“Praise the Lord!
Sing to the Lord a new song,
his praise in the assembly of the faithful.”
~Psalm 149:1 (NRSV).
The penultimate biblical psalm extends the praise of God, tweaking it at this point into a song sourced from the chosen of the Lord.
A Psalm Full of Invitations
“Come: praise the Lord!” shrieks the psalmist in bellowed eulogy.
Psalm 149 is a praise hymn of celebration, for the “faithful” know the faithfulness of their God. They sing in faith for quick mind of a history that testifies to such faith.
Four of this psalm’s verses (vv. 2, 3, 5, 6) commence with “Let,” revealing the invitations to engage in active praise; to elicit the worshipful imperative.
In this form the psalm places the believer of God in control of their praise—offering sweet encouragement to laud the redemptive nature of an inscrutably faithful God.
A Psalm Seasoned with Imprecation
It’s amazing how—in the midst of Divine Liturgy—the cry against the enemy is made known in the breath and breadth of praise. But it occurs here, without apology.
The people of God are seen in this psalm (vv. 6-9a) as being executors of the Lord’s judgment against the nations, kings and nobles, and, of course, this happens.
By virtue of simple obedience, we can often watch on and marvel at the eternal swiftness of the turns-of-event that conspire against those who are opposed to God’s purposes. Yes, this has happened in our experience more times than we’ll recount.
It is the mood of this psalm, then, that it celebrates the fact that we’re witnesses to God’s redemptive fortune at the stead of trust and deference.
So, Where Does This Psalm Leave Us?
This psalm juxtaposes praise and redemption; one is based on the witness of history—recent and ancient. The other is a specific recall of the nature of deliverance; to have overcome in the name of the Lord.
We too, surely, have known this sort of redemptive faithfulness of God.
At some point—or indeed, many—we have seen our Almighty God conquer those battles for us, by the very virtue of our simply getting out of the way. We removed our own barriers and hence became augmenters of history.
These times we’ve witnessed with our own eyes and heard with our own ears, the dread of those against good and bent on evil. No matter how powerful they were they did not last, and the high were brought low, eventually.
All we did was agreed with what was decreed!
© 2011 S. J. Wickham.
Graphic Credit: Jingna Zhang.