Peter Misselbrook's Blog
Dec 29 2019 - Psalms 149-150 – Praise the Lord

Having begun the last book of the Old Testament, today we look at the last (two) of the psalms. Psalms is a wonderful compendium of praise, worship, meditation, heartfelt prayer and even lament and complaint. It encompasses every aspect of the experience and emotion of the people of God and will always be a rich source for our devotional life. These last two are psalms of praise and form a fitting end to this precious book of Scripture.

Both psalms begin with a call to praise the Lord – in Hebrew Hallelu Yah, "praise Yahweh". The call to "Sing to the Lord a new song" (149:1), suggests praise prompted by a new situation or new realisation of God's goodness and mercy towards his people. This is evident in Psalm 40:1-3 where it is the response of someone whom the Lord has lifted "out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and … put a new song in my mouth." In the Book of Revelation it is used to describe the redeemed in heaven who praise the crucified, risen and glorified Messiah:

They sang a new song, saying:

‘You are worthy to take the scroll
    and to open its seals,
because you were slain,
    and with your blood you purchased for God
    persons from every tribe and language and people and nation.
You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God,
    and they will reign on the earth.’ (Revelation 5:9-10)

In Psalm 149 the occasion for a new song may have been a particular victory over those who threatened the people of God even as Revelation celebrates the definitive and, in one sense, final victory that the people of God enjoy in Christ. Victory is to be celebrated with musical instruments, singing and dancing; in an overflow of exuberant joy that does not stop even when you rest on your bed at night (149:5)!

The psalm envisages enemies which have not yet been fully defeated; hence it calls for praise to be in the mouths of God's people but also a double-edged sword in their hands to inflict vengeance on the nations (149:6-7).

The risen Saviour also bears a double-edged sword, but it is in his mouth (see Revelation 1:16). He will conquer the nations not with raw military might and slaughter but with the power of his word and Spirit. This is the power that has brought us to bow the knee to our mighty Saviour and this is the power he gives us with which we are to go and conquer the world for him (see 2 Corinthians 10:4-5).

If Psalm 149 has called upon God's people to praise him for his great acts of salvation, Psalm 150 calls upon "everything that has breath" to praise him (Ps 150:6). Once again, the Lord is to be praised "for his acts of power" and for his "surpassing greatness" (150:2) – praised, we would suggest, for his wonderful acts of both creation and redemption. All that has breath shall praise the Lord in that final day when Jesus returns in glory and every knee bows to him and acknowledges that he is Lord. In that day, when all creation is made new, the lion and the lamb shall praise him together and even the trees of the fields shall clap their hands. Our task, as those who have tasted already of God's mercy and goodness in the Lord Jesus, is to begin that act of praise now. We are to practice now the praise that shall fully occupy creation in that great day.

Father God, tune our hearts to sing your praise that we might be prepared in heart and voice for the coming of the Saviour. May our praise be rich with the truths of your word and the wonders of the gospel of your grace. May it conquer the world as others are drawn to you and join our chorus until all creation is filled with your praises.  

Peter Misselbrook