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Wednesday, January 18, 2017

PSALM 149

verses 6-9


"Let the high praises of God be in their mouth,
And a two-edged sword in their hand,
To execute vengeance on the nations
And punishment on the peoples,
To bind their kings with chains
And their nobles with fetters of iron."


At first this passage may seem hard to swallow,
not the praises in the throat,
but swallowing the sword in the hand.


All throughout history, war has surrounded the Jews with those who sought to dominate them and even destroy them.  Certainly David had blood on his hands from fighting to establish his kingdom, so much so that God said he couldn't build the temple.  It wasn't so much that God rejected David who was a man after God's own heart, but that he was symbolic of the kingdom come, "Not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit saith the Lord." (Zechariah 5:6)


This passage also could be a reference to the time when Ezra and Nehemiah were rebuilding the temple after the terrible time when their city was taken, their temple burned and a million Jews were killed and the others taken captive and scattered.  Now, as I referenced recently ,"the manner in which the Jews were obliged to labour in rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem: every one with one of his hands wrought in the work, and with the other hand held a weapon." (Adam Clarke, Nehemiah 4:17)  Their time came for victory over their attackers, enemies which at times included Jews who had made alliances against their own people. 
Certainly only a generation back, six million Jews were tortured and killed in World War II, men, women, and children, not including the millions killed prior in this very century, but at the end of the time of persecution they were given back their homeland by the Allies.  Even Adam Clarke in writing his commentary in the 1700's said, "they continue without king, or temple, or true worship, to the present day."  This makes you aware that we are sitting smack dab in history-making times. However, their occupation of the promised land is still under terrible threat.  Certainly they long for victory against their enemies and must go about their work with their sons and daughters all trained in the military with their weapons at hand and ready and with every man, woman, and child having a gas mask ready for their protection.



As I study Ancestry. com, I came across the immigration papers of one of the early relatives on my dad's side, a Meredith, who came over by ship.  His papers said it was by prison transport.  In those times, he might have escaped the the scaffold because of a crime he committed or because he ended up aligning with the wrong side of politics by choosing to support the wrong king or form of religion, or it could have been because he was in debtor's prison.  I do not know if he was a scoundrel, or noble in a cause.  However, there were Merediths who made their mark and those who made their smudge (such as one who helped finance the first naitional bank with tens of thousands or Benjamin Franklin's first printing partner who was an alcoholic.)  But I do know that God can work good out of the worst of times squeezing hallelujahs out of us.



It makes me think of the final judgment as described in Revelation 19:1-6.  Here the Hallelujahs are combined with judgment:

"After these things I heard something like a loud voice of a great multitude in heaven saying, "Hallelujah! Salvation and glory and power belong to our God; because His judgments are true and righteous...and He has avenged the blood of His bond-servants...Give praise to our God, all you His bond-servants, you who fear Him, both the small and the great.  Then I heard something like the voice of a great multitude and like the sound of many waters and like the sound of might peals of thunder, saying, Hallelujah! For the Lord our God, the Almighty, reigns."


However as Matthew Henry points out, "For Christ never intended that His gospel should be propagated by fire and sword or His righteousness wrought by the wrath of man.  When the high praises of God are in our mouth with then we should have an olive-branch of peace in our hands.  Christ's victories are by the power of His gospel and grace over spiritual enemies in which all believers are more than conquerors."



"The Word of God is the two-edged sword (Hebrew 4:12 'For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.') and the sword of the Spirit (Ephesians 6:17 'which is the word of God.').  With this two-edged sword the first preachers of the gospel obtained a glorious victory over the powers of darkness...With this two-edged sword believers fight against their own corruptions, and, through the grace of God, subdue and mortify them; self, that once sat king, is bound with chains and brought into subjection to the yoke of Christ, this honour have all the saints." (Matthew Henry)






So there you have it, praise and a sword.

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