Have you made a commitment to do something new as the year starts? Many people do. Whether you call them new year resolutions or not doesn’t matter but many people start the year determined for things to be different. Some determine to have new eating habits, new exercise habits, new reading habits, new relationship habits, and many other new things. There is nothing wrong with making these new commitments. In fact, if some are kept then one’s life can be changed for the better. In Psalm 96, we see a call to the people of God to something new. A call to sing a new song. If you read the entire Psalm what you see is a call for God’s people to heartfelt worship and witness. The first word of the Psalm “Oh” is a call to something heartfelt. If you took out the word, the Psalm would still make sense but the use of “Oh” calls us to a deep sense of feeling. In the depth of who we are, we are called to sing a new song to God. A new song simply means recognizing what God is doing in the present. In Lamentations 3:23 we are told that God’s mercies are new every morning, so if nothing else, each day we can sing about how merciful God has been to us for the previous day’s failure. But God is so much more. The Psalm declares God’s greatness and reminds us that it is to the Lord we sing. As people we are by nature worshippers. If we don’t worship God we will worship something. Therefore, we are called to sing a new song “to the Lord” to make sure that our hearts are pointed in the right direction. Pointed to the one who is to be feared above all the false gods of the earth, the one who “will judge the world in righteousness and the peoples in his faithfulness.” As we worship, notice in this Psalm we are also to “declare his glory among the nations.” If we worship God correctly it will result in us witnessing to others about the greatness of God.
Maybe you think all I have said so far is common sense to the people of God. Maybe so. However, coming out of the year marked by COVID-19, we must make sure that we don’t get our eyes off God. Some studies have suggested that thirty percent or more of people who used to come to church will not return even when the pandemic is over, yet the Psalmist says we are to “bring an offering and come into his courts!” It is easy for us all to lose focus on even the basic things. Therefore, as this year is beginning let’s renew our commitment to worship the Lord and to witness to the world. If we do those two basic things we will have many new songs to sing in the coming year about what God is doing in our lives.