Are we SINGING a ‘NEW SONG’ to the LORD? "Oh, sing to the Lord a new song! For He has done marvelous things; His right hand and His holy arm have gained Him the victory. The Lord has made known His salvation; His righteousness He has revealed in the sight of the nations. He has remembered His mercy and His faithfulness to the house of Israel; all the ends of the earth have seen the salvation of our God." (Psalms 98:1-3)
Psalm 98 is categorized as a royal exuberant psalm of joyful praise that begins and ends with the same phrases as that of Psalms 96. In this psalm that portrays the Lord’s kingship, the psalmist first drew attention to God’s deliverance of His people based on His covenant with them that expressed His mercy and faithfulness (v. 3). All the people of God are exhorted to praise God as their Savior (vv. 1–3); thereafter, all the people of the earth are exhorted to praise God as their King (vv. 4–6); and finally, all of nature is exhorted to join in praise of God as the coming Judge (vv. 7–9). This song of victory celebrates God’s merciful restoration of the entire earth! Thus, God’s character is shown in what He does for His people, and it is possible that the psalmist was referring to the restoration of Israel from Babylonian captivity (Ezek. 36:23, 24).
However, it is through the second coming of Jesus Christ that Israel is finally delivered from the oppression of the Gentile nations. It is this anticipation of a glorious deliverance that gives rise to this ‘new song’, which celebrates the victory of Messiah over all His enemies. The book of Revelation gives us a glimpse of this ‘new song’ that is being sung in heaven: “And they sang a new song, saying: ‘You are worthy to take the scroll, and to open its seals; for You were slain, and have redeemed us to God by Your blood out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation, and have made us kings and priests to our God; and we shall reign on the earth.’” (Rev. 5:9-10)
In the entire book of Psalms, about six times the people of God are encouraged to worship God through a ‘new song’ (see Psalms 33:3; 40:3; 96:1; 98:1; 144:9; 149:1). On a practical and literal sense, this exhortation accurately describes the ‘new songs’ that were sung by gifted singers and musical artists, especially during the reigns of David and Solomon. Throughout the history of Israel God had done marvelous things for them, and they celebrated this fact by singing ‘new songs’ for Him in His temple.
What does this imply for us - as God’s people - today? We should encourage those who are inspired to share their rich experiences through wonderful songs of worship as they create new expressions of praises to God. God’s people everywhere should be encouraged to honor Christ by composing music in the forms available and meaningful to their cultures in order to praise God with ‘new songs’. This is how the church today will be able to fulfill the psalmist’s instruction to sing ‘new’ praises to God!
When the psalmist exhorts us to sing a ‘new song’, the word translated for ‘new’ means ‘fresh’ or, ‘new in quality’. Our songs may be actually composed of old words, but our spiritual growth and our new experiences of His deliverance will enable us to sing the old songs with a fresh new meaning, passion and exuberance. This will happen when God allows us to go through trials so that we are geared up to praise Him in a new way for His wonderful deliverance!
Today and hereafter, let us praise the Lord for His glorious redemption from our sins (v. 1), for the marvelous revelation that we have received of His righteousness (v. 2), and for the wonderful remembrance of His mercy that we experience every day (v. 3). Let us sing ‘new songs’ to our Lord always for "He has put a new song in (our) mouth(s)—(even) praise to our God; (so that) many will see it and fear, and will trust in the Lord." (Psalms 40:3)