Monday, August 1, 2022

Bow Down in Worship (Psalm 95)

The Psalm opens with an exuberant call to worship, and it is difficult to read it without being caught up in the enthusiasm of the writer. (In Heb. 4:7 the Psalm seems to be attributed to David, but the expression “in David” (JND) may simply mean in the book of Psalms, since so many of them were written by him.)

Psalm 95:1-2 No doubt we hear the voice of the Holy Spirit in these verses calling Israel back to the worship of Jehovah at the close of her dark days of tribulation. But we must not miss His voice calling to us as well “from each idol that would keep us.”

It is interesting to notice the variety of expressions used to describe true worship. It is singing to the LORD. It is making a joyful shout to the Rock of our salvation, that is, to the cleft Rock of Ages in whom we find eternal refuge. It is coming into His presence, confessing with thanksgiving all that He has done for us. It is making the rafters ring with psalms of praise to Him.

Psalm 95:3–5 And just as there is great variety in the manner of our praise, so there is infinite scope in its matter. The LORD is to be praised because He is the great God (Heb., El, i.e., the Omnipotent One). He is a great King above all the idolatrous gods of the heathen. The deep places of the earth are in His hand in the sense that He owns them. The mountain peaks are His also because He formed them. He created the mighty oceans, and it was His hands that shaped the continents and the islands.

Psalm 95:6-7 But now a second invitation to worship rings out, and it becomes even more personal and intimate. We should worship and kneel before the LORD our Maker, because He is our God. He is our God by creation and then by redemption. He is the Good Shepherd who gave His life for us. Now we are the people of His pasture, and the sheep who are led, guided, and protected by His nail-pierced hand.

Psalm 95:7–9 In the middle of verse 7 there is an abrupt change from worship to warning. It is the longing, eloquent sighing of the Holy Spirit:

    Today, if you will hear His voice.…

In the remaining verses we hear the voice of Jehovah Himself warning His people against an evil heart of unbelief. At Meribah near Rephidim the Israelites provoked God by their complaints about the lack of water (this was the same place as Massah—Ex. 17:7). At another Meribah near Kadesh, Moses offended God by smiting the rock instead of speaking to it (Num. 20:10–12). The two events, one at the beginning of the desert journey and the other near the close, form significant terminals expressing in their names (Meribah = rebellion; Massah = trial) the faithlessness of the people during that time. Even though they had seen God’s marvelous work in delivering them from Egypt, they tested Him and tried Him.

Psalm 95:10-11 This provocative conduct spanned forty years. Finally God said, in effect, “I’ve had enough. These tiresome people have hearts that are bent on wandering. They are determined to disregard the pathway that I have mapped for them. So I have made a solemn oath that they shall not enter the rest that I had planned for them in Canaan.”

This poignant appeal, once directed to Israel, is quoted in Hebrews 3:7–11 and directed to any who might be tempted to forsake Christ in order to return to the law. And it will be a warning to Israel in the last days that unbelief will keep them out of God’s millennial rest.

Unbelief excludes men from God’s rest in every dispensation. Read Hebrews 3:7–19. How does the writer of Hebrews use this psalm to exhort the church? How does someone become hardened by sin’s deceitfulness? What was at the root of Israel’s rebellion in the desert? Examine your life for any unbelief or hardening of the heart that inhibits you from worshiping God properly.