Psalms 149:1. Praise ye the Lord.
This is a Hallelujah Psalm; it begins with, “Praise ye the Lord,” and finishes in the same way. It is a complete circle of praise. The long streams of the Psalms end in glorious cascades of hallelujahs. One after another these jubilant notes roll out, as in Handel’s magnificent Hallelujah Chorus.
Psalms 149:1. Sing unto the LORD a new song, and his praise in the congregation of saints.
There was an old song previous to this new one, — in the 148th Psalm, — the Psalm for sun and moon and stars, for deeps and dragons, for old men and maidens, and so on; but this is a Psalm for saints, so it is “a new song” for the new creation. Therefore, let all the new creatures of God sing it from their hearts.
Psalms 149:2. Let Israel rejoice in him that made him:
This is the best and highest form of creation, — the making, not only of men, but of men of God, the making of Israels, the making of prevailing princes.
Psalms 149:2. Let the children of Zion be joyful in their King.
Let them rejoice that their Maker reigns, that he rules over them, and that he rules over all things: “Let the children of Zion be joyful in their King.”
Psalms 149:3. Let them praise his name in the dance: let them sing praises unto him with the timbrel and harp.
That is, let them repeat the joy of Israel at the Red Sea, when Miriam “took a timbrel in her hand, and all the women went out after her with timbrels and with dances; and Miriam answered them, Sing ye to the Lord, for he hath triumphed gloriously.” So, O ye children of God, let the praises of your God and King ring out as with the music of the timbrel and harp.
Psalms 149:4. For the LORD taketh pleasure in his people:
Then, should not they take pleasure in him? If he looks upon them with divine delight, should not they look up to him with adoring gratitude? What is there in us to give him any pleasure? But if his delights are with the sons of men, surely the sons of men should have their delights in him: “For the Lord taketh pleasure in his people.”
Psalms 149:4-5. He will beautify the meek with salvation. Let the saints be joyful in glory:
Let them glory in God, and be joyful in him. Let their spirits seem to rise even beyond grace up to the anticipation of glory: “Let the saints be joyful in glory.”
Psalms 149:5. Let them sing aloud upon their beds.
If they be sick, or if they lie awake at night, or if they have enjoyed sweet rest, let them not fail to praise God for it: “Let them sing aloud upon their beds.”
Psalms 149:6. Let the high praises of God be in their mouth, and a two-edged sword in their hand;
But let it be a spiritual sword, that two-edged sword of God’s Word which will cut through coats of mail; and as they wield it, let them ever rest satisfied that victory shall surely be theirs. One of the poetical versions of this Psalm rightly renders this verse, —
“Ye saints of the Lord; as round him ye stand,
His two-edged sword, his word, in your hand,
To sound his high praises your voices employ!
To victory he raises, and crowns you with joy.”
Psalms 149:7. To execute vengeance upon the heathen, and punishments upon the people;
So they had to do in those old times: but we, happily, have not to do so now, except it be in a spiritual sense that, with the sword of God’s Word we are to cut down the idols of the heathen, and subdue the nations to our King.
Psalms 149:8. To bind their kings with chains, and their nobles with fetters of iron;
Reading the passage in a gospel sense, we lead men captives in the bonds of love that are stronger than fetters of iron. O soldiers of Christ, army of the living God, this is the battle you have to fight; be this your victory, too!
Psalms 149:9. To execute upon them the judgment written: this honour have all his saints. Praise ye the LORD.
So the Psalm ends upon its key-note, — “Hallelujah.” “Praise ye the Lord.’ Now let us turn to the 5th chapter of the Gospel according to Matthew, and see what we have to rejoice in there.