A devotional of Psalm 149
1 Praise the Lord! Sing to the Lord a new song, his praise in the assembly of the godly!
Music is a powerful medium that God endowed us with. Novelty of any kind strikes fresh cords in our nervous system and causes shockwaves in our brains as neuronal activity gears up. We learn much more deeply when music is involved. So, it’s impactful to hear music; doubly impactful to sing the music yourself; quadrupled impactful to sing in a group, especially with people you love; and exponentially so when the music is new. Yet again, science lines up with scripture in confirmation.
2 Let Israel be glad in his Maker; let the children of Zion rejoice in their King!
Have you reason to be glad today? Many say no. Look at the state of the world. Look at the plight of my marriage or my bank account, my children or my health. Well, I propose to you an evergreen gladness that won’t depend of earthly matters. Rejoice in your king over your status or provisions. We deposit our gladness and joy in corrupt banks and marvel when we are robbed. Practice being glad in your Maker. The return is high and guaranteed.
3 Let them praise his name with dancing, making melody to him with tambourine and lyre!
These commands seem flippant. They are not. Your Maker knows the power of music and its capacity to transform you. Add to that the power of movement. As an occupational therapist, I frequently teach that we actually have six senses, not five. Movement is the sixth sense. Through it we experience and interpret the world.
Wholistic teachers like Montessori believed that movement should always be paired with mental activity for maximum effect. In child development, there is intense motor activity with much mindful engagement. As we get older, we disassociate movement from learning. We are taught to sit still like good boys and girls. We get to go outside for a few minutes every few hours. This grossly robs the nervous system of the capacity for optimal learning. Children aren’t just “messing around” or “just playing” when they move in space. They are collecting vital information on the environment and how they can impact it, and it them. Some researchers call it “disembodiment of experience in relation to knowledge in western culture”. We do humanity a disservice when we cap that.
Research also shows, “that children make intuitively purposeful movement responses to music without encouragement. Building on these findings it is important to investigate the possibility of learning through movement to music, of gaining new knowledge, new representations to further musical learning…”
Yet again, the Lord has a prescription that compounds the experience. Put an instrument in the hand of the singer and dancer. It can be a “simple” instrument such as a shaker or tambourine that doesn’t need much skill. The body knows just what to do with it. It can also be a more sophisticated instrument that requires mastery. Either way, the Lord says to pick one up and move your body. “Let them praise his name with dancing, making melody to him with tambourine and lyre!”
4 For the Lord takes pleasure in his people; he adorns the humble with salvation.
Isn’t it delightful to watch a roomful of children having a good time singing and dancing their hearts out? The Lord experiences similar pleasure in his people. I love how he calls us his people. What a sense of belonging and identity that endows us with. As we humble ourselves like children in his presence, he lifts us up, he delivers us, he gifts us, he restores us.
5 Let the godly exult in glory; let them sing for joy on their beds.
Because you seek after him and are affiliated with him, he calls you godly. Isn’t that priceless? That is your heritage and your identity. For that reason, he sets you apart and calls you saint. The word exult – alaz – means to jump for joy. This is to happen in abundance. Glory – kabod – means abundance, riches, reputation, but mostly it means weighty. It is repeated for emphasis kabod kabod. In other words you are to do some crazy fancy footwork. That’s your baseline. You just bust a move from time to time. A lot.
You are also to sing on your bed. The King James Version says we are to sing aloud on the bed. When he awakes you in the night hours, it is not to count sheep. It is no to lie there fretting and fussing. He has a great idea: sing aloud! Take this back to verse one and start over. Your melody is your weapon. Use it!!
6 Let the high praises of God be in their throats and two-edged swords in their hands,
7 to execute vengeance on the nations and punishments on the peoples,
8 to bind their kings with chains and their nobles with fetters of iron,
9 to execute on them the judgment written! This is honor for all his godly ones.
Praise the Lord!
Ancient Israelites went out to war led by choirs of singers. The importance of music in all spheres of life cannot be understated. I’ll soon be teaching on strongholds. There are invasive and native strongholds. This is one of your strongholds, believer. Music within you is as a war-time bunker loaded with ammunition. It is strategic in its view and position. When the enemy comes in like a flood, may he be met with a musical barrage. It will decimate his troops quick-stat. Whatever your two-edged sword is, soldier, its impact is amplified by high praise.
Your high praise beckons and deploys heavenly hosts to your side for back-up. It binds up enemy kings and battalions with chains and fetters of iron. It renders judgement upon the ungodly. This is your honor beloved, your – hadar. It is your splendor and your majesty, it is your beauty and your excellency. Open the eyes of your heart and ask Holy Spirit to give you a glimpse of this.