Psalm 95 (“Oh Come, Let Us Sing To the Lord”)
- SCRIPTURE READING:
Ps.95:1-11(ESV) ~“Oh come, let us sing to the Lord; let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation! 2Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving; let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise! 3For the Lordis a great God, and a great King above all gods. 4In his hand are the depths of the earth; the heights of the mountains are his also. 5The sea is his, for he made it, and his hands formed the dry land. 6Oh come, let us worship and bow down; let us kneel before the Lord, our Maker! 7For he is our God, and we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand. Today, if you hear his voice, 8do not harden your hearts, as at Meribah, as on the day at Massah in the wilderness, 9when your fathers put me to the test and put me to the proof, though they had seen my work. 10For forty years I loathed that generation and said, “They are a people who go astray in their heart, and they have not known my ways.” 11Therefore I swore in my wrath, “They shall not enter my rest.”
- The Believer Should Always Praise God (Ps.95:1-7).
- The Believer Should Never Provoke God (Ps.54:8-11).
Before we look at Psalm 95 in more detail, we first need to look at the phrase “Praise God!”and what it really means?
The Hebrew word for “praise” is “yadah,” which literally means “to praise,” “to give thanks,” or “to confess.” Furthermore, there are multiple Hebrew words that can be translated as “praise,” and it does not necessarily just have one definition.
The Hebrew language has specific words for the type of praise being given, so we must examine more of these words before we can come up with a proper definition. For example, there are two different Hebrew words for “praise” in Psalm 149:3 ~ “Let them praisehis name with dancing, making melodyto him with tambourine and lyre!” “Halal” means to praise, glorify, boast, commend, etc., and “zamar” means to make melody, or to make music or sing praises.
In all of these instances, praising God is simply giving Him the recognition He deserves. One way we can define what we mean by praising God is to consider the end result. The end result of giving God praise is to exalt Him and His name. I believe this is one of the reasons the Psalmist quickly followed the declaration of praise with exalting God.
We can praise God in song and singing praises to God was common in Biblical times. The main purpose of the Psalms is to praise God – indicated by the numerous songs on praise, but we can also praise God in dance, prayer, proclamations, studying God’s Word, and the list goes on.
No matter how we praise God, we must be sure to lift up His name above all else ~ “For great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised; he is to be feared above all gods” (Ps.96:4).
In Ps.149:3 that we’ve read just now, as well as Ps.118:28-29, it is clear that we as believers should praise God ~“You are my God, and I will give thanks to you; you are my God; I will extol you. Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures forever!”
Scripture clearly expresses the importance of praising God, but if we do not understand the reason behind it, we lose our foundational basis, or reason, for praising Him. Praise without meaning is empty. We must be sure our foundation is the Truth of God in every area, including praise.
Many people end up praising fallible human beings rather than God because they lack the Truth ~ “They exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen”(Rom.1:25). For example, who should we put our faith in – the scientists whose opinions always change and have not always been there or God who never changes and has always been? The answer may seem obvious, but many would rather praise the creature instead of the Creator. Think of so many, many people who are so excited and even proud of their church’s worship team and their music and uses the band and their music as an advertisement for their church – it is all about the music; the music show; the “gig,” which has nothing to do with God Almighty.
We must recognize that God is our Creator; He is our Lord, and as a result, we should praise Him ~ “Know that the Lord, he is God! It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture. Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! Give thanks to him; bless his name!”(Ps.100:3-4).
We should also praise God for His unending mercy. Salvation is from God, and He has given us many spiritual blessings. Our response should be one of praise and glory to God. After all, the Lord is good, and His mercy is everlasting.
Praising Him does not end here, however. As finite human beings, we can never truly give God all the praise He deserves. “Who can utter the mighty deeds of the Lord, or declare all his praise?”(Ps106:2). Of course, these are rhetorical questions, as the answer is most definitely “no one.”
Sadly, there are those who do not want to recognize God as their Creator, because they do not want to be accountable to Him. Instead, they worship His creation. As Christians, we should never compromise by exalting the creation over the Creator. We need to stand firm on the Truth of God’s Word – our foundation for praising God.
The world today has lost its concept of God. It has lost its sense of the greatness, the glory and the unchangeable character of God. The consequences of this loss of who God really is, is massive.
First of all, stability evaporates when people lose contact with God. Once the reality of God and who He really is, are lost, everything about the human existence comes to be in a state of instability.
Second, all sense of accountability disappears when people lose a sense of God. Coupled with the loss of accountability is the loss of integrity.
