Psalm 98 is an absolute favourite of mine, I love the great invitation in its opening line to stir our own creative powers and sing a new song to God:
- O SING unto the Lord a new song: for he hath done marvellous things.
- With his own right hand, and with his holy arm: hath he gotten himself the victory.
But of course, when Christians respond to this psalm it really is a new song. When the psalmist wrote the words ‘with his own right hand and with his holy arm he hath gotten the victory’ I’m sure they imagined victory in a conventional battle with wounds inflicted on an enemy. But a Christian contemplating the right hand and holy arm of the Lord is taken straight to the mystery of the cross where the enemy defeated is Sin and Death itself and the victory is gained not by inflicting wounds on others but by the Lord of Life and Love, in the mystery of atonement, taking those wounds on himself, taking the worst that we can so to him and one another and turning it into Love and forgiveness, and so that is the theme of my response to this psalm.
The other thing I love in this psalm is the great invitation to take up all the instruments at our disposal to sing his praises:
Praise the Lord upon the harp: sing to the harp with a psalm of thanksgiving.
With trumpets also and shawms: O shew yourselves joyful before the Lord the King.
That too comes out in my poem, where I interpret it not only as the actual musical instruments but also as all the art forms we have: music, drama, dance and poetry!
As always you can hear me read the poems by clicking on the play button or the title and you can find the other poems in this evolving series by putting the word ‘psalm’ into the search box on the right.
For Christ himself will shine as the true ark,
The holy one between the cherubim,
In his right hand and holy arm the mark
And imprint of the wounds we gave to him
Which he returns as love. He has declared
That love with open hands and heart. To him
The world with all its wounds, its shared
Desires and fears, will come, to seek the peace
Which he still offers freely. He has spared
The guilty, for he chose to take their place
And suffer for them. Therefore we will sing
A new song, in the all-renewing grace
Still flowing from those wounds. The world will ring
With music, drama, dance, and poetry,
With every gift that grateful hearts can bring.
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