To me, Psalm 149 promotes a somber or serious kind of joy. I can gladly enter into the praise & singing, the gladness & rejoicing in Yahweh, my Maker and King (1-2). I’m not good at dancing or making melody on a musical instrument (3), but I can appreciate others who can. I praise God that he “takes pleasure in his people” and “adorns the humble with salvation” (4). This encourages me and checks my pride. I can rejoice in God’s glory and mine, as a reflection of his (5a), and I can “sing for joy” (5b). “The high praises of God” reverberate in my throat, too, (6a), and in my hand is the two-edged sword of the word of God (6b).
However, the song writer spoke of literal swords to execute literal “vengeance on the nations and punishment on the peoples” (7). He advocated binding kings with chains and nobles with fetters of iron (8) as signs of conquest & victory. All of that was “to execute on them the judgment written” (9a), largely in the book of Deuteronomy, as Moses foretold what would happen to the nations in the land of Canaan. It was an honorable thing for Israel to execute God’s righteous judgment on the nations during the time of conquering Canaan under Joshua and the days of the judges. That was part of Israel’s calling. But what about now?
My calling is NOT to execute vengeance on anyone, let alone nations (Romans 12:18-19). However, I am called to warn of coming judgment by none other than Jesus Christ himself (2 Thessalonians 1:5ff; Revelation 19:11ff). More than one psalm foretold God’s coming judgment (94:1-2, 23; 96:13; 98:9). I must not be silent about that, even as I praise the LORD. Today, however, I am called to wage war, not according to the flesh or by using fleshly weapons, but with the divine power of the gospel “to destroy strongholds, … arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God and take every thought captive to obey Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:3-5). I’m not wrestling with flesh & blood enemies but rather with “spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:12). For that struggle God has given me his armor to wear, one piece of which is “the sword of the Spirit … the word of God” (Ephesians 6:17). So, yes, today I will praise Yahweh and take up his two-edged sword with a joyful warfare mentality.