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Sunday, April 8, 2018 pm                                                            Psalms Index

 

LET ISRAEL REJOICE IN THEIR MAKER
Psalm 149

     Tonight, we examine another psalm.  We are approaching our conclusion to this series.  We are in the final section of the “Hallelujah psalms”.    This particular psalm is one of the more challenging because we don’t know when it was written and it contains some troubling wording – namely the imprecatory phrases toward the end.  In this lesson, we want to address some of these issues.

     We don’t know when it was written, but it seems to be at a time when Israel was facing enemies.  It ranges in dating from one the earliest pointing toward Jericho to post-exilic (after return from Babylonian captivity).  It probably belongs somewhere between.

 I.                     Sing to the LORD a new song (1-3)

a.       Hallelujah – another psalm of praise

b.       Sing to the LORD a new song, and His praise in the assembly of the saints a part of our praise, and that of Israel, is singing.  It was part of their assemblies as we have seen on numerous occasions and throughout our studies of the psalms. 

Singing is beneficial in many ways – it can teach and admonish (Colossians 3:16, Ephesians 5:19), and it can cause us to think about and exalt God.  But the good thing about a good hymn is that it is remembered and thus if we keep it in mind, it can be a constant reminder (a way to remember something) of some spiritual concept or even a passage of scripture.  Most of us have our favorite songs, and when a subject is introduced dealing with that song, we are reminded of it.
Here we read about a new song.  Consider when a psalm was first written (and put to music), it WAS a new song.  Some 6 times the psalms have mentioned singing a new song, and always to the Lord (33:3, 40:3, 96:1, 98:1, 144:9, 149:1).  Isaiah also mentioned the singing of a new song – Isaiah 42:10. We read in Revelation that in heaven, there will be singing as of a new song – Revelation 5:9 as they praised God, and later in Revelation 14:3 again before the throne. 
Again, in Revelation 15:3 we read of them singing “the song of Moses, the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb.”   We have a song we occasionally sing about this!
The idea of a new song, is something fresh in one’s mind. 
All songs we sing, at one time or another were new songs.  And old songs may be new to us or someone.   Sometimes when new songs are introduced there is discussion.  Some may not like a new song.  But the question is WHY?  Is it because the song is unscriptural, or just something about it we don’t like?  Some are comfortable with “what we have always sung” and that is fine, PROVIDED we do not bind this.  We cannot bind our way in this any more than we can with any liberty.  AND as always, this is a two-way street.     
We have discussed what makes a song scriptural and suitable to sing together – primarily it has to do with the message (1 Corinthians 14:15, Ephesians 5:19, etc).  But at times it can be good to introduce fresh, scriptural and singable songs.  This can help our singing to not become so routine that we don’t think about the message anymore. 
These are just some thoughts on singing as our psalmist mentions the singing of new songs.

c.        Let Israel rejoice in their Maker, Let Zion be joyful in their king (2).  This has been a frequent theme throughout our study of the psalms. 
We certain ought to rejoice in God as Creator and praise Him for it, and be humbled (cf. Psalm 19)
And we ought to praise Him as our Lord and king.  God is our ruler and Savior.

d.       Let them praise Him with the dance
We are not completely familiar with how Israel worshipped God.  I want to notice that they did MANY things in worship that we do not do today – incense, animal sacrifices, Sabbath observances, etc.  One thing we read about occasionally is dancing.  But a study of dancing in worship to God is NO comparison or justification for the modern dance.
The simplest definition of dancing is moving to music – dancing we read of in the OT included:

                                                   i.       Miriam and women dancing in the wilderness after deliverance through the Red Sea (Exodus 15:20-21).  Notice is was the women (not men and women dancing together)

                                                 ii.      Judges 21:20-21 -during a yearly “feast of the LORD”, we read of the daughters of Shiloh coming out to perform their dances (again it was NOT men and women dancing together). 

                                                iii.      2 Samuel 6:14-15 – When the Ark of the Covenant was brought into Jerusalem, David danced.  He was leaping and whirling. Even this provoked Michal his wife to despise him in her heart.

                                                iv.      Judges 11:14 – when Jephthah returns from battle having rashly vowed to God, his daughter meets him dancing.  This is a sorrow to him.

                                                  v.      NOTE: There is NO direct command under the Old Law that calls for dancing.  Because of this we do not know what was involved.  It could have been simple movements.
I SUSPECT it was NOT sensual, nor something that provokes lust!

                                                vi.      We also read of dancing associated with idolatry – such as Israel and the golden calf (Exodus 32:19). 

                                              vii.      In the NT, the daughter of Herodias danced for Herod and pleased him and his audience so that he offered virtually anything she wanted.  She asked for the head of John the Baptist (Matthew 14:6).

                                             viii.      BUT like so many other things, whatever they did under the Old Law, we are not doing today.  We follow the New Testament that is totally silent to the concept of dancing in worship.

                                                ix.      AS TO DANCING today (recreationally) – there are many causes for concern and pause. 

