Scriptures

Psalm 95

Introduction

Most commentators suggest that this plasm through to Psalm 100 are psalms of worship, when Israel gathered for the Sabbath Day worship. The Hebrew writer quotes this psalm throughout Hebrews 3:7-4:13.

There is no heading for this psalm, so we don’t know who the author is, however, when we read Hebrews 4:7, we find the writer quoting many parts of this psalm and accredits the authorship to David.

Jewish tradition accredits Psalms 90-100 to Moses. Other Psalms written by Moses are also found in Exodus 15, and in Deuteronomy 32.

‘Come, let us sing for joy to the LORD; let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation. Let us come before him with thanksgiving and extol him with music and song. For the LORD is the great God, the great King above all gods. In his hand are the depths of the earth, and the mountain peaks belong to him. The sea is his, for he made it, and his hands formed the dry land. Come, let us bow down in worship, let us kneel before the LORD our Maker; for he is our God and we are the people of his pasture, the flock under his care.’ Psalm 95:1-7

The psalmist begins by asking everyone to join them in singing songs of joy to the LORD, and they ask everyone to join them in shouts to the Rock of their salvation, Psalm 18:2.

This is clearly speaking about communal worship, where everyone is to take part in their public worship of God, which involved singing praises to God.

When they worshipped God, their worship was directed at God, their Rock of salvation, and they all knelt before Him, which means they were aware that they were in the presence of God.

They were to bow down before Him with thanksgiving in their hearts because of who God is and what God has done in their lives. They extoled God with music and song.

If we learn anything from these verses is that our worship should be directed at God and everything we do in worship is for God. Worshipping God isn’t the time for entertainment, its time of deep reflection of who He is and what He has done and continues to do for His people.

When we reflect upon God in our worship, we will acknowledge that He truly is a great God and we will acknowledge that He truly is the great King above all gods.

In other words, when we worship God, we reflect upon His greatness and remove any thoughts of any other god. We may not worship other gods today as Israel did in the past, but we still may have things which we have made gods in our lives, such as our job, our families, money or even food.

God is so great, He holds the depths of the earth in His hands, the mountain peaks belong to Him and the sea belongs to God since He made it. In other words, He reigns supreme over His creation. We pour our hearts out to God in worship because we understand that God is everywhere and in control of all creation.

After declaring the greatness of God over His creation and why He deserves to be worshipped, the psalmist once again invites everyone to come and bow down, Judges 7:5-6 / 1 Kings 8:54 / 2 Kings 1:13 / 2 Chronicles 7:3 / Isaiah 45:23, to worship God.

They invite everyone to kneel before the LORD, their Maker, Daniel 6:10 / 2 Chronicles 6:13 / Luke 22:41 / Acts 7:60 / Acts 9:40 / Acts 20:36 / Acts 21:5.

The reason everyone should bow down and kneel before God is simply because He is our God, we are the people of His pasture, Psalm 23:1-3, and the flock under His care, Numbers 4:28 / Numbers 31:49 / Judges 9:29.

In other words, His people belong to Him and God belongs to them, like a shepherd cares and protects his flock, He cares for His people and protects them like the Good Shepherd, John 10:1-18.

‘Today, if only you would hear his voice, “Do not harden your hearts as you did at Meribah, as you did that day at Massah in the wilderness, where your ancestors tested me; they tried me, though they had seen what I did. For forty years I was angry with that generation; I said, ‘They are a people whose hearts go astray, and they have not known my ways.’ So I declared on oath in my anger, ‘They shall never enter my rest.’” Psalm 95:7-11

The psalmist now tell us that not only should God be worshipped with singing and thanksgiving for being the great God that He is, but He should also be listened to worship. When we worship God we should listen to what He is saying to us when we hear His word being read and preached.

God tells them not to harden their hearts as they did at Meribah, this warning is emphasised three times in the Book of Hebrews, Hebrews 3:7 / Hebrews 3:15 and in Hebrews 4:7 the writer adds the word ‘today’, to emphasise the urgency to listen to God with soft hearts.

