By Ben W. Curtis
Pastor, First Baptist Church, Tracy City
Psalm 95 is a call for believers to joyfully and reverently worship God in a world characterized by unbelief. Psalm 95:1-7 contains a three-fold invitation for us to “come” to him (vv. 1, 2, 6). It’s not primarily a call to individual believers, but to the collective assembly (note the use of “us,” “our,” and “we”). Today and every Sunday, there is a call to the church throughout the world to come and sing joyful songs of praise, giving thanks in His presence. We’re to come into God’s presence with loud joy and loud thanksgiving (v. 1b, 2b). As part of the congregation of the redeemed, do you sing loudly and joyfully when you worship on Sunday? I once told our congregation that I would call individuals out if I witnessed them not singing during our worship gatherings. For the next few weeks, I purposefully moved around, sitting in a different pew each service. I’m happy to report that they’ve been singing loudly ever since.
In verses 3-5, the basis for such joyful worship is the greatness of our God. We are addressing “the Lord” who is the “rock of our salvation.” This is Yahweh, the one who led Israel out of slavery, delivering them from the Egyptians through plagues and the parting of the Red Sea. The psalmist is reminding Israel and us that we know the “great King above all” and His reign extends over all the worthless replacements that our hearts and our hands have made (v. 3). He is worthy of worship, because everything is in His hands and everything is formed by His hands (vv. 4-5).
The psalmist calls us to “come” once more in verse 6, but this time with a reverent awe. To “bow down” is to prostrate oneself, face down in the presence of this holy God. As we worship, a sense of reverence should accompany the heights of our praise. And once more, a reason or basis is given for this expression of worship. The one who fashioned all of creation is now described as “our Maker” (v. 6). Just as the “sea is His,” we are His; we are “the people of his pasture” (v. 7). We are the “sheep” under the care of a Shepherd who says, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28). Let’s make much of our great God Sunday after Sunday as we worship Him!
Finally and surprisingly, there is a shift in the language and tone of this Psalm (vv. 7b-11). These Old Testament worshipers who have joyfully sang and bowed down to God are being addressed by God in the form of a warning. With the mention of “Meribah” and “Massah,” the Israelites are reminded of a time when rather than trusting God, they tested God (Exodus 17). Similarly, the road to our eternal rest is certain to pass through dangers of the wilderness. The writer of Hebrews quotes this very passage to warn us of the dangers of unbelief (Hebrews 3:7-11). And just as the setting for worship in Psalm 95 is corporate, the remedy for the temptation of hardening our hearts is corporate (Hebrews 3:12-14, 10:25). We need weekly sermons, songs, and encouragements because our hearts are prone to the deceitfulness of sin. So today, if you hear His voice, worship Him joyfully and reverently, and do not harden your heart.