Praise the Lord. Sing to the Lord a new song, his praise in the assembly of his faithful people.(Psalm 149:1)
A NEW SONG?
When I was a much younger man, my friends and I used to listen to all kinds of new music—from Art Rock to New Wave to Roots. We took great pride in the belief that we weren’t just “going along with the crowd” that listened to the same pop songs everyone else liked. No, we were different, adventurous, thoughtful music connoisseurs…in fact, we were intolerable music snobs! Of course, now as I’ve gotten older, I find myself listening to “classic rock” stations and watching old YouTube videos of concerts from the 1980s! What on earth happened to me?
There’s something appealing about familiar songs—something comforting about being comfortable. After all, it’s reassuring to remember the words and hum along confidently with the tune. That’s true whether we’re cranking up the stereo in our car or lifting our voices in worship together on a Sunday morning.
So why does the Bible tell us so many times to “sing a new song” to the Lord?
Psalm 149 begins that way. In fact, it begins with two commands: “Praise the Lord.” (hallelu-yah in Hebrew) and “Sing to the Lord a new song.” After telling God’s people what they need to do, the song goes on to describe how we should do it, “with dancing, timbrel and harp” (vs. 3), and why, “for the Lord takes delight in his people; he crowns the humble with victory” (vs. 4).
This psalm is one of a group of songs (Psalms 145-150) that the ancient Jewish rabbis referred to as pezukei dezimra, or “verses of singing.” They were to be sung every day at the morning service as a reminder that we should offer our praises to God before we make any requests of God in prayer. Ironically, you see, the song that begins with “Sing a new song,” must have been familiar enough to repeat every morning!
In total, six different psalms encourage us to sing “new songs.” And in the book of Revelation, we see (and hear) the elders and creatures and all the redeemed believers worshiping before the throne of God with a “new song” (Revelation 5:9, 14:3) So, I’ll ask the question again, why does the Bible tell us so many times to “sing a new song” to the Lord?
First of all, a “new song” is required because God continues to show us His awesome love and grace and power every “new day.” It’s not enough to simply remember the amazing things God did for us once upon a time, regardless of how awesome those things were. Instead, we celebrate that God’s mercies are “new every morning” (Lamentations 3:23). The psalmist reminds us that the Lord “takes delight in his people; he crowns the humble with glory,” (vs. 4). That’s present tense—not just something God DID, but something God DOES. He is the God of our past and our future, but he is also the Lord of our present. So, sing a new song!
Second, every song of praise is “new” when it is offered with a grateful heart and sung by “lips that openly profess his name” (Hebrews 13:15). Our songs of praise are new because WE have become new creations in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17), and now we celebrate and worship in new way (1 Corinthians 5:8). New creations continually create new expressions of praise to our God!
So, sing the Lord a new song today—even if it’s one of the oldies. Sing it anew because God’s loving kindness has been renewed again today. Sing it because YOU have been rescued and renewed again today. “Let His faithful people rejoice in this honor, and sing for joy on their beds” (vs. 5). It’s a new day, so sing the Lord a new song today. And always stay thirsty, my friends!