A New Song?
“A New Song?”
Those of us who’ve been in church our whole life know what a Doxology is, don’t we? It’s been part of our life and faith... forever! It’s one of my favorite parts of the worship service. In fact, we sing (what we call) the Doxology every Sunday... and pretty much all of us know the words by heart! Those words, and the tune - the “Old Hundredth” ground us in something that’s bigger and more enduring than we are! As we know it, the Doxology was first used in worship nearly 350 years ago... so it’s been passed down from generation to generation as part of American worship, from before the very beginning of America as an independent nation.
But, the truth is... really, any phrase that’s intended to offer praise and glory to God can be a Doxology. Doxology literally means “glory word” - and the bible is filled with such phrases.
Including Psalm 98 (our lesson for today). It’s a doxology because it’s purpose is to praise God.
In the first verse, the Psalmist calls us to “sing unto the Lord a new song!” And in the verses that follow (4-9) the Psalmist openly urges the earth to make a joyful noise to the Lord. “Let the sea roar, and all that fills it; the world and those that fill it. Let the floods clap their hands; let the hills sing for joy together!” The Psalmist paints a picture of a creation proclaiming God’s glory.
But it also raises a question (at least in my mind). And that question: Why sing a “new song” to God? I mean... for heaven’s sake... singing a new song can be hard. And we don’t like singing songs we don’t know - songs that are unfamiliar - do we?
We had a long time, faithful member (Nancy Alford) who’s not here to defend herself - but she told me once, that when she was younger, if there was more than one unfamiliar hymn listed in the bulletin for worship, she’d go home. And even if we don’t go home... we all kinda cringe when the preacher or song leader chooses a new, unfamiliar hymn, for Sunday worship.
Yet, the Psalmist tells us to do just that! To sing a new song to the Lord!
Of course, the Psalm itself tells us why! God is worthy of a new song! His mighty arm has won the victory... and God has remembered his promises, he’s kept his word, and proven his love for his children. God is deserving of a new song... something beyond the ordinary, rote routine... because He’s God (our Creator, Savior and Helper) and He’s coming to rid his creation of wickedness, and to save the righteous!
Of course, we don’t know the story behind this Psalm. We don’t know it’s exact history, or circumstances. Some say it was written after a great battle, in honor of God saving His People from some enemy. Others say it was written for the enthronement of a new king. The fact is - the author never says - and we don’t know. But what we do know, is the Psalmist is praising God for saving Israel, his people...
And if you think about it: that’s ultimately why we’ve gathered here today!
We’re here (when we could have been anywhere else)... to praise God; and to offer our own Doxology! Our own “glory word!” God has proven faithful, time and again, in keeping his promises, and lavishing his love upon us! He even went so far as to send (as his word reminds us) His one and only Son - to be our Savior - and to literally rescue us from ourselves.
And that Good News - that through Jesus Christ, God has vindicated and liberated his children, is worthy of honor and glory and praise! And it also gives us the hopeful assurance that everything that’s not of God... everything that opposes God’s will and ways... anything that oppresses God’s Children... will be wiped away! Defeated. And God’s justice will be eternally established.
In fact, the Word of God tells us, the day is coming, when... “The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, The leopard shall lie down with the young goat, The calf and the young lion and the fatling together; And a little child shall lead them. The cow and the bear shall graze; Their young ones shall lie down together; And the lion shall eat straw like the ox. The nursing child shall play by the cobra’s hole, And the weaned child shall put his hand in the viper’s den. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all My holy mountain, For the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, As the waters cover the sea.” (Isaiah 11:6-9).
And... “They shall beat their swords into plowshares, And their spears into pruning hooks; Nation shall not lift up sword against nation, Neither shall they learn war anymore. (Isaiah 2:4)
It sounds utopian! Like fantasy... or a dream! It’s sounds impossible!
Yet God’s Word says it’s true... and God’s faithfulness in the past assures us of his faithfulness in the future... while reminding us, that, “Nothing is impossible with God.” (Luke 1:37)
The Prophet Isaiah said it like this: “Every valley shall be raised up, every mountain and hill made low; the rough places will become level, the rugged places a plain. And the glory of the Lord will be revealed... and all mankind will see it, together. And (this is the really important part) for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”
God’s righteousness will be revealed. You can count on it; it’s guaranteed. The contract has already been signed, sealed and delivered. Because... the mouth of the Lord has spoken. And God is always... always... faithful.
So sing unto the Lord a new song! EVEN if our Doxology is 350 years old, when we sing it with faith, believing the promises of God... while praising Him for all He has done... it BECOMES a new song in our hearts!
Which means every day... in fact, every moment of our lives should be a Doxology of praise to God’s glory in Christ! May every word from our mouth... every thought... every action... be a new song, that honors God!
Because God’s love... revealed in Christ... and promised in his Word... has won for us... the victory. And we’ve been blessed with new and abundant life; life that has meaning and purpose... life that’s free, and worth living!
For this is the Word of God, for the People of God. Thanks be to God. Amen.