Verses 6–9

The Israel of God are here represented triumphing over their enemies, which is both the matter of their praise (let them give to God the glory of those triumphs) and the recompence of their praise; those that are truly thankful to God for their tranquillity shall be blessed with victory. Or it may be taken as a further expression of their praise (Ps. 149:6): let the high praises of God be in their mouth, and then, in a holy zeal for his honour, let them take a two-edged sword in their hand, to fight his battles against the enemies of his kingdom. Now this may be applied, 1. To the many victories which God blessed his people Israel with over the nations of Canaan and other nations that were devoted to destruction. These began in Moses and Joshua, who, when they taught Israel the high praises of the Lord, did withal put a two-edged sword in their hand; David did so too, for, as he was the sweet singer of Israel, so he was the captain of their hosts, and taught the children of Judah the use of the bow (2 Sam. 1:18), taught their hands to war, as God had taught his. Thus he and they went on victoriously, fighting the Lord’s battles, and avenging Israel’s quarrels on those that had oppressed them; then they executed vengeance upon the heathen (the Philistines, Moabites, Ammonites, and others, 2 Sam. 8:1) and punishments upon the people, for all the wrong they had done to God’s people, Ps. 149:7. Their kings and nobles were taken prisoners (Ps. 149:8) and on some of them the judgment written was executed, as by Joshua on the kings of Canaan, by Gideon on the princes of Midian, by Samuel on Agag. The honour of this redounded to all the Israel of God; and to him who put it upon them they return it entirely in their hallelujahs. Jehoshaphat’s army had at the same time the high praises of God in their mouth and a two-edged sword in their hand, for they went forth to war singing the praises of God, and then their sword did execution, 2 Chron. 20:23. Some apply it to the time of the Maccabees, when the Jews sometimes gained great advantages against their oppressors. And if it seem strange that the meek should, notwithstanding that character, be thus severe, and upon kings and nobles too, here is one word that justifies them in it; it is the judgment written. They do not do it from any personal malice and revenge, or any bloody politics that they govern themselves by, but by commission from God, according to his direction, and in obedience to his command; and Saul lost his kingdom for disobeying a command of this nature. Thus the kings of the earth that shall be employed in the destruction of the New-Testament Babylon will but execute the judgment written, Rev. 17:16, 17. But, since now no such special commissions can be produced, this will by no means justify the violence either of subjects against their princes or of princes against their subjects, or both against their neighbours, under pretence of religion; for Christ never intended that his gospel should be propagated by fire and sword or his righteousness wrought by the wrath of man. When the high praises of God are in our mouth with them we should have an olive-branch of peace in our hands. 2. To Christ’s victories by the power of his gospel and grace over spiritual enemies, in which all believers are more than conquerors. The word of God is the two-edged sword (Heb. 4:12), the sword of the Spirit (Eph. 6:17), which it is not enough to have in our armoury, we must have it in our hand also, as our Master had, when he said, It is written. Now, (1.) With this two-edged sword the first preachers of the gospel obtained a glorious victory over the powers of darkness; vengeance was executed upon the gods of the heathen, by the conviction and conversion of those that had been long their worshippers, and by the consternation and confusion of those that would not repent (Rev. 6:15); the strongholds of Satan were cast down (2 Chron. 10:4, 5); great men were made to tremble at the word, as Felix; Satan, the god of this world, was cast out, according to the judgment given against him. This is the honour of all Christians, that their holy religion has been so victorious. (2.) With this two-edged sword believers fight against their own corruptions, and, through the grace of God, subdue and mortify them; the sin that had dominion over them is crucified; self, that once sat king, is bound with chains and brought into subjection to the yoke of Christ; the tempter is foiled and bruised under their feet. This honour have all the saints. (3.) The complete accomplishment of this will be in the judgment of the great day, when the Lord shall come with ten thousands of his saints, to execute judgment upon all, Jude 1:14, 15. Vengeance shall then be executed upon the heathen (Ps. 9:17), and punishments, everlasting punishments, upon the people. Kings and nobles, that cast away the bands and cords of Christ’s government (Ps. 2:3), shall not be able to cast away the chains and fetters of his wrath and justice. Then shall be executed the judgment written, for the secrets of men shall be judged according to the gospel. This honour shall all the saints have, that, as assessors with Christ, they shall judge the world, 1 Cor. 6:2. In the prospect of that let them praise the Lord, and continue Christ’s faithful servants and soldiers to the end of their lives.