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Bible Commentaries
Psalms 149

Utley's You Can Understand the BibleUtley Commentary

Introduction

Psalms 149:0

STROPHE DIVISIONS OF MODERN TRANSLATIONS

NASBNKJVNRSVTEVNJB
Israel Invoked to Praise the LordNo MT IntroPraise to the God for His Salvation and JudgmentHymn to Accompany a Festival DanceA Hymn of PraiseSongs of Triumph
Psalms 149:1-4Psalms 149:1aPsalms 149:1-9Psalms 149:1aPsalms 149:1a
Psalms 149:1b-c Psalms 149:1-9bPsalms 149:1-3
Psalms 149:2-4
Psalms 149:4-6
Psalms 149:5-9Psalms 149:5-9b
Psalms 149:7-9b
Psalms 149:9c Psalms 149:9c

READING CYCLE THREE (see “Guide to Good Bible Reading”)

FOLLOWING THE ORIGINAL AUTHOR'S INTENT AT PARAGRAPH LEVEL

This is a study guide commentary which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

Read the chapter in one sitting. Identify the subjects (reading cycle #3). Compare your subject divisions with the five translations above. Paragraphing is not inspired, but it is the key to following the original author's intent, which is the heart of interpretation. Every paragraph has one and only one subject.

1. First paragraph

2. Second paragraph

3. Third paragraph

4. Etc.

CONTEXTUAL INSIGHTS

A. This is a Psalm written to commemorate and rejoice over a military victory by Israel over a Gentile foe (cf. Psalms 149:6-9a).

B. Israel is honored as YHWH's special people (Psalms 112:0).

1. the congregation of the godly ones (lit. “the assembly of the faithful”) - BDB 874 construct BDB 339, Psalms 149:1

2. YHWH is their

a. Maker (BDB 793 I, KB 889, Qal participle), Psalms 149:2

b. King (BDB 572 I), Psalms 149:2

3. His people. . .the afflicted ones, Psalms 149:4

4. the godly ones (lit. “the faithful”), Psalms 149:5

5. “His godly ones” (lit. “faithful ones”), Psalms 149:9

Verses 1-4

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Psalms 149:1-4 1Praise the Lord! Sing to the Lord a new song, And His praise in the congregation of the godly ones. 2Let Israel be glad in his Maker; Let the sons of Zion rejoice in their King. 3Let them praise His name with dancing; Let them sing praises to Him with timbrel and lyre. 4For the Lord takes pleasure in His people; He will beautify the afflicted ones with salvation.

Psalms 149:1-4 The strophe starts off with two parallel Piel imperatives.

1. praise

2. sing

These are followed by a series of four imperfects used as jussives.

1. let Israel be glad

2. let Zion rejoice

3. let them praise His name

4. let them sing praises to Him

The psalmist prays that Israel will respond appropriately to their military victory by recognizing it is from YHWH and not themselves.

Psalms 149:1 “a new song” This would represent a cultural way to commemorate an event (compare Exodus 15:1-18, Exodus 15:21; Judges 5:1-13; 1 Samuel 18:6; Psalms 33:3; Psalms 40:3; Psalms 96:1; Psalms 98:1; Isaiah 42:10).

“congregation” This is Qahal (BDB 874), which in the LXX, was translated ekklesia. See Special Topic: Church (ekklesia).

“the godly ones” This is the same word used in Psalms 148:14, which comes from hesed (BDB 339). See note at Psalms 16:10 online.

Psalms 149:2 “Maker” This (BDB 793 I) does not refer to creation but to the call of Abraham and the promise to his descendants, which was fully ratified on Mt. Sinai (cf. Exodus 19-20). It is also alluded to in Psalms 95:6; Psalms 100:3; Isaiah 17:7). YHWH was uniquely their Maker, Savior, and Covenant Deity!

“their King” This theological understanding goes back to 1 Samuel 8:7, cf. Psalms 47:6; Psalms 89:18. The King of God's people was meant to be His earthly representative, His Undershepherd.

“Zion” See Special Topic: Zion.

