1 O sing unto the LORD a new song; for he hath done marvellous things: his right hand, and his holy arm, hath gotten him the victory.
2 The LORD hath made known his salvation: his righteousness hath he openly shewed in the sight of the heathen.
3 He hath remembered his mercy and his truth toward the house of Israel: all the ends of the earth have seen the salvation of our God.
4 Make a joyful noise unto the LORD, all the earth: make a loud noise, and rejoice, and sing praise.
5 Sing unto the LORD with the harp; with the harp, and the voice of a psalm.
6 With trumpets and sound of cornet make a joyful noise before the LORD, the King.
7 Let the sea roar, and the fulness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein.
8 Let the floods clap their hands: let the hills be joyful together
9 Before the LORD; for he cometh to judge the earth: with righteousness shall he judge the world, and the people with equity.
God marvelously delivers His people in the sight of all the nations, and this inspires great rejoicing from His people.
This psalm inspires great rejoicing! It carries the feeling one gets after winning a pivotal battle. Most of us have never been in real battle, so we do not fully appreciate the danger and discomfiture experienced by those immersed in bloody warfare. But think about how nations in history have centered their days of celebration around military victories. Nothing unifies a nation more than winning a war against some terrible, vicious enemy. There is no more important cause for celebration and rejoicing than a monumental military victory.
In this psalm we rejoice in the victory God has won over the enslaving powers of sin, the world, and the devil. It is a rejoicing attended by loud shouts, clapping, and fanfare. In the previous psalm, we rejoiced over His judgment and His holiness. In this psalm we rejoice over the salvation He bestows on His people as well as His righteous judgment.
Verses 1–3. Several times throughout the psalms thus far, the psalmists encourage us to “sing a new song to the Lord” (Ps. 33:1, 96:1, etc.). Whenever God performs His great and wondrous works in the redemptive history of the church in the Old and New Testaments, His people sing a new song to the Lord. If Christ, the Son of God, is the long-awaited Messiah, and if He conquered the enemies of the devil, death, and hell at the cross, then you would think that such deeds call for some great new songs! If Jesus Christ rose from the dead, an event far more significant than the victory at the Red Sea, then it would be well to sing of it. Indeed, the Red Sea experience was an awe-inspiring redemptive work of God, and the psalmists rightly refer to this memorable event in the Old Testament Psalms. They did not write songs referring directly to the resurrection of Christ because it had not happened yet! Whenever we witness powerful works of God at the Red Sea, at Calvary, or in our own lives, we are impelled to sing a new song to the Lord. Joyful Christians cannot help but respond in joyful, creative praise for God’s mighty work of salvation!
The salvation of Christ and His righteous reign are inescapable. Even the heathen witness God’s righteous law overwhelming the pagan practices on this world’s continents. The death cry of the pagan Roman Emperor still resounds through the centuries, “Oh Galilean, thou hast conquered!” Even if some pagans gaze longingly back to the days of human sacrifice, gladiatorial killing games, widow burning, infanticide, cannibalism, and other demonic exercises, the world will never return to those dark days because “His righteousness He openly shows in the sight of the heathen!” The righteous reign of Christ will continue unabated until the final consummation.
True to His promises, God unfailingly delivers His salvation for His covenant people. In fact, this psalm speaks of it as if it were an accomplished fact. The salvation of Israel was as good as done, even though this psalm was written about 1,000 years before Christ came. Now, 2,000 years later we can sing this psalm with even more faith and certainty because God fulfilled His promises in Jesus Christ.
Verses 4–9. The remainder of the psalm calls for joyful worship from all creation because of the judgment of God. Again, we rejoice over God’s salvation and His judgment. Typically, these two acts of God come hand in hand. When the Gospel is preached, some are saved while others are hardened for judgment. When the children of Israel were saved at the Red Sea, that redemption was attended by a severe judgment upon the Egyptians, whose hearts were hardened against God. The cross is salvation for believers, but the cross is judgment too. Jesus Christ suffered the judgment due for our sins on the bloody cross. Therefore, when we praise God for His work of redemption, we cannot remain quiet and noncommittal about His acts of judgment. To question God’s justice is to deny the true meaning of His redemption. Both redemption and judgment call for enthusiastic, joyful praise.
When men reject God’s salvation, and when they harden their hearts against God, it is wrong to think of God as the loser in the issue of their salvation. Plainly, God will be glorified in His perfectly just judgment, and we can rejoice in this.
In verses 7–9 we call upon all creation to join with us in this joyful worship. We interpret the crashing waves and the wind blowing through the trees as sounds of worship as well. If God created trees, then every tree and everything that trees do will give glory to God. They are doing what God created them to do, and so all of God’s creation speaks of His power, wisdom, and justice.
When you are completely convinced that the entire natural world is the work of the Creator, then you will interpret everything that happens in the natural world in the right way. Crashing waves on the seashore, cats giving birth to kittens, and falling stars in the sky are declarations of praise to the Creator. God programmed the natural creation to give Him glory. However, His human creatures give Him praise and glory as an act of the will. Giving God glory is as much our purpose as it is the purpose of the rest of creation. The difference is that we are self-conscious of what we are doing, and we do it willingly!
1. We worship in response to the mighty works God has accomplished in history. There can be no doubt that both God’s judgment and His redemption are important bases for worship. It is for us to strike a balance between these two works of God’s hands, and the psalms help us to do that wisely.
2. This psalm also argues for appropriate worship, containing many voices and instruments. While some of our worship is quiet and contemplative, that is not the tenor of this psalm. This is a psalm for the whole congregation, and it calls for volume and instrumentation. Drawing from the corpus of biblical references to worship music, it appears that singing is a very important element for God’s people. But psalms like this one include stringed and brass instruments in the worship service.
1. What event in history was far more significant than Israel’s deliverance at the Red Sea?
2. How has God shown His righteousness to the heathen?
3. What other psalms call upon nature to rejoice in the judgment of God?
4. How did God’s redemption and judgment both appear at the Red Sea? At Calvary?
5. Give several examples of Praise Psalms.
1. How well do we balance praise for God’s judgment and praise for God’s redemption in our worship?
2. How well do we balance the volume of victorious worship with that of quiet, contemplative worship?