Third, if God has been lost, then all sense of true acceptance is lost – acceptance by God.
Ps.95 is one of the Royal Psalms (Psalms 93-99), praising God as the King of His people. Ps.95 identifies no author, but Hebr.4:7 attributes it to David ~ “…again he appoints a certain day, “Today,” saying through David so long afterward, in the words already quoted.”It is also called an “enthronement Psalm” and is divided into two parts, the first part, vss.1-7 calls for the people to acknowledge that the Lord is a great King above the gods and earthly kings (other enthronement Psalms are 47; 93; 96–99). He is our God, not only has He dominion over us, as he has over all the creatures, but He stands in a special relation to us (Ps.95:7)- He is OURGod,and therefore it is expected from us, that we should praise Him.
Having exhorted the congregation to worship their Creator, the Psalmist warned them in the second part (vss.8-11), against unbelief as in the days of the wilderness wanderings when God’s rest was not experienced.
- THE BELIEVER SHOULD ALWAYS PRAISE GOD (Ps.95:1-7):
With this in mind, let us look at Ps.95 in more detail.
The Psalm opens in the first part with an exciting and cheerful (exuberant) call to praise and worship. The enthusiasm of the Psalmist is almost contagious and it is difficult to read it without being caught up in the enthusiasm of the writer. This first part is therefore, a typical praise song and was most probably sung in the temple, after a priest or Levite called the congregation to do so.
They should come before Him with thanksgiving and express humble gratitude for His abundant provision, while magnifying His Name with music and song.
- For He is the only True God (Ps.95:1-3):God’s people have every reason to worship God, for the Lord is the great and only true God. He is the Creator and sustainer of everything – He alone is God and is awesome. He is the great King above all gods and kings, ruling and reigning over all lifeless gods, over all mythical, imaginary gods of pagan religion. When David mentions these gods(idols), he does not acknowledge their existence or reality, on the contrary, it is a statement of God’s sovereignty and superiority over every force, real and imagined. Everything in Creation – including things the pagans worship as gods – the Lord made, and therefore He has power over it all.
- For His creative works(Ps.95:4–5): Not only is God above all gods and not only does He rule over all lifeless gods, He also rules over His creative works and David specifically calls on the people to sing a worship song to the Lord, because He created the universe and He controls everything in the universe. In vss.4-5 the so called “lower world” is specified. When we think of the earth that we live on, how much – infinitely more, is God’s power, authority and greatness, when we realise how big the rest of the universe is in comparison to the earth.
Just to give you an idea: The highest mountain on earth (Mt. Everest) is 9 km. above sea level and the deepest point of the sea, is 11 km. under the surface (the so called “Mariana Trench,” situated south of Japan, north of Australia and east of China). The circumference of the earth at the equator is about 40,000 km. And the earth weighs about 6,000 million, million, million tons.
The son’s size is big enough that more than a million earth globes can fit into it. The flames of the sun can reach heights of up to 800,000 km.
Our galaxy consists out of 9 planets which rotates around the sun. The closest planet to the sun is 60 million km. away from the sun. Pluto, the furthest planet is about 6,000 million km. from the sun. Each of these planets move faster in its orbit around the son, than that of a bullet out of a rifle.
Light travels at a speed of 300,000 km/second, i.e. 7,5 times around the earth every second.
Our galaxy is a small part of the bigger galaxy, or the “Milky Way.” The “Milky Way” consists out of 100,000 million stars like our sun (and maybe even more). Antares is a sun that is much, much bigger than our sun, in fact, it is 97 million times bigger than our sun.
How big is the “Milky Way”? The average distance between the stars in the “Milky Way” is about 30 light years apart from each other – i.e. 300 million, million, kilometres. The “Milky Way” in totality is also circling in an orbit with an average speed of 1,5 million km/hour. The “Milky Way” of which our galaxy (our sun and planets) is part of, is not the only galaxy – there are several galaxy clusters of which the biggest (so the astronomers reckon) M31, is double our galaxy’s size and about 2 million light years from our “Milky Way.”
Don’t you think that we as mankind has reason enough to worship God – the Creator God that created galaxies like this? Don’t you think that we as mankind think too much of ourselves and too little about God?
