Trevor, Pastor of Teaching & Vision
I was reading and reflecting on the Psalms recently and Psalm 149 jumped out at me in particular. The psalmist writes in Psalm 149:
Sing to the LORD a new song!
God’s people are a singing people. It’s always been this way. Carols, hymns, poems, and psalms have irrepressibly been a part of the life of the saints.
The psalmist continues in verse 2-3:
Let Israel be glad in his Maker; let the children of Zion rejoice in their King!
Let them praise his name with dancing, making melody to him with tambourine and lyre!
God’s people are a glad-hearted, rejoicing, praising, dancing, drum-and-guitar-playing people. Why?
For the LORD takes pleasure in his people; he adorns the humble with salvation.
The Lord takes pleasure in His people. Take a moment to consider that. The Lord adorns the humble with salvation, like a husband adorning a bride with a ring. We sing of God’s steadfast love to us, given to us by His grace and compassion.
And where do we see this grace and compassion most clearly? The Incarnation. The ultimate act of condescension and humility. So we carol! We sing about this amazing grace! Christmas carols are a large part of what makes this time of year so special. We sing old and new songs about the miracle of God’s coming in Christ, the newborn king.
However, lest our caroling become sanitized, familiarized, and sentimentalized, we read v.6:
Let the high praises of God be in their throats and two-edged swords in their hands
Let the high praises to God be in His people’s throats and hands. How are the songs in their hands? As two-edged swords. God’s people are warring people — who wage war by their singing.
The psalmist gives three purposes for the high praises to be as swords in the hands of his people in v.7-9:
to execute vengeance on the nations and punishments on the peoples,
to bind their kings with chains and their nobles with fetters of iron,
to execute on them the judgment written!
Our songs praise the God of salvation and condemn His enemies. Our songs execute vengeance on the nations. They tell of a God who first came in meekness but ultimately comes in triumph over evil. “Joy to the world… let earth receive her King!” And woe to those who resist him.
Our songs bind kings and nobles. They put princes and powers and principalities in their place. “Hark!” we sing, “The King of kings is born.” You will not rule forever.
So we don’t just sing our songs — we wield our songs. Unsheathe your carols this Christmas. Carol with gusto. May the glinting steel of your songs weaken the knees of that Old Foe!