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.
The low point comes when God sends Jonah to give a message to the hated Assyrians and he runs the opposite direction because he’s afraid that they might repent and experience God’s blessing, too.
But the theme shows up again loud and strong in the gospels. "For God so loved the world..." -- "Go make disciples of all nations..."
Dave Nelson is looking at Matthew 16 passage in his Sunday School class. Jesus leaves Judea and goes north into Caesarea Philippi -- which is Gentile territory -- a pagan area. And it is there that he for the first time admits to being the Messiah. It’s not in the Temple or even Jerusalem.
The new song isn’t one that can or should be confined to church walls or among a single ethnic group or people.
There is a lot of talk about globalization these days -- international connectedness. But this isn’t such a big shock for the Lord’s people. We’ve been singing about globalization from the moment we began to sing God’s new song. It’s a part of who we are. It’s a part of the church’s DNA.