Sing to the LORD a new song,
for he has done marvelous things.
With his right hand and his holy arm
has he won for himself the victory.
The LORD has made known his victory;
his righteousness has he openly shown in the sight of the nations.
He remembers his mercy and faithfulness to the house of Israel,
and all the ends of the earth have seen the victory of our God.
Shout with joy to the LORD, all you lands;
lift up your voice, rejoice, and sing.
Sing to the LORD with the harp,
with the harp and the voice of song.
With trumpets and the sound of the horn
shout with joy before the King, the LORD.
Let the sea make a noise and all that is in it,
the lands and those who dwell therein.
Let the rivers clap their hands,
and let the hills ring out with joy before the LORD,
when he comes to judge the earth.
In righteousness shall he judge the world
and the peoples with equity. Psalm 98.
The Psalm from today’s Lectionary offers us the perfect message as we near the end of the Easter season. The Psalmist calls for every person, every nation, and all of creation to rise up in a joyful song of being known and loved by the God of Israel. We need “a new song” because God has done something new, something out of our experience. Even the rivers will clap their hands as God’s judgment will set creation right.
The Sabbath, the day of rest, offers both Jews and Christians the principle occasion for giving praise to God. Praise is a funny thing; it is not particularly useful and does not accomplish any particular thing. Praise, therefore, is not a means to an end. Rather, praise is the end. We join together to acknowledge God and give Him thanks for no particular reason other than He is God. And somehow, in that simple act of gratitude, the Psalmist tells us we will find our joy.
One of the reoccurring ideas in this psalm is the Lord’s “victory”, also sometimes translated as “salvation”. In the original Hebrew, the word is Y’shua or yeshua. That word is the basis for the name of the old Testament hero Joshua, and is anglicized as “Jesus.” Viewed through a Christian lens, this psalm speaks of the victory God has won, offering us a wonderful Easter message.
Walter Brueggeman has observed, “In this literature the community of faith has heard and continues to hear the sovereign speech of God, who meets the community in its depths of need and in its heights of celebration. The Psalms draw our entire life under the rule of God, where everything may be submitted to the God of the gospel.”
In the life of Christ, God sang a love song to all of creation, a song through which all creation was made new. This psalm invites us to share in that song, replying to God’s song with great gladness. My prayer for all of us is that we join in that new song, in that love song, with happy voices and glad hearts.
James R. Dennis, O.P.
© 2012 James R. Dennis