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Sing to the Lord a New Song

A new song

Sing to the LORD a new song;

sing to the LORD, all the earth.

Sing to the LORD, praise His name;

proclaim His salvation day after day.

Declare his glory among the nations,

His marvelous deeds among all peoples.

For great is the LORD and most worthy of praise;

He is to be feared above all gods.

(Psalm 96:1-4 NIV)

One of the important things we do in worship is to sing. Singing is worship when our hearts praise the God who made us and redeemed us. But worship is more than singing - it is giving honor to the living God in all things. When we pray in church, we worship. When we give attention to the Scripture and respond to God's Word in faith, we worship. And worship is also bigger than anything we do in a church service.

Whenever we choose to honor Jesus, it is an act of worship. Working at the food pantry so others may eat is an act of worship. Swallowing my pride and apologizing is an act of worship. Forgiving someone who hurt me is an act of worship. But I digress.

Psalm 96 does not have a notation at the beginning, like many of the Psalms, attributing it to King David or the sons of Korah or another specific author. The Psalmist encourages God's people to sing a new song to Him. We are to proclaim His salvation day after day and declare His glory among the nations. Why? Because the LORD is most worthy of praise!

I love worship music of most all kinds. I love hymns that were written in the 1700's like And Can It Be That I Should Gain and When I Survey the Wondrous Cross. I love gospel songs like Victory in Jesus and I'll Fly Away. I love contemporary worship songs like Amazing Grace (My Chains Are Gone) and House of the Lord. While high church, operatic style music is not generally my favorite, I love Handel's Hallelujah Chorus from The Messiah.

Many mornings I wake up with a song going through my mind. Yes, I have been known to sing in the shower. I sing along with songs on KLOVE in my car. And it lifts my heart into God's presence to sing with the Body of Christ in a worship service. That unnamed Psalmist is right on target in encouraging us to Sing to the LORD a new song.

There is a subtle dynamic in that verse that urges us to keep a close relationship with Jesus and keep watching for His mercies that are "new every morning." (Lamentations 3:23 and Great Is Thy Faithfulness) In singing songs that describe the things God has done in history for our redemption and in our own lives, we give glory to Him for His wondrous deeds. But our faith is not a backward-looking faith. It is a faith that sustains us in the here-and-now and that gives us hope for what is coming in the future.

New songs are being written to glorify God every day. Some in English. Some in German or French or Spanish or Swahili. New songs imply God is still working, and we still have something to sing about! And that means living close to Jesus every day sparks new songs in our hearts.

On this New Year's Eve of 2023, I don't just want to look back over the past year and give thanks to God for all the ways He has showed up (and there are many in my life and family and in the brief history of Grace Church). Each year I see an another sentiment on social media: "I'm so glad that year is over. It was brutal. I'm hoping for something better in the new year." Both of these sentiments can be true simultaneously in the life of a believer who has had serious challenges in the past year, and has seen God show up every time!

So here is my take on Psalm 96:1-4. I'm going to sing to the LORD every time I'm in worship with His people in 2024. I'm not going to stand like a stick and not sing. I'm not going to sing half-heartedly. I'm going to sing to the LORD with all my heart! I'm also going to keep learning new songs to sing to Him. Because our Living God is the One who said:

“Forget the former things;

do not dwell on the past.

See, I am doing a new thing!

Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?

I am making a way in the wilderness

and streams in the wasteland."

(Isaiah 43:18-29 NIV)

He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then He said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” (Revelation 21:5 NIV)

I'm not much on making New Year's resolutions. So many times they are made and kept faithfully - for about three weeks. Then it's far too easy to revert back to old, familiar practices. How about a New Year's commitment to sing a new song to the LORD? And to sing it not just in church, but in the shower and in the car. And to sing it not just in song but in service and sacrifice that blesses others.

Let's make Psalm 96:1-2 our theme verses for 2024:

Sing to the LORD a new song;

sing to the LORD, all the earth.

Sing to the LORD, praise His name;

proclaim His salvation day after day.

Keep singing!


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