Summary: We cannot get the old song out of our heads until we replace it with something new.
This morning I’d like us to spend a few moments with Psalm 96.
I’ve noticed that I’ve been preaching on Psalms a lot over the past few years. Maybe it’s because others don’t preach much on the psalms and I feel sorry for them. Or maybe it’s the dynamic nature of the psalms. They’ve got all the ups and downs of life -- the nitty gritty.
Our hymnals and worship songs are often somewhat homogenized -- nicefied. The Psalms, which is the Hebrew hymnal, is so raw -- dynamic -- life & death -- just the kind of thing we need to hear in turbulent times. There is so much change in the air -- so much uncertainty. And in midst of it all the Psalmist is leading his readers to "sing a new song."
"Sing a new song to the Lord!
Let the whole earth
sing to the Lord!"
Now, some of us don’t really like anything new -- let alone new music. I’m still trying to figure out what happened to Chicago and the Moody Blues -- Jethro Tull... I could groove on that -- but have you listened to that new stuff on Power 98?
NEW SONG! Blahhh... New music brings out the curmudgeon in me -- us.
I want to suggest that we’re not all that different from the Hebrews. They were pretty set in their ways and patterns. I mean, life is a whole lot easier if you don’t have to sing a new song -- to change -- even if we’re talking change from a negative unhealthy situation.
Moses almost had to drag the Israelites out of slavery in Egypt. Hey, Egypt wasn’t perfect but it was predictable. They knew how many bricks they’d have to make for their masters.
It is so easy to get into a musical rut.
So, to all of us nostalgic people comes a music prompt -- "time to sing a new song." As anxiety producing as that is -- sing a new song!
"Okay, okay -- if I’ve got to learn a new song -- at least you should give us the music. At the very least you can teach it to us."
And that’s exactly what Psalm 96 is about -- teaching people to sing a new song.
And when you start looking closely at this psalm you begin to realize that it’s full of four part harmony -- four parts all of which we’re each singing -- at once.
The first layer of the new harmony -- the first thing to realize about the new song is that THE NEW SONG IS A GLOBAL SONG.
You can’t miss it through-out the psalm -- maybe this is the melody.
Vs. 1 -- "Let the whole earth sing to the Lord!"
Vs. 3 -- "Publish his glorious deeds among the nations."
Vs. 7 -- "O nations of the world, recognize the Lord..."
vs. 9 -- "Let all the earth tremble before him. (10) Tell all the nations, ’The Lord reigns!’"
This is world music. The old song is insular. It operates on the assumption that life revolves around me and my issues. There is a lot of "I" in the old song.
Now, of course, if you go back far enough you realize that the old old song is really the basis of the very new song.
In Genesis 12 when God calls Abram out of Haran it is so that he can multiply and become a blessing to the whole world. However, somehow, that whole world part of the song drops off after a few years and the descendants of Abraham become mostly interested in looking for ways to get blessings from God. But they are so self-absorbed that they have absolutely no idea what they are supposed to do when they get them.