BE STRONG TO STAND STRONG –
The days of celebration in Jerusalem were coming to an end and the feast was being concluded, so the compilers of the Psalter wanted to give the pilgrims a song to sing that would encourage and strengthen them in their resolve not to let anyone or anything deter them from making God first and foremost in their lives and conduct. So they chose a psalm written by a rejoicing exile that once again was able to stand in the sacred court of a rebuilt Temple after returning from captivity; they wanted pilgrims to have a new song celebrating the God who will carry out His purposes and accomplish His plans. Our Redeemer God did His part, now it was the believer’s turn to do their part.
“Shout, Hallelujah! Compose a new song for the congregation to sing and praise the LORD Eternal; yes, so His children can rejoice over Him as their Creator and King. Let them celebrate Him for who He is with dancing and singing hymns to Him with the tambourine and strings; for the LORD Eternal delights in blessing His people and grants healing to those who are suffering. Let the saints rejoice for this honor; yes, let them praise the Sovereign God with exuberance as they lift up their two-edged swords in their hands. Let them stand against the vengeance of unbelievers and retribution sought by residents of the land; let them bind the hands of the people in power trying to carry out the verdict announced against them. Let every believer should consider this an honor. Shout, Hallelujah!” Psalm 149:1-9
Reflection: In 2005, Michael Higgins, Australian tribunal judge in the State of Victoria, ruled that two evangelical pastors, Rev. Danny Nalliah and Rev. Daniel Scot, apologize to the Muslim community or go to jail for comments they made at a seminar on understanding Islam; that they take out newspaper advertisements to the value of $68,690 which summarized the judge’s decision. They were also made to promise they would never repeat their comments anywhere in Australia or on the internet. The judge ruled that Reverends Scot and Nalliah spoke in ways that he deemed essentially hostile, demeaning, and derogatory to all Muslim people; to their god Allah, and their prophet Mohammad. However, both pastors remained committed to their mission of preaching the truth regardless of how people interpreted what they said, and were willing to go to jail if necessary. Eventually Danny Nalliah successfully defended the case brought against him by the Islamic Council of Victoria and was awarded damages. In this landmark case, along with his colleague Daniel Scot, they were found not to have incited hatred under Victoria’s then-new religious vilification laws, especially since the delegates from the Islamic Council had accepted invitations to be at the seminar. Truly these two servants of the LORD took the psalmist’s words to heart that suffering for the gospel sake is a privilege. After all, it’s not what we say but what God says. This helps us understand the double-edge sword concept. Sometimes the Word of God heals and sometimes it wounds. Often it’s used to unite, and then again it may be the cause of separation. But in the end, it’s the Word of God that will stand even when heaven and earth may pass away. The Word must never be used in anger or to intentionally hurt and maim. But it should be used to cut away the bonds of evil-minds that attempt to bind us, the cords of sinful thinking that try to encumber us. So the next time you find yourself confronted with a skeptic or someone trying to demean you, just point to the Word of God and let it speak for you.