the first part of her poem later inspired Doane to write the famous hymn, “Tell Me the Old Old story”.

Then two years later another famous composer of hymns, William Fischer was inspired by some of the words from the second part of Katherine Hankey’s long poem “Old, Old Story” to write the famous hymn “I love to Tell the Story”.

Hankey’s first verse of her second part of her poem seems to me to be the main inspiration for Fischer hymn “I love to Tell the Story” as it reads this way,

“You ask me for ‘the story’

Of unseen things above, –

Of Jesus and his glory,

Of Jesus and his love.”

 This led Fischer to write his first verse to his him, “I love to tell the story” that goes like this,

“I love to tell the story of unseen things above

Of Jesus and his glory of Jesus and his love

I love to tell the story because I know it is true

It satisfies my longings as nothing else can do”.

 However, it is Fischer’s last verse of his hymn I want to focus on in connection with Psalm 149, this verse reads this way,

“I love to tell the story, for those who know it best

Seen hungering and thirsting to hear it like the rest.

And when in scenes of glory I sing the new, new song

Twill be the old, old story that I have loved so long.”

The connection of this verse from Fischer’s hymn is the words of Psalm 149 first verse that says,

“Sing to the Lord a new song”

H.C. Leopold explains well the meaning of what he believes the writer means by the term, “Sing to the Lord a new song” with these words,

“A new song does not involve the idea of a new poetic or musical composition, but as Briggs rightly points out a ‘new outburst of song because of a new event that evokes it”.

 I listened and viewed the “Youtube” performance of “I love to tell the story” by the American country singer Allan Jackson and I got a new insight and inspiration of that old hymn I have known for many years and to me it was like it was a new song especially the last verse that speaks of singing the old song of the Gospel message of the bible as a New song in heaven as the Apostle John speak of twice in the Book of Revelation, Rev. 5: 9 – 10 and 14:3 which I will comment further on in my first section of this Psalm talk.

I have called Psalm 149, “Praise God with the old new song of God’s love” even though the love of God is not spoken of directly it is strongly implied in its message.

God’s love or his gifts to us we don’t deserve is shown in this Psalm in seven ways:

  1. He made the nation (vs. 2)
  2. He takes delight in his people (vs. 4a)
  3. He crowns his humble people with victory (vs. 4b)
  4. He causes his people to rejoice in his honour (vs. 5a)
  5. He leads his people to sing even on their beds (vs. 5b)
  6. He provides his people with the weapon of a double- edged sword (vs. 6)
  7. He gives his people victory over their enemies who are God’s enemies (vs’s 7 -9)

All these things God has done for us even though we don’t deserve them so he has given them out of his Amazing love or grace which is love we don’t deserve.

It seems clear this Psalm was written after some new great event of salvation for his people Israel but what that is we simply cannot tell. Many suggest it was the return from Babylonian captivity and the new enemies they faced were those who opposed them and their God back in Israel after they had returned from exile.

This is not clear and I think the writer and the editors of this last book of Psalms kept it this way so that future believers could relate and use this Psalm for their praise of God. Future generations new outburst of song and praise from a fresh realisation of God’s love and help for them.

With the theme of “Praise God with the old new song of God’s love” my outline is:

1   (vs. 1)   A CALL TO SING A OLD NEW SONG

  1. (vs. 1a) The call to sing the old new song
  2. (vs 1b)   A old new song to be sung in the assembly of God’s people

2   (2 – 5)  THE OLD NEW SONG OF THE STORY OF GOD’S LOVE

  1. (2 – 3) The old new song of God the creator king
  2. (4 – 5) The old new song of the God who saves

3   (6 – 9)  THE OLD NEW SONG OF GOD’S VICTORY OVER HIS ENEMIES

     1  (vs. 6)   The old new song of God’s gift of the powerful weapon of his word

     2  (7-  9)    The old new song of God’s ultimate victory over his enemies

Let’s then have a closer look at this Psalm using the above headings:

1   (vs. 1)  A CALL TO SING A OLD NEW SONG

  1. (vs. 1a) The call to sing the old new song

 As the past three Psalms have started this Psalm starts with the famous Hebrew term for Praise the Lord, “Hallelujah” and as I have said many times this Hebrew term for Praise the Lord literally means, “Praise Yahweh”. Of course, “Yahweh” is the special covenant name for God that carries with it many wonderful truths and if you want to know many of these wonderful truths the name “Yahweh” teaches us I recommend you read John Pipers excellent talk you can find on the internet called, “10 Things Yahweh Means”.

