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Author:Rev. Sjirk Bajema
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Congregation:Reformed Church of Mangere
 South Auckland, New Zealand
 
Title:True Praise Is Rejoicing Victoriously!
Text:Psalms 149 (View)
Occasion:Regular Sunday
Topic:Worship
 
Preached:2007-05-13
Added:2009-04-25
 

Order Of Worship (Liturgy)

* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. Sjirk Bajema, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.


PSALM 149
(Reading: Eph.5:21-6:18; Rev.19:11-21)
 
True Praise Is Rejoicing Victoriously!
 
 
Congregation in our Lord Jesus Christ...
 
     In these last five psalms there is clearly a line connecting them all.
          It’s not only that each of them begins and ends with the same chorus of “Praise the Lord” – ‘Hallelujah!’
              Rather, it’s like they’re each part of the same performance.
 
     As that performance progresses, though, it becomes clearer what the story is.
          And because it’s a musical production you hear that in the way the music is lifted a new level with each new song.
 

     What had began with individual praise in Psalm 146, rose to include the covenant people in Psalm 147, then lifted to involve the praise of the Creator by all those created in Psalm 148, brings out now Israel’s share in that praise.

          And that’s actually where Psalm 148 had ended in verse 14.
              So the psalmist picks up this strand to show now how it’s Israel’s praises and her calling that take centre stage.
                   This is praising the way God takes it to the nations!
 
     It makes sense, doesn’t it?
          For we know from elsewhere in Scripture that man has been placed over creation.
              It was the fall that ruined his governing for the Lord.
                   So now in the re-creation which is the Church it makes sense that the song is sung higher.
 
     Verse 1 draws us into this.

          Following the pattern of beginning with “Praise the LORD” it declares, “Sing to the LORD a new song, his praise in the assembly of the saints.”

 
     “A new song” here suggests a new situation.
          Perhaps the time of the return from exile under Ezra.
              This time frame would fit in with what we saw as the most likely dating for Psalm 147.
                   There verse 2 spoke of the exiles being gathered back together.
 
      Whatever the date, there can be no denying to sense of victory in this psalm.
          In the words of the first aspect to this passage, THIS PRAISE CELEBRATES THE JUBILANT CHURCH.
 
     We can compare what’s happening here with whenever there is reformation in the church.
          Because aren’t they great times of new song writing?

              Whether it’s the hymns of Martin Luther, the psalms of Geneva, and from the Great Awakening – Charles Wesley among so many others!

 
     For that’s the time God’s people especially realise who’s blessed them with revival.
          That’s when His Spirit pours out in a special way.
              As is shown with an increasing thronging of God’s people coming together.
 
     Now, we can say that this is what happens in the life of the faithful believer every day.
          Because new every morning are the mercies of the Lord!
 
     But think of those Old Testament times where we can clearly see this scene.
          When was there the praising of God’s name with dancing and making music to Him with tambourine and harp?
              Ah, those times of great national thanksgiving!
 
     Exodus 15 describes this when Pharaoh’s horses and chariots and horsemen were drowned in the Red Sea.
          For the Israelites had been brought through that sea on dry ground.

              And so verse 20 says, “Then Miriam the prophetess, Aaron’s sister, took a tambourine in her hand, and all the women followed her, with tambourines and dancing.”

 
     In 2nd Samuel 6 we read of when King David brought the ark of God to Jerusalem.
          What joy that was – to have that special manifestation of God’s presence in the midst of His people!

               And so verse 5 records, “David and the whole house of Israel were celebrating with all their might before the LORD, with songs and with harps, lyres, tambourines, sistrums and cymbals.”

                   In verse 14 it further adds that David “danced before the LORD with all his might.”
 
     These things were all spontaneous outbursts of praise.
          They responded to God’s great acts of deliverance and guidance.
              They recognise He is their Maker both in His creating and re-creating.
                   Because not only has He made them physically but He’s also remade them spiritually to be His very own!
             
