Saints’ New Songs of Joy

Psalm 149

Obviously God’s people are to be singers – this one is #149 after all! Too many exhortations / commands to praise and sing to be ignored. Being able to carry a tune is secondary, having heart that sings is of first importance. Remember what Jesus said:

Luke 6:45 “The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.”

And another thing – way too many who profess Christianity who have faces on upside-down (visual aid). Too quick to pull mean face, complaining face, something other than joyful face – ought not to be. Think about Paul and letter to Philippi focusing on joy – 15 explicit references to joy/rejoice. Was a subject on Jesus’ mind during final hours – 7x in John chapters 15-17. Speaks of “joy no one will take from you” (16:22), prayed his followers would experience “his joy completed in themselves” (17:13).

5 Hebrew roots (14 forms), 4 Greek roots (7 forms) translated joy or rejoice. Each blessing / gift from God a new reason for praise and joy, should prompt new verse added to song of joy. May this psalm be a good incentive to renewed joyfulness as people of God. Are three songs here: song of victory (1-4), song of rest (5), song of vindication (6-10).

A. song of victory v.1-4 mercy

all sorts of speculation when this song was first “new” – some say David penned, others Nehemiah; since not specified, is useful for people of God in every period

is likely that particular event of deliverance from Israel’s pagan enemies prompted writing – has relevance to that and similar

heathen armies not only enemies in world – more significant are enemies of our souls and our deliverance from them

some psalms have clues in superscription about their use: “to the chief musician” “song for the Sabbath”; “for teaching”; “a contemplation”; “with flutes”, “with stringed instruments”

all psalms certainly for use of the church, not all necessarily to be sung in church; same true of modern “Christian” music

no superscript on 149, however is direction given in body of psalm: v.1c – Sing… “in the assembly of saints”, iow, in church

is consideration for saints, holy ones that structures psalm: v.1, 5, 9 – saints are to gather and sing, saints are to rejoice, all saints will be vindicated

who are singers: saints, Israel, children of Zion, his people, the humble – says a lot about who should be filling seats on Sunday

church worship service primarily for benefit of God’s people – they praise God, God speaks to his people, they respond to him

routine part of corporate worship – songs of praise that emphasize God’s deliverance (4b), leading his people to victory over enemies

“New mercies demand new praises.” Plumer New songs require new hearts! – professional singers do not please God – must be more than lip-service, worship and singing must come from sincere heart

even if songs don’t have new words, the old words should evoke new songs from heart as we remember new mercies/victories

singing new song of joy that pleases God requires intelligence (1-2)

our Maker designed us with both intellect and emotions – expects us to use both when we praise him

truth is… probably don’t get balance right most of time; which one predominates depends: culture, denomination, personal circumstances

when worshiping/praising corporately, can still individualize it – verse 1 of song: which mercies have we (corporately) / I (individually) enjoyed this week? how have I/we learned to rely more on his grace?

need to have brain engaged to do that, can’t mindlessly sing along with rest of congregation and praise God from the heart

to rejoice in the King – must recognize God at work in the world, know him and his ways well enough to see his fingerprints

singing new song of joy that pleases God requires fervency (3-4)

for Jewish people: involved dance, musical instruments – movement, intensity, energy that gave further expression to sung praise

demonstrated worship and adoration of God, their joyfulness in him with all their being in culturally relevant way

exact form it takes today should be informed by NT forms of worship and cultural expression – within those parameters, demonstrating “great warmth of feeling”

B. song of rest v.5

“Let the godly celebrate in triumphal glory; let them shout for joy on their beds.” HCSB – three ways: rest from daily labors, Sabbath rest, everlasting rest

worship, songs of joy not limited to sanctuary – should extend to all of life, especially “down time”; that we have rest from labors is strong display of God’s grace

same is true of rest / security from enemies – results of Fall could have been much worse, including round-the-clock labor

could also have meant no relief, no security from enemies in this life at all – sleeping soundly w/o fear gracious gift from God

daily rest from labor points toward weekly Sabbath rest, “down payment” on our everlasting rest – further reason for songs of joy