In the context of the message of singing the Old New Song the meaning John Piper speaks of that fits best are “He never Had a Beginning” which also means he will never have an end, which the writer to the Hebrews relates to The Lord Jesus Christ this way in Hebrews 13: 8,

“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever”

 This means what we know Jesus said and did is timeless and is therefore Christ message is an Old new song for us to sing.

This leads then to the writer of Psalm 149 to call for us to sing this Old New Song,

“Sing to the Lord a new song”

 This call to sing a new song has appeared in many Psalms before, Psalm 33: 3, 40: 3, 96: 1, 98: 1 and as recent as Psalm 144: 9.

It is not just found in the Psalms as Isaiah uses this term as well in Isaiah 42: 10 and I like Albert Barnes helpful comment on this verse in Isaiah when he writes,

“Here the prophet calls upon all people to celebrate the divine mercy in a song of praise in view of his goodness in providing a Redeemer. The sentiment is, that God’s goodness in providing a Saviour demands the thanksgiving of all the world”.

 Isaiah then is speaking of God’s Old new song of the message of God’s love manifest to the world through coming of and work of the Lord Jesus Christ and particularly in his redeeming work on the cross.

Many commentators point out that the singing of a “New Song” is strongly associated with victory and of course God’s greatest victory over sin, death and the Devil was made by the death and resurrection of his Son Jesus Christ. As Paul speaks so powerfully of in 1 Corinthians 15: 56 – 57,

“The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ”.

 Note how Paul calls us to give thanks to God another way of saying we should praise God for his great act of victory in Christ made only possible because of his love.

As I said in my introduction this call of “Sing to the Lord a new song” appears twice in the book of Revelation, Rev. 5: 9 – 10 and Rev. 14: 3.

Both times the singers of this new song in these two Revelation references are believers in heaven along with rest of heaven. I like Revelation 14: 3 when it says,

“No one could learn the song except the 144,000 who had been redeemed from earth”

 The number 144,000 is I believe the symbolic number for the complete number of saved or redeemed believers that will dwell with God in heaven and if you are a believer in The Lord Jesus Christ like me we will be part of that great heavenly choir that will sing one day in heaven this great Old new song of the love of God.

As William Fischer says in the chorus of his hymn “I love to tell the Story”

“I love to tell the story twill be my theme in glory

To tell the old, Old story of Jesus and his love”.

 Note the message stays the same even in heaven but it will be like a new song when sung in heaven because then we will get a great new vision of the great victory Jesus has won for us over sin, death and the Devil.

  1. (vs 1b)   A old new song to be sung in the assembly of God’s people

As we have just seen from the book of Revelation this old new song will be sung in the great assembly of God’s people and all the heavenly hosts. This idea of the old new song being song in the assembly of God’s faithful people is what the writer of Psalm 149 speaks of next when he writes,

“His praise in the assembly of his faithful people”

 This assembly is literally in Hebrew an assembly of the Old Testament word for “Saints” and this is a term used in many previous Psalms and was first used by David in Psalm 16: 3 and here are some helpful comments I made on this term in my Psalm 16 talk:

“David calls them “saints” which literally means “People set apart for God”

“First of all the word saint comes from the Greek word “hagios” which means “consecrated to God, holy, sacred, pious.” It is used in the plural form “Saints” on a number of occasions in the New Testament”.

 These references are like Acts 26: 10,

“And this is just what I did in Jerusalem; not only did I lock up many of the saints in prisons“

The use of “saints” in these types of references always point to the “Saints” being another name for Christians not like the distorted use of this term for some kind of super Christian the Roman Catholic church has massively promoted.

So, when we gather in church as “Saints” or as our NIV translation calls us “God’s faithful people” we are to praise God with a new song which I have suggested is the Old new song of the love of God. So many times, I have been leading the singing in my church and words from an old hymn I have sung many times leap out at me with a new and inspiring thought or two and then I know I am singing an old new song of the love of God.

