A new song

Psalms 40:1-3
1 To the Chief Musician. A Psalm of David.

I waited patiently for the LORD;
And He inclined to me,
And heard my cry.
2 He also brought me up out of a horrible pit,
Out of the miry clay,
And set my feet upon a rock,
And established my steps.
3 He has put a new song in my mouth–
Praise to our God;
Many will see it and fear,
And will trust in the LORD.

We are not a very musical culture anymore. Sure, we LISTEN to a lot of music, but very few people actually sing. In primary schools, the kids begrudgingly sing in the school concerts, and in middle school I have witnessed nearly nonexistent enthusiasm for singing in choirs. By secondary school, our children have lost confidence in their singing abilities. Many believe that if they don’t sound like the latest pop diva or rock star then they just won’t sing at all. By the time we’re adults, the closest most people get to singing in public is mouthing the lyrics to the national anthem at a baseball game.

It would be nice to think that our churches would encourage more singing, but many don’t. In some churches, the primary worship is either done by a pop music band or by a selected choir, and little participation is requested or required from the rest of the congregation. And because we are a less communally musical society, even when the congregation is asked to sing, there are quite a few people who just don’t sing at all.

Psalms 33:1-3
1 Rejoice in the LORD, O you righteous!
For praise from the upright is beautiful.
2 Praise the LORD with the harp;
Make melody to Him with an instrument of ten strings.
3 Sing to Him a new song;
Play skillfully with a shout of joy.

Worship is meant to be joyful, energetic, and heartfelt. It is not meant to be static and lackadaisical.

Psalms 147:1
Praise the LORD!
For it is good to sing praises to our God;
For it is pleasant, and praise is beautiful.

Praise is beautiful! It is pleasant, and our God is worthy of all our praise.

Psalms 149:1
Praise the LORD!
Sing to the LORD a new song,
And His praise in the assembly of saints.

But why sing a new song? What’s wrong with the “old song”? And exactly what IS a “new song”?

The phrase “new song” occurs just nine times in my New King James Bible: six times in Psalms, once in Isaiah, twice in Revelation. In ALL of those occurrences, the “new song” is mentioned in the context of praise to the Lord from the mouths of the redeemed. And look at this last mention:

Revelation 14:1-5
1 Then I looked, and behold, a Lamb standing on Mount Zion, and with Him one hundred and forty-four thousand, having His Father’s name written on their foreheads.
2 And I heard a voice from heaven, like the voice of many waters, and like the voice of loud thunder. And I heard the sound of harpists playing their harps.
3 They sang as it were a new song before the throne, before the four living creatures, and the elders; and no one could learn that song except the hundred and forty-four thousand who were redeemed from the earth.
4 These are the ones who were not defiled with women, for they are virgins. These are the ones who follow the Lamb wherever He goes. These were redeemed from among men, being firstfruits to God and to the Lamb.
5 And in their mouth was found no deceit, for they are without fault before the throne of God.

“In their mouth was found no deceit” as they learned and sang praises before the Lamb of God!

The old song we used to sing was about ourselves, about our triumphs and our deeds. Our old song was about the ways of the world and the love we feel for ungodly things. The old song was about deceit and lust and greed and violence and sadness and personal or communal power.

But the new song is about praising the Lord our God. The new song is full of wonder at His grace and thanksgiving for His mercy. The new song has words we have never said nor sung before–at least, not that we have sung without deceit and doubt. The new song is truth and love and joy and God.

Psalms 118:14
The LORD is my strength and song,
And He has become my salvation.

We praise the Lord with a new song because the old songs just won’t do, because God is not in our old songs. The words that issue from our mouths should be found deep in our hearts, down in that place where the grace of God has taken root. This new song springs up out of the depths of our redemption, a natural fountain of praise and worship for the God of our salvation.

David waited patiently and saw the deliverance of the Lord. David knew himself to have been pulled out of the depths of despair and persecution. David found himself set upon the solid rock of God’s salvation. God’s love then awakened in David a new song, a song that the young king and shepherd had never sung before. David had sung many songs to the Lord, but he had never known the true wonder of God’s salvation until later in his life. And when he did, then he sang a whole new song. And that song was sure to reach the heart of all listeners, because it issued from the love of God.

When I first returned to the church after three decades of rebellion, the first song we sang was “Let Everything That Has Breath Praise the Lord.” As I sang those verses based on the very last verse of Psalms, I thought I knew what was meant by “Praise You every season of the soul.” But three years later, I faced even greater hardship and woe, and so I came to know the Lord’s deliverance even more intimately. At that time, I was drawn from my own miry pit by God through His Word and through the faith and fellowship of my church. And then I sang a new song! Yes, the words were a lot like the old songs I had sung in church, but the new song came from deeper inside me. I sang with renewed faith and strength, and no power of hell could stop my song ever again.

What is your new song? What will you sing in the assembly of saints? What words, what emotion, what praise will issue from your heart to reach the ever-listening ear of God? What song does God bring to your lips?

My late beloved wife often sang a little off key, but what she lacked in musical quality, she made up for with energy and volume. And the song of her life touched many people–and still does! Do not be shy or reluctant. Do not think your song is not worthy of our King. Do not believe anything the world may tell you about the quality of your voice or the discord of your singing. Just sing a song from your own heart, live a life of praise to God, become the singing, living, breathing testimony of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Sing to the One who is worthy, the Son of God. Sing to the God of your salvation. Sing words that you never felt before. Sing tunes that express your thanks and your joy. Sing with others or sing alone. Sing the new song the Lord has put in your heart and in your mouth. Sing!

Father God, O Lord of my salvation, I praise you with all my voice! I cannot play a ten-stringed instrument nor a harp nor a trumpet, but I can sing, Lord God, and I can say to You in front of all people that I love and praise You. Let the song of my life be the Word You give me, and may others hear that song and come to trust in You. Amen.


About Glenn Pettit

I am a deacon at The Well of Iowa, and a father and grandfather. Called to teach and to preach, I write fresh messages about the Bible every now and then.
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