THE DOUBLE-EDGED SWORD
A SERMON ORIGINALLY DELIVERED AT
THE HIGH HILL UNITED METHODIST CHURCH
THE FEDERATED CHURCH OF ATHENS
1 NOVEMBER 1992
By Frank L, Hoffman, Pastor
When we think of a double-edged sword, we usually picture an instrument of war that was used to kill and wound many people.
And we know that throughout the Bible we hear of the many times that the sword was used in battle, and of the many people killed by it.
But on the other hand, we also have a spiritual war to fight and win, and physical swords or other instruments of war won't help us; in fact, they can actually make the situation worse.
And then we compound the problem, because many people also glorify war.
Psalm 149 is a Psalm of praise and winning the battle with a sword. Let's take a closer look at the true meaning of those words, and how we are to apply them to our lives today.
1. Praise the Lord!
Sing to the Lord a new song,
And His praise in the congregation of the godly ones.
We are to praise the Lord at all times, but here the psalmist indicated that it is to be an open, spoken, joyful praise; and he limits its location to the congregation of the godly ones.
Why does he do this?
He does it because other people won't understand, and will scoff at our praise, or mock the Lord.
Remember what Jesus tells us in Matthew 7:6.
6. "Do not give what is holy to dogs, and do not throw your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces.
The Lord wasn't talking about animals, but about people – those who defile the word of God and the praise and worship offered up to Him.
So with this in mind, let's return to Psalm 149:2 and listen to the rest of the pearl of praise:
2. Let Israel be glad in his Maker;
Let the sons of Zion rejoice in their King.
Israel, and the church today, is being encouraged to remember what the Lord has given us and to rejoice in it.
We are encouraged to let our praise flow in pure godly emotion; not a forced praise that comes from our pride, but a praise of pure joy that just naturally flows up from the innermost parts of our being.
3. Let them praise His name with dancing;
Let them sing praises to Him with timbrel and lyre.
4. For the Lord takes pleasure in His people;
He will beautify the afflicted ones with salvation.
Here we come to where the spiritual warfare and the true worship of God come together.
God will save His godly ones from the affliction of the ungodly.
Now, we know that life or death does not take us to either heaven or hell; only our relationship with God determines that.
It is only through death that we pass into eternal life or eternal death.
So whether we are afflicted or un-afflicted in this life has nothing to do with our eternal life with God.
In fact, we might say that if the godly are killed by the ungodly, it is better; for then they get to heaven sooner.
And if God allows it, then that may be His desire.
As for our part, we are not to try to send the ungodly to hell before their time, either.
So we must remember what sword we are to pick up, as Paul did when he wrote Philippians 1:21.
21. For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain.
Do we look at our life in this manner?
If we don't, we should; for it would give us all a lot of peace.
Returning to Psalm 149 –
5. Let the godly ones exult in glory;
Let them sing for joy on their beds.
Could the psalmist mean that we are to exult in the glory to come, even when we are upon our deathbed?
If this is so, then we are to do the same now, while we are yet alive and well and un-afflicted.
Here is where the psalmist brings in the judgment of the sword.
Let's see what sword he is really referring to:
6. Let the high praises of God be in their mouth,
And a two-edged sword in their hand,
7. To execute vengeance on the nations,
And punishment on the peoples;
8. To bind their kings with chains,
And their nobles with fetters of iron;
9. To execute on them the judgment written;
This is an honor for all His godly ones.
Praise the Lord!
If we have killed with the sword or a gun or a bomb, it does no good to bind the corpse with chains or fetters.
So the double-edged sword must be spiritual.
Note what we are told in Hebrews 4:12-13.
12. For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.
13. And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are open and laid bare to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do.
Now before we go back to our Psalm, and the discerning of which type of sword is being used, let's look at Ephesians 6:17.
17. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
The sword of the Spirit is the word of God.
And it is only the word of God that is able to separate the soul and spirit; a physical sword can't do that. It can only separate the body from the soul and spirit.
It is the spiritual sword that leaves the body alive to be able to be bound – not with fetters of metal, but with the conviction of their evil ways.
Jesus put all this in proper perspective, as recorded in Luke 6:35-36.
35. "But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High; for He Himself is kind to ungrateful and evil men.
36. "Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.
There is no place left for love and mercy, after a physical sword has done its work.
But a spiritual double-edged sword strikes only with love and mercy; for though it may feel like a wound when it pierces, it brings healing and life for those who are willing to receive it.
So, arm yourselves with the word of God; not a large Bible which can be used to hit someone over the head, but with the word of God that has been eaten and digested by you, and made a part of you.
Let’s arm ourselves within with the Word of God, so that we just naturally do as God does.
For our part, we are to do what we know God wants us to do; and that alone can convict the most evil person.
It is amazing how often I see or hear of someone's evil intent being turned back on them, when they try to hurt someone who is doing their best to serve the Lord.
So let us each examine ourselves, and so let us choose which sword we will live by.
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