As I mentioned in my introduction when I saw and heard on Youtube Allan Jackson version of the old hymn “I love to tell the Story” I got one of those “words leaping out at me experiences” when I heard the words sung by Jackson that say,

“And when in scenes of glory I sing the new, new song

Twill be the old, old story that I have loved so long”.

 This says to me along with the two references in the book of Revelation that we will sing a new song but the theme of that new song will be the old old story of the love of Jesus shown to us through his death and resurrection.

2   (2 – 5)  THE OLD NEW SONG OF THE STORY OF GOD’S LOVE

 1. (2 – 3) The old new song of God the creator king

 The writer then gives his readers and of course singers, as this was written as a song to be sung in worship in the Temple worship services some content to our Old new song we should sing in praise to the Lord.

The first of these is the twin concepts of God being our:

  1. Maker or creator
  2. Our King

Let’s then have a close look at each of these twin concepts of God that flesh out what our Old New song should be about:

  1. Maker or Creator

The writer of Psalm 149 says,

“Let Israel rejoice in their maker”

 Israel had a unique creation spoken about many times in the Old Testament summed up best by Isaiah in Isaiah 43: 1 – 3,

“But now, this is what the Lord says—he who created you, Jacob, he who formed you, Israel:“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine.When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you.When you walk through the fire,you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Saviour;I give Egypt for your ransom, Cush and Seba in your stead”.

 Maybe Isaiah has something of what Deuteronomy 7: 7 – 9 has in mind when God declares how he not only created Israel but called them to be his special people,

“The Lord did not set his affection on you and choose you because you were more numerous than other peoples, for you were the fewest of all peoples. But it was because the Lord loved you and kept the oath he swore to your ancestors that he brought you out with a mighty hand and redeemed you from the land of slavery, from the power of Pharaoh king of Egypt. Know therefore that the Lord your God is God; he is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commandments”.

 Paul calls us who are now part of the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ, The New Israel of God in Galatians 6: 16 and Jesus speaks of how he chose us, we did not choose him in John 15: 16,

“You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you”.

 So, Israel and then all of us who have been made and called by God should include in our Old new song the fact that God made us to be part of his special people a fact that is worthy of great praise.

  1. Our King

The writer of Psalm 149 then says in the second part of verse 2,

“Let the people of Zion be glad in their King”.

 The people of Zion is yet another way of describing God’s special chosen people, Israel in both the Old Testament and the New Testament and we then are called to praise our God in this Old new song by being glad and committed to God as our King.

In the New Testament, the idea of God being our King is spoken of in terms of Jesus being our Lord as Paul speaks of in Romans 10: 9 – 10,

“If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved”.

 Paul brings the idea of Jesus as God being king and Lord together in verses like 1 Timothy 6: 14 – 16,

“To keep this command without spot or blame until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ,15 which God will bring about in his own time—God, the blessed and only Ruler, the King of kings and Lord of lords, 16 who alone is immortal and who lives in unapproachable light, whom no one has seen or can see. To him be honour and might forever. Amen”.

 Note how Paul declares in these verses that the full reality of Jesus being Lord and King will be revealed in his coming again which Paul speaks of as a thing all mankind will acknowledge in Philippians 2: 9 – 10,

“Therefore, God exalted him to the highest placeand gave him the name that is above every name,10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father”.

 Even those who refuse to sing God’s Old new song will at least acknowledge one of its great themes namely how Jesus is Lord and king something that won’t be a pleasant experience for them for they will realise that they have lost their opportunity to turn to him as Lord and Saviour when they had an opportunity to do so but refused to do so out of sin and rebellion to this great God of love who will become then their great God of judgment.

However, for all true believers, those who in this life have acknowledged Jesus as their Lord and Saviour this great coming day of the Lords return will be a great day of rejoicing. Interestingly the theme of rejoicing and even dancing appears in the next verse, verse 3 of Psalm 149, when it says,

“Let them praise his name with dancing and make music to him with timbrel and harp”.

 Those who failed to acknowledge Jesus as the Lord in this life will do it with what Jesus calls in Matthew 13: 42,

“Weeping and gnashing of teeth”

 This is the dead opposite of verse 3 of Psalm 149 that speaks of praise with dancing and lively music to the timbrel and harp. The timbrel being an ancient form of the modern tambourine. Theses timbrel’s are often associated with women dancing before the Lord like the famous one in the time of Moses in Exodus 15: 20.

