A Reflection on Psalm 98

Psalm 98 1 A psalm for David himself.

Sing you to the Lord a new song,

Because he has done wonderful things.

His right hand has formed salvation for him,

And his arm is holy.

2 The Lord has made known his salvation,

He has revealed his justice in the sight of the Gentiles.  

3 He has remembered his mercy and his truth

Toward the house of Israel.

All the ends of the earth have seen the salvation of our God.  

4 Sing joyfully to God, all the earth;

Make melody, rejoice and sing.  

5 Sing praise to the Lord on the harp,

On the harp, and with the voice of a psalm,

6 with long trumpets, and sound of of the horn.

Make a joyful noise before the Lord our king,

7 let the sea be moved with all its fullness,

Even to the world’s end and all who live there.

8 The rivers shall clap their hands,

The mountains shall rejoice together

9 at the presence of the Lord,

Because he comes to judge the earth.

He shall judge the world with justice,

And the people with equity.

As I’ve been doing in these last few days I will be reflecting on the Psalm of the day, which is Psalm 98. As we’re going through this the Psalter and learning from these beautiful hymns

Book of praise was the hymn book really of ancient Israel This Psalm starts off with a familiar phrase very familiar to us and that is “Sing to the Lord a new song. Now that’s an interesting phrase. We see this a lot. It occurs many times in scriptures, not just in the Psalms but also in the book of Revelation and in other places. What does that mean? What is the new song?

The new song is a symphony in three movements.

The first movement is obviously a song of praise. It is a song that reflects on what God has done. Even now, in this particular Psalm, we see that this psalmist says you have saved us through your mighty arm because it’s a reflection upon what God has done. Many times, you see sing to the Lord or new song and the psalmist will go through the whole history of God’s interaction with Israel. In the Book of Revelation, the new song is mentioned regarding the 144,000 that are before the throne of God, representing the believers of all time and all places. They are singing a new song to the Lord, and no one knows the song but them, because it’s their personal song. It’s the song of their own relationship with God. They sing of what God has done for them in their lives. So, the first movement of a new song is a reflection upon what God has done for us

The second movement is a meditation on what God is doing for us today. It’s easy to see God as someone who acted in the past. Jesus healed many, and the Apostles proclaimed the Gospel, taking it to the ends of the earth. But what is God doing for us today? What is God is doing in us today? How is he transforming us? How is he making us more into the likeness of Christ today? How is he shaping our hearts? How is he increasing our love? Our compassion? Our patience? Sing to the Lord a new song. Reflect on what God has done for us in the past, but also meditate on what God is doing in us and for us today

The third movement is that hope of what God is going to do for us in the future. God is bringing us bringing ultimate salvation as we were all brought into what the church refers to as the beatific vision. That’s a fancy theological term for when we will see God face to face. And when we see him, we will be made like him. And that’s the beatific vision, that blessed vision of us seeing God and being transformed in his very presence. In this particular Psalm, the psalmist goes on to talk about how God has revealed himself to the nations. God is bringing about his justice in the earth. Those are prophetic statements that God is going to bring to fulfillment in the future. He brings those to fulfillment first in Christ – in his passion, in his resurrection and ascension, and in the descent of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. It’s there that God pours reveals himself reveals his justice to the world. All the nations were gathered there in Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost when God revealed his justice. And what is his justice? It is the Holy Spirit of love. We as Catholics talk a lot about justice. We have justice ministries. We talk about justice in the earth. And what is justice? It’s the love of God. Justice flows from the realization that God loves all humanity. And he loves all humanity through us.

As the introduction to the gospel today calls us to “love one another as I have loved you.” And he longs to love the world through us. He has made his salvation known.

Another couple of quick reflections upon this psalm. I love the reference to instruments: the harp the trumpet and the horn. In the Greek translation of the Psalms knows as he Septuagint, which was used actually more than the Hebrew version of the Psalms at the time of Christ, the word there for harp is guitarra, from which of course which we get the word ‘guitar’. So, the psalmist is saying let’s praise the Lord with the guitar. I know that in the Second Vatican Council in the Constitution on Liturgy said that the organ was the proper instrument for liturgical worship. Well, okay. That’s fine. But for thousands of years it was the guitar that was the proper instrument for liturgical worship. Long before the organ was ever invented. And the psalmist says praise the Lord with the guitar with the horn and with the trumpet. Then we can bring all instruments to praise God in fact there are a few verses to this song that aren’t in the lectionary and I want to mention those here, because they’re really very beautiful and very wonderful.

In these last verses “Let the sea and what fills it resound. Let the rivers clap their hands. Let the mountains shout with them for joy in the presence of the Lord who comes who comes to govern the earth.” This reflection upon all of nature all of creation praising God with the various sounds that nature makes. With the Thunder of the oceans and the wind howling through the mountains and the rivers lapping water over rocks. The psalmist likens these to shouts of joy and clapping of hands, singing of songs. All of nature, everything that creation does is to praise God. That’s pretty awesome.

I want to again go back to reflect the new song. Reflect on what God has done for you. Meditate on what God is doing in and for you right now. And hope for what God will ultimately fulfill in your life.

Let us go to God now in prayer.

Heavenly Father,

We give you thanks and praise that you have gathered us here. Help us Lord. Give us hearts to sing that new song: as we reflect upon what you have done for us, as you inspire us in this very day in guidance, and as Lord we hope that you will be bringing us to that beatific vision – to that time when we will see you face to face and be transformed in your mercy. Let the new song be on our lips this entire day and every day forward

Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

We pray to the

Lord Heavenly Father we pray for all

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