Psalm 98 – Sing a New Song

Sing to the Lord a new song
    because he has done wonderful things!
His own strong hand and his own holy arm
    have won the victory!
The Lord has made his salvation widely known;
    he has revealed his righteousness
    in the eyes of all the nations.
God has remembered his loyal love
    and faithfulness to the house of Israel;
    every corner of the earth has seen our God’s salvation.

Shout triumphantly to the Lord, all the earth!
    Be happy!
    Rejoice out loud!
    Sing your praises!
Sing your praises to the Lord with the lyre—
    with the lyre and the sound of music.
With trumpets and a horn blast,
    shout triumphantly before the Lord, the king!
Let the sea and everything in it roar;
    the world and all its inhabitants too.
Let all the rivers clap their hands;
    let the mountains rejoice out loud altogether before the Lord
    because he is coming to establish justice on the earth!
He will establish justice in the world rightly;
    he will establish justice among all people fairly. (Common English Bible)

Please notice the point of today’s psalm: Sing to the Lord a new song. Yes, a “new” song. This means we have an obligation to bring fresh music to our worship of God. This is a summons to get an original voice. Rather than going down the same ruts in our speaking and living, we are to exercise some creativity.

It seems as if those who want to stick with the “tried and true hymns” of the church have forgotten those hymns are only a few hundred years old in a church which is two-thousand years old. Back in the nineteenth century, a bitter worship battle ensued between those who wanted to sing the new hymns and those who had been singing the psalter for the past few hundred years.

The reason we sing new songs is because God is continually performing wonderful deeds in every generation. God has not only worked in the past; the Lord is doing the miraculous in the present, as well. The psalmist is thinking in cosmic, not provincial, terms. Included in the praising of new songs are a variety of creatures, along with all of creation.

Rivers Will Clap and Mountains Shout by Itamar Raz

We sing because of what God has done in the past, is doing in the present, and will do for the future. Creative and fresh praise that remembers previous divine works, experiences the now of the Spirit, and anticipates the coming of the Lord is the sort of praise called for in the psalm.

Being attentive to God’s mighty deeds helps us breakout into new vistas of living. Considering God’s works through new songs can become so invigorating that everyone and everything on earth is encouraged to join into the imaginative expression of praise.

We are to praise the Lord in this present time because of what God has done in the past, with a continual eye to the future when Christ will come again. If we don’t make the effort to offer praise that is fresh, creative, and thoughtful for our present time, then we ought not be surprised when a watching world gives a shoulder-shrugging “meh” to our tepid singing. And if such vibrant praise seems foreign, then the time is past due for a renewed focus on the works of God because the Lord really has done miraculous things for us.

Let’s jump start your creativity a bit:

  • Do some prayer walking through your neighborhood. See the community through another’s eyes.
  • Write in a journal or collect photos of significant experiences. No one needs to read or see it unless you want them to. Although, it’s a good idea to share with others.
  • Sketch, paint, or sculpt. Make a visual depiction of your joy or experience. It doesn’t matter if it looks like a second grade art project. It’s the process of creating that matters.
  • Participate in a new activity, like taking an online class or developing a different routine.
  • Don’t just do what somebody else did. Reflect on what is important to you. Then, make something to remind you of its value.

You are already a creative artist. You just might not know it, yet. Since you carry within yourself the DNA of a creative God, the Lord’s image and likeness within wants a creative outlet. Open yourself to the possibility of smelling colors, talking to trees, and listening to what animals have to say to you. In doing so, you just might discover that the miraculous has been under your nose all along.

Mighty God, your holy arm of power has done incredible works in history. What’s more, you have done influential works in my life, especially through deliverance from evil and transformation of heart.  For this, and for all your miraculously good work, I praise the gracious and wonderful name of Jesus Christ, my Savior and Lord. Amen.

Psalm 63

            Those that visit this blog with any regularity know that I believe the book of Psalms to be a vast untapped resource of devotion and prayer for many Christians.  In those dark times when we don’t know what to pray, how to lament, or what to say to God; in the joyful times when we want to proclaim praise, give thanks, or express our blessings and longings; in every season of our lives the psalms have something to offer us in our relationship with the God of all creation.
 
            Today’s psalm was originally uttered to God when David was roaming in the wilderness avoiding Saul’s malevolent intent.  David expressed his yearning, desire, and hope in order to connect with God and be led by him, step by step.  David praised God in his circumstance, longing to be satisfied with spiritual food and drink.
 

 

            Just as we are to pray the psalms, speak the psalms out loud, and meditate on the psalms, so we are to also sing the psalms.  The Psalter Hymnal of old, as well as many contemporary praise and worship songs are words from the psalms, meant to help, encourage, and give voice to our own current experiences.  Inspired by the psalms, take a few minutes today to listen to “God You Are My God” by Michael W. Smith, or check out a compilation of music from the psalms, for example, “The Psalms Project”, which aims to get all 150 psalms to music.  Maybe even make up your own tune to today’s psalm and sing it to the Lord.
 
            Whatever we do, let the psalms help form and shape a profound spirituality for us which helps to more deeply connect with the God we long to know more and more.  Soli Deo Gloria!