Praise ye the LORD. Sing unto the LORD a new song, and his praise in the congregation of saints. 2Let Israel rejoice in him that made him: let the children of Zion be joyful in their King. 3Let them praise his name in the dance: let them sing praises unto him with the timbrel and harp. 4For the LORD taketh pleasure in his people: he will beautify the meek with salvation. 5Let the saints be joyful in glory: let them sing aloud upon their beds. 6Let the high praises of God be in their mouth, and a twoedged sword in their hand; 7To execute vengeance upon the heathen, and punishments upon the people; 8To bind their kings with chains, and their nobles with fetters of iron; 9To execute upon them the judgment written: this honour have all his saints. Praise ye the LORD. (Psalm 149)
The center of this psalm is the line: For the Lord takes pleasure in His people; He will beautify the meek with salvation. This is the central reason for everything that comes before it and everything that follows. Why should the saints sing to the Lord a new song? Why should they rejoice in Him or praise His name in the dance? Because the Lord takes pleasure in His people; He beautifies the humble with salvation. Why should the saints sing aloud on their beds? Why should they execute judgments on the nations? Why should they take up the honor of binding wicked kings with chains? Because God takes pleasure in His people; He beautifies the humble with salvation.
The word translated “saints” throughout this psalm is the word “hasideem” – it’s the noun form of the word “hesed” – a famous Hebrew word that means lovingkindness, mercy, or covenant faithfulness. When the psalms say For His mercy endures forever – it’s that word hesed. It’s a little challenging to figure out how to render this word here. Is it meant in the active or passive sense? Is a hasid man one who has been shown lovingkindness and mercy and covenant faithfulness, or is it a man who shows lovingkindness, mercy, and covenant faithfulness? I want to argue that it’s both active and passive. God’s people are loved and so they love. God has been covenantally faithful to them, and therefore they have become a covenantally loyal people. But this order is really important: The active is built on top of the passive. We love because He loved us first (1 Jn. 4:19). Because we have received love, we know how to love. Because we have received mercy, we are merciful. Because He has been covenantally faithful to us, we can be faithful to Him and to one another. Or, as this psalm puts it, we sing and rejoice and execute judgments because the Lord takes pleasure in His people, because He beautifies the humble with salvation.
One more thing: the word for humble or meek, is used a number of times in the psalms, and it is often translated “poor” and “needy” and “afflicted.” There’s not really any way to make this verse sound like God loves people who are loveable. It’s not saying He rejoices over people who are good or nice. It says He beautifies people who have nothing, who are forgotten, who have been mistreated. In short, He beautifies people who need saving. He beautifies the humble with salvation.
Now, I want to apply this psalm to both of you, Kanaan and Lauren, and then give you a general exhortation for your new family.
First, Kanaan, the Bible explicitly calls you to imitate the love of God by loving your wife the way Jesus has loved the Church. You are to sacrifice your strength for her good. This is how you lay your life down for her. And you do this in order to present her to yourself all glorious, without spot or wrinkle. Paul says that every man instinctively takes care of his own body. No man ever hated his own flesh but nourishes and cherishes it. You naturally seek to improve yourself. Paul says this is how you should view Lauren, as your own flesh, as your own body. All of this is your assignment to lead Lauren and take responsibility for her. Your temptation will either be to be passive or tyrannical, and both are failures to actually lead. While there are real tyrants out there, on the whole, most conscientious Christian men fail to lead by being passive. Since you don’t want to be seen as mean or harsh, Christian men often settle for being nice. But “nice” is not one of the fruits of the Spirit. Of course, “kindness” is one of the fruits of the Spirit, and so is gentleness, but remember Jesus is your standard, not modern sentimentalism. Jesus was kind and gentle, and sometimes He called people names, overturned tables and cracked a whip in the temple, and ultimately, He walked into Hell to crush the head of the Great Dragon for us. Be gentle with Lauren but be hard on sin. You will answer to God for your care of this woman. And you are to do all of this with joy, with the song of salvation in your heart. And as you do this, you are imitating our Lord who rejoices in His people and beautifies the humble with salvation. You are beautifying Lauren.
Lauren, the Bible calls you to receive the love of Kanaan with joy, just as the Church receives the love of God in Christ. And this psalm says that God’s love makes us sing, makes us dance – it makes us bold. As Kanaan imitates the love of Christ and leads you toward Christ, let His love make you joyful and bold. This is what a Christian woman’s obedience to her husband should look like. It isa gentle and quiet spirit, but in another sense, it should make you louder with joy and singing and Christian courage. A submissive Christian wife is not fearful, shy, or mousy. A submissive Christian wife is a godly force to be reckoned with. Our world has far too many knock off versions of this and far too few of the genuine article: genuine feminine submission is joyful and bold. Song of Songs sings: “Who is she that looketh forth as the morning, fair as the moon, clear as the sun, and terrible as an army with banners?” My prayer is that in the coming months and years, the answer is It’s Mrs. Trotter coming. Lauren, the exhortation to you is to let your joy be the byproduct of his love for you. Lean into where he is leading you in godliness. A contentious woman, especially a loud contentious woman, is a real drag. But a glad, submissive wife should be a continual invitation to a feast.
And finally, let me give you both a charge for your new family and life together. Unbelievers should see a Christian husband and wife together and think, huh, I bet their house is a fun place to live. But this should not be because you have settled for an Ikea evangelicalism – a saccharine sentimentalism or a tidy, sterile politeness. No, Christian joy is fierce and glad, militant and happy. This psalm begins and ends in praise, but this praise is no impotent praise. This praise is a two-edged sword and chains and judgments for the wicked. And all of this is based on the “judgment written.” What is the judgment written? It’s the Bible from Genesis to Revelation. And what does it say? It says the wages of sin is death. And all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. And while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. When we were enemies of God, we were reconciled to God through the death of His son. This is why it is a great honor to bind the wicked of the earth with chains. It is a great honor to execute the judgments written, to name sin as sin because our Lord Jesus suffered, bled, and died for sinners. And we glory in His cross that takes away our sin.
The Lord rejoices over His people; He beautifies the humble with salvation. Do not settle for a bland emotionalism that quotes Bible verses. You have not been saved through the bland emotional feelings of God. The Lord laid your particular sins on a particular man named Jesus, and He suffered and bled and died for every single one of them. God executed the judgment written on Jesus, so that He might rejoice over you. This is how He beautifies sinners with salvation. He takes our rags, our shame, our guilt, our failure, and He executes the exact justice demanded by His holiness upon His own beloved and perfect Son, and in return, He clothes us in the righteousness of Jesus.
This is our honor. This is our glory. So let your home be a place full of praise: singing and dancing and musical instruments because you are continually telling the truth about sin and telling the truth about Jesus, about His joy in saving you and making you clean. And so live that gospel out in how you love and lead your wife, Kanaan, and in how you receive that love, Lauren. And teach your children how to sing that song. Teach your children the steps to that dance. Make unbelievers jealous. Make them wish they could sing and dance like that.
In the Name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, Amen.