At my church, we have been going through Isaiah in this month's sermon series. When we got to chapter 42, I was struck by the call in verse 10 to ‘sing a new song’. This is a phrase I've come across again and again in the Bible (in fact, I've found and listed a handful of these occurrences below) but it was the first time I stopped and pondered: why a new song? Why not an old song? God’s plan for his people was established before the foundation of the world (Ephesians 1:3-10). So what is it about the newness of the song that’s important?
God’s people are often told to remember: the Passover and the Lord’s Supper were both instituted as reminders of great historical events in which God intervened for his people, providing salvation and giving them an identity in Him. In coming to the Lord's Table today, we are in a sense singing an 'old' song: we are remembering in thanksgiving what God has done.
The Bible's exhortations to sing 'new' songs aren't given because God is changing, but rather because He is faithful and He is still working! Wonderfully, we can meet God with a new song of thanksgiving everyday because 1) his promises are still true and his grace is still certain, and 2) his powerful works are ongoing and his mercies are new everyday—in our world and in the tiny details of our lives. He is alive and He is still in relationship with His people. We could never come up with too many ways to praise our God, from the Psalms of David to the newest praise song from Emu music, from the familiar words of the Lord's Prayer to the silent words of gratitude whispered in the melody of our hearts after a busy day. Of old things and of new, in times of joy and times of sorrow, we have much to sing about!
As researchers, we have even more reason to sing because we are at the cutting edges of our fields—however 'niche' or obscure our projects might seem to be! Whether we're looking at songs or cells, we are in a position to appreciate something about God's creation that probably hasn't been seen or understood before. Every day, I want to sing a new song to God for the wonders of his world—but even more, for the beauty of his character.
I would encourage you to look through some of the verses below in which we find the exhortation to 'sing a new song': it is echoed by David, who had to wait for God to rescue him and put a 'new song in [his] mouth' (Psalm 40:3); by God's people, singing as a freewill offering in joy for all he has done (Psalm 144:9); and by the Elders and people of God praising the Lamb at the renewal of all things (Revelation 5:9). I hope they inspire you to ponder on God's works anew and respond winsomely to his grace every morning!
Oh sing to the Lord a new song;
sing to the Lord, all the earth!
Sing to the Lord, bless his name;
tell of his salvation from day to day.
I will sing a new song to you, O God;
upon a ten-stringed harp I will play to you
Sing to the Lord a new song,
his praise from the end of the earth,
you who go down to the sea, and all that fills it,
the coastlands and their inhabitants.
Oh sing to the Lord a new song,
for he has done marvelous things!
His right hand and his holy arm
have worked salvation for him.
The Lord has made known his salvation;
he has revealed his righteousness in the sight of the nations.
He has remembered his steadfast love and faithfulness
to the house of Israel.
All the ends of the earth have seen
the salvation of our God.
Shout for joy in the Lord, O you righteous!
Praise befits the upright.
Give thanks to the Lord with the lyre;
make melody to him with the harp of ten strings!
Sing to him a new song;
play skillfully on the strings, with loud shouts.
Praise the Lord!
Sing to the Lord a new song,
his praise in the assembly of the godly!
Let Israel be glad in his Maker;
let the children of Zion rejoice in their King!
I waited patiently for the Lord;
he inclined to me and heard my cry.
He drew me up from the pit of destruction,
out of the miry bog,
and set my feet upon a rock,
making my steps secure.
He put a new song in my mouth,
a song of praise to our God.
Many will see and fear,
and put their trust in the Lord.
And between the throne and the four living creatures and among the elders I saw a Lamb standing, as though it had been slain, with seven horns and with seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth. And he went and took the scroll from the right hand of him who was seated on the throne. And when he had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each holding a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. And they sang a new song, saying,
“Worthy are you to take the scroll
and to open its seals,
for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God
from every tribe and language and people and nation,
and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God,
and they shall reign on the earth.”