The Book of Psalms - An Overview, Part II of III
- In my limited research, I found that St.Augustine had extensive expository commentary on the Book of Psalms . Since Augustine is a common father for West and East, we may consider his works with patristic authority and genuineness. A brief exerts from his work on Ps.149 :6 as follows : "And swords sharpened on both sides in their hands." This sort of weapon contains a great mystical meaning, in that it is sharp on both sides. By 'swords sharpened on both sides', we understand the Word of the Lord (Heb.4:12) it is one sword, but therefore are they called many, because there are many mouths and many tounges of the saints. How is it two edged? It speaks of things temporal, it speaks of also of the things eternal. In both cases it proveth what it saith, and him whom it strikes, it severeth from the world. Is not this sword whereof the Lord said, "I am not come to send peace upon earth, but a sword"? (Matt.10:34). Observe how He came to divide, He divideth the ungodly, He severeth from thee that which hindereth thee. "And swords in their hands", he meaneth in power. They receivced the Word of God in power, to speak where they would, to whom they would with power and authority.....(Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Vol.VIII pp679-681).
Ps.149:7 "To do vengeance on the nations." See whether vengeance have not been done on the nations. Daily it is done; we do it, ourselves by speaking. Observe how the nation of Babylon are slain. She is repaid twofold: for so it is written of her "repay her double for what she hath done" (Rev.18:6). The saints wage war, they draw their "swords twice sharpened" thence come defeats, slaughters, severances... (further edification read the above ref. book p.680).
Ps.149:8 "That they may bind their kings in fetters, and their noble in bonds of iron" .... For these verses which we are beginning to explain are obscure. For this purpose God willed to set down some of His verses obscurely, not that anything new should be dug out of them, but that what was already well known, might be made new by being obscurely set forth. We know that kings have been made Christians; we know that the nobles of Gentiles have been made Christians. That "God hath chosen the weak things of world ......things that are (1 Cor.1:26-28). It is said by the Lord, "If thou wilt be perfect..... in heaven" (Matt.19:21). Many of nobles did this, but they ceased to be the nobles of the Gentiles, they chose rather to be poor in this world, noble in Christ. But many retain their former nobility, retain their royal powers, and yet are Christians. These are, as it were, "in fetters and bonds of iron". How so? They received fetters to keep them from going to things unlawful, the "fetters of wisdom", fetters of the Word of God".....(Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Vol.VIII, pp.679-681).
Psalm 149 IN CONTEMPORARY COMMENTARY : Everything that God's people do in serving and glorifying the Lord must flow out of worship, for without Him we can do nothing (John 15:5). In contemporary situation, the most important activity of the local church is the worship , for this is the activity we will continue in heaven for all eternity (Rev.4, 5).
WORSHIP THE LORD INTELLIGENTLY : (v v.1-2) Worship is something that we must learn to do, and we will be learning all our lives. In time of corporate worship, the saints do minister to one another (Eph.5:19; Col.3:16), but the primary focus must be on the Lord, glorifying and extolling Him. We must worship with other saints as well as in solitude (v.5 "on their beds/couch - private worship). The Church today can join with Israel in saying "God is our maker and King" (Ps.95:6; 100:3; 10:16; 24:7-10). How He has made us is His gift to us, and what we do with it is a gift to Him. We must remind ourselves that we came from dust, but because of God's grace, we are destined to glory, soon and very soon we are going to see the King.
WORSHIP THE LORD FERVENTLY :( v v. 3-4) A very expressive people, the Jews used musical instruments, songs, and dances in their worship of the Lord. The dances, of course, were not modern ball room, disco, or belly-dancing but rather interpretive dances that pointed to the Lord and not some person's talent (Ex.15:20; Judg.11:34; 1Sam.18:6; Jer.31:4). However, spiritual fervency must not confuse with fleshly enthusiasm or emotional outburst (modern charismatics/pentecostels ). There are false worshipers as well as true worshipers, and some people think they are filled with the Spirit are really being fooled by the spirit. Worship must focus on God, not on us, or on the crowd, it must be enrichment, not an entertainment.
WORSHIP THE LORD GRATEFULLY (v.5): God gave His Word and His glory only to the nation of Israel (Ps.147:19.20; Rom.9:1-5), and this Word and glory have been passed on to the Church (John 17:8,14,22). When the believers' private worship (Couches/beds) and the Church's corporate worship become routine and lifeless the Spirit is grieved and the blessing is diminished. The word "couches/beds" could refer to someone reclining at the table or resting in bed. Singing at the table or in our bed can bring joy to the Lord. Without private worship, we are but hypocrites at public worship.
WORSHIP THE LORD TRIUMPHANTLY (v v.6-9): Worship and warfare go together, as the of Revelation makes very clear. The Church is an army, this world is a battlefield, and there is a struggle going on for the souls of lost sinners (Matt.16:17-18; Eph.6:10; 2 Tim.2:3-4; 2Cor.10:3-5). And we Christians, like the workers in Nehemiah's day, must have both tools for building and swords for battling (Neh.4:17-18). Our weapons are prayer, the sword of the Spirit, the Word of God (Eph.6:17; Heb.4:12)
We must take worship very seriously and realize that worship is a part of the believer's spiritual warfare. To ignore worship, trivialize it, turn it into an entertainment, or make it a routine activity is to play right into the hands of the enemy. It is an honor to serve in the Lord's army of worshiping warriors. These are the meaning of Psalm 149. (Be worshipful - Warren Wiersbe).
Fr.Dr.V.C.Varghese, Sugar Land, Tx.