Sing a New Song
“O sing to the Lord a new song;
for he has done marvelous things.”
– Psalm 96:1
Greetings, fellow disciples of Jesus,
I love music—singing it, making it, and listening to it. I curate playlists for various seasons and moods. As I’m washing dishes or running errands, I listen to old classics and new music, too. In worship, I enjoy singing everything from sixth century hymns to eighteenth century chorales to twenty-first century praise songs. I enjoy the familiarity of old music and the challenge of learning a new tune.
The psalmist encourages us to sing a new song to the Lord. I used to think of this as the psalmist’s way of trying to get us comfortable with the idea of trying something new. Christians can, as you know, can fall into ruts of doing the same old things in the same old way. That’s true for music as well as any number of different aspects of our life together.
Some years ago, however, I learned that the psalmist is advocating for something more than a churchy version of “New Music Tuesday.” The psalmist is making a political statement. In the ancient world—and down to our present day—new songs were composed when a new monarch ascended to the throne or a battle was won. Singing a new song was a way of getting on board with a new regime or celebrating a hard-fought victory.
If this is fitting for the works of men, how much more so for God, our King, who has done marvelous things? Not only is God worthy of new songs which declare the work He has done and continues to do—God Himself draws forth these songs from our hearts. This is what David is declaring when he sings,
“He put a new song in my mouth,
a song of praise to our God”
– Psalm 40:3
While certainly there are some musically gifted individuals (like King David) who compose new music for others to sing, that doesn’t describe many of us. But I don’t think that’s what the psalmist has in mind. I think he’s talking about the song that springs forth from the heart.
Think of the small child making up songs as she plays with her dolls or as he swings at the playground. These young ones aren’t even aware of any audience other than themselves. Such simple songs aren’t commissioned pieces of art, but they’re true to the artist’s heart. Rarely will you hear such passion!
What if the psalmist is inviting us to sing to God like that? What if the psalmist is asking us to sing something true and simple, expressing from the heart our gratitude, our love, our awe of God our Maker, Redeemer, and Friend? No one else need hear your new song. It can be for the Father’s ears alone.
How will your life today be an expression of a new song that proclaims the reign of God over you?
Singing His praises,