8th psalm post: sing a new song

Recently Scott asked if I had an thoughts on the biblical phrase “new song”; I didn’t but it intrigued me so I hit click on Logos to highlight all the references: 6 in Psalms, 1 in Isaiah, and 2 in Revelation. So let’s take a look as to what would give rise to the biblical writers calling for a new song to be sung.

4 of the 6 psalm references call for the new song by means of an imperative verb—what has occurred cannot be expressed in an existing chorus or great hymn of the faith. The writer of Psalm 33 composed this hymn to reflect the community’s state. But in spite of a current distress caused by famine or enemies, he was able to imagine life on the other side, when their worship would require new words to reflect God’s miraculous deliverance. Psalms 40 and 144’s laments likewise place the need for a new song’s words in the future, but this time that of history—a previous portending disaster had been resolved beyond belief.

These were not believers who walked but sight, but rather those who not only saw the unseen but also were able to envision the future in the present. Their could lay their eyes on tomorrow and use it to guide their walk today.

Isaiah was one of these. Judah was in Babylonian exile without hope. No one ever returned from such a state. But yet he was able to see beyond the pale: to picture with his words what his God was going to do for his people, to offer them a future in Jerusalem when they were merely living one day at a time in Babylon.

John in his presentation of Jesus’ revelation twice has his participants singing a new song: first those who now realize that Jesus the lamb has the ability to open the book that will initiate the long anticipated end. The second will be a solo sung by the 144,000. Unlike most of the other new songs the words of this one related what these branded, chaste, blameless ones have and continue to undertake for the lamb.

Anyone up for writing a song?


18 Responses to “8th psalm post: sing a new song”

  1. The new song is a novel idea to be sure. I have read over some of those passages without giving it much thought at all. What thoughts did come were those relating to the revelation passages. I figured the song was new because it was a totally new experience that needed a way to be remembered and used in corporate worship. Since song in the form of oral tradition was a common form of cultural transmission, a new song for a a new experience only makes sense.

  2. So you’re telling me these guys just knew the unseen? Or were they able to have a best guess as to what the future would hold because of what was happening in their present day?

    For instance, from what I see day to day, I know that my generation may have limited people skills and will most likely not be able to enjoy the luxury of retirement as my grandparents have. Since I know this, I am much more inclined to develop my communication skills and save for the future today.

    I am living for the future by the way I conduct my self today as influenced by current trends.

    Could these men really see the unknown, or were they just wise and could predict the consequence for actions. Or are those one in the same?

    People in the Psalms go through a lot of trial, yet I do not believe that most of the Psalms would have been written if there was no trial. Trial (disorientation) causes us to ask God where he is and then he is able to show us that he has never left us. This usually comes as a surprise but causes us to grow closer to God and trust what he is doing (reorientation).

    Could it be that “new song,” as a verb, happens in our hearts when we refuse to complain in times of trial and allow for God to show his faithfulness? Therefore, it would not be a hymn or an existing chorus-it may never be repeated again.

    Complaining is for the complacent. When trial comes, allow God to grow you and then, sing a new song.

    • I disagree that complaining is for the complacent. The complacent will just let things happen. The complainers, whether right or wrong, are at least reacting and engaging in the situation. They may be more open to true reorientation than the complacent. My $.02

    • I really like what you had said Ben! I think that to praise God in the midst of a trial with a song is the best new song that could possibly be sung!
      Philippians says, “Do all things without grumbling and complaining,” and 1 Thessalonians says, “In everything give thanks.” So with these passages in mind, how could we not conclude that in every situation (even the disorienting ones) we should have a new song of praise and thanksgiving?!
      Sounds about right to me 🙂

    • I love what you said there, Ben. And I’m feeling what you said about complaining for the complacent. Not so much that complaining as in expressing your frustration and distraught to God is bad, but more that if you just sit there and complain without seeking to grow or learn to trust, that’s bad. Man, you should write a new song. You can actually do that stuff!

    • Bradley Zembower Says:

      I think Benny is on to something. I have seen people that, in my opinion, “should” have every right to complain because they are going through some very very difficult disorientations…but they don’t. As a matter of fact they trust God and remain faithful to Him. These people have more joy than anyone else I have ever known. It’s as if they have a “new song” in their heart.

  3. I think it was Brueggeman who talked about the idea of the “new song” because none of the old words that had always been used expressed enough praise.
    I know for me, every time that God does something amazing in my life the words “Thank you Jesus!” seem less and less adequate. I need a new song!
    If we really make praise the “mode of existence” that it is supposed to be, I think that we will not be able to help but sing new songs everyday. They will just flow forth from the life of praise that we are living. To live is to praise, and to praise is to live!

    • Wow! I agree. Praise for things God has done in my life does not seem adequate for all that he has brought me out of. I have a new insight that the “new song” is to express greater depth of praise. I like that and I need a “new song” in my heart today.

    • Yes, Jac it seams that we use words to often and they’ll lose there meaning. We also use words under mining their meaning (take “love” for example). We use some words so often and they lose the pinnacle of expression they once embodied. It is no surprise then that we sing a new song to praise God.

      • Bradley Zembower Says:

        Chris I agree. I know words are very important to me. Sometimes they are too important. The problem is words can be said so many times that they lose their power or authenticity, especially when I say them over and over…b/c I know it is only a matter of time till my own sinfulness gets in the way of my words. There has to be a deeper way we can express our praise to God than through mere words. What do you think?

  4. The “new song” is not always knowing the future, but even in the present knowing that there is greater hope with God. God brings people beyond the trouble of their today to a hope tomorrow even if circumstances do not themselves change there is hope with God.

  5. I was surprised to read that there are two new songs in the book of Revelation. That is new for me. Also I like to think about how we will have to be given new words to express the Glory of God. Could this be a new language or just new vocabulary?

  6. Matthew Lashway Says:

    I would love to write a new song as the psalmist would have, i think it is a wonderful way of worship. Maybe i will write one and then try to trick my baptist congregation into singing it. We really do need to worship God in new ways, new words, new songs, and new life styles.

  7. It’s cool that God commands us to sing a new song in rejoicing and in worship of Him. Sometimes we only have songs to sing when things are good, but it takes real creativity to find a way to worship God with song when things just plain stink. Each of those new song instances in Scripture come in view of who God is, His holiness, etc. Our inspiration comes from who He is, rather than who we are and what we see.

    • I agree and then I disagree with you Jac. Yes we can sing when things are going well, but a new song comes from troubled times. Just take a look down through history, and every time you find a new song. The songs you hear when you are up are old songs, just rewritten.

  8. A new song, my Lord! When new song come about, that means that another problem has occurred and sometime it is difficult to sing in the time of distress. That’s where prayer is needed

  9. andrewkata Says:

    I would have to say the “new song” isn’t a knowing of the future but that regardless of what happens you choose to have hope in God. And because of that hope we choose to sing a new song to him.

  10. Ryken Ruuspakka Says:

    Perhaps this phrase isn’t so much about a literal new song as it is a call to the community to not be stagnant, static, or too conservative, and conventional. God works in new ways every day in terms of revelation of his nature, but also in new ways in our personal lives. We are ever changing in how we think. God desires to not get stuck in the past and do the same things over and over again, but rather to be dynamic and progressive according to the leading of the Holy Spirit. Then when we see how God is working wonders in ways we never once thought possible in the old way of thinking, and as more is revealed through time, we “sing new songs” in his glory and honor.

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