     But these things were also very much happening because of what was then in His people.
          Verse 4 takes up this theme.
              It says, “For the LORD takes delight in his people; he crowns the humble with salvation.”
 
     The humble are those who don’t look to themselves.
          They are waiting upon the Lord.
              They so much know that without Him they cannot even have the very next breath of life!
 
     There was a small college in the United States that was struggling financially.
          The buildings were shabby, and staff salaries were quite a bit below other colleges.
 
     A stranger visited the campus one day and asked a man who was washing a wall where he could find the principal.
          The man replied, “I think you can see him at his house at noon.”
 
     The visitor went as directed and met the principal.
          He recognised him as the same man who was scrubbing a wall earlier that day, though now he was in different clothes.
 
     Later that same week, a letter came with a gift of $50,000 for the college.
          The spirit of service on the part of the principal had made a positive impression on the visitor.

              Because the benefactor saw a man who was not too proud to help where needed, even though it involved what some might call a menial job, he was moved to contribute generously to the school.

 
     That’s the spirit of verse 4 – the spirit God blesses.
          It’s the spirit that flows over into verse 5.
              For there we find that their faith shows right throughout their lives no matter whatever they’d doing!
 
     John Bunyan wrote about this humbleness in a poem.
          He wrote, “He that is down needs fear no fall, He that is low, no pride; He that is humble ever shall Have God to be his guide.”
 
     This is why there’s singing for joy on their beds in verse 5.
          For this is the thought to have on your mind when you fall asleep!
              To know that you can lie down at night without being afraid and with a good conscience.

                   In the words of David in verse 8 of Psalm 4, “I will lie down and sleep in peace, for you alone, O LORD, make me dwell in safety.”

 
     Hosea 7 verse 14 tells of what the opposite to that is.
          It pictures the misery of wailing on your bed.
              That sadness doesn’t help you sleep.
                   There’s no joy in the Lord there.
 
     But how much isn’t this joy here!
          “Let the saints rejoice in this honour!”
              Because they are the saints.
     These are God’s own chosen and precious ones.
          They’re looking to Him.
 
THIS PRAISE CELEBRATES THE JUBILANT CHURCH.
     Here we see where God’s Word and Spirit truly is.
          And it’s because it’s where God’s Word and Spirit is that we see, secondly, THIS PRAISE PROCLAIMS THE MILITANT CHURCH.
 
     From verse 6 the imagery changes.
          For here it goes on to praise God for the way saints live victoriously.
             
     “May the praise of God be in their mouths,” verse 6 begins.
          Then it says, “and a double-edged sword in their hands.”
              And after this it gives the reason why this weapon must be our hands.
 
     Naturally, there are a number of questions that come up in our minds here.
          But let’s answer them by noting the whole thrust of the psalm.
              For it’s declaring that true praise is rejoicing victoriously.
                   It’s being so full on for God that you take on the world in Him.
 
     Here’s a story that illustrates this.
          A teacher in a Bible school gave his students an hour-long exam.
              In that exam they were to spend half their time writing about the Holy Spirit and the other half about the devil.
 
     Well, one student wrote steadily for the whole hour on the first subject - the Holy Spirit.
          Because he ran out of time he wrote at the bottom of his manuscript, “I had no time for the devil.”
 
     That wasn’t the way to get a good grade on an exam.
          But his comment does point us to what verse 6 is speaking about.
              Which is about resisting and overcoming Satan.
     For if you fill yourself with God’s Word, and so you pray and submit to the Holy Spirit, you won’t give the devil a foothold.
          That’s the truth of Ephesians 4 verse 27.
 
     You see, it’s carrying out the Lord’s commands which the verses 7 till 9 are all about.
          Commands which at the time the psalmist was writing would have involved a physical dimension.
              God’s Church in the Old Testament was wrapped up in a geographical location and a specific race.
 
     That changed totally with the doing and dying of Christ.
          His victory over the powers of this world has transformed the battle altogether.
              As indeed the Old Testament prophesied would happen.
 
