The Divine Lamp

The unfolding of thy words gives light; it imparts understanding to the simple…Make thy face shine upon thy servant, and teach me thy statutes

Father Boylan’s Introduction to Psalm 149

Posted by Dim Bulb on August 24, 2013

ISRAEL’S VICTORY OVER THE HEATHENS

THE psalmist summons the people, who are assembled at a thanksgiving festival, to sing a new song of praise and thanks to the Creator and King of Israel. Let the people honour the name of Yahweh with song, and music, and sacred dance (verses 1-3). Thanksgiving and praise are due because the Lord has granted to His worshippers victory and glory. Long had they patiently endured humiliation and suffering, but now at last, the Lord has given them victory over their foes. Therefore let the loyal subjects of Yahweh rejoice; but while they sing their songs of praise and gladness, let them not forget to keep close at hand the sword which Yahweh has graced with victory (4-6). That sword they will need still further to execute vengeance on the heathen, who have so long oppressed the people of God. The kings and nobles who oppose the Kingdom of Yahweh will be overthrown, and their overthrow will be a theme of Israel’s proudest songs.

In this psalm, then, as in so many others, the victories of Israel over its heathen adversaries are regarded either as foreshadowing the triumphs of the Messias over his foes, or as themselves constituting a stage in the actual ushering in of the Messianic Kingdom. In the preceding psalm the heathen princes were invited to join with all creation in a song of thanksgiving for Israel’s exaltation: here, on the other hand, the heathen rulers are depicted as defeated by the sword of Israel’s vengeance. They are no longer invited to join in the general chorus of thanksgiving for Israel’s success, but rather, as defeated and befettered foes they are compelled to serve as mute tokens of the might of Israel’s God.

This psalm is assigned by some recent critics to the Maccabean period, but the arguments advanced for this view are not convincing. A more likely theory assigns the psalm to the period of restoration under Nehemiah.  Cf. Nehemiah 4:10 ff with verse 6 of the psalm; but see also 2 Macc. 15:17.

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One Response to “Father Boylan’s Introduction to Psalm 149”

  1. […] Father Boylan’s Introduction to Psalm 149. […]

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