I remember the first time I saw women dancing in church in praise to the Lord in a church in Myanmar and how I was both surprised and uplifted as it seemed to them such a natural and joyful way of praising the God they loved. The women did a kind of single file contra dance with women getting up and joining a long line of dances waving their arms in the air as they danced and sang with us all a lively hymn of praise.

I also remember how years ago when I was a very young man being criticised by an older man in the congregation about using a tambourine when presenting an item in church when I was a member of a Gospel folk group. The older man told me to not bring that Godless instrument of the devil into his church again. I counted his criticism with the fact that tambourines are an ancient instrument mentioned in the bible in connection with worship of the Lord. He then counted that by saying if I felt that way I should join the Salvation Army who had the modern tradition of using that instrument in worship services. I chose not to argue with him after he said that.

I have been pleasantly surprised in my study of the Psalms of how I have seen over and over again how loud and joyful worship was in the Old Testament Temple and I believe the joyful musical aspect of praise is also part of what God wants for us today as well according to the New Testament when we consider how twice Paul told churches to practice this kind of worship in Ephesians 5: 19 – 21 and the one I would like to quote here Colossians 3: 15 – 16,

“Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. 16 Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts”.

 Note how Paul speaks of this joyful musical worship is bound up in the message of Christ and so our church worship should always feature the Old new story of Jesus and his love. I like the start of William Fischer’s second verse of his famous hymn “I love to tell the Story” that says,

I love to tell the story tis pleasant to repeat

What seems each time I tell it more wonderfully sweet”.

 2. (4 – 5) The old new song of the God who saves

 I believe verses 4 and 5 lie at the heart of the message of this Old new song our writer of Psalm 149 is encouraging the people of God, God’s faithful people to sing as these verses speak of how God has saved them and this is very much the message of verse 4 that says,

“For the Lord takes delight in his people; he crowns the humble with victory.”

 Even though this verse does not use the word save it is all about the Salvation the people of God at the time of writing experienced from the loving hand of their God. This is because of two key phrases in this verse which are:

  1. The Lord takes delight in his people
  2. He crowns the humble with victory

Let me explain each of these two phrases:

  1. The Lord takes delight in his people

The question to ask first is, do his people or for that matter anyone deserve God’s delight or good pleasure as some commentators translate it to be?

The answer is no and Paul makes that very clear in his great statement of the state of every man women and child in Romans 3: 23,

“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”.

 God takes delight in his people even though they don’t deserve this favour of God and this is particularly true when it comes to our salvation as we certainly do not deserve the love of Jesus shown to us in his death on the cross for our sins.

In the case of the original people Psalm 149 was addressed to it is thought to be the salvation they received which they did not deserve which was their freedom from captivity in Babylon. They were in Babylon because of their many great sins as a Nation but after 70 years God saved them out of Babylon just as he had many generations before that saved his people out of slavery in Egypt.

The clue to this phrase “For the Lord takes great delight in his people” being a reference to their salvation is the next phrase which speaks of victory which seems to be a direct reference to Israel’s salvation and more than likely salvation out of the captivity in Babylon.

Paul makes it clear that God saves us by his grace manifest in Christ Jesus and what he has done for us and this shows us both his kindness and grace to us which is another way of saying he delights in us as Paul expresses so well in Ephesians 2: 4 – 9,

“But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast”.

 This is the Old new story William Fischer spoke of in his hymn “I Love to tell the story” which says in its chorus,

“Twill be my theme in Glory”

 Which is,

“the old, old story of Jesus and his love” 

  1. He crowns the humble with victory

If this was written after the return of the Jews from captivity in Babylon then the crowning is the adorning to a far greater status from a meek and lowly status of captive slaves in the far- off land of Babylon. This truly was a great act of salvation by God for his people and is nothing more than what it says it is, a victory. Many commentators say that the Hebrew word for victory could actually be translated salvation.

This act of underserved love of God is a new expression of his old story of his saving love making it a new song or as I have been calling it an old new song or even a new old song which also makes sense here.

We too have been crowned with a glorious victory in our salvation through the love of Christ manifested in his death and resurrection which Paul speaks of over and over again in his letters to the churches like Colossians 2: 13 – 15,

 “When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, 14 having cancelled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; he has taken it away, nailing it to the cross. 15 And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross”.

