Psalm 149:5-7 - Let the godly exult in glory; let them sing for joy on their beds. Let the high praises of God be in their throats and two-edged swords in their hands, to execute vengeance on the nations and punishments on the peoples.
The psalm begins on a high note; it is the kind of psalm with which we are familiar, the kind of psalm we love to say and sing: "Praise the LORD! Sing to the LORD a new song!" (Psalm 149:1). Israel is summoned to be glad in the God who created them, and we are happy to join them. God's Name is praised with dancing and music, and for a reason we know well: "The LORD takes pleasure in His people; He adorns the humble with salvation" (Psalm 149:4). God has adorned us with salvation. In Baptism we are clothed with Christ, dressed in the bright robes of His righteousness. This astounding good news moves us to praise God not only throughout the day, but to sing for joy on our beds at night, secure in His forgiveness and love.
"Let the high praises of God be in their throats." To that we joyfully agree. But then the psalm takes a more disturbing turn. God's people have high praise in their throats "and two-edged swords in their hands." These swords are not for self-defense; these are weapons of judgment, "to execute vengeance on the nations ... to execute on them the judgment written" (Psalm 149:7-9).
These vengeful statements are very different from the words of the apostle Paul, "Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, 'Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord'" (Romans 12:19b). Vengeance does belong to the Lord, and although we may not often think about it, the Day of the Lord's vengeance is coming. When Jesus our Lord returns in glory on the Last Day, the evil that darkens God's good creation will finally be destroyed—forever. As Scripture tells us, Christ, our risen and ascended Lord, reigns now "until He has put all His enemies under His feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death" (1 Corinthians 15:25-26). On the Last Day, the great Day of resurrection, all who trust in Christ will be bodily raised from death to live in His presence forever. All mourning, crying, and pain will cease, and God will wipe away every tear from our eyes.
For now, we rejoice in the Lord who "takes pleasure in His people." We hold in our hands and in our hearts the two-edged sword that is the living and active Word of God. We wield it by the Spirit's power, calling the nations to repentance and proclaiming the forgiveness won by Jesus' death and resurrection. Witnesses to our Savior's love, we wait for His judgment and glory. It's enough to make us sing for joy on our beds! Come, Lord Jesus!
THE PRAYER: Lord Jesus, we look forward with joy to Your return. Until then, teach us to wield the mighty sword of Your Word and proclaim repentance and forgiveness in Your Name to all nations. Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.
This Daily Devotion was written by Dr. Carol Geisler.
1. When things are going well for you are you apt to praise God for your circumstances?
2. How does God as a God of vengeance figure into your conception of Him?
3. When you share your faith with others, do you mention this aspect of God—His righteous judgment and His loathing of sin and evil?
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