Sabbath another gracious gift – keeps us from being workaholics, reminds us we don’t get to heaven by works, intended as blessing: Sabbath made for man, not man for Sabbath (Mark 2:27)

Sabbath should be high point of our week… for both soul and body – nourishment for soul, rest for body, recalibration for all areas of life

see Hymn 767 For All the Saints v.1,4 – those who have gone on before have already begun to enjoy saints’ everlasting rest

Heb. 4 makes clear there is still rest ahead for people of God (4:9), is incumbent on us to be diligent to enter that rest (4:10)

promise of that rest enough all by itself to make us joyful, keep us praising God 24/7; time spent weekly in presence of God and his people (here and there) fuels our praise and joy for what’s yet to come

C. song of vindication v.6-9 justice

here’s where it gets tricky – what is best interpretation and application of v.6-9; has been misused in past to justify violence in name of Christ… we mustn’t do same

several things to consider as we try to avoid error: who gets the glory, what is weapon of choice, what is point of the conflict

who gets the glory

don’t forget the inclusio: Psalm begins and ends with Hallelujah! Praise the Lord! – focus throughout on God as One receiving glory

“Let the high praises [exaltation, HCSB] of God be in their mouth” – is God being praised… because is God fighting the battle

clear from one end of Bible to other the real Warrior is God – 200+ in OT, called “Lord of Hosts”, “Lord of armies”

e.g. Conquest of Canaan not story of how Hebrew army prevailed over all the rest – Judg. 2:7 “And the people served the LORD all the days of Joshua, and all the days of the elders who outlived Joshua, who had seen all the great work that the LORD had done for Israel.”

weapons of choice

“praises of God” and “a two-edged sword” – given nature of conflict, no other weapons are effective… and is not just a NT thing

immediately after Fall, God himself identified conflict – enmity between Serpent and woman, between followers of Satan and Jesus… iow, primarily spiritual conflict

fast forward to Joshua, Judges, Kings – conflict between rival armies, right? wrong! was between people of God and enemies of God, and same conflict persists today

yes, those battles had real huiman casualties, but they were symptoms; pagans who trusted God were delivered (Rahab)

only weapon that has been issued to us: “the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” (Eph. 6:17)

truth needs no defense, only needs to be proclaimed; everyone w/o exception knows basic truth – existence of God, basics of right and wrong

problem not that world doesn’t get it, is that they have “suppressed the truth” by distorting or denying it

our task as soldiers of Christ: bring truth out into the open; truth all by itself will unmask Enemy’s deception

we must be careful to use right weapons in right way and leave results to God

shouldn’t try to repackage truth to make it palatable in order to get better results – will not be truly effective

hardened sinners will not be persuaded no matter how we present truth until God works from inside out

is power of God accompanying truth of God that makes it effectual in changing hearts and minds of both sinner and saint

point of the conflict

“Worship and warfare go together” – Wiersbe Satan doesn’t want our stuff, he wants our worship

remember, tried to con Jesus into worshiping him; if will do that, certainly will go after Jesus’ followers, and anyone else

God’s truth will ultimately convict all of God’s enemies, including Satan – and is God himself who carries out their sentence

there are those who will switch sides: by our proclaiming truth and work of Holy Spirit, battle for souls will result in victory

expression of triumph – not ours, the Lord’s

when that Day comes, God will put us on display as trophies of his grace, evidence of his truth and saving power

will be clear to all that those on side of Christ made right choice, followed right truth, God did good thing when he saved them

D. praise the Lord v.1a, 9c humility

all begins and ends with praise… directed to God who deserves all our praise and worship

would behoove us to get in good practice now – day is coming when “at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth,and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” Phil. 2:10-11

By God’s grace we will be among the number of saints who willingly bow the knee and confess Christ is Lord to the glory of God.


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