THE JOY AND THE DANGER

Opening Prayer

I come to you, loving Father, with thanksgiving and praise. You withhold nothing from me that is for my good and there is nothing that can stand against you as I live for you.

Read PSALM 95

Psalm 95

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.

Today, if only you would hear his voice,
“Do not harden your hearts as you did at Meribah,[a]
    as you did that day at Massah[b] in the wilderness,
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.’”

Footnotes

  1. Psalm 95:8 Meribah means quarreling.
  2. Psalm 95:8 Massah means testing.

New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Meditate

Pause, be still, and read this psalm slowly, allowing it to speak to your heart.

Think Further

It has been said that the biblical psalms ‘reach back to the beginnings of human existence’ and have survived for centuries ‘through changes of civilization, religions, and languages, to speak still a living word to us today’.1 This poem divides into two very distinct sections which are nonetheless closely related to each other. The first part, in verses 1–7, is an uninhibited, joyful celebration of God, ‘the Rock of our salvation’ (v. 1). The exalted character of Israel’s God is loudly and gratefully affirmed in a world where other gods were worshipped and the ‘depths of the earth, and the mountain peaks’ (v. 4) were believed to be sacred places inhabited by spiritual powers needing to be placated. However, Israel’s Lord is ‘the great God’ (v. 3), who reigns over all, including the heights and depths of the created world once feared and avoided. The greatness of God and the comprehensiveness of his salvation compel his worshippers to sink to their knees in thanksgiving and adoration.

The second section (vv. 8–11) reminds the worshippers that the ecstatic celebration of God’s greatness counts for nothing if it is not the fountainhead of lives of obedience to the covenant made with Moses. Worshippers are reminded of the possibility of failure to allow public worship to shape the entirety of personal and social life. The religion of the Bible is characterized ‘by a profound concern for inner truthfulness’ and celebratory worship is legitimate only if it results in ‘readiness to obey God’s voice and keep his commandments.’2 We no longer regard mountain peaks and the depths of the earth as places of spiritual danger, but there are modern equivalents which can compromise our worship of the Lord.

Apply

Spend a moment kneeling before ‘the Lord our Maker’ (v. 6), rereading this psalm.

Closing prayer

Lord God, you are worthy of all my worship. Please work in me a heart that is willing to walk in your ways—from here to eternity.

Last Updated on June 9, 2024 by kingstar

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