I have been reading and meditating in the Book of Psalms for awhile now. Now I’m sure you are familiar with several; maybe even committed The 23rd Psalm to memory. But I haven’t heard from the pulpit with much in-depth teaching. I’ve wondered why not? Maybe it’s because of the dynamic nature–they’ve got all the ups and downs of life–the nitty-gritty. But then, I’m just guessing.
My wife’s most favorite book in our library is The Singer Trilogy by Calvin Miller–the mystic retelling of the Story of the New Testament. Let me quote exerts from Chapter 1, page 14:
“You, too, are higher than the earth! You sang the higher music once, before the oceans ever crashed their craggy coasts…Earthmaker, tell me if I have the right to sing…” But then his final word trailed off into the gales. The gull screamed, “No,” he thought, “only Earthmaker is everlasting. His alone must be the theme from which sprung the world I stand upon.” And so he only loved but never sang the song.”
“And the song which dogged his aching steps and begged him pleadingly to sing it was completely unfamiliar. Only stars and mountains knew it. But they were old. And man was new, and chained to simple, useless rhymes; thus he could not understand the majesty…But daily now it played upon his heart and swept his soul, until joy exploded his awareness–crying near the edge of sanity, “Sing…sing…SING!”
A Psalm Sung In 4-Part Harmony.
OUR WORSHIP SONGS–
Sometimes, and I mean sometimes, our worship songs seem a bit to homogenized–nicefied.
The Psalms Are the Hebrew Hymnal
The words are so raw–dynamic–life & death–the kind of thing we need to hear more of in these turbulent times. There is so much CHANGE in the air–so much uncertainty. And in the midst…in the valleys, the Psalmist begins to lead our PRAISES.
Psalm 96–Teaches Us A NEW SONG!
VERSE I: “O SING to the Lord a new song; sing to the Lord, ALL THE EARTH!”
I think as we grow older (I’m 72 yrs. old), some of us don’t really like anything new–let alone MUSIC. What happened to The Eagles, the Bee Gees, The Imperials, The Florida Boys…I could really dig that kind of music. I knew the tune, the lyrics, the applications to my state-of-being…those were the good old days.
But have you listened to the new stuff on the radio lately? Even on the local station PRAISE 106.5, I have to turn a deaf ear at times. A NEW SONG! Blah h… The new music of the day brings out the curmudgeon in me–the bellyacher–the whiner! I begin to nitpick, and my wife will whisper in my ear, “You’re ruining my praise.” It sometimes amazes me how the Holy Spirit can use our spouses to get His point across.
We’re really not different today from the Hebrews of old…
The Hebrews were set in their ways and patterns of life that made things a whole lot easier; they didn’t have to sing a NEW SONG–to change. It’s easy being in a spiritual rut. So, to all of us nostalgic people…it’s “time to sing a new song.”
“Okay, okay…if I’ve got to learn a new song–at least you should give us the music!”
And that’s exactly what Psalm 96 is about–teaching people to sing a NEW and different SONG.
A Psalm Sung in 4-Part Harmony:
My life has been involved with MUSIC since I was 4 years old. I’ve sung in school choirs, church choirs, and a men’s gospel trio in Southern California from 1976 to 1980. And my enjoyment in singing has been the HARMONY that the music has provided. So much so, that I tend to forget the MELODY line–once a First Tenor, always a First Tenor! In saying, I still need to be attentive to the melody line, or I’ll get lost!
As Christians, We ALL Have a part to sing…
When you start looking closely at the words, meditating on the Psalm, you realize that it’s full of four-part harmony–four parts, all of which we’re singing–at once. But as Calvin Miller would say, “the Earthmaker is always singing the melody line–we join in harmony.”
The New Song Becomes Global…
It is a SONG you can’t miss, and as I discovered, maybe this is the MELODY.
Vs. 1: “…sing to the Lord all the earth!”
Vs. 3: “Declare His glory among the nations.”
Vs. 7: “O you families of the peoples…”
Vs. 9: “…tremble before and reverently fear Him, all the earth. (10) Say among the nations that the Lord reigns.”
This IS World Music–
The OLD SONG is insulated; operates on the assumption that it all revolves around me and my issues. A lot of “I” in the old song.
The NEW SONG becomes Global; it isn’t one that can or should be confined to church walls, or a single group of people. It should challenge us and look beyond our own needs–our families–our own church–our own people–our own country. It challenges us to look out and see the Big Picture, the world.
“I’d like to teach the world to sing in harmony…”
Do you have any friends or connections (real connections) with people outside of your circle?
The First Part to learn in harmony: Acts 1:8 describes the NEW SONG as a GLOBAL SONG.
Most of us probably know the tune, but do we hear the harmony?
“But you shall receive power (ability, efficiency, and might!) when the Holy spirit has come upon you, and you shall be My witnesses in Jerusalem and all Judea and Samaria and to the ends (the very bounds) of the earth.”
Secondly, the Song to Learn is About the Wonder of it All!
I used to love to hear a song sung at almost every Billy Graham Crusade I ever attended. It was written and sung by the late George Beverly Shea: The Wonder Of It All!
Psalm 96:2 — “Sing to the Lord, bless (affectionately praise) His name; show forth His salvation from day to day.”
Psalm 96:6 — “Honor and majesty are before Him; strength and beauty are in His sanctuary.”
The NEW SONG is a WORSHIP SONG:
The New Song refocuses our lives so that they are responding to…WHO GOD IS! – “awesome”–and what He does!
“His SALVATION is day to day” (verse 2).
