Introduction: Psalms 95 – 100 are like espresso shots of joy and praise. This grouping of six Psalms is joyous. Notice how they begin (95:1; 96:1; 97:1; 98:1; 99:1; 100:1). These six Psalms (sometimes called the Enthronement Psalms) represent some of the finest calls to worship in the Bible. Psalm 95 sets the tone, and Psalm 100 crowns the whole. Notice that in Psalm 95, there are three paragraphs, and the key to each one is the first word of each:
- V. 1 – Come!
- V. 6 – Come!
- V. 7b – Today!
1. Come, Let Us Sing Because God is Our Creator (v. 1-5) – The first paragraph is a call to sing, to extol him with music and song. The reason is that He is the great God above all gods, the Creator of the universe. Verse 4 says: “In His hand are the depths of the earth, and the mountain peaks belong to Him. The sea is His because He made it, and His hands formed the dry land.” Regarding the subject of creation, there is an article in the current issue of World Magazine about the dangers Christian students face in American’s universities. The article says:
As young Christians move away from home and enter universities across the country, they often are confronted with apparent contradictions between their faith and their education, particularly in science classes. Some conclude that the church is unnecessarily antagonistic to science and abandon their faith.
According to the findings of a research study recently released by the Barna Group, 59 percent of young adults disconnect from the church in their teen years. Many study participants told researchers they disagreed with the church’s stance against science.
Of those, 35 percent said, “Christians are too confident they know all the answers,” and 29 percent said churches were out of step with the scientific world. Twenty-five percent described Christianity as “anti-science,” and 23 percent said they had been turned off by the debate over creation and evolution.
But (said the article) faith and science do not have to be enemies….
The scientific field is brimming with Christian thinkers, (said) Peter Walhout, Wheaton (College’s) department chair and associate professor of physical chemistry. “No serious Christian or scholar would ever study Christianity and its history and say it’s anti-science,” he said.
Many early scientists actively participated in church. Nicolas Copernicus held an office in the Catholic Church, and he was encouraged to publish his research on the planets’ orbit system by high-ranking church officials. Isaac Newton, another devout believer, claimed that the laws of physics and the universe were dependent upon an intelligent designer. And the revered physicist Albert Einstein was motivated to investigate the laws of the universe by his faith in a Creator.
“I want to know how God created this world,” he said.
A very good case can be made that modern science started and flourished because of the unique assumptions and tenets of Christianity. Those who do not believe in God focus on the church’s stance on a few issues where the Bible disagrees with the current scientific theory. But Christian scholars have been at the forefront of scientific discovery over time…. “It really is just plain ignorance of secular people to think Christianity is anti-science,” said (Dr. Walhout).[i]
True Scripture accurately interpreted never contradicts true science accurately understood.
2. Come, Let Us Worship Because God is Our Shepherd (v. 6-7a). There is a progression to Psalm 95. If you were a Jewish worshipper in Jerusalem in the days of the kings, you would come to the temple, into the presence of the Lord. And you would come as close as you could come then bow down and kneel in worship. You would acknowledge Him as the God above all gods, but also as your own personal Shepherd. We are the sheep of His pasture and the flock under His care.
Thelma Wills, a popular speaker, wrote about this in her book God, I’m Ready to Walk by Faith. As a youngster, Thelma said, she didn’t know much about her father. He showed up at Christmas with a ham. But she did have two powerful male role models, her grandfather and her great-grandfather, both of whom affectionately called her “Pooch.” It was her great-grandfather who taught her to memorize Scripture and how to overcome fear. Thelma occasionally fretted about going to her room at night. She was afraid of hearing or seeing the “boogie man.”
One day when I was dealing with that fear,” she wrote, “my great-granddaddy called to me from the screened-in front porch of our upstairs apartment. “Pooch, baby, come here.” I went to him, and he asked, “Do you want to get rid of that boogie man?”
I said, “Yes sir.” I believed he could help me do that because he had earned my trust.
“This is what I want you to do,” he told her. “I want you to close your eyes, and I want you to repeat the Twenty-third Psalm and the Lord’s Prayer, one right after the other, over and over until you don’t feel any fear.” And he added, “Now, Pooch, you’re going to get rid of that fear today.”
So I followed his instructions. There on that screened-in porch, I closed my eyes and started repeating the Twenty-third Psalm: “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want…” When I finished it, I launched into the Lord’s Prayer: “Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed by Thy name…” I repeated them one after the other, over and over, just as he said—and I quickly found myself experiencing release and relief. When I opened up my eyes and looked upward through the screen into the sky, I saw the clouds billowing white, so soft and sweet on a sunshiny day. And those clouds had formed the outline of the head of Jesus! I can still see that image in my mind’s eye. Whenever I get a notion to possibly become afraid, I remember what I saw that afternoon. Now, I have to admit that I haven’t entirely conquered every fear. Mice really do bother me. I’m genuinely afraid of them, and I’m asking God to release me from that fear. Meanwhile, I never invite mice into my house—not at all.[ii]
3. Today Do Not Harden Your Heart (v. 7b – 11). The last paragraph of the Psalm is has a very different tone. It’s a stark warning, based on the example of the Israelites in Exodus 17:1-7. In times of need, perplexity, doubt, disappointment, fear, anger, and anxiety, we must choose to worship God anyway, because that is a sign of our faith and trust in Him. Failure to do so indicates that we don’t think He is strong enough to help us in our times of need.
Conclusion: The Holy Spirit applies Psalm 95 to our hearts in Hebrews 3, where we are exhorted to remain true to the Lord in joy, optimism, faith, and perseverance, even in difficult times and during tough days. The writer of Hebrews quotes Psalm 95 and strongly cautions his readers to heed its words. When we fail to trust the Lord, we’re like the doubting Israelites who grumbled in the desert and went around in circles for forty years. Why not praise instead?
Let all, with heart and voice,
Before His throne rejoice;
Praise is HIs gracious choice.
[i] Caroline Ryan, Casualities in the Battle Between Science and Faith, in World Magazine, October 15, 2011, at http://online.worldmag.com/2011/10/15/casualties-in-the-battle-between-science-and-faith/.
[ii] Thelma Wells, God, I’m Ready to Walk by Faith (Eugene, OR: Harvest House Publishers, 2010).