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PSALMS 149:2-6

(Reply to sister R. T. Johnson.)

It is much easier for us to flourish our pen, than to write that which we feel satisfied will edify the saints, and reflect the glory of God, but of this our readers are, or have had opportunity to be, aware. Such views as we have on any portion of the Scriptures, we do not feel at liberty to withhold, when called for.

The inspired writer of this psalm seems with a prophetic eye to look through the vista of intervening ages to the advent of the King of glory to our earth, and the establishment of his kingdom in her gospel organization, as “the congregation of saints,” and as the antitypical Israel of our God. Fired with the animating vision he breaks forth in the most flowing strains of heavenly poetry that ever saluted the circumcised ears of redeemed sinners, and calls on them to learn the song and unite in the sacred theme. “Let Israel rejoice in him that made him.” Who but Israel can appreciate the glory of a subject so spiritual, so sublime? Not Esau, not Ishamel, nor any of the self-made religionists of that, or of any subsequent age, while infatuated with the notion of their own power to will and to do, for themselves and for the Lord. None but Israel can rejoice in the assurance that they are God’s workmanship, that their Maker is their Husband, the Lord of hosts is his name, and their Redeemer the holy One of Israel, the God of the whole earth shall he be called. Of none but Israel is it written, “Happy art thou, O Israel! Who is like unto thee, O people saved by the Lord?” “This people” (saith the Lord) “have I formed for myself they shall show forth my praise.” The God of Jeshurun rideth upon the heavens in the help of this people, and in his excellency on the sky; and he has said they shall dwell safely alone, and that they shall not be reckoned with the nations. This people the Lord has created in Christ Jesus, chosen in Christ Jesus, and blessed with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ Jesus, according as he hath chosen them in him before the foundation of the world, that they should by holy and without blame before him in love. “But now, Thus saith the Lord that created thee, O Jacob, and he that formed thee, O Israel: Fear not, for I have redeemed thee, I have called thee by thy name, thou art mine; when thou passeth through the waters, I will be with thee, and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee, for I am the Lord thy God, the holy One of Israel, thy Savior. Fear not: for I will be with thee, I will bring thy seed from the east, and gather thee from the west; I will say to the north, Give up; and to the south, Keep not back; bring my sons from far, and my daughters from the ends of the earth; even every one that is called by my name: for I have created him for my glory, I have formed him; yea, I have made him.” - Isa. xliii. 1-7. This is Israel, God’s chosen, redeemed and freely justified Israel; let him rejoice in him that made him, that is, in God. And, “Let the children of Zion be joyful in their King.” As their King, he is all they could desire. He reigns in righteousness and his princes rule in judgment. All the glory of the eternal world centres in him, and all heaven is radiant with his refulgent glory. With his sword upon his thigh he rides prosperously; with his bow and with his crown he goeth forth conquering and to conquer. His regal title is written upon his vesture and upon his thigh. The King of kings and the Lord of lords, and his name is called the Word of God. He is the only and blessed potentate, and he only hath immortality dwelling in the light. Who but the children of Zion can be joyful in him? Who else are satisfied with his laws, ordinances, doctrine, examples, precepts and his unlimited dominion over heaven, earth and hell? But he is in a peculiar sense “their King,” the King of the children of Zion. God has given hm to be Head over all things to his church, which is his body, the fullness of him that filleth all in all.

“Let the high praises of God be in their mouth.” These words imply degrees of praise. God will be honored in all the subjects of his dominion. The wrath of man shall praise him, for he is able to command a revenue of glory from all the subjects of his power and providence. Holy angels that have never sinned do praise him, as a holy retinue once sang in the hearing of the shepherds, Glory to God in the highest, but the highest notes of heaven’s exalted anthem can only be sounded by the children of Zion, redeemed by the blood of the Lamb. They shall sing with the Spirit, and with the understanding also, making melody in their hearts unto God; in no low, murmuring, discordant or jarring sounds, but in sweet, exalted strains, as when the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy, as when they were heard in the vision of John, Rev. xiv. 2, 3; xv. 3,4; xix. 1-7. The highest notes of their immortal song shall in full chorus swell the words, “Great and marvelous are thy works, Lord God Al-mighty; just and true are thy ways, thou King of saints, and all the multitude of the redeemed, as the voice of mighty thunderings, and as the sound of many waters, shall proclaim, The Lord God Omnipotent reigneth. Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honor to him, for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife has made herself ready.” Ah, sister Johnson, if there is any higher praise of God than what is indicated in these passages of the Scripture, its revelation will not probably be made to us until we shall have witnessed the passing away of the earth and skies, the destruction of the last enemy, and the triumphant entrance of all the blood-washed throng into the joys which are reserved in heaven for them who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation, which is ready to be revealed at the last time. These mouths which were once full of cursing and bitterness, cleansed by the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Ghost, shall

“Break forth and extol the Great Ancient of Days,
His free and distinguishing grace.”

What can now be more appropriate, more pleasant, more delightful to the children of Zion, than to be thus employed?

“Let those refuse to sing,
Who never knew our God,
But favorites of the heavenly King
Should sound their joys abroad.”

“But when this lisping, stammering tongue
Lies silent in the grave,
Then in a nobler, sweeter song,
We’ll sing his power to save.”

