Psalm 149 (NIV)
1 Praise the Lord.
Sing to the Lord a new song,
his praise in the assembly of his faithful people.
2 Let Israel rejoice in their Maker;
let the people of Zion be glad in their King.
3 Let them praise his name with dancing
and make music to him with timbrel and harp.
4 For the Lord takes delight in his people;
he crowns the humble with victory.
5 Let his faithful people rejoice in this honor
and sing for joy on their beds.
6 May the praise of God be in their mouths
and a double-edged sword in their hands,
7 to inflict vengeance on the nations
and punishment on the peoples,
8 to bind their kings with fetters,
their nobles with shackles of iron,
9 to carry out the sentence written against them—
this is the glory of all his faithful people.
Praise the Lord.
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This psalm anticipates that great day when God will judge the world and set all things right. The book of Revelation culminates in a great and mighty battle between God and all those who have set their face against him. The victory is achieved when Jesus Christ appears on a white horse, his robe dipped in blood, and a two-edged sword in his mouth. When his enemies are vanquished and cast into the lake of fire, the whole of creation bursts forth in a song of praise and worship. This is where Jesus is given that great name King of kings and Lord of lords (Rev. 19:16), which is so beautifully celebrated in Handel’s “Hallelujah Chorus.” The whole scene culminates in the ushering in of the kingdom known as the New Creation.
Psalm 149 foreshadows these great cosmic events. In the psalm, a “doubled-edged sword” appears, which inflicts “vengeance on the nations and punishment on the peoples” (vv. 6–7). Kings and princes are bound with shackles of iron, and God’s righteous sentence of judgment is carried out against them (vv. 8–9). This, we are told, is “the glory of all his saints” (v. 9). The righteous judgment of God is one of the great hopes of the Christian. Without God’s judgment, there will be no justice in the cosmos.
The deeper redemptive truth, however, is that, in the cross, Jesus Christ has borne God’s righteous judgment on the world. He has taken on himself all the punishment that we deserve. The scales of God’s justice have been balanced on the cross. Now is the time of reconciliation. God “is patient . . . not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance” (2 Pet. 3:9). For those who refuse God’s mercy, this day of judgment will come at an hour they least expect. But for now, God’s door of mercy stands open, and we are called to enter in and be saved. Hallelujah!