Summary: The God who delivers from enemies and from death The God who creates the incredible forces of nature. The God who cares for you. Deserves your most intimate and joyful and powerful expressions of praise.
Praise the King who saves
Unlike some of the psalms, we know almost nothing about the author or the background of this one. It is in Book 4 of the Psalms, so it was probably not written by David. Perhaps it was written a few centuries later, during the time of Hezekiah, who made a special effort to gather the writings of David and Solomon. , Whoever the psalmist is, he calls upon our deepest emotions to recognize God our King. He begins with praise and ends with a warning.
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 you hear his voice,
8 do not harden your hearts as you did at Meribah,
as you did that day at Massah in the desert,
9 where your fathers tested and 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.”
Psalm 95:1-11 (NIV)
Just by glancing, we can see that this psalm is divided in two sections. In the beginning the psalmist talks about why people should praise God. At the end, God talks about people who failed to praise Him. Let’s begin with the voice of God in the second part.
Be warned by the grumbling of the LORD’s people who knew His capability
The psalmist says there are two ways we may hear from God, one is with a soft heart of obedience, the other is with a hard heart ready for judgement. One heart listens, the other heart goes astray.
• Do this
• Don’t do that
• Don’t turn away
And God gives an example. Don’t harden your heart as your ancestors did at Massah and Maribah. The accounts are in Exodus 17 and Numbers 20. They are well known incidents. Moses was leading the Israelites out of Egypt. God released them through the plagues and led them over the Red Sea on dry land. Once they got into the wilderness they saw that there was no water and they grumbled and accused Moses of leading them out to the desert to die.
God told Moses to strike a rock with his staff and the rock became a fountain. Decades later, the same thing happened, only this time God told Moses to speak to the rock. Moses struck it instead, and God was displeased with Moses, but He gave the people water anyway.
We often associate the Israelites’ wandering in the wilderness with their unwillingness to face the giants in the Land, but here we are told there was more to it than that. God was planning the 40 year wandering way back when they started quarreling about the water and testing Him. Thus the names Moses gave the place: Maribah (quarreling) and Massah (testing).
We tend to say,
hey! The people had no reason to grumble. Hadn’t God just saved them from the Egyptians? Hadn’t He just parted the Red Sea? Hadn’t they seen the power of God in ways that many generations since can only dream about? What was their problem? No wonder God punished them.
And this is all true.
It is important to see this from God’s perspective. For Him it wasn’t about water. From God’s point of view, He had been faithful and the people were being faithless. He had shown them things that were wondrous, and all they could do was doubt.
However, it is also important to see it from the people’s point of view.
• They were in the desert
• There was no water
• They were thirsty
• And there was no water
If you watch CSI, you’ve heard the rule of threes. A person can survive three weeks without food, three days without water, and three minutes without air.
These people were not stupid, they knew that without fresh water they would die. And they left the Nile, one of the largest sources of fresh water in the world behind to go to the desert.