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Sunday, January 17, 2021

“A New Song” Psalm 96 [Matt's Messages]

“A New Song”
Lanse Evangelical Free Church
January 17, 2021 :: Psalm 96

“Sing to the LORD a new song!”

Those are the opening words of Psalm 96.

“Sing to the LORD a new song!”

The psalmist (we don’t know who exactly it was though 1 Chronicles 16 tells us that these exact words were sung when King David brought the ark into Jerusalem so it might have been David or somebody who was writing psalms before David, the psalmist) summons his listeners to sing.

To sing to the LORD. Capital L-O-R-D which stands for Yahweh, the covenant God of Israel.

To sing to the LORD a. new. song.

What’s so new about this “new song?”

I’m glad you asked.

It’s new because it’s fresh. It doesn’t mean that you have to compose a completely different set of music and lyrics about the LORD–though that is a really good way to do it. I’m glad that there are brand new songs being written all of the time like the one we started singing together this weekend, “Yet Not I But Through Christ In Me.”

But there are lots of ways of singing a new song. Of being creative. Of being innovative. Of putting your praise in new, fresh ways.

Fresh words. Fresh tempos. New keys. New registers. New instruments.

Even more importantly, new intentions. Meaning it again in a new way. A deeper way. It could be the same exact words but now they truly mean something to you in a newly real way.

“Sing to the LORD a new song!”

I asked Heather Joy what that meant to her, and she said that we sing a new song that because God is infinitely worthy of our worship there is always something new in Him worth celebrating.

And we can always discover something new in Him worth celebrating.

This phrase, “A new song” comes up several times in the Bible especially here in the Psalms but also in the book of Revelation. And it’s almost always used when there has been some kind of a victory won which needs celebrating in a new way.

The LORD has won a new victory. Sing a new song!
There is new state of affairs in the world. Sing a new song!
The LORD has rescued His people. Sing. a. new. song!

Now, this does not mean that we should not also sing old songs. Of course we should. This Psalm 96 is an old song! And we should be singing it. 

2020 was a year to go back and sing the old songs we all remember. To cling to old truths, but in a new day and in a new way.

What we should not do is sing stale songs and pale songs and anemic songs.

The LORD is infinitely worthy of our fresh worship.

“Sing to the LORD a new song!”

Not just with your mouth, but with your heart, and with your life.


Listen as I read verses 1 through 3, and listen for the building repetition.

This Psalm is a lot like Psalm 93 that we studied back in September.

It has these repetitions to make you feel what it is trying to get across.

It’s exciting, and it builds to a crescendo. You can feel the enthusiasm grow, and grow, and grow.

It starts with a triplet of commands to sing. “Sing, sing, sing.” Verse 1.

“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.”

You hear it?

Sing, sing, sing.
Proclaim! Declare!

And do you see how global it is?

This isn’t just a song for Israel. This is a song for the whole wide world.

“sing to the LORD, all the earth.”

This isn’t just for one nationality. This is for all of the nations, all of the people groups.

This is really a missions psalm. Telling us to tell the world how glorious our God is and what He has done in rescuing His people.

“Proclaim His salvation day after day.”

Now, for the Israelites that was their rescue from Egypt and all of the marvelous things God did for them afterwards.

But for you and me it’s not just that, it’s Jesus Christ and His life, and His miracles, and His teaching, and His death, and His resurrection, and His ascension, and His pouring out of His Spirit.

“Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous deeds among all peoples.”

Sing a new song!

Do you sing?

Do you sing to the LORD in worship?
Do you sing to the LORD here at church?
Do you sing to the LORD on your own?

When you’re alone with Him?

If not, why not?

Let me say this: If you never sing to the LORD, you are being disobedient.

This is the Bible, and it says to you to sing.

You don’t have to sing like me. Loud and off key and often losing my place and forgetting the words.

You don’t have to sing loud enough for others to hear most of the time–though the New Testament does call us to “Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs” (Eph 5:19).

But if you never worship in song at least in your heart if you have had your voicebox surgically removed then I believe you’re being disobedient to God.

Don’t you think the LORD is worthy of your singing?

Now, don’t think for a second that you can sing worthy of the LORD.

Nobody can.

No human could but Jesus.

Don’t think for a second that you can sing perfectly worthy of the LORD.

But don’t you think the LORD is worthy of your feeble attempt at singing?

When we sing, when we truly sing a new song, something happens inside of us. The Lord gets the glory due Him, but it’s good for us, too.

