(Recommended Reading: 2 Chronicles 20 / Scripture references as noted)
Hebrews 4:12 (NIV) says: “For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.”
Psalm 149:1-9 (NIV) says: “Praise the Lord. Sing to the Lord a new song, his praise in the assembly of the saints. Let Israel rejoice in their Maker; let the people of Zion be glad in their King. Let them praise His name with dancing and make music to him with tambourine and harp. For the Lord takes delight in his people; he crowns the humble with salvation. Let the saints rejoice in His honor and sing for joy on their beds. May the praise of God be in their mouths and a double-edged sword in their hands, to inflict vengeance on the nations and punishment on the peoples, to bind their kings with fetters, their nobles with shackles of iron to carry out the sentence written against them. This is the glory of all His saints. Praise the Lord.”
Most Christians are familiar with that verse in Hebrews that tells us that the Word of God is sharper than any double-edged sword. It is living and active. It penetrates and judges. However a less familiar verse to me about the double-edged sword is one referenced in Psalm 149:6. We are told there that praise from the mouths of saints is also a double-edged sword. Those nine short verses of this Psalm tell us 5 times to “praise.” We are also told twice to “rejoice,” twice to “sing” and once to “be glad.” All of this, except for one command to “Praise the Lord” which closes this Psalm are stated before verse 6 even tells us that praise is a double-edged sword.
With this thought in mind, we should look at the hundreds of times in scripture that we are commanded to “Praise Him” in a new light, because that praise will act as a double-edged sword coming from our mouths. Our praises will help us win our battles enabling us to defeat our enemies!
Israel had been saved from her enemies (Psalm 149:4 – salvation) and seemed to have the authority to inflict judgment on the powers that attacked them and their God (Psalm 149:7-9.) I believe their praise brought about action from the armies of heaven to give them power to defeat their enemies.
Showing the importance of praise, there are some wonderful examples in the Bible about the musicians and/or singers leading them into battle, but my favorite story is in 2 Chronicles 20. Jehoshaphat had been warned about a “vast army” coming against him. We are told that he was terrified, begged the Lord for help and called for a nationwide fast. As he prayed he declared the Lord’s glory and strength and reminded Him of how He had protected them in the past. In verse 12 (NLT) he says: “’O our God, won’t you stop them? We are powerless against this mighty army that is about to attack us. We do not know what to do, but we are looking to you for help.’” Then one of the men prophesied these glorious words: “’Listen, all you people of Judah and Jerusalem! Listen, King Jehoshaphat! This is what the Lord says: Do not be afraid! Don’t be discouraged by this mighty army, for the battle is not yours, but God’s. Tomorrow, march out against them. You will find them coming up through the ascent of Ziz at the end of the valley that opens into the wilderness of Jeruel. But you will not even need to fight. Take your positions; then stand still and watch the Lord’s victory.’” (Verses 15-17 NLT) The next morning they marched out to confront their enemies as the Lord had told them to do and Jehoshaphat spoke words of encouragement to them. Then in verses 21-24 (NLT) is my favorite part of this story: “After consulting the people, the king appointed singers to walk ahead of the army, singing to the Lord and praising him for his holy splendor. This is what they sang: ‘Give thanks to the Lord; his faithful love endures forever!’ At the very moment they began to sing and give praise, the Lord caused the armies of Ammon, Moab, and Mount Seir to start fighting among themselves. The armies of Moab and Ammon turned against their allies from Mount Seir and killed every one of them. After they had destroyed the army of Seir, they began attacking each other. So when the army of Judah arrived at the lookout point in the wilderness, all they saw were dead bodies lying on the ground as far as they could see. Not a single one of the enemy had escaped.”
Today, through our own personal salvation, we can and should praise with new joy and enthusiasm to bring the aid of those same heavenly armies against our enemy – Satan. Through sincere, honest and thankful praise, we can defeat him! Because like my pastor – Robert Morris – told us in one of his sermons, “Spiritual warfare is real. But God is in control and God answers prayer.” Praise the Lord!
Karran Martin – September 27, 2018