Live Joyfully in Praise

Prayer and Devotion from the Psalms

Praise is central to the Christian life. Praise is commanded in the Bible, it facilitates access to God, it is inhabited by God, it promotes faithfulness, chases away worry and despair, is an effective defense against temptation, and God is worthy of it. Psalm 149 has been referred to as “a primer on worship.” As with the other Psalms in the grouping of 146-150, it begins and ends with “Praise the Lord.”

One preacher applied the principles of journalism and research to the Psalm. Who are the worshipers? Saints, God’s people, His children. What is the focus of worship? Praise to the Lord is the focus of worship. Where is the place of worship? Congregationally in the assembly of the saints where we worship God collectively. Why is worship to take place? Because of the salvation of the Lord, received by humble hearts with gratitude. When is worship to take place? Continually and at appointed times. We are the new temple as the people of God.

We can live joyfully in praise as a secure people. vv1-5

This Psalm was probably written when the nation of Israel returned from Babylonian captivity. They had the expectation of a new hope, and of a brighter future. Allen Ross- “The hymn celebrated a recent saving victory, perhaps the deliverance from exile, but it replaces the normally expected existing cause for praise with a sign of things to come.” Throughout the history of Israel there was expectation of the Lord bringing his people into an eternal victory. They anticipated a future when worship in the temple would be restored, and peace would reign. Ultimately the Psalm looks forward to the end of time when the Lord will finalize a powerful victory.

v1 A new song is a song of testimony about salvation. Salvation makes us realize how we lacked praise to God before we came to know him. This is a song only the redeemed can sing! God loves to receive the rejoicing and praise of His people expressed in song, especially the new song.

v2 Rejoice in their Maker. . .Be joyful in their King. God is our eternal King who rules without partiality, with equity, wisdom and goodness.

God is our Creator. A foundational truth of the Bible is that God is the Creator of all there is. Genesis 1:1 In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. Isaiah 40:28 Do you not know? Have you not hear? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. Psalm 104:23 How many are your works, Lord! In wisdom you made them all.

God is the Designer and Craftsman of everything in the universe, and He created human beings a step above the rest.

 v3 Praise His name with the dance- Miriam led the dance after the crossing of the Red Sea. It is also reminiscent of David when he brought the Ark of the Covenant back to Jerusalem. The mention of specific instruments is interesting because the tambourine was not allowed in worship in the temple but the people used it in processions and times of rejoicing. You can only worship this freely when you are certain of security in the Lord.

God is our King. Psalm 47:7 For God is the King of all the earth; sing to him a psalm or praise. He is Sovereign. He is enthroned over all of his creation. He is the only true King of all things. The kingdom of God is both present and future. The King himself was born on earth as a human. Jesus’ message was frequently repent, for the kingdom of God is near. The kingdom was made visible through the preaching of the good news. Yet Jesus said my kingdom is not of this world.

v4 The Lord takes pleasure in his people. He does his people good and will adorn those who are meek or humble before him.

God is our Savior. Being right with God is a matter of your response to what God has done on your behalf. He sent the Savior, who provided the sacrifice to take away your sin, and He offers the promise- Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.

v5 Let them sing aloud on their beds- The idea is that in the meditations of the night, when darkness is around, that our hearts can be full of joy.

God is our Peace. Peace is something everyone wants but few seem to find. Peace is ultimately well-being. Peace is shalom, and we can only find it in God. We can praise the Lord for what He is doing now and He is our security.

The Hibernia oil platform in the North Atlantic is 189 miles (315 kilometers) east-southeast of St. John’s, Newfoundland, Canada. As a fixed structure, it sits in 88 yards (80 meters) of water fastened to the ocean floor. The total structure is 246 yards (224 meters) high from ocean floor to the top of the derricks.

Unlike the fated Ocean Ranger, a platform that sank in 1982 with all aboard (84 men) lost at sea, the Hibernia’s design incorporates a GBS (gravity based structure) which anchors it to the seabed. The structure does not move. It is an artificial island.

