“Oh, sing to the LORD a new song! Sing to the LORD, all the earth” (Psalm 96:1).
Even though this was penned at a specific time for the people of Israel, it’s audience is more broad – as evidenced by the phrase “all the earth.” In fact, this “global application” is referenced throughout Psalm 96: “all the earth” (vs. 1), “among the nations” (vs. 3), “among all peoples” (vs. 3), “families of the peoples” (vs. 7), “all the earth” (vs. 9, 11), “the nations” (vs. 10), and “the world” (vs. 10, 13).
God is so great in His person and works that He demands a universal audience. Steve Lawson helpfully observes about this universal praise in his commentary.
“How could any heart consider God’s supreme authority and remain apathetic? Such silence is sinful, completely incongruent with the majesty of God. The unrivaled, worldwide rule of God demands the praise of all people everywhere. If the Lord were a mere regional deity, possessing only a limited dominion, then he should be adored only by the few who live under his localized government. But there is no restriction to his global dominion. The Lord is King over all the nations of the earth. Thus, he must be worshipped by every person. It is too small a thing, the psalmist argues, that he should be praised only by the remnant of Israel. Such would be far too small a congregation to declare God’s true greatness. Because his sovereignty is extended over all nations, his praise must come from all peoples” (Psalm 76-150, pg. 116)
It is a universal psalm for a universal audience.
The word “sing” repeats 3x in vs. 1. This repetition is what grammarians call “to the superlative degree.” In other words, “Sing, keep singing, sing louder, etc.” This is a command for non-stop singing.
And the song is to be “a new song.” How is it “new?” What the psalmist is suggesting is a song about fresh experiences of God’s care and salvation. In other words, it is singing a song as a result of a new or fresh perspective of the Creator. Charles Spurgeon explains, “Let us not present old worn-out praise, but put life, and soul, and heart, into every song, since we have new mercies every day, and see new beauties in the work and word of our Lord.” (The Treasury of David, pg. 105)
It is not a newly composed psalm, but a psalm celebrating fresh experiences of divine action or being struck anew by the amazing glory of God’s person or deeds (e.g., God’s faithfulness new every day from Lamentations 3:22-23).
So next time you are singing to the Lord, sing like you have never sung the song before