In contrast to the vast expanse around us, God also created the… ~ “…the depths of the earth; the heights of the mountains are his also. 5The sea is his, for he made it, and his hands formed the dry land”(Ps.95:4-5). We won’t even go into the details of the microscopic small parasites and molecules that He also created – or the human body! What a wonderful world that God created – that He spoke into being! But, there is even another astonishing fact about His creation here on earth and that we find in Gen.1:26 ~ “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.”God created man – us! And He did this, not by speaking us into life, like the rest of creation, but by forming us out of mud and clay, transforming the clay into something new, and then breathing life into it. Even the most beautiful stars and constellations and mountains and the sea were spoken into life, but mankind were so special, that God blew His own breath into us – His own breath of life! Furthermore, we were created after the Triune God’s likeness, or as we’ve seen last week, “AS”His image, thus placing us as living symbols of Himself on earth to represent His reign.
In the rest of Gen.1:26, we see that God also ~ “…let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”He appointed us to act as “managers” on His behalf and who have the authority to run everything as He planned it and therefore, we can’t just destroy and ruin nature.
It is clear therefore, that mankind was created as a special part of God’s creation, in fact, man can be seen as the “crown of God’s creation.” Because He is our God, He not only has dominion over us (as He has over all the creatures), He stands in special relation to us (Ps.95:7) ~ “He is our God,”and therefore it is expected from us, that we should praise Him.
- For His redemptive works(Ps.95:1–3, 6–7): In Ps.95:1, God is called… ~“…the Rock of our salvation.” He is our Saviour, and the author of our blessedness and the very foundation, of our salvation, therefore He is called “the Rock of our salvation.” Because of this, we must sing our songs of praises, ~“…to Him that sits upon the throne and to the Lamb”(Rev.7:10). We are His… ~ “We are the people of His pasture and the sheep of His hand”(Ps.95:7). That should give us enough reason to singfor joy to God for what He has done for us.
This great God should be worshipped in the appropriate manner. The expression “bow down” (“shaha”) means to prostrateoneself (to lie flat on the ground, face down), especially before a superior. Most specifically, “bow down” refers to an attitude of the heart and not necessarily a prostrated position. This word describes the total self-humiliation, submission, and adoration to be rendered by those who approach God.
The question that we must ask ourselves, is what is our attitude when praising the Lord? What is our attitude and our approach when accompanying and leading the worship in the church? Are we serious about it? Are we prepared? Are we, aware of the fact that we are busy with the Almighty, Sovereign and Holy God? What is our attitude when singing and praying? Are we aware of the fact that we are singing to and for the Lord? Do we focus on the words? Do we mean what we are singing? Do we focus on Him? This obviously also apply to our private worship of the Lord. God’s people should worship Him for He is our God, indicating our personal intimate relationship with Him.
In Ps.95:6-7 we learn that God is the shepherd of His sheep. He is God, mighty, enthroned, ruling, yet tenderly caring for His own. God’s people are like sheep – dumb, defenceless, and wayward. Thus, all worshippers should lower themselves before God, who gently leads His own people and cares for them.
- THE BELIEVER SHOULD NEVER PROVOKE GOD (Ps.95:8-11):
In Ps.95:8-11, the Psalmist uses Israel’s march to the Promised Land as an example when appealing to them, not to harden their hearts like their forefathers. The Psalmist must have wondered whether the people listened to him? This is the reason why he says ~ “…if you hear His voice”(Ps.95:7). The Hebrew word used here is “shama,”which literally means, “to listen with strictest attention with a view to obedience.”The first step of worship is to respond with submissive faith. There can be no true worship of God apart from a humble, obedient relationship with Him.
By still using the example of the Israelites hardening their hearts on their exodus from Egypt, the Psalmist warns the people (us), not to provoke God (making Him angry) by disobedience, indifference, or an unconcerned attitude and not worshipping Him with the right attitude or even not worshipping Him at all.
- CONCLUSION & APPLICATION:
We learned today that God is the only true God. He created everything and He is the One who worked out the plan to save and redeem us. Furthermore, there is a right way and a wrong way to worship God. It is dangerous, even life-threatening to worship the Lord in a way that is offensive to Him (just think of Ananias and Sapphira in Acts 5 who both died because they did not worship the Lord in a proper way). John 4:24 teaches that we must worship the Lord… ~ “…in spirit and truth.”By this, Jesus meant that we must worship God with the proper heart attitude – not external religious rituals, but upon the internal realities of a person’s soul.
We also learned that all true worship must be consistent with the written Scripture, because Truth matters greatly in God-exalting worship.
Beloved, we must sincerely and seriously ponder on this Psalm and ask ourselves the question, whether we are worshipping God the way God wants us to worship Him.