  Our writer of Psalm 149 then closes this second section with a verse that contains a further call for God’s faithful people to praise and worship with this Old new song not only in the formal Temple services but also at home on their beds in verse 5, he writes,

“Let his faithful people rejoice in this honour and sing for joy on their beds”.

 This great act of salvation by their God is indeed nothing more than a great honour implying yet again they do not deserve what God did for them in saving them more than likely out of captivity in Babylon. This is such a great honour causing so much joy they must praise God for it with this Old new song day and night.

The mention of “on their beds” here is beautifully explained and expanded by Spurgeon in the following quote from his commentary on this Psalm,

“Their shouts are not now for the battlefield, but for the places of their rest: they can peacefully lie down and yet enjoy the victory with which the Lord has beautified them. Without fighting, faith wins and sings the victory. What a blessing to have our beds made into thrones, and our retirements turned into triumphs!”

 Paul also speaks about our triumphs through the love of Jesus and the message of the cross to the Corinthian church in 2 Corinthians 2: 14 – 16,

“But thanks be to God, who always leads us as captives in Christ’s triumphal procession and uses us to spread the aroma of the knowledge of him everywhere. 15 For we are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing.16 To the one we are an aroma that brings death; to the other, an aroma that brings life. And who is equal to such a task?”

 I like here the last two lines of William Fischer’s hymn “I love to tell the Story” which goes like this:

“I love to tell the story for some have never heard

The message of salvation from God’s own holy word”

This is an Old new song we should be singing day and night for it is a song that says so much about our God and what he has done for us and will do for us in the future. A song we should sing in church with other fellow believers and a song we should sing even in the privacy of our homes with our families and friends sitting on couches as apparently the Hebrew word for bed could also be translated couches.

3   (6 – 9)  THE OLD NEW SONG OF GOD’S VICTORY OVER HIS ENEMIES

     1  (vs. 6)   The old new song of God’s gift of the powerful weapon of his word

 The Psalm in the last section takes on this singing of the old new song in a more- darker atmosphere of ongoing conflict or battle. This is not a negative thing but rather a very realistic thing as even though we know the love of Jesus many do not and many of those who do not know are often used by the devil to cause us pain and conflict.

With this in mind our writer says God has equipped us with a weapon, he writes in verse 6,

“May the praise of God be in their mouths and a double – edged sword in their hands”.

 David Guzik reminded me here of the famous American soldier saying that says,

“Praise the Lord and pass the ammunition”

 In Old Testament terms this would mean literally that as God’s people faced enemies who sought to over run them they would have to fight but God wants them to fight with praise for him from their mouths and as they wield their weapons which could have been a doubled edged sword which is simply a sword with a sharp edge on both sides which the Romans where known to wield to both pierce and strike their opponents.

In the New Testament Paul speaks of us being involved in a spiritual war in Ephesians 6: 12 and God provides for us a sword to wield which is his word, Ephesians 6: 17 and this sword interestingly is described not just as a two- edged sword but a doubled edged sword, Hebrews 4: 12,

For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart”.

 I like David Guzik’s application of this verse when he writes,

“The combination of these two – the high praises of God and the two-edged sword spiritually speaks to every leader among God’s people. The gatherings of God’s people should excel in both praise and the preaching of God’s word. We should always press to have excellent praises of God and a right, sharp handling ofthe sword of the Spirit”.

 Some Christians in the past have used these final verses of this Psalm to justify going to war in the name of Jesus. However, Jesus made it clear we are not to wield human weapons like swords in his name in Matthew 26: 52,

“Put your sword back in its place,” Jesus said to him, “for all who draw the sword will die by the sword”.

 Jesus knew the battle all true believers will be involved in is a spiritual battle that needs spiritual weapons as Paul speaks of in 2 Corinthians 10: 4 – 5,

“The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ”.

 The old new song of the Gospel of Christ is also the weapon we wield to both win hearts and lives for God and defeat the enemies of God as well.

     2  (7-  9)    The old new song of God’s ultimate victory over his enemies

 We come then to the final three verses of this Psalm which strike the note of God’s vengeance or judgment on the nations, all people that oppose him. As David Guzik points out,

“The Psalm strikes a note which many ears feel to be discordant”.

