Sing to the Lord a new song,
his praise from the end of the earth,
you who go down to the sea, and all that fills it,
the coastlands and their inhabitants.
The greatness of the Lord demands response—singing, to be specific. There are two parallel things to sing here. First, “a new song”, which stands in line with Psalms 33 and 96 and fits with the “new thing” that God is doing in the ministry of the Servant seen in 42:1-9. A new song befits new work. Imagine, for example, if the only songs we sang were about the Exodus, or the Flood. New songs are necessary to express the greatness of the Lord’s new work. We sing of the highest things when we sing new songs about Jesus Christ and about God’s finality of revelation and work in and through and by him. The Scripture commands: “Sing a new song.” Calvin says here “more lofty praises ought to proceed from those on whom more valuable gifts have been bestowed.” Christians ought to be the most joyful, “singingest” folks in the world. There should be a flavor of gratefulness that emanates from us. How often this does not describe me. I must daily confess and repent of the lack of “singing” in my heart and attitude.
The second thing to sing in this verse is the Lord’s praise to the earth’s ends. The rest of the verse stands parallel to “the end of the earth”, further describing this phrase. In the Servant’s ministry there will be singing to the Holy One of Israel from every nook and cranny of the globe. I think (though I would not claim an infallible interpretation here) that the sea/coastland idea conveys an sense of geographic distance. The same goes for the creatures who fill the sea and the men who ride the sea’s waves. It symbolizes the reaches of the Lord’s praise throughout the earth.
There are two main applications here. The first is the issue of having a “singing” spirit as one who, in Christ, has been smiled upon by God in heaven. Even today, I have seen the paucity of my own soul in this respect. I grumble more than I sing. Singing (both literally and as a metaphor) should ooze out of me. By God’s grace may it be so.
The second application is a mission-related one. There will, one day, be folks from every tongue and tribe and nation, from every nook and cranny of the earth who will sing new songs to the Lord in languages and with instruments which have never yet rung out his praise. But this won’t happen apart from God’s people obeying God’s commandment. This must always be on our radar screen. Especially as a future pastor, I need to keep beating this drum until I die.