Ps 149 reminds us also that praise is part of our spiritual warfare: equipped with God’s praises in our mouths and a double-edged sword in our hands (see Heb 4:12, Eph 6:17), we can take part in carrying out God’s plans in the earth. Although this psalm has been taken literally at some periods of history to justify violence and bloodshed (the Peasants’ Revolt in the 16th century, the Thirty Years’ War in the 17th century, for example), Paul makes it plain that the weapons of our warfare are spiritual (see 2 Cor 10:3-5). As believers under a new covenant, we don’t battle flesh and blood enemies (Ephesians 6:12-18), yet we have the responsibility to be not only worshippers, but warriors in a spiritual warfare that at times is difficult and costly. In a spiritual sense, we are to execute vengeance on everything that would oppose Jesus Christ and the work of His kingdom in our life.
Praise is warfare because through it we declare God’s sovereignty to all; in the words of the Rend Collective song, ‘Sing Hallelujah for all hell to hear.’ (‘Marching On’) They say, ‘When we worship in the face of adversity and struggle, when we count our blessings, we declare war on the brokenness of this world. We put our trust in the kingdom of God that will never fade and in Jesus as the king of everything.’ Our songs declare God’s truth and God’s word; we are equipped with the sword of the Spirit which has the power to cut into man’s sinfulness and declare the hope of God for all who will turn to Him. For those who refuse to bow the knee, God’s judgment will come (see Ps 2:8-9, Is 60:12, Rev 19:11-16). Far better to bow the knee now and of our own volition!
Spurgeon said of God’s word as sword, “The word of God is all edge; whichever way we turn it, it strikes deadly blows at falsehood and wickedness. If we do not praise we shall grow sad in our conflict; and if we do not fight we shall become presumptuous in our song. The verse indicates a happy blending of the chorister and the crusader.” May we learn to be both chorister and crusader, worshipper and warrior and see God’s glory shine over all the earth.