Today's Insight from Chuck Swindoll

Psalm 149 is one of five "praise the Lord" psalms that conclude the Hebrews' ancient hymnal. Like the other four, it begins with the command "Hallelujah!" leading to a time of exalting God's goodness. In this case, the people of God are summoned to praise Him in response to three different situations: times of blessing, times of suffering, and times of warfare.

Praise the Lord in Times of Blessing

Praise the LORD!
Sing to the LORD a new song,
And His praise in the congregation of the godly ones.
Let Israel be glad in his Maker;

Let the sons of Zion rejoice in their King.
Let them praise His name with dancing;
Let them sing praises to Him with timbrel and lyre. (149:1–3)

Times of blessing should prompt spontaneous praise. When food fills our storehouses, when everyone is free of illness or injury, when no enemies or tragedies threaten, that's a natural time to sing our thanksgiving and shouts of praise. Consequently, the songwriter gives us three commands as he discusses times of blessing. He tells us to sing (verse 1), to be glad (verse 2), and to praise His name (verse 3). Let's look at each command and meditate upon what God is saying.

First, the psalmist urges us to sing a new song. When God brings goodness into the lives of His people, He loves to hear us respond with fresh and spontaneous expressions of delight. Even better when we gather with other "godly ones" to celebrate the Lord's blessing. After all, we openly share our times of stress and heartache—just as we should. For some reason, however, we seldom gather our friends for the sake of celebrating God's abundant blessings.

Second, the songwriter calls for God's people to be glad. Times of prosperity and/or promotion should never cause guilt. If it comes from the hand of God, we should rejoice! Unfortunately, some in the Christian ranks have begun to believe that it is more spiritual to suffer, or that only materialistic people can prosper. What a lousy testimony to a loving God! While the Lord uses suffering to cultivate godly character, He also delights to give good things to His people. Praise God when the blessings flow! They come from Him. Psalm 75:6-7 makes that clear:

For not from the east, nor from the west,
Nor from the desert comes exaltation;
But God is the Judge;
He puts down one and exalts another.

Third, the composer calls us to praise. The third verse commands us, in effect, to really "let loose." Don't stifle your praise; let it out! In the days of the psalmist, it was quite common for God's people literally to dance for joy and play on musical instruments when they were filled with praise. David danced in the street when the ark was brought back into the city of David (2 Samuel 6:12-15). Likewise Miriam, Moses' sister, danced in praise of God after the Israelites crossed the Red Sea (Exodus 15:20-21). The dancing in Scripture was done out of praise in one's heart to God for His blessings and deliverance.

The whole point of these first three verses of Psalm 149 is that we are to enjoy our times of blessing in full measure. We are to give our Lord fresh, unrestrained exclamations of praise when He chooses to pour out His abundance upon us.

From Living the Psalms  by Charles R. Swindoll, copyright © 2012. Reprinted by permission of Worthy Inspired, an imprint of Hachette Book Group, Inc.

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