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How do we reason the use of Psalm 149:5-9's indication that "godly ones" will execute "vengeance" in light of Romans 12:19 & Leviticus 19:18 emphasizing prohibiting vengeance?

Romans 12:19 New American Standard Bible (NASB)

19 Never take your own revenge, beloved, but [a]leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord.

Leviticus 19:18 New American Standard Bible (NASB)

18 You shall not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the sons of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself; I am the Lord.

Psalm 149:5-9 New American Standard Bible 1995

5 Let the godly ones exult in glory; Let them sing for joy on their beds. 6 Let the high praises of God be in their [a]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. [b]Praise [c]the Lord!

How do we reason the use of Psalm 149:5-9's indication that "godly ones" will execute "vengeance" in light of Romans 12:19 & Leviticus 19:18 emphasizing prohibiting vengeance?

Other Similar Related Relevant Question Postings:

A) Understanding Samson's feelings to avenge the Philistines, and understanding the nature of God's justice and fairness

B) In light of Proverbs 24:17 , how would we go about justifying or reasoning Psalm 54:5-7 claim of being satisfied with enemies' destruction?

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It is true that God instructs us not to take vengeance in places like:

  • Rom 12:19 - “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord.
  • Heb 10:30 - For we know him who said, “Vengeance is mine; I will repay.” And again, “The Lord will judge his people.”
  • Deut 32:35 - Vengeance is Mine; I will repay. In due time their foot will slip; for their day of disaster is near, and their doom is coming quickly.”
  • 1 Sam 25:33 - Blessed is your discernment, and blessed are you, because today you kept me from bloodshed and from avenging myself by my own hand.

See also Lev 19:18, 1 Sam 24:12, Jer 51:11, etc. Indeed, Moses was severely rebuked for taking vengeance on an Egyptian, Ex 2:11-15.

The question is, why do we then read:

  • Ps 149:6, 7 - May the high praises of God be in their mouths, and a double-edged sword in their hands, to inflict vengeance on the nations and punishment on the peoples

The answer is actually in the first and last word of the Psalm - "Hallelujah!" = "Praise the LORD". That is, the vengeance inflicted here is at the behest/initiative of God and not the initiative of any human. God uses Israel to inflict such veheance.

The same was true in other places such as:

  • 1 Sam 11:6-8 - Saul leads the people, by the motivation of God, to revenge the enemy
  • 1 Sam 15:1-3 - God instructs Saul to annihilate the Amalekites
  • Despite several opportunities, David never tried to kill his enemy Saul - he left that in God's hands
  • 1 Sam 23 - David saves the city of Keilah but only after inquiring of the LORD.
  • 1 Sam 30 - David recaptures his wives and possessions but only after inquiring of the LORD.

These are examples where God used His own people for vengeance on God's enemies. Humans were never to take such an initiative.

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