It reorients our hearts to what is true, and beautiful, and good, and right, and excellent, and praiseworthy.

And He is infinitely worth it.

I see three main reasons in Psalm 96 WHY the LORD is worthy of our singing new songs to Him.

Here’s the first one. Sing to the LORD a new song because:

#1. HE IS THE GREAT CREATOR. Verse 4.

“For great is the LORD and most worthy of praise; he is to be feared above all gods. For all the gods of the nations are idols, but the LORD made the heavens.”

The songwriter sets up a contrast here between the gods of the nations and Yahweh, the LORD.

He says that the LORD is great and is most worthy of praise, but these other “gods” (small “g”) are not worthy of praise.

The LORD should be feared–which is an reverent, awe-filled, humble worship–“above all gods.”

Because they are just “idols.” And the word for “idol” here is not the generic word for “idol.” It actually means “worthless things.”
But it’s a play on words. It sounds like the word for God which is “Elohim,” but it’s actually the word “elilim” which means “worthless, useless, empty” idols. The ESV Study Bible says that this would be close to saying in English, “These mighty beings are mighty useless!” (ESV Study Bible notes on Psalm 96:4-5).

How do you get an idol? Where do they come from?

You make it, right? Idols are man-made gods. You have to make them.

But (v.5) says, “the LORD made the heavens.” The heavens!

He is the Maker! He is the great creator. Sing a new song to Him!

I’ve been getting up really early and going for a 4 mile walk before breakfast, and it’s just beautiful when it’s still dark. Especially after a fresh snow like we got on Saturday.

The stars shining. The moon was so big a few weeks ago! And I got to see the moon set. The moonfall. 
The other day I saw a coyote run through Lanse at top speed.

Everything we see was made by the LORD.

He is the great Creator. 

Why would we make our own gods?

In verse 6, the psalmist begins another crescendo of calls to praise. And in verse 7 there is another triplet, this time with the word “ascribe” which means to attribute something to someone else. And that’s exactly what he’s doing. Verse 6.

“Splendor and majesty are before him; strength and glory are in his sanctuary. Ascribe to the LORD, O families of nations, ascribe to the LORD glory and strength. Ascribe to the LORD the glory due his name; bring an offering and come into his courts. Worship the LORD in the splendor of his holiness; tremble before him, all the earth.”

Wow! If you don’t feel something there, there’s something wrong with you.

The songwriter wants us to recognize how majestic Yahweh is and to tell everyone about it.

He’s calling everyone everywhere, the families of nations, to recognize and attribute the proper glory to this ultimate Being.

To worship Him with a sacrifice (from the heart, like we saw last week). 

To worship Him in the splendor of His holiness.

Which means “in the splendid presence of the Holy One” (ESV Study Bible notes).

It means “in the full reality of His holy nature!” (Motyer).

We will never do that to the degree that He is worthy of.

But that’s not reason not to try.

Sing to the LORD a new song.

“Tremble before him, all the earth.”

Why?  Because:

#2. HE IS THE UNSHAKABLE KING. Verse 10.

“Say among the nations, ‘The LORD reigns.’ The world is firmly established, it cannot be moved; he will judge the peoples with equity.”

Remember that was the message of Psalm 93? That picture of His unshakeable throne?

Psalm 93 began, “The LORD reigns, he is robed in majesty; the LORD is robed in majesty and is armed with strength. The world is firmly established; it cannot be moved. Your throne was established long ago; you are from all eternity” (vv.1-2).

Psalm 96 says, “Yep. Nothing’s changed. The LORD reigns. Yahweh is King.”

“The LORD Reigns. Tell the nations.”

I don’t know about you, but I need to hear that.

I’ve been pretty depressed this week. I have had so many strong feelings trying to process what’s going on in our country. I’ve been tempted to anxious thoughts, to fear, to anger, and outrage and even despair. I have even found myself this week sobbing more than once. I’ll just be honest with you.

I’m guessing that some (many?) of you are feeling similar things.

So, I need verse 10. “The LORD reigns.”

I need to be reminded, “The LORD reigns.”

His throne does not budge.

The answer for anxious thoughts, fear, anger, outrage, and despair is worship. True worship.

Sing a new song because the LORD reigns. He is the unshakable King. The immovable Ruler. And nothing will stop His kingdom from coming.

The words I’ve said to myself over and over again this week are, “Raise Your Gaze.”

