Lent Day 7

Day 7: Wednesday, 13 March

Psalm 95

1 Come, let us cry out with joy to Yahweh, acclaim the rock of our salvation.

2 Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving, acclaim him with music.

3 For Yahweh is a great God, a king greater than all the gods.

4 In his power are the depths of the earth, the peaks of the mountains are his;

5 the sea belongs to him, for he made it, and the dry land, moulded by his hands.

6 Come, let us bow low and do reverence; kneel before Yahweh who made us!

7 For he is our God, and we the people of his sheepfold, the flock of his hand. If only you would listen to him today!

8 Do not harden your hearts as at Meribah, as at the time of Massah in the desert,

9 when your ancestors challenged me, put me to the test, and saw what I could do!

10 For forty years that generation sickened me, and I said, 'Always fickle hearts; they cannot grasp my ways.'

11 Then in my anger I swore they would never enter my place of rest.

NJB

This psalm has formed part of morning worship services for centuries. As a choirboy I never sang past verse 7, as the remainder of the psalm was marked as optional. You can see why. Why did the writer continue into all that Meribah stuff? And as for the sting in the last verse…! Many psalms have a change of direction, more often in a positive direction rather than what is the case in this psalm.

This psalm would have been sung as part of a festival celebration. The musicians were from a particular tribe of Israel and their job was to play instruments or sing, often in procession.

The opening verses command us to cry out with joy. Have you been encouraged by the leader of a service to sing up, or to look more joyful? Have you ever felt like arguing or shouting back something less than complimentary to the leader or even to God? Let’s get something straight, then.

Joy is a state that transcends grumpiness, self-pity, tiredness, off-day, bad hair day and a lot of other feelings and attitudes. Joy is prescribed.  Joy is a response to the goodness of God – it is not an emotion, neither is it mechanical. God has the right to command a response from us. Even they that sow in tears shall reap in joy (Psalm 126); when the night is filled with tears of sorrow, joy comes in the morning (Psalm 30) – the night may be dark, and may last for more than just a few hours. However, joy is the final outcome, and joy will be the state of eternal life. Joy is a response of obedience – so, cry out, and acclaim the rock of our salvation.

It is helpful, especially when the Bible says one thing and you think another, to read the words again, and to soak in them. Meditate upon the words – meditation ought always to have words upon which to reflect. Give the words, a verse or a passage, time to sink deeper into you. Accompany this by prayer, asking God by his Holy Spirit to make the words clearer in order that you may understand them better and trust more fully in them.

Music is commanded, too, and so it should be. God loves a joyful noise, but he may love joyful music and singing even more!

Why should we make a noise? Because He is the creator and sustainer of all. Why should we bow the knee to Him? Because He is our God. There is no other.

From the middle of verse 7 (the psalm writer did not number the verses) there is a turn. We are reminded of some of the misdeeds of God’s people in the past, of our spiritual ancestors in the desert. The writer pleads with us not to be like them, for God dealt with their hardness of heart and disobedience by denying them sight of the Promised Land.

In response to v2, how do you come into your church or fellowship building?

Have we lost the obedience of kneeling?

Father God, your Word created everything. Cause me by your Holy Spirit to understand and fill me with joy that I may respond as you desire. Amen.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4kUfMaYhN_U Performed by the Sons of Korah

Taken from The New Jerusalem Bible, published and copyright 1985 by Darton, Longman & Todd Ltd and Les Editions du Cerf, and used by permission of the publishers. 

Paul