The second half of our psalm takes a sharp turn from praising God with a new song and dancing to executing vengeance, punishment, and judgment. Verse 6 tells us to have praise of God in our throats and a two-edged sword in our hands. The vengeance, punishment, and judgment we are to execute are God’s, not ours. The phrase translated “two-edged sword” is literally “sword with two mouths.”* Could that mean that we are to use two words or forms of praise to realize God’s ultimate victory over the powers of evil?
Perhaps it is praise that remembers God’s grace and praise that proclaims the hope of God’s continuing grace. Such a sword with two mouths can pierce the human heart as a two-edged sword can pierce the human body. While the first half of the psalm is a call to praise, the second is a call to action. The psalmist urges us that as we praise God’s grace, we also proclaim grace to all who “are weary and are carrying a heavy burden” (Matt. 11:28).
*James L. Mays, ed., Harper’s Bible Commentary (San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1988), 494.
A Guided Meditation: Get comfortable and relax. Take several deep breaths, and rest between each of these suggestions: Remember when God has been gracious to you. Remember the saints that showed you the way of faith. Remember when you have found rest from the weariness of life. How often do you praise God with a loud voice and dance in God’s presence? Who in your life needs to hear Jesus’ offer of rest? To whom do you need to show the way to faith? Give thanks to God for your “sword with two mouths.”
We move forward in the story of Moses to the climax in Egypt, the tenth plague. God tells the Israelites to prepare for the terrible night to come and establishes the feast of Passover. It is to be an eternal reminder of what God has done for the people. The psalmist praises God for faithfulness and victory, including overthrowing those who would oppress them. Egypt is not mentioned specifically, yet the Passover represents just such a situation. Paul echoes Jesus in summarizing much of the Law in one simple commandment: Love your neighbor as yourself. Jesus provides practical teaching on handling disagreements. Our first responsibility is to go to the other party privately and then include others only as necessary. Gossip and social media are not the ways to handle our disputes.
Read Exodus 12:1-14. How has the story of Passover shaped your faith?
Read Psalm 149. How has God called you to seek freedom from oppression for yourself or others through praise and through action?
Read Romans 13:8-14. What does it mean to consider love a driving force rather than a warm feeling? How does this understanding change the way you act toward yourself and your neighbors?
Read Matthew 18:15-20. When have you participated in or witnessed true reconciliation? How did you see compassion at work?
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