Weds 6 April - Psalm 95
1 Come, let us sing for joy to the Lord;
let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation.
2 Let us come before him with thanksgiving
and extol him with music and song.
3 For the Lord is the great God,
the great King above all gods.
4 In his hand are the depths of the earth,
and the mountain peaks belong to him.
5 The sea is his, for he made it,
and his hands formed the dry land.
6 Come, let us bow down in worship,
let us kneel before the Lord our Maker;
7 for he is our God
and we are the people of his pasture,
the flock under his care.
Today, if only you would hear his voice,
8 ‘Do not harden your hearts as you did at Meribah,
as you did that day at Massah in the wilderness,
9 where your ancestors tested me;
they tried me, though they had seen what I did.
10 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.”
11 So I declared on oath in my anger,
“They shall never enter my rest.”’
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Meditation on Psalm 95
Michael Wilcock starts his comments on this Psalm, quoting the English Reformers: ‘Except for Easter Sunday, ‘upon which another Anthem is appointed’, every morning of the year should see the people of every parish in England gathering to encourage one another with the words of this psalm. Venite, exultemus Domino – O come, let us sing unto the Lord! That, at any rate, was what the English Reformers intended. Today, 450 years later, the expectation is somewhat unrealistic but the principle is sound.’
At the height of the pandemic we were not able to meet in church and this was very tough. It’s wasn’t the same when we had no choice but to watch online.
Now we are back in church so we can pick up on the opening verses of this psalm.
- VERSES 1-2 A SINGING PEOPLE
As an aside, we have to be careful that we say that carefully. When we were at Parkside our eldest grandson was seen up on the platform after the service, with a microphone in his hand, walking back and forth across the platform. His mum asked him what he was doing, to which he replied, “I’m Grandpa and I’m sinning!” Surprising how one letter can change the whole meaning of a word.
Here in these first two verses we have an invitation to worship. ‘Come, let us sing.’
Notice that the invitation is to ‘us’. Whilst we can sing on our own – if we dare – here is an invitation for us to join together with fellow-travellers to sing. If you are not sure about singing in tune, then go with the translation which says, ‘make a joyful noise’.
Dare I say that this is an invitation to come to church and sing together – ‘Come, let US sing for joy…’
What is joy as expressed in the Scriptures?
- Joy is knowing Jesus. Graham Kendrick summed it up like this: ‘Knowing you, Jesus, there is no greater thing; You’re my all, You’re the best; You’re my joy, my righteousness, and I love you, Lord.’
- Joy is trusting the Word of God. Psalm 16:11 ‘You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence.’
- Joy is knowing the Holy Spirit in our lives. Romans 15:13 ‘May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.’ Galatians 5:22-23 ‘The fruit of the Spirit is…joy…’
- Joy helps us to persevere. Hebrews 2:1b-2 ‘Let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of our faith. For the joy set before Him, He endured the cross, scorning its shame and sat down at the right hand of throne of God.’
- Joy is seeing God at work in our lives and the lives of others as they come to faith Acts 13:52 ‘And the disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit.’
And as we know this joy, so we sing to the Lord, to the Rock of our salvation.
- we give thanks
- we make music
- we sing
- VERSES 3-5 A WORTHY GOD
These verses give us the reasons why we should be a singing people. We always remember that our singing and our worship is for God’s glory and not for our gratification.
- He is the great God. Samuel Davies wrote a hymn towards the end of the 18th Century. The first verse says, ‘Great God of wonders, all Thy ways are matchless, godlike and divine; but the fair glories of Thy grace more godlike and unrivalled shine: Who is a pardoning God like Thee? Or who has grace so rich and free?’
- He is the great King. He has no rivals. We should have no other gods.
- He is the great Creator. From the depths of the earth, to the mountain peaks, to the sea and to the dry land, God is the Creator and Sustainer. We have made a mess of God’s creation and the world is seeking a solution through climate change. There will only be a resolution to this dilemma when God makes a ‘new heaven and a new earth.’
Praise to the Lord, the Almighty, the King of creation!
O my soul, praise Him, for He is thy health and salvation!
All ye who hear, brothers and sisters draw near
Praise Him in glad adoration.
(Joachim Neander (1680))
- VERSES 6-7b A HUMBLE PEOPLE
In the opening verses we were invited to sing. Now we are invited to ‘bow down’.
He is not only worthy of our praise and worship but of our submission to Him.
This involves the will and it involves commitment as we recognise who God is. He is…
- Our Maker
- Our God
- Our shepherd
And we have a relationship with Him as ‘the flock under His care’.
God, who is worthy of our praise and worship, of our obedience and submission is our Shepherd.
He cares about each one of us. Jacob, at the end of his tempestuous life, declared, ‘…the God who has been my shepherd all of my life to this day…’ (Genesis 48:15b)
Psalm 100:3 says, ‘Know that the LORD is God. It is He who has made us and we are the sheep of His pasture.
We, His people, chosen by Him, brought into a relationship with Him through the death and resurrection of Jesus – we are ‘under His care’.
We have no cause for boasting but in humility we accept the invitation to ‘Come and sing…’ and to ‘Come and bow down in worship.’
As Stuart Townend wrote in his song, ‘I will not boast in anything, no gifts, no power, no wisdom; but I will boast in Jesus Christ, His death and resurrection’.
- VERSES 7c-11 A LISTENING PEOPLE
We worship; we bow down but do we listen?
The psalmist takes us back to the children of Israel and their disobedience – not once, not twice but on many occasions.
How like them we are. We hear God’s Word but are we really listening?
And the psalmist makes it clear when he says ‘Today…’ It’s as if he is challenging us to listen in ‘every today’.
We know what happened to the people at Meribah and Massah – go back to Exodus 17:1-7. Because of their ‘hardening of their hearts’, God made them wander through the desert for 40 years rather than the much less time if only they had obeyed. The writer of the letter to the Hebrews focuses on this when he warns them and us of unbelief – Hebrews 3:7-4:7
The challenge for us is summed up in this verse of a hymn –
May the Word of God dwell richly, in my heart from hour to hour,
So that all may see I triumph, only through His power. (Katie Wilkinson)
We worship. We bow down. We listen.
God help us.
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