New Heart, New Spirit and New Song – Psalm 96
Sermon by Ps. Douglas Bachorik at NLBPC on 11 Sep 2016
“O sing unto the Lord a new song: sing unto the Lord, all the earth.” Ps 96:1
Psalm 96:1 opens with a wonderful command from God. It is not optional for believers to sing to the Lord. It is a natural response of a believer to sing praise to God. Of course, there are times when we don’t feel like it because of fatigue, distractions, or unconfessed sin, but we have a responsibility and privilege to sing. God wants us to and He deserves it.
Definition of the New Song
“”O sing unto the Lord a new song …”” The word “new” is used in different ways in the Scripture. Firstly, we think of new in terms of chronology or time. New refers to something that is recently made eg. new furniture, new car etc. The idea of newly composed lyrics and music are a part of the meaning. We are encouraged, and even commanded to create new songs for use in worship. Secondly, we think of new in terms of quality. Examples: new creatures (2 Cor 5:17) and new person (Eph 4:24). If you have been a believer 10 years or longer, are you still a new creature? Of course you are. The emphasis on being new in those passages has to do with what you become (quality) more than when you become it (time/date of salvation)! It implies better or superior in quality. Ezek 36:26 — the new heart is superior to the stony heart, not merely by virtue of its date of creation, but because of its innate quality.
The Hebrew word for “new” in Ezek 36 and Ps 96 is chadash. This word encompasses not only the idea of chronological newness, but superior, “like new” quality. The command to sing new songs to the Lord includes the emphasis that what we sing to the Lord is of superior quality, regardless of the date of composition.
Everything about the believer’s life should be new, fresh and superior, including the music we use to worship our God. Music should not be used to encourage or indulge the old sinful nature. It must be different from music developed for the worship of false gods.
Reason for a New Song
Why can’t we just use the music that appealed to the old man to worship God? Why be different from the world with regards to music? Psalm 96 affirms that our God is superior to any other god, therefore, the music we use to worship Him should be better.
Ps 150 uses two names of God to remind us of His attributes, firstly “God or Elohim” means the “Mighty One” is a word that denotes a supreme, powerful spiritual being. We see His power in Gen 1:1. Secondly “LORD or Jehovah or Yahweh” is a name that denotes a personal relationship. Jehovah was the name that God used in connection with his people Israel, showing Himself as their promise keeping God.
When we compare Jehovah to the false gods that were being worshipped all around the ancient Israel we see that they were not only limited in power, but also largely uninterested in having a personal relationship with their followers. These false gods did all of the wicked things that people do — lying, cheating, murdering, stealing etc. One of these gods, Molech, was so wicked he was worshipped with human sacrifice. Try to imagine what kind of music would accompany human sacrifice? Can you conceive of God’s people using that music to worship Jehovah?
Exo 32 records the account of “the worship of the golden calf.” What was the first evidence of Israel’s idolatry — it was music (see verse 17). Joshua heard the sound of worship and thought it sounded like a battle. Moses, the composer, heard it as celebration and worship. They did not recognize this worship music. It was different. When Israel’s god changed, their music also changed.
Effect of the New Song
The music we use to worship our God reflects what we think about Him.
What was the name of the golden calf? Aaron called it “the LORD“. When the people were dancing and singing around the idol, they were saying Hal-le-lu-Jah! Hal-le-lu-El! using the same words that opened Ps 150:1 “Praise the LORD (Jehovah), praise God (Elohim)…”” They had the right name, but the wrong god. We come dangerously close to the same situation when we take music created for self-worship or some false god, and use it to worship Jesus Christ. Worship music reveals what we believe about the god we worship. It is possible for us to have the right name, but we come very close to having the wrong god. Beware!
When we sing a new song, we are declaring our God to the world around us. “”All the gods of the nations are idols.” (v5) ” .. “but the LORD made the heavens.“” When we sing a new song to the Lord, we are making a statement to those who hear: Our God is real! Our God is better than false gods! Jesus Christ is superior to sinful man!”
The issue of worship music has very little to do with what we like or don’t like, contemporary against traditional, cultural versus universal communication. Fundamentally, the music we choose to worship God will either confirm and reinforce an accurate picture of who He is, or it will make Him look like something He is not. The first priority is therefore to make sure our worship music accurately and effectively communicates something of the nature of our God and what the Lord Jesus Christ is like, or else we are in danger of proclaiming a false Gospel.