1.       First, the examples mentioned above are NOT anything like what we find at school dances and night club environments and dancing parties at houses.

2.       Most of these dances are more than just jumping or twirling.  They involve contact with those of the opposite sex, and often arouse lusts and desires that should be avoided.  They are sensual and often involve many works of the flesh including: uncleanness, lewdness, “and the like”, as well as provoking lusts.

3.       There are also concerns with example and environment and other things.

4.       Enough concern for me to say that such activities ought to be avoided by Christians!

                                                  x.      The POINT of our text, is one praising God joyfully!

e.       Let them sing praises with timbrel and harp – in our next lesson we will address instrumental music and the Old Law.  But here understand, this is part of worship under the Old Law, and in whatever sense it can be rationalized, it stands and falls with other OT worship including dancing.

 II.                   The LORD takes pleasure in His people (4-6a)

a.       He takes pleasure in His people – we have emphasized continually the type of behavior that God expects.  He calls for loyalty to Him, honorable and caring behavior toward others, etc.  We have seen many examples of this in the psalms.  They take pleasure in the prosperity of His servants (Psalm 35:27). 

b.       He will beautify the humble with salvation (4b) – humility is a quality of the godly.   God will adorn them with salvation.  As the master said to the 5 talent servant – Well done, enter into the joy of your Lord.  (Matthew 25:21)

c.        Let the saints be joyful in glory and sing on their beds – it ought to be a joy to serve God, at all times – both good and bad.  Philippians 4:4 – rejoice in Him always.  Earlier we addressed praising God in the assembly.  Here we find rejoicing in Him in private.  That is the sign of true, when you bow before Him gladly when no one else is around. 
Matthew 6:6 – Jesus spoke of praying in secret and letting God reward you for it.

d.       Let the high praises of God be in their mouth – exalted praise!  Again, we have continually noted in the psalms that our praise for God needs to be at all times.  Not just in private, but NEVER be ashamed of Him!   Just remember our speech manifests what is in our hearts – Matthew 15:18-19.

 III.                 A two-edged sword (6b-9)

a.       A two-edged sword in their hand – the dilemma of a message with praise to God on one hand and violence, physical battle, on the other.  

                                                   i.      Some have used this as justification for Christians engaging in physical confrontation for their faith throughout the centuries.  And history bears out some atrocities in the name of Jesus, including coercion.

                                                 ii.      That is CONTRARY to what the NT teaches. 
Jesus taught peace, though He warned that serving Him would provoke hatred and even violence.  Matthew 10:17-19, as Jesus spoke to His apostles He warned that they would be delivered up and scoured. In 10:22 Jesus said we would be hated by all. In 10:34-37 he warned of betrayal even by family.  He spoke of bringing not peace, but a sword.   BUT NOTICE:  Jesus DID NOT advocate retaliation or violence against their enemies.   That is NOWHERE the message of the New Testament.

Romans 12:17-21 teaches the opposite.

2 Corinthians 10:4 – the weapons of our warfare… are for pulling down arguments.

                                                iii.      Also, bear in mind, we are a spiritual Zion, while Israel was both physical and spiritual.  They had to protect their physical borders.   God permitted this and even had a hand in it at times.  Some things we do not understand include the culture of the world, including Israel, at that time.  This was about preserving God’s nation.  Bear in mind that God knows the hearts of men and the directions of nations.  In the Old Testament He dealt with ungodliness throughout the world, and less we forget, that INCLUDED Judah and Israel.  So we can’t take a statement out of its context and use it as justification for our own bad behavior.

                                                iv.      Finally, be reminded that imprecatory psalms we putting trust in God to deal with His enemies His way.  The statement here, whenever it was penned, is no different.

b.       To execute vengeance and punishment on the nations – again be reminded that the hand of God was with Israel in punishing evil doers and nations.  Just leave it at that!

c.        To bind kings and nobles in chains – leaders and instigators are accountable.  Again, this is descriptive of the way captured rulers were treated in those times.

d.       To execute on them written judgment – this really is the point!  God has ALWAYS had laws that He expects all men to follow.  These are laws that include humanitarian behavior (doing good to others and being compassionate for the less fortunate), just accountability, and a proper reverence for Him. 
You remove these and you have a barbaric society (which is what we are seeing today). 
We have abandoned any respect for God’s word (and the accountability it warns of) and we wonder why we are so broken in this world!

e.       This honor have all the saints – again, in context, the point is God’s people have the honor of seeing God’s will prevail. And it will!  Physical Israel had responsibilities physically to protect themselves, and when they were faithful, they witnessed the hand of God at work for them. 
Spiritually, our responsibility is to respect and obey His will.  We put our trust in Him and let Him render due judgment.  As His people, in judgment, we WILL be vindicated when we do what is right.  Romans 12:19-21 and 2 Thessalonians 1:5-10 give us this hope. 

 

Again, the psalm concludes with, Hallelujah.  Let God be the judge, but meanwhile, let us praise Him with great joy and enthusiasm.  Think about it.