Worship, Dancing, and Psalm 149

We hit two frequently misused verses in family devotions this morning.  I’ll take a few minutes on one of them today.

Psalm 149:3

Let them praise his name in the dance: let them sing praises unto him with the timbrel and harp.

Everybody Dance!

Some people think this calls for dancing in the church as we worship the Lord.  They say churches that aren’t dancing aren’t obeying Scripture.  It certainly is about worship, and about dancing.  But before I injure myself (and the eyes of anyone watching me) by attempting to dance, perhaps we might look further at this Psalm.

Psalm 149:5

Let the saints be joyful in glory: let them sing aloud upon their beds.

We need to bring beds to church to obey Psalm 149 and worship the way God says!

Psalm 149:6

Let the high praises of God be in their mouth, and a twoedged sword in their hand;

I thought pastors in some countries carried guns to protect people from wild animals or criminals.  But maybe they do it to obey Psalm 149, which says to take weapons to church!  But why keep that gun in his pocket?  This says it should be in his hand.

Psalm 149:7

To execute vengeance upon the heathen, and punishments upon the people;

Church will be — interesting.  If we use swords to execute vengeance at church, there’s going to be a mess.

Psalm 149:8-9

8 To bind their kings with chains, and their nobles with fetters of iron;
9 To execute upon them the judgment written: this honour have all his saints. Praise ye the LORD.

If we use chains at church, kings and nobles won’t attend very often….

If this Psalm is about what we do at church, we’ll need to make some changes!  Beds, weapons, executions, chains, WOW!  Better than the movies! 🙂

You Mean it Isn’t About Church?

Psalms 146-150 are a group (each begins and ends with “Praise ye the Lord”).  They call for worship in all of life, including (not limited to) worship gatherings.  When celebrating (that’s the dancing part), praise the Lord.  When in bed, praise the Lord.  When gathered for worship, praise Him.  Even when fighting God’s enemies, praise Him.  Make all of life a praise to God, an act of worship.  That is the message of these Psalms.

If someone claims that these closing Psalms call for dance in church worship, ask to see his bed, sword, and chains — and ask who will clean up the mess.  Then tell him he’ll need a different passage to make his case.


Tomorrow, I hope to look at the other passage, Proverbs 29:18 and its statement about “no vision.”  At least, that’s my “vision” for tomorrow, unless the Lord changes it.

Follow-up post:  Perishing Without Vision (Proverbs 29:18)

About Jon Gleason

Former Pastor of Free Baptist Church of Glenrothes
This entry was posted in Psalms, Rightly Dividing and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

11 Responses to Worship, Dancing, and Psalm 149

  1. Ruth Gleason says:

    Right on!

  2. alcoramdeo says:

    Proverbs 4:
    18 But the path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day.
    19 The way of the wicked is as darkness: they know not at what they stumble.
    20 My son, attend to my words; incline thine ear unto my sayings.
    21 Let them not depart from thine eyes; keep them in the midst of thine heart.
    22 For they are life unto those that find them, and health to all their flesh.

    Some days, dear Brother Jon, your posts get brillianter 🙂 and brillianter 😀 .
    Thanks be to God…

    • Jon Gleason says:

      Shining more and more, eh? 🙂

      This one virtually wrote itself. All you had to do was look at the rest of the chapter, and say, “What if it really IS talking about how we’re supposed to worship as a church?” And then, it got fun….

  3. Several in our household enjoyed this post. We used to attend a church where dancing was encouraged, among other things. We left after becoming convicted about a few things.

    I appreciate this post because there are times when Scripture should be taken literally, but other times, we need a bit of wisdom to know how to apply what we read.

  4. Jon Gleason says:

    So, I was informed today at church that I got the part about the sword wrong — we SHOULD bring a sword to church. The man who told me this was wielding his Bible — “the sword of the Spirit.”

  5. David says:

    I would agree that building a doctrine or practice on a single verse is wrong. But it’s just as wrong to rule out dancing (as you seem to be doing here) based on a single verse. We need to consider the whole counsel of God. And a comprehensive study of dance in the Bible comes out strongly in favor of dancing for joy (a fruit of the Spirit) and in worship…

    • Jon Gleason says:

      Hello, David. Thank you for the comment.

      Since all Scripture is true, building a doctrine or practice on a single passage can be appropriate. If God said something, we accept it even if He only said it once. But we have to be very careful in such cases, because if we only find it in a single passage there is a good chance we’re misunderstanding or reading our own ideas into it. Usually God does tell us things more than once, if not always in exactly the same words.

      I’ve not ruled out dancing. I’ve said these Psalms are not teaching us to dance when the church meets together. They aren’t talking about meetings of the church at all. They teach us that dancing for joy, going to bed, even going out to battle or carrying out legal processes, are all things that are to be done unto the Lord. Every part of life should be done unto the Lord and be worship to Him.

      My point here was not to debate the broader question of dance, but the abuse of these last five Psalms. The case for mandating dance in corporate church worship is weak anyway, but when someone builds their case on these Psalms, they just need to start over.

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