The New Song
“He hath put a new song in my mouth.” Psa_40:3
When anybody sings it is an outward token of an inward happiness. Despondent people very seldom sing. When a man sings as he walks the country road it means that he has a heart of peace. When he sings while he is dressing in the morning, it means that he gladly accepts another day. And wherever Christianity has come, with its liberating and uplifting power, it has carried with it this note of singing gladness. The Stoic boasts, when life is harsh and cruel, that his head is “bloody but unbowed.” Paul and Silas did far more than that; they sang praises in the jail at midnight. Their religion was an exhilarating business as all true religion ought to be. They had not only peace in believing; they had joy.
Now if you listen to anyone singing at his work you will catch the strain of an old familiar melody. Nobody dreams of practicing new songs when he is walking along a country road. Yet the psalmist, thinking of life’s highways and of daily work and undistinguished mornings, says that God has put a new song in his mouth. You see, a song may be very old, and yet to us it may be very new. It may break on us with all the charm of novelty though it has come ringing down the ages. It may be like the coming of the spring which is always new and wonderful to us though every vanished year has had its spring. Generally, the new songs which God gives have come echoing down the corridors of time. Men sang them long ago in days that carry the memories of history. But when they come to us, and touch our hearts in fresh, vivid personal experience, they are as new as the wonder of the springtime.
The Bible, the Song of Heaven
One sees that very clearly with the Bible which is the grand, sweet song of heaven for us. No mere critic can ever grasp the Bible any more than he can grasp the magnificence of Shakespeare. Now the Bible is a book for childhood. It has stories which enthrall the childish-heart. There is the story of David and Goliath in it and of Daniel in the den of lions. And then comes life with all its changing years, with its lights and shadows and sufferings and joys, and what a new song the Bible is to us! The strange thing is it is an old, old song. It is “the song our mothers sang.” It is the song that kindled the great heart of Knox and satisfied Sir Walter Scott on his deathbed. Yet when our heart is deepened and our eyes are opened by sin and suffering and loneliness and mercy, a new song is put into our mouth.
We see that this is how God deals with us when we think of the old sweet song of love. For all love is of God, and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in Him. Every spring of love in earthly valleys flows from the heavenly fountain. Every spark of love in human breasts is a spark of the eternal fire. The love of home, of parentage and childhood, not less than “the way of a man with a maid,” are but the ocean of eternal love creeping into the crannies of the shore. Now the song of love has gone echoing through the world since the first lovers gathered in the gloaming. Joseph knew to its depths the love of fatherhood. Yet when love indwells any human heart, its song is as new as the melody of spring, though since the dawn of time spring has sung its carol. Whenever a heart loves, God puts a new song into the mouth. No love song is a repetition, though the same things have been said a thousand times. And just because God has set His love on us, His old love songs are all new to us when first in the secret of our souls we hear them. God does not need to write new love songs. The old, old love song is the best. The heart is crying, “Tell me the old, old story.” But the wonderful thing is that when we hear it, old though it is to us, it is so thrilling that a new song is put into our mouth.
God’s Redeeming Grace Is an Individual Love Song
I notice, lastly, that the newness of the song runs down to the mystery of individuality. The song is new just because we are new. We hear much today of mass production. It is because of mass production things are cheap. Had God made humanity by mass production, then human souls would have been cheap. But the very fact that we are individuals and that no two are alike in the whole world is a token that we were never made that way. No two faces are ever just the same; no two temptations ever quite alike; no two joys without their subtle difference; no two heart-breaks indistinguishable — it is this element of newness in the separate life of every man and woman that takes the old song and makes it new. The song was sung by David, but David and you were never standardized. It may be sung by multitudes in heaven, but your experience of mercy is your own. And so, when God in His redeeming love puts the old sweet song of grace upon your lips, the song is new—it is your very own—it seems as if no one else had ever sung it.