Psalm 98, "... sing unto the Lord a new song..." is one of the more quoted verses of the Psalms. What exactly does the phrase "New Song" mean?
Ps. 98. 1: O sing unto the Lord a new song; for, he hath done marvelous things.
New = fresh, lively, as opposed to dead and stale. When we hear a new song on the radio, we often are delighted; however, when we hear the same song again and again we grow tired of it – the worn out lines, the hackneyed phrases. cf. Spurgeon in Lectures To My Students on the ‘hackneyed phrases’ of insincere men. Our song to God should be new in the sense that it is never tired, worn out phrases, never dull repetition of meaningless (to us) lines. Just as in prayer, where Jesus condemns the repetition of meaningless phrases – so in worship, we should not repeat meaningless phrases. I have often seen worship where the same song is sung again, and again, but without any heart or any meaning behind it. Bunyan, "Better heart without words than words without heart." Our worship of God should not be rote performance of dry duties, but a heartfelt, fresh embrace – we need to keep it exciting, not let the day to day, hum drum sap us of life and vigor. Note, as a wise man once said about keep his relationship with his wife ‘lively’ and ‘romantic,' -- “Everything is against this.”
New = engaged. We should not sleep walk through serving God; we have to take care that we don’t fall asleep, “Watch and pray.” There is, due to original sin, a sleepy sinfulness, sluggishness, and drowsiness always clinging to us.
New = variety. God’s mercies are new every morning, and so we can, every morning, sing a new song to him. I preached on Romans 3 at different Churches for almost 2 years; I grew tired of preaching on it. We need to preach the whole counsel of God, not get hung up on only one doctrine of scripture. We sometimes sound like a skipping record in worship services. We sing the same song again and again, and pray the same prayers again and again. We preach the same sermon again and again. There are many things to sing about. There are many things to preach about. There are many things to pray about. Compare Edwards warning against people who read the same books of the Bible again and again. We should learn something ‘new’ about God every worship service – not in the sense of ‘heretical,’ or ‘new revelation’ – we should go back again and again to the old gospel, and explore how wide and deep it really is.
New = responsive. God is, every day, and throughout our lives, teaching us new things, or teaching us old things with deeper significance. We should sing a new song in that we should be teachable, wild-eyed, childlike in our wonder of God and what he is doing. Children do not tire of seeing things because all things are new to them. So, if we have eyes to see, we can find something to sing about.
New = progressive. As God reveals more of himself to us, we have more to sing about.