< November 07, 2010 >

Commentary on Psalm 149


This is a great psalm to preach on when you want to exhort your flock to (a) give praise to the Lord, (b) to sing a new song, and/or (c) to take up the sword in order to execute vengeance on the nations and punishment upon the peoples.

In regard to that third option, there will likely not be too much interest on the part of preachers--especially the more pacifistic ones. However, the first two options are not bad, even for the All Saints feast.

The exhortation to "Sing to the Lord a new song" kicks off three of the 150 Psalms. Psalm 96:1 clarifies that the "whole earth" is exhorted to sing a new song. Psalm 98:1 states the reason why a new song is to be sung: because the Lord "has done marvelous things." While here in Psalm 146, it is the locale of the new song that receives initial emphasis: "in the assembly of the faithful." On All Saints Day--the feast that gives "The Communion of Saints" it is due--it is good to draw attention to the new song being sung by the full "assembly of the faithful."

The book of Revelation envisions the full company of Christian faithful singing a number of new songs, including: "Salvation belongs to our God who is seated on the throne, and to the Lamb!" This new song is sung by "a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, robed in white" (Revelations 7:9, 10). Image that. All Christians -- no matter their race, class, or culture; no matter the language, worship style, or music preference -- united in one voice, one verse, one lyric. All the conflicts and controversies, divisions and denominations are a thing of the past. That would be a new song indeed.

The exhortation to "sing to the Lord a new song" appears in one other place in scripture, this time in the book of Isaiah. Here's the passage (Isaiah 42:8-10):

I am the Lord, that is my name; my glory I give to no other, nor my praise to idols. See, the former things have come to pass, and new things I now declare; before they spring forth, I tell you of them. Sing to the Lord a new song, his praise from the end of the earth! Let the sea roar and all that fills it, the coastlands and their inhabitants.

Isaiah 42 begins with the introduction of an anointed servant: "Here is my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen, in whom my soul delights; I have put my spirit upon him; he will bring forth justice to the nations." Christians have long understood these words in light of Christ Jesus. In Jesus, the Lord God has indeed done -- and continues to do -- new things: finding the lost, redeeming the worthless, forgiving the sinner, feeding the hungry, healing the sick, freeing the bound, raising the dead. Such new things deserve a new song. That is why, on All Saints Day, it is good for all of the saints to be exhorted to sing to the Lord a new song. Praise the Lord.