Doing God's Will
(1) HALLELUJAH! Sing to Yahweh a new song, his praise in the assembly of the saints! (2) Let Israel rejoice in her maker! Let the sons of Zion exult in their king! (3) Let them praise his name with dancing! Let them make music to him with tambourine and lyre, (4) for Yahweh takes delight in his people. He beautifies the humble with salvation. (5) Let the saints rejoice in glory, and sing for joy on their beds! (6) Let the high praises of God (be) in their mouths and a two-edged sword in their hands, (7) to execute vengeance on the nations and punishment on the peoples, (8) to bind their kings with chains and their nobles with fetters of iron, (9) to execute on them the judgment that is written! This (is) an honor for all his saints. HALLELUJAH!
Several repetitions and synonyms characterize this penultimate psalm. “Praise” (hallel) is used three times (vss. 1, 3, & 9). “Rejoice” occurs twice (vss. 2 & 5) along with the synonymous expressions “exult” (vs. 2) and “sing for joy” (vs. 5). “Saints” is found three times, emphasizing that the psalm is focused on those in covenant relationship with Yahweh (vss. 1, 5, & 9). Note the lovely truth that as we, Yahweh’s chosen ones, rejoice in him, he takes delight in us (vss. 3 & 4). Finally, “to execute” is found twice (vss. 7 & 9).
Along with these repetitions and synonyms, we should take note of a hinge verse, which suggests to us an outline of the psalm based on two human body parts (vs. 6). As the praises of God fill our “mouths” (vss. 1-6a), we carry his two-edged sword in our “hands,” serving as his “executors,” administering Yahweh’s justice among the godless nations on earth (vss. 6b-9).
I. Israel’s rejoicing, offering Yahweh the praise that is due him (1-6a)
II. Israel’s responsibility, serving as instruments of Yahweh’s justice (6b-9)
We honor God by offering him our praises while carrying out his purposes in the world.
We easily speak words such as, “I want to do your will, Lord,” and we enjoy singing hymns with lyrics such as, “Have thine own way, Lord, have thine own way; / Thou art the potter; I am the clay.” Yet, when it comes to actually doing the will of God, we struggle if we find that what he wants of us is not something we had in mind or what seems unpleasant or inconvenient to our schedules.
While believers today are not expected like Israel to take up arms and do battle for Yahweh, he wants us to live our lives in ways that portray his righteousness to those around us. For example, take the situation where a believer meets and falls in love with an unbeliever. Although he knows that God’s will is not for a believer to be “unequally yoked” with an unbeliever (2 Cor. 6:14-18), he still wants to go ahead with the marriage. What does he do? Obey God or follow his own inclinations?
Or take another situation: a believer is hurt deeply by a fellow believer. She knows that according to Matthew 18:15 she has the responsibility to go and confront that person with the offense and seek to restore the relationship. Does she do what God’s word says to do or does she say, “I can’t deal with this right now,” and refuse to go? In each case, the will of God has been clearly spelled out in Scripture. Yet, in such situations doing the will of God proves far more difficult to obey than originally anticipated.
For Israel, it was neither easy nor pleasant to serve as instruments of God’s justice among the pagan nations with two-edged swords in their hands. Offering Yahweh praise was a far easier task than engaging in combat. For Jesus, dying on the cross as our sin bearer in order to provide for our redemption was far more demanding than teaching the multitudes, spending time with his disciples, or healing the sick. For us today, doing the will of God can be painfully difficult, the last thing in the world we might want to do. However, Jesus’ prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane shows us the attitude we should have: “Not my will but yours be done.” Those who truly desire to do the will of God must determine ahead of time that they will do whatever it takes no matter what the cost. Carrying out God’s will, even if it is difficult or distasteful, will always turn out for the best.