The Question Box

Q. Psa.149.9 “To execute upon them the judgment written: this honour have all his saints”.
Does this refer to some present duty of the Church in the flesh?

A. No. The setting of the Psalm shows that the reference is to the coming Age. This psalm was of course first written for and applied to Israel. Now Israel expected that when the Last Day had come and the Messiah appear in the glory of the Kingdom they, His people, would be called to execute His judgment upon the wicked—which to the average Israelite meant the Gentile nations. Their expectation was right in principle, but their knowledge of the detail of the Divine Plan was deficient. When the Millennial Kingdom is fully set up there will be a heavenly people, the Church, associated with the King for the purposes of judgment, as well as the earthly people, Israel, in the Holy Land, even although that earthly people does also have a share in the privilege of doing God’s work in that Age. It is correct therefore to apply this Psalm to the Church as well as to Israel, but the time of its fulfilment is in the future just the same—in the Millennial Age.

The Psalm itself indicates this. First, the faithful are exhorted to sing unto the Lord a new song, to praise His name in the dance, to sing praises with “the timbrel and harp”. This is a theme of joy and triumph, therefore, not of grief and humiliation. “Let the saints be joyful in glory” says verse 5. It cannot be insisted too much or too often that the saints are not in power or glory now; glory is reserved for the future. “Let them sing aloud upon their beds”. This is an allusion to the time of rest from labour and entrance into eternal habitations. (“They shall rest in their beds”, i.e., in death—see Isa.57.2. See also Psa.132.13-14 where the Lord is said to “rest for ever” in His habitation of Zion.)

Verses 6-9, referring to the two-edged sword, and the executing of vengeance upon the nations, binding their kings with chains and executing upon them the judgment written, refers to the judgment work of the Millennial Age, the work of destroying all evil institutions and things that afflict mankind. It is a work that belongs to the period of the Church in power and that time is not yet. The application of the text to the present leads back to the old erroneous doctrine of the reign of the Church in the present Age, and such an application should be studiously avoided. For the Church is not reigning now.

Bible Study Monthly October 1948

Editorial note: Although this was written in 1948 it is as relevant as ever. Defining the period to which the scripture is writing is vital as well as exactly who comes under judgement at the present time. In so doing it would prevent harsh predictions being applied which do not yet apply.