September 20 2023
Today, Wednesday September 20
An Invitation and a Warning
1 Oh come, let us sing to the LORD! Let us shout joyfully to the Rock of our salvation.
2 Let us come before His presence with thanksgiving; Let us shout joyfully to Him with Psalms.
3 For the LORD is the great God, And the great King above all gods.
4 In His hand are the deep places of the earth; The heights of the hills are His also.
5 The sea is His, for He made it; And His hands formed the dry land.
Psalm 95 is a wonderful hymn that begins by giving us an invitation to “come” and worship (1-7a) but ends giving us a warning (7b-11). Psalms 93 and 95-100 are a group of psalms that are called theocratic psalms. They are about the kingship of God over His people Israel and His sovereign rule over all the earth. Some commentators believe these psalms were written or adapted for the dedication of the second temple which the Jewish people rebuilt after they had been released from their captivity in Babylon.
It was an occasion for rejoicing, thanksgiving and praise but it was a time they needed to be reminded they had been gathered into the land once before and had been thrown back out again because of their sin. What if that should happen again? In looking for a sermon-song to convey that idea, the godly compiler hit on the poem we now know as Psalm 95. It is included in the Hebrew hymnbook as an anonymous psalm, but in Hebrews 4:7 it is quoted as a psalm of David.
This psalm could easily have come from the pen of David and been included in the selection of inspired songs because of its obvious suitability to the occasion. If the Holy Spirit quotes the psalm as being Davidic, that should be enough. So, let us leave the authorship with David and the adaption with some anonymous compiler, led by the Spirit of God to include this long-forgotten poem of David in this particular collection. The compiler himself might not even have been sure that David was the original author of the poem he found so perfectly suitable to his purpose and, for that reason, might have left it anonymous. But the Holy Spirit later tells us it was David's.
Some believe that Psalm 95 was written to celebrate the annual Feast of Tabernacles, which was a joyful event as the people looked back on their ancestors' wilderness wanderings, looked around at the bountiful harvest, and looked up to give thanks to the Lord (Lev. 23:33-44). It has been suggested that this psalm was written for this feast after the exiles returned to Judah from Babylon. Certainly verses 8-11 would remind them of those wilderness years, but they are quoted in Hebrews 3:7-4:13 and applied to believers today. The church must take heed to what happened to Israel (see 1 Cor. 10:1-13). As the psalmist calls God's people to celebrate the Lord, he gives us three admonitions to obey.
First in verses 1-5, the psalmist invites us to come and praise the Lord. He tells us both how we should praise Him (vv. 1-2) and why we should praise Him (vv. 3-5). This is communal praise, not individual, although both are important. Our praise should be joyful and enthusiastic. He even commands us to shout (v. 1) and be wholly focused on the Lord. The verb "come" in verse 2 means "to go to meet God face-to-face, to be in His presence." Today, we as believers do this through Jesus Christ (Heb. 10:19-25). We should be thankful in our praise as we extol the Lord for His great mercies.
The psalmist also tells us why we should praise Him (v. 3). Our God is great and above the false gods of this world (Psalms 81:8; 92:8; 93:4; 96:4; Ex. 18:11). After His ascension to heaven, Jesus Christ was enthroned "far above all" (Acts 2:33; Eph. 1:19-23; Phil. 2:9-11; Col. 1:15-18), and nothing can separate us from His love (Rom. 8:37-39). He is our "great God and Savior" (Titus 2:13) and we should delight in praising him. But our God is also the Creator of the universe and controls all things (vv. 4-5). The depths of the sea and the earth, and the heights of the mountains all belong to Him, and He knows what is going on in the waters as well as on the earth.
The pagan nations had gods and goddesses for different parts of creation; the seas, the land, the mountain peaks, the sun, moon and stars, the storms, the crops, but our God is King over all.
It’s no wonder we praise Him today and every day!