Sing a New Song by Larry W. Peebles December 16, 2016 16.48
When God speaks, we need to pay attention; when He repeats Himself, we need to really pay attention. Such is the case with Psalm 96 and 1 Chronicles 16: 23-33. Psalm 96:1 begins with “Sing to the Lord a new song”. The rest of that Psalm is virtually identical to 1 Chronicles 16:23-33. With the exception of that first sentence, Psalm 96 is a repeat of the verses in 1 Chronicles 16. As in most cases when reading the Scriptures, the meaning becomes new when we get a fresh insight or revelation from God on what He is saying through the writer.
By way of background, 1 Chronicles 16 continues the story of Israel recovering the Ark of the Covenant. The Philistines had captured the ark and held it for a while, but after seven months concluded it brought only devastation and an affliction of tumors (1 Samuel 5). They were more than ready to return it to the people of Israel. Since the ark represented the very presence of God, it required special handling during transportation. Once Israel had it in their possession, the first attempt to move it ended when a man (Uzzah) lost his life because he mishandled the ark (1 Chronicles 13). The second attempt fared better, as King David instructed the ark be carried by the priests, as God had originally prescribed, and he sacrificed bulls along the way (2 Samuel 6). But when David returned with the Ark, he did not follow convention. He did not take it to Shiloh to place it in the Tabernacle, where God had originally told Moses to keep it (Exodus chapters 25-30). He did something new. He pitched a tent for it in Zion, the City of David, which was the original urban core of ancient Jerusalem. David leaped and danced before the Lord as the ark entered Jerusalem (2 Samuel 6). Instead of hiding it from the people in the Holy of Holies in the Tabernacle where only the high priest could see it once a year, David put it on display in the tent for the people to see. David’s actions symbolized that the presence of God had become more accessible for all. The people also presented burnt offerings and fellowship offerings before God at the tent, and this had only formerly been done at the Tabernacle. David was obviously doing this at God’s instruction, or else he would have encountered the same punishments others had suffered for mishandling the ark. It was a new day regarding the ark and the presence of God.
David then presented this beautiful new psalm/song to Asaph, the chief Levite in charge of ministering before the ark of the Lord (1 Chronicles 16: 23-33): “23. Sing to the Lord, all the earth; proclaim his salvation day after day. 24. Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous deeds among all peoples. 25. For great is the Lord and most worthy of praise; he is to be feared above all gods. 26. For all the gods of the nations are idols, but the Lord made the heavens. 27. Splendor and majesty are before him; strength and joy in his dwelling place. 28. Ascribe to the Lord, O families of nations, ascribe to the Lord glory and strength, 29. Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name. Bring an offering and come before him; worship the Lord in the splendor of his holiness. 30. Tremble before him, all the earth! The world is firmly established; it cannot be moved. 31. Let the heavens rejoice, let the earth be glad; let them say among the nations ’The Lord reigns!’ 32. Let the sea resound, and all that is in it; let the fields be jubilant, and everything in them! 33. Then the trees of the forest will sing, they will sing for joy before the Lord, for he comes to judge the earth.”
A new song was written that day the ark (the presence of Jesus) traveled the road to Jerusalem. As the ark moved, the bulls’ blood that was shed every six steps was a foreshadow of the blood Jesus would shed one day as a result of his coming back to Jerusalem. As the ark moved, David saw Jesus on that road to Jerusalem, the voluntary final sacrifice for the sins of all mankind. Jesus’ death on the cross would forever rend the veil of separation in the Temple, and mankind would forever have a path and direct access to God. God would no longer live in a Temple or a Tabernacle, he would live or tabernacle in the hearts of men. David caught that new prophetic vision. He could not keep from dancing and leaping. That vision inspired His psalm, which made three new bold declarations:
- Jesus is exalted above all gods as King (v. 31-33). David was a king after God’s own heart, but Jesus is the King of kings. He reigns over all kingdoms, and every ruler. The prophet Daniel said in Daniel 2: 20, 21- “Praise be to the name of God for ever and ever; wisdom and power are his. He changes times and seasons; he sets up kings and deposes them.” Romans 13:1 says- “Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established.” Lastly, Revelations 19:16 says- “On his robe and on his thigh he [Jesus] has this name written: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.” [Emphasis mine.]
- Jesus is exalted above all things as Creator (v. 26). Isaiah 40: 26 says- “Lift your eyes and look to the heavens: Who created all these? He who brings out the starry host one by one, and calls them by name. Because of his great power and mighty strength, not one of them is missing.” David caught a vision of the truth that would later be recorded in Colossians 1: 16- “For by him (Jesus) all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him.” The disciple John, perhaps the one closest to Jesus, wrote this in John 1:3- “All things were made by him [Jesus]; and without him was not anything made that was made.” KJV [Emphasis mine.]
- Jesus is exalted above his people as shepherd and leader. Because Jesus is the creator, owner and ruler of all things, David’s psalm (vs. 28-33) invited Israel, and indeed all people, to worship Jesus in total abandon. This was to be by properly and literally done by stretching themselves out full length on the ground in adoration. Getting as low as possible would be the preferred position relative to one so high and exalted as Jesus. When David saw the vision of Jesus as the ark passed up to Jerusalem, he could only attempt to put into words the glory and splendor due the Savior of the world. He invited the entire creation (the earth, heavens, seas and trees), and all people (v.28-“families of nations”-including Gentiles) to worship the holy splendor of Jesus, the one he saw in the vision. That all people, including Gentiles, would come to know and experience the presence of Jesus was indeed a “new song”. David’s view of Jesus as holy and worthy shepherd and leader is expressed in Psalm 23- “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not be in want. He makes me to lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside still waters, he restores my soul. He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; Your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”
John Chapter 10 is where Jesus describes himself as shepherd, and we are his sheep. The entire chapter contains great insight on this teaching. Verse 11 says- “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” Jesus could give no more clear affirmation of what David saw and knew that day.
When the ark was brought into Jerusalem, it foretold the day the presence of God would come so close one could touch it. It would come in the form of a man–the man Jesus who would walk among men on the earth. In only five verses, Psalm 100 gives a summary of the new revelation that came the day David brought the presence of God back to the people- “Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth. Worship the Lord with gladness; come before him with joyful songs. Know that the Lord is God. It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, the sheep of his pasture. Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. For the Lord is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations.”