God’s Word for You
by Pastor Timothy Smith on Monday, May 26, 2008
Song of Praise to the Lord
David had said: “Sing to him a new song; play skillfully, and shout for joy” (Psalm 33:3).1 Now Isaiah picks up on the same thought:
10 Sing to the LORD a new song,
his praise from the ends of the earth,
you who go down to the sea, and all that is in it,
you islands, and all who live in them. (NIV)
The new song is sung because of the new condition God has given to us. Because of his forgiveness, we are made new every day. Jeremiah said, “Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness” (Lamentations 3:22-23). And the song is new because of the new people—including the Gentiles—who are hearing the gospel and singing praises to God.
Here a new people sings praise to God, as well. Those “who go down to the sea” were not normally the people of Israel, but the Phoenician sailors they hired and sometimes worked for.
The Phoenicians lived next door to Israel, in cities like Tyre and Sidon, and they spread out all over the Mediterranean Sea. They had colonies all along the northern coastline of Africa, most famously just across from Italy’s boot at a place called Carthage. When the Romans fought the Phoenicians in the 3rd and 2nd centuries BC, just after the time of Malachi and the close of the Old Testament, they called them Punic wars because of the Latin pronunciation of Phoenician (related to the word phoenix, not to the word punish as is sometimes thought). The Phoenician colonies along the coastlines and throughout the Mediterranean islands are hinted at in this passage: “the sea, and all that is in it, you islands, and all who live in them.”
As the “new song” begins, new people like the Phoenicians are singing along. God’s mercy extends over all the earth. His forgiveness covers over every one of our sins, and as we carry his message of forgiveness to the world, new voices are added all the time. Every generation and every nation adds new voices to this song, and the rooms of heaven are filled with every believer, known and loved by God from before the creation of the world.
And that goes for you, too.
1 The Greek translation of the Old Testament, the Septuagint, ascribes Psalm 33 to David in its title. Psalm 96:1 and Psalm 98:1 also sing “a new song”—and both of those are also ascribed to David in the Septuagint. In the Hebrew (and English), all three of these are “orphan psalms,” a group of psalms which do not mention any author in their titles.
Pastor Timothy Smith
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