This morning's Scripture lesson is Psalm 33, which you can find on page 587 of your pew bibles. I will not be reading from the entire psalm at this time, but rather I will begin reading from the first three verses and read the other verses as we work our way through this psalm. Let us begin:
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.
This psalm is one of six in which the psalmist himself sing or he calls God's people to sing a New Song. On January 22nd we will begin a new series of sermons from 1 Timothy. As we are waiting for that new series to begin this is a perfect opportunity for us to examine two of these psalms.
When the bible speaks of a "new song" it is not implying that God's people must sing a freshly composed song; instead it means that God's people are to sing a song in response to a new experience of God's grace. Consequently every New Year, in fact, every new day, is an opportunity to sing a new song unto the Lord, because each day brings new opportunities to experience God's grace.
So what are we to sing about this New Year?
The author of Psalm 33 suggest three attributes of God that provide us with new opportunities to experience the greatness and grace of God.
When we look at God's Word we discover that it is unparalleled in its righteousness and power.
We live in a world inundated with words. The print media, the mass media, the social media--words are everywhere! Sometimes we hear so many words we cannot even think! We certainly cannot know what to believe. Peoples' confidence in the trustworthiness of all forms of communication is at an all time low. "Fake News" is not just limited to social media like Facebook, it floods the news stands and evening news like a backed up toilet.
In this world of spin and deception, God's Word blows into our minds like a breath of fresh air. In verse 4 the Psalmist gives us our first reason to sing a new song, "For the word of the LORD is upright...".
God's Word's are spoken with the very best of motives.
He loves righteousness and justice; the earth is full of the steadfast love of the LORD.
Some people speak out of their love for fame and influence. Other people speak out of their love for wealth or power. God speaks out of his love for righteousness and justice. Consequently, the world is "full of the steadfast love of the Lord."
Every time you read, hear or meditate on God's Word this New Year God's intention is that you experience his covenant faithfulness and love through righteousness and justice. Now that is a thought worth singing about!
The second thing these verses mention about God's Word is it power.
By the word of the LORD the heavens were made, and by the breath of his mouth all their host. He gathers the waters of the sea as a heap; he puts the deeps in storehouses. Let all the earth fear the LORD; let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of him! For he spoke, and it came to be; he commanded, and it stood firm.
There is a reason why the theory of evolution is the cornerstone of atheistic secular naturalism—creation is the most powerful demonstration of the power of God and his Word. Scripture is filled with passages such as the one before us. Every single day offers us an opportunity to experience God’s power and grace. All we have to do is open our eyes and look at creation!
The devil and the atheist know this, so they cling to the theory of evolution, no matter how impossible a universe as complex as ours could come about by chance alone. The more we know, the more creation declares the glories of God. Time and chance are not adequate to explain the origins of our universe, much less the origins of life. Only the hand of an all-powerful God could explain this universe.
Open your eyes and be in awe of God again.
I remember the first time one of my daughters touched the bark of a tree, the look of awe and delight was priceless! Don’t grow so accustom to what is around you that you cannot experience awe. When you experience that awe again, sing a new song!
In verse 10, the Psalmist moves to the second reason God's people are to sing a New Song.
The LORD brings the counsel of the nations to nothing; he frustrates the plans of the peoples. The counsel of the LORD stands forever, the plans of his heart to all generations. Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD, the people whom he has chosen as his heritage!
In a world filled with evil people and evil nations, these words are a great encouragement as we enter into a New Year.
If we just look at the moment, it would appear that the wicked have the upper hand, but if we step back and look at the broad sweep of history we see that wicked people and nations come to nothing just like our text says. Where are the Pharaohs and Caesars today? Where is Genghis Khan or Adolph Hitler?
The only Kingdom that has stood the test of time is Christ’s! Jesus is still on his throne in 2017 and he is moving the nations by his will to his glorious end game.
This is why it is so important that people and nations bend their knee to Christ. The church is not fighting a “culture war” but a “spiritual war”! As Christians we should what the nations God has placed us in to be “blessed.” There is only one way for the words “God bless America” to become a reality and that is for the majority of Americans to make Jesus their Lord!
But regardless of what America and Americans do, we can still sing a New Song, because we know God is in charge!
The final reason we can sing to God a New Song is found in verses 13-19.
The LORD looks down from heaven; he sees all the children of man; from where he sits enthroned he looks out on all the inhabitants of the earth, he who fashions the hearts of them all and observes all their deeds.
In the last point I encouraged you to look at the broad sweep of history, but of course we don't live in the broad sweep of history, but in the moment and in the moment our lives can look and feel anything but victorious! As a gunman is raging through an airport you are in as happened on Friday, we are not worried by the big picture, but are trying to survive the moment.
In the moments of crises of our life we look to government to save us, but the Psalmist warns us that that is a false hope.
The king is not saved by his great army; a warrior is not delivered by his great strength. The war horse is a false hope for salvation, and by its great might it cannot rescue.
Our hope should be in the fact that God is watching over his people.
Behold, the eye of the LORD is on those who fear him, on those who hope in his steadfast love, that he may deliver their soul from death and keep them alive in famine.
Right now the Lord is watching over you to deliver and preserve you! The resurrection of Jesus is God’s seal of guarantee that nothing that happens to you in the moment will diminish your eternal joy and happiness. Throughout his whole life, but especially on the cross, Jesus suffered the worse “moments” that any human being has every experienced, but those moments were shed like raindrops on a freshly waxed car! This is what the apostle Paul says about those raindrops of suffering:
For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.
The best way to keep our hearts singing a New Song is to look at Jesus' death, resurrection and ascension. When we look to Jesus we see the face of God looking back at us! In his watchful eyes we find the hope that allows us to sing a New Song in any situation.
Psalm 33 closes with these words:
Our soul waits for the LORD; he is our help and our shield. For our heart is glad in him, because we trust in his holy name. Let your steadfast love, O LORD, be upon us, even as we hope in you.
Now that's a song worth singing!