Praise ye the Lord. Sing unto the Lord a new song, and his praise in the congregation of saints.
2 Let Israel rejoice in him that made him: let the children of Zion be joyful in their King.
3 Let them praise his name in the dance: let them sing praises unto him with the timbrel and harp.
4 For the Lord taketh pleasure in his people: he will beautify the meek with salvation.
5 Let the saints be joyful in glory: let them sing aloud upon their beds.
6 Let the high praises of God be in their mouth, and a two-edged sword in their hand;
7 To execute vengeance upon the heathen, and punishments upon the people;
8 To bind their kings with chains, and their nobles with fetters of iron;
9 To execute upon them the judgment written: this honour have all his saints. Praise ye the Lord.
We have so many commands in these nine verses.
- Praise! Praise in the congregation (verse 1), praise His name in dance (verse 3), let His praise be in my mouth (verse 6), praise the Lord (verse 9)
- Sing! Sing praises with instruments (verse 3), sing aloud (verse 5)
- Rejoice in Him! Rejoice in our Creator (verse 2)
- Be joyful! Be joyful in God our King (verse 2), be joyful in glory (verse 5)
Verse 6-9 - I don't believe this is a call to war for Christians. I believe it could refer to Old Testament physical battles which were fought and won under God's control. It could also refer to our spiritual battles that we fight in every day. And we certainly must be prepared for those circumstances.
If I had to guess, I'd say that one or two of these commands in these verses come pretty naturally to some of us, and then maybe we struggle with the others. Of course, I have no idea who is reading this and I don't know your circumstances. But I can tell you, for example, I don't ever have to be reminded to sing to God. Singing praises to Him is just part of me that is like a natural reflex. But being joyful? Now sometimes that's a struggle. Let me give you a shining example from my life. Shopping is a very hands-on experience for our 2-year old Hunter. Anytime possible I keep him in a shopping cart, guarded from the temptations that can be found along the walls of whatever store we're in. But sometimes I'm just running in to grab one thing. ONE THING. And it doesn't matter how many times I say, "Okay guys, we're just going in to get a pack of baby wipes, and then we're paying and leaving!" - oh yeah, that goes in one ear and right out the other! Hunter is a "toucher". So he's got to touch everything within reach. It has lights on it? He's going to make them go. It makes a sound? He wants to hear it. It doesn't do anything? Then he's going to pick it up and shake it. He snatches things up faster than I can go behind him and clean them up sometimes! Now imagine that I just needed one thing and I have to be somewhere in ten minutes, and now I'm going to be late because I'm cleaning up after Mr. Hunter... do you think I'm feeling joyful in that moment? I'll go ahead and tell you the answer - NO!
Unfortunately, I lose my joyful attitude more often than not some days. But I'm working on it. Every night I pray with both the kids before bed, and when I pray with Hunter I always, always thank God for his energy and his health. He might drive me nuts during the waking hours but I know how blessed I am that he can run me ragged.
Rejoicing in God is also something that doesn't come that naturally to me, I'm sad to say. I am working on this too, though. I try not to say we are "lucky" if something good happens. I try to direct the kids to thank God for the circumstances because I want them to know He works in all the small things in our lives. But just like most people, there are plenty of times I forget to give God credit for things that happen in my life. I feel like I have just fixed things all by myself and I give myself a nice little pat on the back. Or I think, "Well that's fortunate, how that worked itself out." I'd like to give God more credit for the good things in my life, and I want to spend more time rejoicing in Him.
So what do you need to work on today? I know our pastor the other day was just talking about the oxymoron "miserable Christian". He said there should be no such thing as a miserable Christian. If you are truly saved, you at least have one thing to praise, sing, rejoice about and be joyful for! If nothing else in your life is good, you have eternal life with Jesus Christ! But if we show a sour outlook to those around us, they may feel that Christianity doesn't hold anything new for them. After all, anyone can be miserable, right? A Christian with the assurance of salvation should never fall into that category. We are above that because God has placed us above that. Sometimes we just need a little reminder of that.