Many churches throughout the world use a Bible reading schedule called a "lectionary." It's just a fancy word meaning "selected readings." Posts like this reflect on the readings for an upcoming Sunday or other Church holiday, as found in the three-year lectionary.
Psalm 95:1-9 is our Psalm for the day. It calls us to come before God boldy, singing joyfully to him. Psalms of this type often enter into a debate about worship in the Church. I’ll try to lay out the positions in a brief sketch.
One side of the discussion says that Christians should know biblical doctrine. We want to be sure we know all we can about the Christian faith, about the nature of God, about the way the world works. We say that we want our worship to be centered on the truth claims of Scripture and on the works and attributes of God.
The other side of the discussion says that Christians need to be focused on the relationship they have with God in Christ. We want to be sure that we are not simply trying to have a formula or a base of information, but that we are worshiping in spirit and truth, coming before the Lord joyfully. Worship needs to be vivid and lively.
I’m going to propose that this Psalm, in accord with much of Scripture, accomplishes more. It lays out God’s nature, his character, and his works in history. There’s a whole lot of doctrine here, and throughout the Psalms. People should know it. Based on this knowledge, and even as we explore it, learn it, and begin to see its importance, we can come before the Lord with joy and singing. We find that it is not a formula, but is a foundation upon which we build a vivid and lively faith.
Here the Psalmist lovingly calls God’s people to come before him with joy and thanksgiving for all he has done. The Psalmist also cautions God’s people. The remaining verses at the end of the Psalm remind the people of the time they despised God’s provision and entered into their own personal quarrels and complaints. The text reminds of God’s statement to his people that they would not enter into the land of promise, but that another generation would. It is sobering. In light of all God’s mercy, his people still need to be cautioned. What is the antidote? The antidote to this disobedience is to come before the Lord with praises for who he is, not for how we feel. Thanks be to God.
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