I find it easy sometimes to get sidetracked to start singing our own songs–or at least songs that are about ourselves. We like to sing about ourselves–our issues–our struggles–our loves–and perhaps that’s okay–to some degree. My wife once pointed out how she often changes the “we’s” & “our’s” to “I’. Instead “we Love you Lord”, to “I love you Lord.” And I think that’s a great idea to make worship songs more personal.
BUT, there’s a NEW SONG out there waiting to be sung–not about you and I but about the glory of GOD!
Thirdly, the New Song is Exclusive!
Verse 4: For great is the Lord and greatly to be praised; He is to be reverently feared and worshiped above all gods.
The Bible recognizes other spiritual beings–deities–gods–with a small “g”–deities that have been reduced to idols. But they are important compared to the LORD who, BTW, is seen in the tag at the end of verse 5, saying “made the heavens.”
The other so-called gods of that day–and in much of our world today–attached to various forms of nature: gods of thunder, gods of the sky, rivers, ocean, and of nature…but the Psalmist says–THE LORD MADE the heavens–all over these things. THE LORD OVER ALL!
That now gives us direction and informs our reading of vss. 11-13:
Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice; let the sea roar, and all things which fill it. Let the field be exultant, and all that is in it! Then shall all the trees of the wood sing for joy. Before the Lord, for He comes, for He comes to judge and govern the earth! He shall judge the world with righteousness and justice and the peoples with His faithfulness and truth. (Amplified Bible)
The heavens, earth, sea, fields, and crops, the trees–all had gods associated with them in mythology–but here, they are commanded to enter into PRAISE OF THE LORD!
VERSE 11: LET THE HEAVENS BE GAD, AND LET THE EARTH REJOICE…LET THE SEA ROAR, AND ALL THE THINGS WHICH FILL IT.
UNCONVENTIONAL SINGING–this is not the usual kind of instruments you might expect to hear in worship. The point the psalmist makes here, is they sing to the Lord! He alone is WORTHY…ALL of our attention, our affection and our song. It is the HEART OF WORSHIP!
The Fourth Part of the New Song…
Any great men’s quartet that you may be acquainted with, would sound incomplete without a Tenor, Second Tenor, Baritone, Bass. Or in a choir–Soprano, Alto, Tenor, Bass. Psalm 96 teaches us the same “singing in 4-part harmonies” principles.
The NEW SONG is based in the future JUSTICE of the Lord:
VERSE 10: “…He shall judge and rule the people righteously and with justice.” [Refer to Revelation 11:15; 19:6.]
VERSES 12 & 13: “Let the field be exultant, and all that is in it! Then shall all the trees of the wood sing for joy  Before the Lord, for He comes to judge and govern the earth! He shall judge the world with righteousness and justice and the peoples with His faithfulness and truth.” [See 1 Chronicles 16:23-33; Rev. 19:11.]
So much of what we sing today is grounded in the past–we certainly don’t want to forget the past–but it shouldn’t define who we are. As frustrating as life gets, as much as the unfairness can eat at us, there is a day JUDGEMENT is on the way. And so the notes and the lyrics of the NEW SONG we sing should be drawn from that future day.
What if you could see the future?
On August 19th, 2004, Google’s initial public stock offering were at the price of $85/share. March 7th, 2014, the NASDAQ listed Google’s shares at $1213/share + or -.
If you could have only known this ahead, you might have rearranged your life–re-prioritized your spending habits so you could invest in the future–with Google.
That’s what the psalmist is doing with his NEW SONG. He sees the future and is saying, the TUNE is getting really old–stale. But, it doesn’t matter because…I’m singing a NEW SONG anyway!
The Day of Judgement in Psalm 96 Isn’t So Much A Threat…
It is not so much a threat as it is a PROMISE.
We can REJOICE…
We can live JOYFULLY….
We know the Lord’s FAIRNESS and TRUTH ultimately WINS OUT!
“AMUSIA” becomes part of the problem…why we’re not singing in harmony.
According to a Harvard Health Publication from the Harvard Medical School, September 2007, explains in detail, the explanation behind AMUSIA:
Do people cringe when you sing? You’ve got company. But researchers have found that only 1 in 20 people truly have AMUSIA, the technical term for TONE DEAFNESS. Test have shown that some people with bad singing voices hear music just fine. Amusics, a smaller group have a perceptual problem and can’t pick out differences in pitch or follow the simplest tune. The Harvard Health Letter goes on to say, the white matter of the brain in Amusics was thinner, which suggests a weaker connection. Moreover, the worse TONE DEAFNESS, the thinner the white matter.
We are all hopelessly “Tone Deaf” [Bradly Boydston–“Learning A New Song”]
But the GOOD NEWS IS…the Singer has come into the world and started a new song again–we just have to join in with Him–follow His lead. He has given each one of us an invitation to join in commitment to the Singer and His New Song.
GOD GAVE THE SONG TO US ALL!
Several years ago, Bill and Gloria Gaither wrote a song that many well-known singers (Sandy Patty to name one) and choirs have been introduced to. I sang this song in choirs on several different occasions in the 70’s, and got goose pimples each time I heard the music and the words.
NARRATION: Yes, God gave the song. It’s always been with us. The song came into our world through a manger in Bethlehem. It was a simple song–a simple lovely song for every man. Right from the first, some tried to ignore it. They said, “There’s no song! It simply doesn’t exist.” Others tried to change the tune. They made laws to stop it. Armies marched against it. They killed some who sang the song. They screamed at it in furry; they tried to drown it out. Finally, they nailed that song to a tree. They said to themselves, “There…that should take care of that.” But it didn’t.
What’s that I hear, I still hear the music.
Day after day, that song goes on. For once you know that source of music,
You’ll always hear it, GOD GAVE THE SONG.