The Hebrew word for ‘tested’ is Meribah, the place where Israel rebelled because they had no water, Exodus 17:1-7 / Numbers 20:1-13, and the word for ‘tried’ is Massah.

Because they thought of themselves, they tested and tried the patience of God by complaining about their circumstances. They doubted whether God could care for them, and thus were actually putting God to the test.

God is telling them, after everything He did for them in bringing them out of Egypt, they should have listened to His voice and worshipped Him, Hebrews 3:9. Instead, Israel hardened their hearts, that is, they rebelled against God at Meribah, Numbers 20:1-13.

They refused to trust God and enter the Promised Land, Numbers 13:30-14:10, and as a result of their rebellion, God condemned that generation and they died in the wilderness of Massah, Numbers 14:22-23 / Numbers 14:28-32.

Because of their rebellion God was angry with Israel for forty years, because of Israel’s self-centeredness, they were condemned to wander for 40 years in the wilderness, Joshua 5:6.

God says their hearts had gone astray, it’s impossible to worship God if our hearts aren’t pure and it’s impossible to worship God if we don’t know His ways, Hebrews 3:10.

Because Israel’s hearts had gone astray and because they didn’t know God’s ways, God swore an oath in His anger, Hebrews 3:11. He swore that Israel would never enter His rest, that is, those who rebelled against Him and didn’t trust Him, Numbers 14:26-38.

Conclusion

After encouraging the readers not to give up, the author of Hebrews gives a stern warning based on Israel’s history, Hebrews 3:7-11. The parallel in Hebrews is striking as we remember that this isn’t written to unbelievers in the world. This is being written to Christians as a warning.

You have been delivered from the slavery of sin as the Israelites had been delivered from Egyptian slavery. You have been baptized and become part of Christ just as the Israelites were ‘baptized’ in the Red Sea, 1 Corinthians 10:1. Do not now harden your heart after all that you have experienced. You have seen the mighty works of God, do not turn back.

Now the writer draws a couple important lessons. First, ‘take care and be on your guard for an unbelieving heart’. Hebrews 3:12-15. Now I believe all of us would say that we do not have an unbelieving heart, so we are in the clear, but let’s back up for a moment and examine what he means.

The reference is to those in Psalm 95 who put God to the test. They did not believe that God would provide for them and they therefore, complained about water. They did not put their full trust in God concerning their lives and they did not believe God would provide.

The second lesson is the necessity to ‘encourage each other every day’. We need to be encouraged every day so that we are not hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.

Sin lies to us, sin tells us that what we are doing is okay. It makes us put our trust in it rather than God. Sin deceives us into thinking that are hearts are not hardening against God by committing sin.

We need to encourage or exhort each other every day. Every day is today. When tomorrow comes, it will be today. This is a call for a deeper fellowship and a regular fellowship with one another to fight against the hardening of the heart.

This explains to us why meeting together is important. When we miss, our hearts to grow hard. We must accept this truth, the longer I am disconnected from my family in Christ, the easier it is to stay away from God. Encourage each other every day!

This is the remedy against a hard heart. Isn’t it interesting that more praying or more Bible reading is not the answer here? Encourage each other every day to prevent the hard heart.

But there is another reason why this is so important, because ‘we have come to share in Christ’. We are companions and partners with Christ. We are sharing in Christ, as the writer argued in Hebrews 2. He is our brother, but we only remain in this family if we hold our original confidence to the end.

In Hebrews 3:15 the writer quotes Psalm 95 again to make the point emphatic. Hardening our heart is to not hold on to our confidence that we had at the beginning of our journey with God.

Now I think we can flip the language and understand our warning, if we do not hold on to our original confidence, then we do not share with Christ and not in God’s family.

Go To Psalm 96

DAILY BIBLE VERSE

"But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed."

Isaiah 53:5

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