 This note of vengeance or judgement is made clear by verses 7 which simply says,

“To inflict vengeance on the nations and punishment on the peoples”

 The discordant note Guzik speaks of might be well expressed in the often-asked question of,

If God is a God of love why does the bible speak of him also being a God of vengeance?

I believe we need to have a more balanced biblical view of God and when we do we will be able to appreciate a deeper and more amazing appreciation of God’s love.

This judgment of the Nations our praise of God and spiritual warfare for God will help bring about is in the context of the terrible devastating opposition to God by the Nations of the world well stated by Psalm 2 verses 1 – 3,

“Why do the nations conspireand the peoples plot in vain? The kings of the earth rise up

and the rulers band together against the Lord and against his anointed, saying, “Let us break their chains and throw off their shackles.”

In Psalm 2 David is calling himself the Lords anointed king but the great anointed king of God is the Lord Jesus Christ and this kingly title of Jesus and the nations waging war against him is well spoken of in Revelation 17: 14,

“They will wage war against the Lamb, but the Lamb will triumph over them because he is Lord of lords and King of kings—and with him will be his called, chosen and faithful followers.”

 The fact is we are all part of the nations of the world in rebellion to God and at war with his rule in our lives and therefore all deserve God’s vengeance or judgment to come upon us. But God is such a wonderful God of love he provides a way out of his judgment through the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ and this message of salvation I have been speaking about all through this Psalm talk is the Old new story which William Fischer inspired by Katherine Hankey speaks of in in the last part of his second verse of his famous hymn, “I love to tell the Story”,

“I love to tell the story for some have never heard

The message of salvation from God’s own holy word”.

 No one is exempt from both the vengeance of God and the need to hear the Old new message of God’s salvation as the next verse makes clear, verse 8,

“To bind kings with fetters, their nobles with shackles of iron”,

 David in Psalm 2 returns to addressing the kings of the Nations who oppose the Lord’s anointed King who I have made clear is in fact the Lord Jesus Christ. He gives them this warning from God which also, I think offers them hope in the face of God’s certain coming judgment, Psalm 2: 10 – 12,

“Therefore, you kings, be wise; be warned, you rulers of the earth.11 Serve the Lord with fear and celebrate his rule with trembling.12 Kiss his son, or he will be angry and your way will lead to your destruction, for his wrath can flare up in a moment.Blessed are all who take refuge in him”.

 God is a God of love but that love is set in the context of his Holiness or Righteousness that demands payment for our sins of rebellion. A good friend told me recently his mother in law continues to reject the Gospel message with the words, “The death of Jesus was not fair”.

The fact is in a sense she is right it simply is not fair but that was the price God had to pay for our great and many sins. The perfect Son of God had to die on the cross for our sins and only his death could pay the massive debt those sins demand. As Paul puts it in 2 Corinthians 5: 21,

“God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God”.

 Or as Paul put it in Galatians 3: 13,

13 Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: “Cursed is everyone who is hung on a pole”.

 Yes, that simply is not fair but it is a wonderful expression of the Vengeance or Judgment of God and the love of God for us. It is a wonderful expression of the Old new story William Fischer describes this way,

“I love to tell the story of unseen things above

Of Jesus and his glory of Jesus and his love”.

 The last verse of this this Psalm speaks directly how we as God’s faithful people will play a part in God’s act of judgment on the rebellious nations of this world, verse 9 says,

“To carry out the sentence written against them – this is the glory of all his faithful people. Praise the Lord”.

 In Old Testament terms God called on his faithful people to inflict his judgement on other rebellious anti – God of the bible nations like the nations in the land of Canaan that God told Israel to drive out of the land and destroy. This seems harsh to modern ears even excessive but in Deuteronomy 9: 4 – 6  tells us that God would help them do this because of their generations of wickedness which God must judge.

“After the Lord your God has driven them out before you, do not say to yourself, “The Lord has brought me here to take possession of this land because of my righteousness.” No, it is on account of the wickedness of these nations that the Lord is going to drive them out before you. It is not because of your righteousness or your integrity that you are going in to take possession of their land; but on account of the wickedness of these nations, the Lord your God will drive them out before you, to accomplish what he swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Understand, then, that it is not because of your righteousness that the Lord your God is giving you this good land to possess, for you are a stiff-necked people”.