But not only shall the high praises of God be in their mouth, but, as they are now in an enemy’s land, and in a militant state,

Let “a two-edged sword be in their hand.” A sword is an implement of war, to be used offensively and defensively, and in ancient warfare the most effective weapon used in close conflict. In skirmishes where the parties were widely apart, bows, arrows and slingstones were used, but when in close engagements the sword was the most reliable of all weapons. If the children of Zion had no enemies to encounter, they would need no armor, but as they are circumstanced while they sojourn in the flesh, they are required to put on the whole armor of God, and, having done all, to stand, not run. They have to fight the good fight of faith, to resist the devil, that he may flee from them, crucify the flesh with its affections and lusts, and to confront the world with all its alluring vanities. Their warfare is not carnal, but spiritual, hence they require spiritual, and not carnal weapons; “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood,” that is, in a literal sense, or we might need carnal weapons, such as Sharpe’s rifles, Saul’s armor, or human policy; “but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” Hence, while we are required by the example and special command of our great Captain to be kind, courteous and benevolent to all men, even to our bitterest enemies, we are nevertheless to fight manfully and uncompromisingly the good fight, contending earnestly for the faith once delivered to the saints. If any of the saints take the sword as a carnal weapon, they shall perish by it. But the sword of the Spirit is what we require. This is called, “The Sword of the Lord and of Gideon.” It is quick, or vital, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword. It has a Jerusalem blade, well tempered; and as David said of the sword he had taken from Goliath, “There is no sword like it,” so we may in truth say of the sword of the Lord, which Paul says is the word of God, and which completes the armor of God, by him specified at Eph. vi. 13-18. While the high praises of God are so in the mouth of Zion’s children, that all their communications are in harmony with the spirit of truth and holiness, the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of the Lord, is in their hand, not merely hanging by their side quietly in its scabbard; it is drawn, and never to be for a moment sheathed until the joyful trump of God shall announce the complete victory over sin, death and hell. Among other peculiarities of the sword which God has put in the hand of his saints, we are told by Paul that it is spiritual, and mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds, &c., and in our text it is described as having two edges. It cuts both ways, and is admirably adapted to the christian warfare, as all christians have enemies within as well as without. This weapon cuts off the flesh, that we may be the circumcision that worship God in the Spirit, rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh, while at the same time its keen edge is felt by the assaulting foe without. The word of God came to the prophets, saying, Thus saith the Lord, &c. And so the word of God is placed in the hand of the saints, as the most effectual weapon in keeping our body, or fleshly propensities at bay; nothing is so potent in defending the cause of truth and righteousness, as to be able to bring a “Thus saith the Lord” to bear upon those foes without who oppose the doctrine, government and institutions of our divine Commander.

In the context, the psalmist shows why the saints should be equipped.

“To execute vengeance upon the heathen, and punishments upon the people: to bind their kings in chains, and their nobles in fetters of iron; to execute upon them the judgments written. This honor have all the saints. Praise ye the Lord.” Israel under the law, in the type, were led in triumph whenever they had a thus saith the Lord to execute upon the heathen nations round about them. Witness the case of Egypt, Amalek, Midian, the Philistines and others, especially the Canaanite, which were driven out of the land, according to the word of the Lord. So spiritual Israel shall execute the vengeance of the Lord, in a spiritual application of the word, upon all the uncircumcised religious organizations which stand in opposition to the truth; as the stone which was taken from the mountain without hands, as typical of the kingdom of Christ, should break in pieces all other kingdoms, and thus execute the vengeance of God on them. As the sword of the Lord was used by Gideon and his little chosen band, in executing the order and vengeance of the Lord upon Midian, so shall the saints triumph over the beast, and his image, and over the number of his name. But the sword is also for the punishment of the people, that is, the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, is put in the hands of the saints, to execute the discipline and order of the house of God, upon all who walk disorderly.

“To bind their kings with chains, and their nobles with fetters of iron.” Such exploits were performed by Israel under the typical dispensation, and under the gospel we wrestle with the kings, or rulers of the darkness of this world, and by the sword of the Spirit we prevail over them, and so bind them with chains, as to despoil them of all their power or influence to annoy us. While their nobles may signify those who are elevated to high-sounding titles, as Reverends and Divines promoted and made popular only as the advocates of false doctrine, in allegiance to the prince of the power of the air. How often has one of God’s little ones chased a thousand of such nobles, and two put ten thousand to flight. Then truly, This honor have all the saints; “For the Lord takes pleasure in his people; he will beautify the meek with salvation. Let the saints be joyful in glory;” even in this glory, in which they are by the special grace of God distinguished but let them glory only in the Lord. “Let them sing aloud upon their beds.” Beds are places of rest, not of toil, and the triumph and joy of the saints is not in their own doings, but when resting upon the sure mercies of their covenant God and Savior, “They shall feed and lie down.” And they shall lie down in green pastures, in safety and plenty, with the high praises of God in their mouth, and a two-edged sword in their hand. Their enemies may deride them for lying down, and folding their hands, but it is their privilege, for so he giveth his beloved rest.

Middletown, N.Y.
February 15, 1861.

Elder Gilbert Beebe
Editorials Volume 4
Pages 458 - 464