“Raise Your Gaze.” Look up and see Who is actually reigning over this world.

“Raise Your Gaze.” “The world is firmly established, it cannot be moved...”

It feels sometimes like the world is coming apart, but it won’t come apart unless and until the LORD tells it to come apart.

We can’t move the world because we can’t move the throne.

The LORD reigns.

And that is good, good news.

The psalmist finishes that thought about the firm establishment of the LORD’s kingdom by saying, “he will judge the people with equity.”

That means that justice is the firm foundation of His throne.

He is not just the King. He is the Just King.

Which is the third and last big reason that Psalm 96 gives us to sing a new song. BECAUSE:

#3. HE IS THE RIGHTEOUS JUDGE.

In verse 11, all heaven breaks loose! And all of the earth breaks loose, too, in joyful praise. Verse 11.

“Let the heavens rejoice, let the earth be glad; let the sea resound, and all that is in it; let the fields be jubilant, and everything in them. Then all the trees of the forest will sing for joy; they will sing before the LORD, for he comes, he comes to judge the earth. He will judge the world in righteousness and the peoples in his truth.”

It’s lot like Psalm 98, isn’t it? The one that we focused on during Advent and Christmas Eve, the one that inspired Isaac Watts write “Joy to the World.”

“Fields and floods, rocks, hills and plains repeat the sounding joy. Repeat the sounding joy!”

All of creation gets into the act.
Everything worships.
Everything sings. Even the trees sing!

I don’t know if that’s literal. It’s probably just poetic language, personification.

But what if it is literal? What if the trees someday actually sing?!

What if they already are, we just can’t recognize the tune?!

This is in the future tense. The psalmist says that this will happen when the LORD comes.

This is eschatology. This is talking about the return of Christ. It’s talking about the kingdom.

It doesn’t say when. We should be used to that by now. Jesus wouldn’t tell us when. We can’t expect the Psalm to.

But it does say that’s it’s going to happen, and it will be glorious!

And why does all of heaven and nature sing? (V.13 again)

“[T]hey will sing before the LORD, for he comes, he comes to judge the earth. He will judge the world in righteousness and the peoples in his truth.”

At first that sounds scary.

And if you are outside of Jesus Christ, it should scare you. Come in to Christ. Come in and put your trust in Jesus and what He did for you on the Cross.

But for all of us who are in Christ, this is very very very good news.

Because it means that Jesus is going to set everything right again.

That’s what judging the world in righteousness means.

It means that everything is going to be made right.

Hear me. Listen to me:

It’s not just that everything is going to be okay. Everything is going to be okay.

But it’s more that.

It means that everything, everything is going to be right.

Three points of application:

Because the LORD is the Great Creator, the Unshakeable King, and the Righteous Judge, sing a new song.

#1. Sing it to the LORD. 

He deserves it. Worship in the splendor of His holiness. If you don’t, you’re disobedient.

#2. Sing it to the nations.

Tell the world that Yahweh reigns. Go out in missions and do evangelism.

Tell the nations that the LORD reigns.

#3. Sing it to your own heart.

Remind yourself anew, afresh, every day, that the LORD reigns, and the Lord is coming to make all things right.

You know that button on your computer that looks like a circle with an arrow on it for reloading a webpage?

Sometimes it’s called the “refresh” button.

“Refresh, refresh, refresh.”

Do that to your soul by singing to the LORD a fresh new song.


***

Fortifying Truth - Psalms - Fall 2020 / Winter 2021

01. Majestic and Mindful - Psalm 8
02. All Our Days - Psalm 90
03. "The LORD on High Is Mighty!" - Psalm 93
04. "The LORD Is My Shepherd" - Psalm 23
05. "Praise the LORD, O My Soul!" - Psalm 103
06. "The Blessing of Aaron's Oily Beard" - Psalm 133
07. "A Dying Thirst for the Living God" - Psalm 42
08. "Our Fortress" - Psalm 46
09. Unrestless - Psalm 131
10. "Sun and Shield" - Psalm 84
11. "With Songs of Joy" - Psalm 126
12. "His Love Endures Forever" - Psalm 136
13. "How Many Are Your Works, O LORD!" - Psalm 104
14. "My Soul Waits for the Lord" - Psalm 130
15. "Remember David" - Psalm 132
16. "My Son" - Psalm 2
17. "Search Me" - Psalm 139
18. "Cleanse Me" - Psalm 51

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