 In- fact God does not command such an extreme act of Judgement to happen unto an extreme state of wickedness has been reached as we see in what God tells Abraham in Genesis 15: 16,

In the fourth generation your descendants will come back here, for the sin of the Amorites has not yet reached its full measure.”

 In the New Testament Jesus commands his followers to love their enemies and pray for those who persecute you and of course as I mentioned earlier not to take up the sword a symbol of any weapon of war against those who oppose us, Matthew 26: 52. The concept of a Holy war is not found in any form in the New Testament and is only a Muslim concept found in their Holy Book the Koran.

As I also mentioned before the New Testament teaches that we are all involved in a spiritual war, Ephesians 6: 12,

“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”.

 We use as our weapon in this battle the sword of the Spirit which is the word of God. But how does Psalm 149 verse 9 relate to the spiritual battle we are involved in?

I have what I believe a unique answer to this question and it comes from my understanding of the John 3: 16 – 21,

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. 19 This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil.20 Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. 21 But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God”.

 This passage is telling us that the Gospel message is a message of salvation to those who believe it but for those who refuse to believe it, it is a message of judgement. It works like this as Christians we preach or proclaim the Gospel to everyone who is a sinner under the judgment of God and if some of our hearers turn to God through Jesus they are save but if after hearing the message of light of the Gospel the hearers remain in the darkness of sin and then they remain under the judgement of God.

This means that when verse 9 of Psalm 149 says,

“To carry out the sentence written against them”

 We are God’s instruments of judgment in carry out or proclaiming to those who refuse to turn to the Light of Christ and his Gospel the message that they one day will face the judgment of God.

Also, many commentators refer to Pauls words in 1 Corinthians 6: 12,

“Or do you not know that the Lord’s people will judge the world? And if you are to judge the world, are you not competent to judge trivial cases?”

 I could add what Paul says to Timothy in 2 Timothy 2: 12,

“If we endure, we will also reign with him”

 I am not clear yet myself what judging and ruling with Christ actually means but one thought I had was that because we have received salvation from God through believing in the Old New Story or Gospel message in judgment we have passed from death to life and now are one with Christ in heaven seeing his judgment on those who have rejected the message of the Gospel in this life.

To be with Jesus in heaven will be as Psalm 149 verse 9 says,

“The glory of all his faithful people”

 This glory in heaven of the Old New Message of Salvation or Judgement is beautifully expressed yet again in the chorus of William Fischer hymn “I Love to Tell the Story”,

“I love to tell the story twill be my theme in glory

To tell the Old, Old story of Jesus and his love”.

 To all this our writer of Psalm 149 has only one thing to say, Hallelujah or “Praise the Lord.

I close as usual with my own original poem / song and a final word of prayer,

SING A NEW SONG TO THE LORD

(Based on Psalm 149)

 

Chorus:

 

Sing a new song to the Lord

Praise him in his church on earth

Raise now your voices in praise to the Lord

For he has given us the gift of new birth.

 

Let God’s people rejoice in their great maker

May their praise be in the Lord Jesus their king

Let them dance and always make music

For his death has paid the price of their sin.

 

Chorus:

 

Sing a new song to the Lord

Praise him in his church on earth

Raise now your voices in praise to the Lord

For he has given us the gift of new birth.

 

Because the Lord takes great delight in his people

He crowns them with glory they don’t deserve

Let them rejoice in this great honour

And let them all praise the name of the God they now serve.

 

Chorus:

 

Sing a new song to the Lord

Praise him in his church on earth

Raise now your voices in praise to the Lord

For he has given us the gift of new birth.

 

May the mouths of God’s people now praise the Lord

Carrying God’s word a doubled edged sword

May Jesus one day return as God’s great judge

May many be saved from judgment by hearing his word.

 

Chorus:

 

Sing a new song to the Lord

Praise him in his church on earth

Raise now your voices in praise to the Lord

For he has given us the gift of new birth.

 

By: Jim Wenman

 

PRAYER:

 Dear Father in heaven I thank you for the old story of your love for the world an old story because you sent your Son into this world long ago to provide a way back to you through his death on the cross. His resurrection I know guarantee’s that sin has been paid for and that you have given me new life that is eternal. However, I thank you that this wonderful old story is a new story for me today as you have made it clear and real to me today transforming my life by it and causing me to join with others in your church in praise and worship to you and your Son as our God and king. In Jesus name I pray, Amen.

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