Psalms 149:3 “dancing” This implies a special worship event celebrating

1. a military victory (cf. Exodus 15:20; Judges 11:34; 1 Samuel 18:6)

2. a worship event (cf. 2 Samuel 6:5; Psalms 150:4)

3. a restoration (cf. Psalms 30:11; in connection with this, “bed” [BDB 1012] may refer to a place sick people lie, cf. Exodus 21:18; Job 33:19)

Psalms 149:4 “the afflicted ones” Although this root (BDB 776) can refer to the poor and needy, it often was used of God's persecuted people.

“salvation” See Special Topic: Salvation (OT).

Verses 5-9

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Psalms 149:5-9 5Let the godly ones exult in glory; Let them sing for joy on their beds. 6Let the high praises of God be in their mouth, And a two-edged sword in their hand, 7To execute vengeance on the nations And punishment on the peoples, 8To bind their kings with chains And their nobles with fetters of iron, 9To execute on them the judgment written; This is an honor for all His godly ones. Praise the Lord!

Psalms 149:5-9 This strophe has three prayer requests using imperfects used in a jussive sense.

1. exult

2. sing for joy

3. an assumed “to be” verb in Psalms 149:6a

This strophe combines a prayer for

1. God's people to rejoice

2. God's enemies to be judged

Psalms 149:5 “the godly ones” This is from the root hesed (BDB 339, see Special Topic: Lovingkindness [hesed]). It is used often and denotes someone faithful to the covenant.

The other term used for faithful followers is from the root kadosh (BDB 872, see SPECIAL TOPIC: HOLY), which denotes one separated for YHWH's service.

These “godly ones” are not sinless but have a faith, obedient, and repentant relationship with YHWH.

“glory” This Hebrew root (BDB 458, see SPECIAL TOPIC: GLORY (DOXA) [kabod]) is difficult to define. It has a wide semantic field. AB (p. 357) thinks it is a title for YHWH, “their Glorious One.”

“sing for joy on their beds” This is a surprising place to “exult. . .sing.” This must be figurative language of a person with a joyful, peaceful heart that sleeps well! This is the opposite of Psalms 6:7.

It is surely possible (Tyndale, OT Commentary Series, vol. 16, Psalm, p. 527) that “couch” refers to reclining at a meal and, therefore, singing and rejoicing at a victory banquet!

Psalms 149:6 The peaceful attitude of Psalms 149:5 is matched with military preparedness. There is peace because YHWH has given His covenant people victory over the surrounding nations (cf. Psalms 149:7-8).

“high praises” This construct (BDB 928, KB 1206 and BDB 42) occurs only here and possibly Psalms 66:17.

“sword in their hand” This phrase could refer to

1. literary imagery of a past victory

2. a symbolic dance by priests

3. preparation for a coming battle

Psalms 149:7 Some see this verse in an eschatological setting but it could fit any victory in Israel's history over the surrounding nations of the ANE.

“vengeance” For a good brief discussion of this theological concept in the OT, see NIDOTTE, vol. 4, pp. 1140-1149. If YHWH does not bring justice in this life, there must be an afterlife.

Psalms 149:9a “the judgment written” This must refer to

1. “Holy War” promises, as in the Exodus and Conquest

2. results of the “cursing and blessing” promises of Leviticus 26:0 and Deuteronomy 27-30

3. an allusion to the Prophetic sections on the judgment of the nations (i.e., Jeremiah 46-51)

4. a good example of this kind of “peace promise” is Ezekiel 28:26; Ezekiel 34:25-28; Ezekiel 38:8

Psalms 149:9b The victory brought by YHWH will bring honor to the covenant people (cf. Psalm 1121).

Psalms 149:9c Psalms 146-150 all begin and end with “Hallelujah,” a Piel imperative of “praise,” or an abbreviation of YHWH.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

This is a study guide commentary which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk n the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

These discussion questions are provided to help you think through the major issues of this section of the book. They are meant to be thought provoking, not definitive.

1. On what occasions were “a new song” sung?

2. Does Psalms 149:2a refer to Genesis 1:0 or Genesis 12:0?

3. Is the Psalm about a past military victory or a future one?

4. Does the Bible as a whole emphasize the judgment of the nations or the inclusion of the nations?

5. Who are the godly ones in Psalms 149:1, Psalms 149:5, Psalms 149:9?

Bibliographical Information
Utley. Dr. Robert. "Commentary on Psalms 149". "Utley's You Can Understand the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ubc/psalms-149.html. 2021.
 
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