     So the New Testament Church cannot pray this prayer in that way today.
          When it has done so it has got it terribly wrong.
             
     Times such as when Thomas Muntzer used these words to stir up the German peasants to revolt in Luther’s time.

          And also Caspar Schopp who used this psalm to incite Roman Catholic princes to embark on the 30 years war which wrecked Europe in the 17th century.

 
     It is different today.
          Because it is what the apostle Paul wrote in 2nd Corinthians 10 that applies in our age.
              For in verse 4 there he says, “The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world.”
              Indeed, he goes on to show that now the struggle is much more fiercer.
                   “On the contrary,” he says, “they have divine power to demolish strongholds.”
 
     You see, this is spiritual.
          That’s why the apostle tells us in 2nd Corinthians 10 verse 5 that we are “take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”
 
     This is total warfare far beyond any warfare this world has known.
          This is about hearts and minds.
              This is about what matters for all eternity!
 
     We read this in Ephesians 6.

          Verse 12 said there, “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”

 
     It’s no surprise that this psalm has been called ‘The Missionary Psalm.’
          It is about taking the gospel out there because it’s deep in here!

              In the words of Abraham Kuyper, “There is no single square millimetre of this world that Christ does not declare, ‘This is mine!’”

 
     It’s while you are fighting the good fight that you are victorious.
          It’s when you stop the battle, when you take your eyes off the cause of Christ, that the praise becomes mute.
              Then you’re not on full alert.
 
     We can compare this with the American Navy SEAL’s colour-code system.
          They use this to indicate levels of combat readiness.
              And each stage has a parallel in spiritual warfare.
             
     For there is Condition White.
          This is when the soldier is relaxed and daydreaming, unaware of his surroundings.
              A Christian in this condition is easy prey for Satan.
 
     Next there is Condition Yellow.
          Here the soldier is relaxed physically but alert mentally.
              A believer at this level may sense trouble coming, but he’s not ready to confront it.
 
     Then there is Condition Orange.
          The soldier is physically prepared, mentally alert, and ready to fight.
              A believer at this stage has on the full armour of God.
 
     And, finally, there’s Condition Red.
          As in condition orange, the soldier is ready to fight.
              The difference is experience.
     A battle-seasoned Christian knows quickly what to do because of his experience and knowledge of Scripture.
          In the words of one song, “the devil’s not amused when your Bible’s well-used.”
              Actually, then the devil’s on the run!
 
     So when verse 9 speaks about carrying out “the sentence written against them” it’s about you right where you are.
          For you are in the Lord’s army.
              You are the one who, whatever you are and wherever you are, is on the frontline.
 
     Dear believer, you don’t go out there on your own.
          Revelation 19 pictures that clearly enough in its symbolism.
              You go out there as a soldier in the most powerful and victorious army of all time!
     Yes – victorious!
          For the King of kings and Lord of lords has conquered all before Him.
              In His dying upon the cross Jesus Christ defeated all the forces of evil on this earth, even death itself!
     Now you and I are part of his moping up detail.
          The devil has been defeated.
              But, like an animal can be at its most dangerous when it is dying, we need to live our lives carefully.
 
     You see, “This is the glory of all his saints.”
          Because it was always God’s glory.
              The glory which is revealed in the magnificence of what He has done.
    
     Dear believer, you wouldn’t be here otherwise.
          But you are.
              “Praise the LORD!”
                   Amen.
 
 

PRAYER:
Let’s pray…

     O Great and glorious God,
          How much don’t we praise Your name!
              For You have done it all.
     You won the victory.
          And You, by Your Holy Spirit, enable us to live victoriously.
 
     O Lord, do help us to so conduct our lives.
          Then whether at work or school, in the shopping mall or on the road, whether with family or strangers, we will think of You.
              And we will praise You with what we do.
                   In Jesus’ precious Name, we pray, Amen.


* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. Sjirk Bajema, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.
(c) Copyright 2007, Rev. Sjirk Bajema

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