Beit Gamaliel

The House of Gamaliel: The confluence of knowledge and faith.


The Last New Song

Music is powerful. If the temperature is just right and the season of the year is just perfect, a particular song can take you instantly back in your past that is so vivid in your mind it is as if you are actually there. I think we have all experience this phenomena. There is just something almost mystical to the powerful union point of time, space, senses, and music. It is as if that moment, that very life experience became frozen in time, waiting to be visited again from the distant future.

u2_warLast week I had one of those moments. Something about the brisk morning, the dew on the window, and the words, “new song” placed me in 1983 with the song “40” by U2 rushing in my head.The song is a rendition of Psalms 40:

I waited patiently for the Lord.
He inclined and heard my cry.
He brought me right out of the pit,
out of my miry clay.
I will sing, sing a new song.

David wrote this psalm upon returning to the throne after the violent overthrow of his very own beloved son, Absalom. It was a bitter sweet victory for David. He won the throne back, but at a price he did not want to pay, namely, the death of his son.

Absalom's Tomb

Absalom’s Tomb

In modern religious services, you will hear worship leaders say, “let’s sing a new song to the Lord.” (or something along those lines). Most often you will hear a cacophony of singing in a spiritual language. And while that is not a negative application, that is not the intent of the “new song.”

When you search the Bible for the terms “new song” you will find that the majority of them have to do with King David. You will also notice that all of them are tied to a significant moment in David’s life that he wanted to remember. When God did something awesome for David, he wrote a song and everyone sang it. Even the people made up songs about David’s exploits. In I Samuel, “when David returned from killing the Philistine, the women came out of all the cities of Israel, singing and dancing, to meet King Saul, with tambourines, with joy and with musical instruments. The women sang as they played, and said, “Saul has slain his thousands, And David his ten thousands.” Everyone had a “new song” about David.

In Revelation 14, John records an event that will happen in the future. It is the last “new song” that will ever be sung. In Revelation 14:3, John writes:

And they sang a new song before the throne and before the four living creatures and the elders; and no one could learn the song except the one hundred and forty-four thousand who had been purchased from the earth.

That’s strange! After we have been taken to heaven, and we are standing before the throne of God with the Cherubim and the twenty-four elders looking on, the 144,000 Jews who are redeemed from the tribulation will sing a “new song” of worship to God, but NO ONE ELSE can sing it! What??? What if it is the most awesome worship song ever???? What if I REALLY WANT TO SING IT?

No one could learn it. John does not articulate whether no one could learn it because it is forbidden, or because we will lack the capacity to do so. But no one could learn it except the 144,000.

We can’t sing the song, because it is not “our” song. It is not “our” story. We can sing the psalms all day long, with a thousand different melodies, instruments, and vocal combinations, but nothing can ever make the stories of King David “my stories.” They are not “my songs”.

When I was in bible college, I would get to breakfast early in the morning. A fellow student used to stop and ask me every morning, “What has God shown you today?” At first, the question was irritating. He hadn’t shown me anything! For Pete’s sake, it was 6:30 a.m.! I really didn’t care what God had to show me! But in time, I began to realize that God was always ready to reveal Himself, if we but seek Him. As I began to experience God personally, I soon had things to share. As early as 6:30 a.m. I was ready to reveal what God was showing me! It was my story. It was my song.

But it doesn’t end there. God is good, and gracious, and His loving-kindness extends to the heavens! Just this past June, God saved me from death in a horrible car accident. Unconscious, and without a seat belt, I should have been thrown from the rolling vehicle, but God was kind, and merciful. That is my song!

The fact is, many Christians spend their lives trying to sing the songs of others, never recognizing God’s divine providence in their own lives. What is your “new song”? Do you have one? Only you can sing it, and no one else can ever learn it. Sing! Sing a new song!

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