New European Commentary


About | PDFs | Mobile formats | Word formats | Other languages | Contact Us | What is the Gospel? | Support the work | Carelinks Ministries | | The Real Christ | The Real Devil | "Bible Companion" Daily Bible reading plan

Deeper Commentary

Psa 149:1

Praise Yahweh! Sing to Yahweh a new song, His praise in the assembly of the saints-
Even in the Old Testament, the idea of living in a spirit of newness of life is to be found. David six times invites us to sing with him “a new song” (Ps. 33:3; 40:3; 96:1; 98:1; 144:9; 149:1 cp. Is. 42:10). Invariably these songs are associated with the experience of God’s redemption (cp. Rev. 5:9). Obviously those ‘new songs’ were intended to be repeatedly sung. Our regular experience of forgiveness and redemption should urge us onwards in the spirit of ‘newness of life’. Like Paul we die daily with the Lord, and the power of His resurrection life likewise daily breaks out in us.

Psa 149:2

Let Israel rejoice in Him who made him, let the children of Zion be joyful in their King-
I noted on Ps. 147:4; 148:3,4 that there is a major theme of God working a new creation in the restored exiles. In this sense, Israel would be "made" by God (Is. 44:2; 51:13), who would then be accepted as the king enthroned in Zion. The exiles resisted this, largely preferring to remain in exile in Babylon-Persia. And so no Davidic king was reestablished as had been potentially possible.

David saw his sufferings as being bound up with those of Israel; those who hated him hated Zion, those who blessed him blessed Zion, and God's salvation of Israel was being expressed through God's deliverance of him in the daily vicissitudes of life; as God had chosen Zion, so He had David His servant; David's joy was Zion's joy, and her exaltation would be David's  (Ps. 51:18; 69:35; 87:2; 106:5; 121:3,4; 125:1; 128:5; 146:10; 149:2). This is how we are to make sense of suffering- by understanding that it plays a role in the salvation of others, and is part of a wider nexus of Divine operation. We suffer so that we may be able to minister the comfort we receive to others (2 Cor. 1:4). Job likewise came to realize that his sufferings were not so much for his personal maturing, but for the teaching and salvation of the friends.

Psa 149:3

Let them praise His name in the dance! Let them sing praises to Him with tambourine and harp!-
David asks Israel to join him in his praise on tambourine and harp (s.w. 2 Sam. 6:5,14-16) for the ark returning to Zion. It is based upon Israel's rejoicing after the deliverance from Egypt (Ex. 15:20). But these images all had special relevance to the possibilities at the restoration of the exiles. The young woman taking the timbrel and rejoicing in the dance once again is presented as the epitome of the restoration (Jer. 31:4,13), after the years of exile when Judah's dance had been turned to mourning (Lam. 5:15). The invitation to "let" this happen confirms the great theme observed so often- that the restoration from Babylon could have led to the restored Kingdom of God, but was precluded by Judah's impenitence. But the Psalm urges them to "let" these things happen by as it were fulfilling the prophecies.

Psa 149:4

For Yahweh takes pleasure in His people, He crowns the humble with salvation-
This renewed "pleasure in His people" suggests the effective remarriage of God and Israel, the exiles, based upon a new covenant seeing they had broken the old covenant (Is. 54:7,8; 60:10). But they refused that new covenant, seeking justification by the old covenant [the law of Moses] which they had broken. And they never therefore remarried God as intended, and so he turned to form a new people for relationship, the Gentile-Jewish mix of the body of Christ. The crowning or adorning of God's people is that spoken of in the restoration prophecies, when Zion itself would be glorified (Is. 55:5; 60:7,9,13). But again, this didn't happen at the restoration from Babylon as was potentially possible. The prophecies are rescheduled and reapplied to God's final salvation of a new, multiethnic people in Christ.

Psa 149:5

Let the saints rejoice in glory-
"Rejoice" is s.w. "triumph" in Ps. 94:3, where the psalmist has asked how long shall the wicked triumph. Now finally is the day when the "How long...?" question has been answered.

Let them sing for joy on their beds-
David rightly perceived that what a man thinks alone on his bed is a litmus indicator of his essential spirituality  (Ps. 4:4; 149:5), and he condemns Saul for plotting sin on his bed (Ps. 36:4). And yet the same phrase "on his bed" is used for how David plotted the sin with Bathsheba on his bed (2 Sam. 11:2). David was surely taught by his sin that he had been too quick to condemn others for their wicked thoughts upon their beds.

This is all the language of God's Kingdom upon earth, and it has some similarities with how David brought the ark to Zion; see on :3. But it was God who would make this happen (Ps. 132:16), rather than David's manipulation of the physical ark, and getting the people to shout for joy (Ps. 132:8,9). But as discussed on Ps. 132:8, David mistakenly thought that merely bringing the ark to Zion meant this would come about.

Psa 149:6

May the high praises of God be in their mouths, and a two-edged sword in their hand-
Literally, a two mouthed sword; as if the praise coming out of their mouths was parallel with the mouth of the sword they were wielding. The restoration of the exiles was intended to coincide with the judgment and fall of Babylon, which was to be effected on the ground by a glorified, Spirit empowered, repentant Judah. But they didn't repent, Babylon didn't fall as the "fall of Babylon" prophecies in the restoration prophets envisaged. Instead those prophecies were reapplied and rescheduled to the fall of a latter day Babylon as described in Rev. 18.

Psa 149:7

to execute vengeance on the nations, and punishments on the peoples-
To pray for this to happen was effectively asking for the Kingdom to come. For David is always careful to emphasize that vengeance belongs to God and not man (see on Ps. 94:1). The stress that vengeance belongs to God was of course a major theme with David, in that he refused twice to take Saul's life when he easily could have done- because vengeance belongs to God and not man. And likewise it was stressed to the exiles that vengeance upon the Gentiles who had abused them belonged to God, and they were to pray for the time of His vengeance to come. This time of vengeance could have come at the restoration from Babylon (Is. 61:2; 63:4); but most of the exiles preferred to remain in Babylon and were quite comfortable there. And so again, these prophecies were reapplied and rescheduled to the fall of a latter day Babylon as described in Rev. 18.    

Psa 149:8

to bind their kings with chains, and their nobles with fetters of iron-
At the restoration, a revived Judah could have bound their overlords with chains (Is. 45:14). There was to be a radical inversion; they the prisoners, the bound ones (s.w. Ps. 146:7; Is. 49:9; 61:1) were to be loosed from exile, and were instead to bind their captors. But they were themselves the leaders / nobles of Babylon-Persia (as the book of Esther demonstrates) and didn't want at all to come out of Babylon.

Psa 149:9

to execute on them the judgment written. All His saints have this honour. Praise Yah!-
The judgment written was, in the context of the exiles, the judgments upon Babylon written at such length in the restoration prophecies such as Isaiah and Jeremiah. But these prophecies were not fulfilled by the exiles as envisaged. Most of them preferred to remain in Babylon-Persia, and didn't "come out from among them" as commanded. They didn't want the "honour" spoken of here; and so those prophecies were reapplied and rescheduled to the fall of a latter day Babylon as described in Rev. 18.