Seeker: “O sing to the LORD a new song; sing to the LORD, all the earth.”
Preacher: “Sing to the LORD, bless his name; tell of his salvation from day to day.”
Seeker: Now wait a minute – a new song? But a song of salvation? The salvation of the Lord is not new, not even in the time of the psalmist was it new. And if it was day to day, after a few days it would no longer be new.
Preacher: Seeker, you know the psalmist uses a lot of poetic license and a stylized format when writing and constructing these praise choruses. No more so, though, than other song and hymn writers.
Seeker: I realize I am being overly critical. And I mean no disrespect to the psalmist. And most probably he was writing according to the style that was expected for his time. Sometimes these lines from the psalms seem stiff, and at times they chaff.
Preacher: “Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous works among all the peoples.” Seeker, have you considered that the psalms might have been a “radical” form of worship – for those times? Consider the psalmist as the young David out watching his flocks (or his father’s flocks) and bursting into song in the joy of the Lord. A young exuberant lad who away from the eyes and ears of others could give voice to his inner feelings. Granted, there might be other songs to the Divine written but not included in the Canon; however, there are few books in the current biblical Canon that are bursting with emotions and sentiments to Yahweh and the Lord God.
Seeker: “For great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised; he is to be revered above all gods.” You may be correct, Preacher. This line about the Lord being revered above other gods may reflect that fact that other nations had gods and odes were composed for them. Maybe in their time, the psalms were cutting edge.
Preacher: “For all the gods of the peoples are idols, but the LORD made the heavens.” The boy David may have not been aware of what other nations did. But the King David was probably well accounted with other worship habits. It is said that David danced in front of the Ark of the Covenant, and that was considered pretty cutting edge!
Seeker: “Honor and majesty are before him; strength and beauty are in his sanctuary.”
Preacher: “Ascribe to the LORD, O families of the peoples, ascribe to the LORD glory and strength.”
Seeker: “Ascribe to the LORD the glory due his name; bring an offering, and come into his courts.” I am sensing it now – although it may be I am reading something into it. But there does seem a call to a different type of worship than previously in the Old Testament. More joy and less dutiful obligation.
Preacher: “Worship the LORD in holy splendor; tremble before him, all the earth.” Remember Eli’s sons who brought shame to the priesthood. And then there was Samuel who had a more intimate relationship, and eventually proclaimed David as king who would become a man after the Lord’s heart.
Seeker: “Say among the nations, “The LORD is king! The world is firmly established; it shall never be moved. He will judge the peoples with equity.” Preacher, that is all the RCL uses of this passage. It seems like a good stopping point, but I do not think the psalmist is done.
Preacher: “Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice; let the sea roar, and all that fills it; let the field exult, and everything in it. Then shall all the trees of the forest sing for joy before the LORD; for he is coming, for he is coming to judge the earth. He will judge the world with righteousness, and the peoples with his truth.” (Psalm 96:1 – 13) No, he was not Seeker. The psalmist presents another new idea; that creation and humanity should be glad that the Lord is coming to judge. Those who are found worthy will rejoice and be joyful. He does not say, however, how those who are judged harshly may react. It is interesting, is it not, that when the psalmist feels the Lord has judged him harshly, he pleads for mercy and forgiveness; and then moves forward confident of the Lord’s blessing and mercy.
Seeker: Yes, he is a complex and deeply spiritual man, our psalmist.
Preacher: Shalom & Selah, Seeker, Shalom & Selah!