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Psalm 95

Psalm 95 Praise, Worship, and Believe God

Tod Kennedy

Theme of Psalm 95

God's people are to joyfully worship him because he is creator, God, and shepherd; and at the same time are warned against hardening their hearts in unbelief and disobedience like the Exodus generation did at Meribah (Rephidim) and Massah (Kadesh).

The setting

This psalm may have been sung by Israel when they gathered for the feast of tabernacles. This feast was observed in September-October and commemorated God's care of Israel during the exodus, during which they did not have permanent houses. In any case it was probably a public and corporate expression of praise to the LORD God.

Outline of Psalm 95

  1. Psalm 95.1-5.  We are to joyfully sing, shout, come before the LORD God with thanksgiving and psalms because he is the only great God and King, creator and owner of his creation.
  2. Psalm 95.6-7a. We are to worship, bow down, and kneel before our LORD, our Maker, our God, and our shepherd because we are his people and his sheep.
  3. Psalm 95.7b-11. We are to listen to and believe God, so not to imitate the Exodus generation who hardened their hearts against God by disbelieving him and therefore failed to enter the rest he provided them.

Comments on Psalm 95

  1. Psalm 95.1-5.  We are to joyfully sing, shout, come before the LORD God with thanksgiving and psalms because he is the only great God and King, creator and owner of his creation.
    • The verbs describe energetic and joyful praise to God. Sing for joy, shout joyfully, come before, shout joyfully. It is public, reverent, energetic, purposeful, and God centered. This is no performance for personal honor. This is no mindless repetition or run away emotions. It is a joining of truth about God with response to God.
    • The object of the praise is clear: LORD, rock of our salvation, his presence, to him, great God, and great King. As "LORD" he has revealed himself to his people. As the "rock of our salvation" he is the source for all salvation and he is the stability for us in any and every circumstance. "His presence" and "To him" also reminds us that we may approach him, and we may have fellowship with him.
    • Psalm 95.4-5. These lines tell why the LORD is the great God and King. His hand indicates he created and has authority and power over all the earth: the depths to the peaks and the sea and dry land. The figure is a merism, the depths to the peaks, indicate everything by direction. The sea and dry land indicate everything physical.
  2. Psalm 95.6-7a. We are to worship, bow down, and kneel before our LORD, our Maker, and our God because we are his people and sheep.
    • Psalm 95.6. Worship, bow down, and kneel indicate submission to the LORD and Maker. We are to accept him as the Scripture reveals him. All of the descriptions of God and his works verify him as creator, owner, king. This person holds all power and authority. We rightfully owe him all honor and obedience.
    • Psalm 95.7a. We have two more reasons to honor him above everyone and everything. He is our God and Shepherd (we are his people and sheep). God indicates majesty and authority. God is Israel's one and only reason for existence, purpose, and authority. People of his pasture and sheep of his hand explain the personal relationship and protective care that God has with Israel as a unique and select people.
  3. Psalm 95.7b-11. We are to listen to and believe God, so not to imitate the Exodus generation who hardened their hearts against God by disbelieving him and therefore failed to enter the rest (Canaan) he provided them.
    • Psalm 95.7b-8. The plea and the warning. Meribah refers back to Exodus 17.1-7 where the Hebrews, camped at Rephidim in the wilderness of sin, complained about the lack of water. Moses spoke to the rock. Massah, recorded in Numbers 20.1-13, is the failure by Moses at Kadesh when he hit the rock instead of speaking to the rock. The names indicate the strife (Meribah) and testing (Massah). Do not harden is the word קָשָׁה , to be hard, severe, fierce (Strong 7185). God's people can and do become hard against God and his word. See Ephesians 4.17-20 and Hebrews 4.1-13 for a further statement.
    • Psalm 95.8-9. At these two incidents the fathers (the Exodus generation), who had seen God's deliverance many times, disbelieved God's promise to provide for them. They quarreled with Moses; they tested the Lord; they grumbled with Moses. Finally, at Kadesh, Moses lost his temper and hit the rock instead of speaking to the rock.
    • Psalm 95.10-11. God pronounced discipline on the Exodus generation. The LORD God did not allow them to go into the promised land, which was called "My rest." It was called that because this was where God planned to bless the nation. Though because of continued unbelief when in the land they experienced much suffering and God's discipline.

So what for us or lessons from Psalm 95

  1. This psalm teaches us that we should listen, believe, and obey the LORD God, and that we can express this to him in song and worship.
  2. The LORD God is the creator of the world. He has authority and power over all his creation, including us. We should never forget this fundamental doctrine.
  3. We who believe him have the right, privilege, and the obligation to worship him in song based on his revelation combined with our believing response to him. This response is a combination of thought, conscience, volition, and emotion. The singing in Psalm 95 is not emotion running away without Scripture.
  4. Singing to the LORD God is an expression of our knowledge of him, our faith in him, and our love for him and hence is good.
  5. God's people, Israel in context, and all believers by application are in his kingdom and he gives protective care for us. He is interested in us. This reminds us of Psalm 23.
  6. To harden one's heart against God is very foolish and dangerous (Ephesians 4.17-20; Hebrews 4.1-13).
  7. God wants us to believe and obey him. This honors him and brings blessing to us. When we do not believe and obey, we then dishonor God, we test God, we complain against God, and we fail to experience all the blessing he would like to pour out on us. God may discipline us in order to correct us so we will recognize and experience his blessing, and so honor him.