Theme: A New Song
In this week’s lessons, we learn how to worship God, who is the one true God who rules over all, both now and forever.
Scripture: Psalm 96:1-13
As we saw yesterday, Psalm 96 provides a model of how we can praise God. There are two things to notice especially.
1. A new song. When we read the words “a new song” we are disposed to think of the psalm itself, as if the psalmist were saying, “I have just composed a new song that I would like you to hear; and then if you like it, I would like you to join me in singing it.” That is because we think so much about ourselves and our own contributions to worship. However, most of the commentators agree that this is not what the psalmist is thinking of, simply because these writers are usually not thinking of themselves or what they are able to accomplish at all. They are thinking about God. So the call to sing a new song is actually a call to sing about some new thing God has himself done. In the case of 1 Chronicles, where the words of the psalm occur for the first time, the new thing was God’s coming to Jerusalem by the symbolism of the moving of the ark. From this time forward he was to be especially honored there, which is what the psalm does. It was also expected that he would now also rule over his people as well as the Gentile nations from Mount Zion.
When we read about “a new song” today we also think of the new song of Revelation 5. There we are told of four living creatures and twenty-four elders who fall down before God’s Lamb and sing “a new song,” saying, “You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because you were slain, and with your blood you purchased men for God from every tribe and language and people and nation. You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God, and they will reign on the earth” (Rev. 5:9, 10).
The new thing here is Christ’s atonement, and the “new song” is a joyful acknowledgement of it. It is possible that John, the author of Revelation, was even thinking of Psalm 96, for his emphasis is on the universal reign of Christ, which is what Psalm 96 anticipates.
2. Praise plus proclamation. The second thing to notice about this stanza is the way the declaration of God’s glory among the nations follows upon praising him. In other words, the psalm teaches that worship should never be merely a private thing, something between ourselves and God only, but should also be that which leads to a missionary witness. We should never be satisfied to worship God alone. G. Campbell Morgan wrote of these verses, “If the song of the Lord begins in the heart, it always grows into the chorus in which others are included in its music.”1
1G. Campbell Morgan, Notes on the Psalms (Westwood, NJ: Fleming H. Revell, 1947), p. 181.
What is a new song? How does it apply to the psalm?
Identify the new song in Revelation 5.
What two things do verses 1-3 teach us?
Why is proclamation part of worship?
Application: Make it a habit to recount as many of God’s characteristics and blessings as you can. Praise him for who he is, what he has done in your life, how he is presently at work, and what he will do for you in the future.