Psalm 95 – Joyful In Crisis
Psalm 95:1-11 NIV
We can be thankful, grateful and joyful even during bad times. That’s the theme of this psalm.
The Psalmist reminded the Israelites of their ancestors' unbelief towards God during bad times. At Massah and Meribah, the Israelites quarrelled with God, Moses and Aaron because there was no water. The Israelites had seen God deliver them from the Egyptians; they couldn’t deny God’s existence or love, yet they didn’t believe they would inherit the Promised Land. This triggered the wrath of God with that generation.
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.
Do we have the same understanding that God wants us to have, that He cares for us, as we are His flock? We may have felt like we are the bad sheep amongst God’s flock. But to God, we are His flock and He is our shepherd; every sheep needs to go back to His pen.
Jesus told a parable of a shepherd who went to great lengths to find the one lost sheep (Matthew 18:2-14, Luke 15:3-7). Therefore we need to be confident in God’s deliverance. He has already done so 2,000 years ago through Jesus Christ. And God will deliver again, when Jesus returns later.
Today, if only you would hear His voice,
“Do not harden your hearts as you did at Meribah, as you did that day at Massah in the wilderness,
where your ancestors tested me; they tried me, though they had seen what I did.
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.’
So I declared on oath in my anger, ‘They shall never enter my rest.’”
The Psalmist changed his tone and warned the Jews not to follow the example of their ancestors. They refused to believe in God’s promise and failed to enter God’s ‘rest’ – the Promised Land. The writer of Hebrews quoted Psalm 95 too.
Therefore since it still remains for some to enter that rest, and since those who formerly had the good news proclaimed to them did not go in because of their disobedience, God again set a certain day, calling it “Today.” This He did when a long time later He spoke through David, as in the passage already quoted: “Today, if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts.” (Hebrews 4:6-7 NIV)
The Israelites complained to Moses that the lack of water would kill them in the desert. Instead of believing in God, they believed in the discouraging reports of the 10 leaders who were sent to spy on Canaan. They questioned Moses and Aaron why God brought them out to Canaan to be killed.
The struggles we experience today are no different from what the Israelites faced. At the time of this writing, the world is struggling with COVID 19. It has killed many, disrupted all of our lives and wreaked havoc on the already weak global economy. How has it affected our faith in God? Does the current situation shake our belief?
Many of us are hurting during this crisis, but it cannot hurt us spiritually because we have already entered the rest as we are in Christ.
For we also have had the good news proclaimed to us, just as they did; but the message they heard was of no value to them, because they did not share the faith of those who obeyed. Now we who have believed enter that rest, just as God has said, “So I declared on oath in my anger, ‘They shall never enter my rest.’” (Hebrews 4:2-3 NIV)
“Come, let us sing for joy to the Lord; let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation.” We who believe in Christ have entered the rest that God spoke about, so let’s hold on to our faith. The world may be stressed and despondent during the crisis, but we can be joyful as we have already entered God’s rest.
Andy is the head of compliance for an international bank and is happily married, with three daughters. He became a disciple of Christ three decades ago, and studies God's Word passionately. He desires to be constantly led by the Spirit. Andy joined the Central Christian Church in 1990.