“Oh sing to the Lord a new song; sing to the Lord, all the earth.” (Psalm 96:1)
When dark days hit and when my heart feels messed up, I ask myself, “Do I have a new song for the Lord?”. More specifically, this question can be further subdivided into two questions, “Do I have a song?” and “Do I have a new song?”.
Do I have a song? Many people associate songs and singing with festivity, and naturally so. We sing at birthdays, weddings, and concerts, in joyful celebration. In times of rejoicing and thanksgiving, it seems more intuitive and obvious that we have a song to sing to the Lord. But a dirge is also a song, a mournful piece of music. There are examples in the Psalms where the psalmist rends his heart in a hymn of lamentation or grief. In Psalm 88 for example, the psalmist cried out and pleaded with God in his deep despair and desperation. The Bible records this for us at the beginning of Psalm 88, that this is “a song”, “a psalm of the sons of Korah”. We may have expected the psalm to have positive closure, instead, interestingly, the psalm concluded on an open-ended dark note. Does this mean that there is no hope? No. Although the psalmist was buried in sadness, he persisted in prayer and clearly acknowledged God as “the God of [his] salvation” (verse 1).
Psalm 88 is refreshingly honest. Even in our valleys, we cling on to our faith and our salvation. The book of Psalms reminds me that we can sing to the Lord songs of joy and sadness.
Do I have a new song? Not a song that is stale or old, but a new song. I am reminded of God’s steadfast love and mercy – “they are new every morning” (Lamentations 3:22-23). Sometimes we take God’s love and mercy for granted, view them as mundane, and find it hard to give thanks for the present moment. Yet other times, we are afraid that God’s love and mercy towards us that we have so richly experienced in the past will run out or dry up, never to be experienced again, and we are left with nothing new to be grateful for. If we look closer, perhaps the crux of the issue lies with us not paying sufficient attention to God’s detailed and careful work in our lives and Him being Creator God and the Sustainer of the universe. Each new day presents fresh opportunities for us to be more intentional in noticing God’s hand at work and His blessings in our lives. The song writer of a choral work titled “Symphony of Praise” aptly described God as “the composer and conductor of the universe”, and verse 1 of this song reads as follows:
“The seasons well rehearsed begin with His downbeat,
And on his cue the sun trumpets the dawn;
The whirling winds swell in a mighty crescendo,
With each commanding sweep of His baton.
The oceans pound the shore in march to His cadence,
The galaxies all revolve in cosmic rhyme;
The fall of raindrops all in wild syncopation,
As lightning strikes and thunder claps in time.”
God made everything to work precisely as it should to sustain life. Yet our mighty Creator cares for us when we are so tiny in the larger scheme of things. May we have renewed eyes and ears and hearts to experience God’s unfailing love and mercy afresh each day, and “sing to the Lord a new song”.
By Rebecca Ang