The Hibernia was built as a stationary platform because it sits right in the middle of what scientists call “iceberg alley”—the icebergs that ply these waters can be as large as ocean liners.

Sixteen concrete teeth surround the Hibernia. These teeth can distribute the force of an iceberg over the entire structure and into the seabed. The Hibernia is built to withstand a 1,000,000 ton iceberg (expected every 500 years), and designers claim it can actually withstand a 6,000,000 ton iceberg (expected once in 10,000 years) with repairable damage.

Even with all these protection measures, Hibernia’s designers take no chances. Radio operators plot and monitor all icebergs within 27 miles (45 kilometers). Any that come close are “lassoed” and towed away from the platform by powerful supply ships. Smaller ones are simply diverted using the ship’s high-pressure water cannons or with propeller wash.

As rugged and as strong as this platform is, and as prepared as it is for icebergs to strike it, Hibernia will never allow an iceberg even to come close. Procedures are in place to ensure that all the safety devices never get used.

One thing seems obvious: The engineers of this oil platform are not guilty of the kind of false security that may have contributed to the sinking of the Titanic.

Christians need to take spiritual threats just as seriously.

Todd Dugard, St. Thomas, Ontario; references Robert Kiener, “Marvel of the North Atlantic,” Reader’s Digest (December 1998)

We can live joyfully in praise as a victorious people. vv6-9

The specific situation is that Israel was God’s agent of judgment on the Canaanite peoples for their 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. God was on the side of his people when they walked in obedience.

v6 High praises were to be in their mouth- literally in their throat. Anything that is lofty and exalted. The verses here speak of double-edged swords, vengeance, and punishment. A double-edged sword is literally a sword of edges, on both sides of the blade.

v7 To execute vengeance- God punishes sin, it is a matter of his holiness and justice.

v8 To bind their kings with chains and nobles with fetters of iron- the idea of victory continues on.

v9 The judgment written is the law, the standard by which the people living in the land of Canaan were judged. It is another way of saying, according to the Scriptures.

We can experience victory now by using the right weapons. Our weapons are not carnal, or worldly. We have the sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God.

2 Corinthians 10:3-5 For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ.

Yet we will one day experience the ultimate victory which Christ has won on the cross.

Psalm 149 is an eschatalogical Psalm- the celebrates a victory, the victory of the Lord.  

Victory with God

Before the winds that blow do cease,

Teach me to dwell within Thy calm;

Before the pain has passed in peace,

Give me, my God, to sing a song.

Let me not lose the chance to prove

The fullness of enabling love;

O love of God, do this for me;

Maintain a constant victory.

Amy Carmichael, Marriage Partnership, Vol. 5, no. 3.

Security and victory should lead to faithfulness.

2 Thessalonians 1 We are bound to thank God always for you, brethren, as it is fitting, because your faith grows exceedingly, and the love of every one of you all abounds toward each other, so that we ourselves boast of you among the churches of God for your patience and faith in all your persecutions and tribulations that you endure, which is manifest evidence of the righteous judgment of God, that you may be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you also suffer; since it is a righteous thing with God to repay with tribulation those who trouble you, and to give you who are troubled rest with us when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with His mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. 

These shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power, 10 when He comes, in that Day, to be glorified in His saints and to be admired among all those who believe, because our testimony among you was believed.

11 Therefore we also pray always for you that our God would count you worthy of this calling, and fulfill all the good pleasure of His goodness and the work of faith with power, 12 that the name of our Lord Jesus Christ may be glorified in you, and you in Him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Praise is our privilege and responsibility. The Word of God leads us to faithfulness not dependent on our feelings. Praise is not optional. Psalm 149 finds its ultimate fulfillment in the book of Revelation. Revelation 6:10 O Lord, holy and true, how long until You judge and avenge our blood from those who live on the earth? The answer comes in Revelation 19:11 Then I saw heaven opened, and there was a white horse! Its rider is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and makes war.

The rider on the white horse is Jesus! His coming is imminent. His victory is certain. On that day there will be rejoicing in the King.