One of my favorite scenes in the movie 300 is when the three hundred Spartans meet the Arcadians on the way to the Hot Gates. The Arcadian leader melts when he sees that king Leonidas has only brought three hundred soldiers. Leonidas asks several Arcadians what their profession is. He gets answers such as potter, sculptor, and blacksmith. He then turns around and shouts (as he does throughout most of the movie), “Spartans! What is your profession?” They respond thunderously, “Ha-OOH! Ha-OOH! Ha-OOH!” Leonidas then looks at the Arcadian leader and says, “You see, old friend? I brought more soldiers than you did.”
No matter what you’re facing, you’ve got to be prepared.
As I read Psalm 149, I tried not to get swept up in what’s usually said about the final trilogy of Psalms–that they focus on corporate worship. I’m not so sure that’s the point of the last three Psalms. What struck me as I read was what the author says in Psalm 149:6,
Let the high praises of God be in their throats
and two-edged swords in their hands…
Not exactly the image you expect about singing songs in church.
When you look at the context of this verse, the author says we are to praise God wherever we find ourselves, and we’re to be prepared to do His will. In this Psalm, God’s people are to praise him and be prepared for battle with the godless nations around them (yeah, that’s a very difficult concept for a lot of people, and not in the scope of this particular post). The principle we can extract from this Psalm is simple: Christians must offer prepared praise.
Later in the Bible, in Ephesians 6:10-18, the author of Ephesians uses the battle gear of a Roman soldier as a metaphor for how Christians are to live life–prepared for spiritual battles. In my experience in church (which is, well, the entire length of my life), I see so many Christians not prepared (I’ve been there myself, and have to keep my guard up at all times). They come to church, mumble all the songs, stand up at the right times, and even look spiritual. Yet, they’re not prepared for the spiritual battles of life. They’re over-run by materialism, or jealousy, or sexual sin, or untruthfulness–a whole army of sins. They wonder how they got into the mess they’re in. They can sing on Sunday from 11:00 – 12:00, but they aren’t prepared for the other 167 hours of the week.
None of us are perfect. But we can be prepared.