Posted March 18, 2013
Oh sing to the Lord a new song;
sing to the Lord, all the earth!
2 Sing to the Lord, bless his name;
tell of his salvation from day to day.
3 Declare his glory among the nations,
his marvelous works among all the peoples!
We’ll spend the next 4 weeks memorizing the first ten verses of Psalm 96. This psalm has been dubbed “the missionary hymn” due to the scope of the worship described in it, never limited to Israel alone but rather the whole world in view. We’ll spend this first week in verses 1-3, making 5 observations from the text.
First, singing is a vital part of Christian worship!
In the first two verses, we are commanded three times to sing to the Lord! Apparently singing is a big deal in the Bible. We are commanded 50 times in Scripture to sing to the Lord, and there are over 400 references to singing! NT Wright said, “Biblical faith is a singing faith, from Miriam’s wild song of triumph on the shores of the Red Sea to the thunderous song of all creation at the triumph of the Lamb... Making music to the Lord is, in fact, almost as central and obvious a Christian act as the Eucharist itself.” To see and read more about why we sing in worship, watch Bob Kauflin’s Bob short 2 min video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kMTL_loUUGQ. For a whole talk by Kauflin on this same subject, read http://www.sovereigngraceministries.org/Reference/WorshipMatters/Why%20Do%20We%20Sing.pdf. We hope this encourages you to sing and sing loudly!
Second, worship is never to become a dry ritual for the Christian.
How do we know this? We are commanded to sing a new song to the Lord. If someone asked you to sing a new song to God today, what would you sing? What prayers or praises would fill your mouth? The point of this verse is probably less about actual new compositions and more about new revelation and responses to a God who loves to reveal Himself as beautiful and praiseworthy. The God we sing to is a perfect God whose attributes are infinite. This means that each attribute of God has no end, and therefore means there is always something new we have never seen that is praiseworthy. The bored Christian is a contradiction in terms! This command stands as a clear reminder that we never arrive in our relationship with God, but we always exist as learners and discoverers. There is always something new about God and his redemptive ways to discover and praise! Just the fact that He’s revealed Himself in Scripture and through His Son Jesus is reason enough to praise. Your new song may be birthed in a hard and dry season where God seems a million miles away or in a season of joyful abundance and sense of God’s presence, but it is a new song nonetheless. Each of us must find a way to sing a new song to the Lord! The absence of a new song can often reveal a heart that’s grown cold or apathetic toward God. A true worshiper, even in the times of wilderness, is tenacious in the pursuit of God. Remind (re-mind) yourself of truths about God you may have forgotten, of things He’s done that have gone unthanked. David, in his hardest of times, cried out to God and his own soul! Never let the songs you sing be void of desire and passion, but seek God and sing a new song in whatever season it is you may be in.
Third, worship is both vertical and horizontal.
Not only do we sing to the Lord (vertical), but we also tell others (horizontal) of his salvation. That may take place through a literal song itself, or through the preaching of God’s Word, the sharing of a testimony, or in a simple conversation at a coffee shop. The point is less the place and more the praise! We praise the things we love and are grateful for. Are you truly grateful to God for saving your soul through His Son Jesus? Then joyfully tell others! Worship is never a private matter for it affects and infects our whole lives, which leads us to the next point.
Fourth, worship and evangelism should never be separated.
Often we associate worship with what happens in a church building or gathering and evangelism with what happens outside the church building in “secular” places. This distinction can be somewhat unhelpful simply because the song of praise that the Psalmist describes here bears an evangelistic trajectory! It is not to be limited and confined to the four walls of a church, but is to be trumpeted in our neighborhoods, suburbs, downtown areas, capitol buildings, business centers, and homeless shelters. It crosses national borderlines and continental divides; it does not concern itself with race, tongue, or social status. Evangelism is merely inviting others to join you in your worship of the one true and living God. As John Piper has famously said, “Missions exists because worship doesn’t.” The greatest worshipers are always the greatest evangelists.
Fifth, and lastly, worship always centers around the cross of Jesus.
Verse 2 says to “tell of his salvation from day to day”. The greatest place God’s saving work is shown is through the life of Jesus Christ who gave his life on a cross for our sins. How do we do tell of his salvation? Charles Spurgeon comments, “It (salvation) is ever new, ever suitable, ever sure, ever perfect; therefore let us show it forth continually until he come, both by words and deeds, by songs and sermons, by sacred Baptism and by the Holy Supper, by books and by speech, by Sabbath services and week-day worship. Each day brings us deeper experience of our saving God, each day shows us anew how deeply men need his salvation, each day reveals the power of the gospel, each day the Spirit strives with the sons of men; therefore, never pausing, be it ours to tell out the glorious message of free grace.”
This week’s song was written by Aaron Strumpel (Boulder, CO), Ryan Gikas, and Joel Limpic and produced by Dustin Ragland. Cameron Schenk played violin and sang backing vocals, and Adam Zodrow. Check out Aaron’s website here http://www.aaronstrumpel.com/ and a free EP on Noisetrade here http://noisetrade.com/aaronstrumpel/christmas-ep.