“Sing a New Song!”
The Doxology is one of the most recognizable and beloved parts of our traditional worship each week! In fact, we sing it every Sunday, by heart! “Praise God from whom all blessings flow, praise Him all creatures here below...” It’s the original praise chorus!
For me, these simple words - only 26 - contain a simple, comforting, truth. God is certainly worthy of our praise... for all of our blessings do, in fact, flow from his hands.
But any song of praise can be a doxology, I suppose! The word Doxology literally means “glory word.” It comes from the Greek words “DOXA,” which means “glory” and “LOGIA,” which means “word.” So a Doxology is any word of praise that gives glory to God!
So, that means, Psalm 98 is a doxology! Its purpose is to praise God. In verse one, the Psalms claims to be singing to God a new song. And in verses 4 through 9 the Psalmist openly calls all the earth to make a joyful noise to the Lord! “Let the sea roar, and all that fills it; the world and those that live in it. Let the floods, the rivers, clap their hands; let the hills sing for joy together.” Psalm 98 is a word of glory; proclaiming the glory of God and praising God for that glory.
But why do you suppose the Psalmist claims to be singing a “new song“ to God? I think most of us would readily admit that singing a new song is hard. When the tune is not familiar, we don’t know the words, it’s not easy! That’s why many people hate new hymns and fuss when the preacher or the music director (or whomever) chooses a new hymn for Sunday worship.
Have you ever tried to write a new song? It’s not easy is it? At least it’s not easy to write a new song that’s good! It amazes me that the Wesley brothers, John and Charles, together wrote over 12,000 “new songs” during their life and ministries… many are in our hymnals today! Hymns like, “O For a Thousand Tongues to Sing," "And Can it Be," "Christ the Lord is Risen Today," "Come Thou Long Expected Jesus," and "Hark! The Herald Angels Sing." These were “New Songs” that have become old standards.
Again, it’s a whole lot easier to just sing an old song, that we all know!
Yet, the Psalmist goes to the trouble of writing a new song. And he also tells us why! He feels God is worthy of a new song because God has won the victory! Because God remembered the loving promises that he made to the children of Israel! God is worthy of being praised because the Almighty is coming to judge the wicked, and to save the righteous!
Of course, we don’t know the historical circumstances that led the Psalmist to write this psalm. Some say it was probably written after a great battle… When God saved Israel from an invading army. Others say it was probably written for the enthronement of a new king. The fact of the matter is… the author doesn’t say… and we’re never told why. But what is certain about this psalm, is the fact God is being praised for saving his people.
And if you think about it for just a moment: that’s the very reason that we’ve gathered in this place today, isn’t it?
We’re here today, when we could’ve been anywhere else, to praise God and to celebrate his saving grace in our life. God’s mighty arm has won salvation for us. When we were helpless in our fallen-ness, God saved us! He became one of us, in Christ, to redeem his people… to save us, delivering us from sin and self!
God is certainly worthy of our praise, because through Jesus Christ… He vindicated us, and he liberated us from hell and death. Christ died, and rose again in victory over the grave. And it was God‘s mighty arm, as the Psalmists says, it was God’s power and might that made it possible.
And that’s not all: because Christ is coming again to finish what he started! Christ is coming to judge the world, which is no threat to you and to me… because we are his children, covenant partners, those who have been redeemed! Thanks be to God, everything evil and everything ungodly will be done away with! Anything that opposes God‘s love will be wiped away. And anything that oppresses God’s children, will no longer cause pain. God’s justice will once and for all time, be firmly established.
The Word of God tells us: “And the wolf will dwell with the lamb... the leopard will lie down with the young goat... the calf and the young lion and the fatted steer together; And a little child will lead them. And the cow and the bear will graze [together], their young will lie down together... the lion shall eat straw like the ox. And the nursing child will [safely] play over the hole of the cobra... the weaned child will put his hand on the viper’s den [and not be hurt]. They will not hurt or destroy in all My holy mountain, For the earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.” (Isaiah 11:6-9)
And... “They will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore.” (Isaiah 2:4)
Sounds utopian, right! Like a fantasy... or a dream! In fact, it sounds impossible from where you and I are standing!
But then, “Nothing is impossible with God!” That’s what God’s Words says, and we claim to believe!
The Prophet Isaiah put it like this: “Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill made low; the rough places will become smooth, the rugged places a plane. And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it, together... for (and this is the really important part) the mouth of the Lord hath spoken.”
Gods ultimate vindication of his people is guaranteed; you can count on it. The contract has been signed, sealed, and delivered. It’s a done deal… How do I know? How can I be so sure; how can I stand before you and say with confidence assurance that God‘s justice will become our reality?
It’s because, “the mouth of the Lord has spoken!” And the Word of the Lord is right, and true… The word of God is faithful! God’s justice and righteousness will one day “roll on like a river… Like a never failing stream!“
And that Good News, that amazingly wonderful news… gives us every reason to sing unto the Lord a new song! God has already won the victory! And if that’s not reason enough to sing… If that’s not reason enough to praise God… Then I don’t know what is.
So let the church… this church… join together with faithful believers from all over the globe, in singing a new song to God. In fact, let the whole of creation sing! Let the seas roar… Let the floods, the rivers, clap their hands!
Today… and every day… we’re called to sing to the Lord a new song. Not with new words, but with a revived spirit and voice that declares God’s glory! For we who were once dead, are now alive in Christ! We were lost, but now we’re found, we’ve been accepted and forgiven!
So may our very lives, every moment of our life in Christ… be a doxology. Every word of our mouth should be a word of praise and glory to God. Every thought and every action should be a new song, because Christ has blessed us with new and abundant life! Life that’s worth living!
Sing unto the Lord a new song! Amen!