An invitation to praise God, 1,2. The reason on which this is founded, the majesty and dominion of God, 3-5. An invitation to pray to God, 6. And the reasons on which that is founded, 7. Exhortation not to act as their fathers had done, who rebelled against God, and were cast out of his favour, 8-11.
NOTES ON PSALM XCV
This Psalm is also without a title, both in the Hebrew and Chaldee: but is attributed to David by the Vulgate, Septuagint, AEthiopic, Arabic, and Syriac; and by the author of the Epistle to the Hebrews, Hebrews 4:3-7. Calmet and other eminent critics believe that it was composed during the time of the captivity, and that the apostle only followed the common opinion in quoting it as the production of David, because in general the Psalter was attributed to him.
The Psalm is a solemn invitation to the people, when assembled for public worship, to praise God from a sense of his great goodness; and to be attentive to the instructions they were about to receive from the reading and expounding of the law; and or these accounts it has been long used in the Christian Church, at the commencement of public service, to prepare the people's minds to worship God in spirit and in truth.
Houbigant, and other learned divines, consider this Psalm as composed of three parts. 1. The part of the people, Psalms 95:1to the middle of Psalms 95:7. 2. The part of the priest or prophet, from the middle of Psalms 95:7to the end of Psalms 95:8. 3. The part of Jehovah, Psalms 95:9-11. It is written as a part of the preceding Psalm by nine of Kennicott's and De Rossi's MSS.; but certainly it must have been originally an ode by itself, as the subject is widely different from that in the foregoing.
O come, let us sing
Let us praise God, not only with the most joyful accents which can be uttered by the voice; but let us also praise him with hearts tuned to gratitude, from a full sense of the manifold benefits we have already received.
The rock of our salvation.
The strong Fortress in which we have always found safety, and the Source whence we have always derived help for our souls. In both these senses the word rock, as applied to God, is used in the Scriptures.
Let us come before his presence
panaiv, his faces, with thanksgiving, bethodah, with confession, or with the confession-offering. Praise him for what he has already done, and confess your unworthiness of any of his blessings. The confession-offering, the great atoning sacrifice, can alone render your acknowledgment of sin and thanksgiving acceptable to a holy and just God.
For the Lord is a great God
Or, "A great God is Jehovah, and a great King above all gods;" or, "God is a great King over all." The Supreme Being has three names here: EL, JEHOVAH, ELOHIM, and we should apply none of them to false gods. The first implies his strength; the second his being and essence; the third, his covenant relation to mankind. In public worship these are the views we should entertain of the Divine Being.
In his hand are the deep places of the earth
The greatest deeps are fathomed by him.
The strength of the hills is his also.
And to him the greatest heights are accessible.
The sea is his
The sea and the dry land are equally his, for he has formed them both, and they are his property. He governs and disposes of them as he sees good. He is the absolute Master of universal nature. Therefore there is no other object of worship nor of confidence.
O come, let us worship
Three distinct words are used here to express three different acts of adoration: 1. Let us worship, nishtachaveh, let us prostrate ourselves; the highest act of adoration by which the supremacy of God is acknowledged. 2. Let us bow down, nichraah, let us crouch or cower down, bending the legs under, as a dog in the presence of his master, which solicitously waits to receive his commands. 3. Let us kneel, nibrachah, let us put our knees to the ground, and thus put ourselves in the posture of those who supplicate. And let us consider that all this should be done in the presence of HIM who is Jehovah our Creator.
For he is our God
Here is the reason for this service. He has condescended to enter into a covenant with us, and he has taken us for his own; therefore-
We are the people of his pasture
Or, rather, as the Chaldee, Syriac, Vulgate, and AEthiopic read, "We are his people, and the sheep of the pasture of his hand." We are his own; he feeds and governs us, and his powerful hand protects us.
To-day if ye will hear his voice
To-day-you have no time to lose; to-morrow may be too late. God calls to-day; to-morrow he may be silent. This should commence the eighth verse, as it begins what is supposed to be the part of the priest or prophet who now exhorts the people; as if he had said: Seeing you are in so good a spirit, do not forget your own resolutions, and harden not your hearts, "as your fathers did in Meribah and Massah, in the wilderness;" the same fact and the same names as are mentioned Exodus 17:7; when the people murmured at Rephidim, because they had no water; hence it was called Meribah, contention or provocation, and Massah, temptation.
When your fathers tempted me
Tried me, by their insolence, unbelief, and blasphemy. They proved me-they had full proof of my power to save and to destroy. There they saw my works-they saw that nothing was too hard for God.
Forty years long
They did nothing but murmur, disbelieve, and rebel, from the time they began their journey at the Red Sea till they passed over Jordan, a period of forty years. During all this time God was grieved by that generation; yet he seldom showed forth that judgment which they most righteously had deserved.
It is a people that do err in their heart
Or, according to the Chaldee, These are a people whose idols are in their hearts. At any rate they had not GOD there.
They have not known my ways
The verb yada, to know, is used here, as in many other parts of Scripture, to express approbation. They knew God's ways well enough; but they did not like them; and would not walk in them. "These wretched men," says the old Psalter, "were gifnen to the lufe of this lyfe: knewe noght my ways of mekenes, and charite: for thi in my wreth I sware to thaim; that es, I sett stabely that if that sall entre in till my rest;" that is, they shall not enter into my rest.
This ungrateful people did not approve of God's ways-they did not enter into his designs-they did not conform to his commands-they paid no attention to his miracles-and did not acknowledge the benefits which they received from his hands; therefore God determined that they should not enter into the rest which he had promised to them on condition that, if they were obedient, they should inherit the promised land. So none of those who came out of Egypt, except Joshua and Caleb, entered into Canaan; all the rest died in the wilderness, wherein, because of their disobedience, God caused them to wander forty years.
It is well known that the land of Canaan was a type of heaven, where, after all his toils, the good and faithful servant is to enter into the joy of his Lord. And as those Israelites in the wilderness were not permitted to enter into the land of Canaan because of their unbelief, their distrust of God's providence, and consequent disobedience, St. Paul hence takes occasion to exhort the Jews, Hebrews 4:2-11, to accept readily the terms offered to them by the Gospel. He shows that the words of the present Psalm are applicable to the state of Christianity; and intimates to them that, if they persisted in obstinate refusal of those gracious offers, they likewise would fall according to the same example of unbelief.-Dodd.
ANALYSIS OF THE NINETY-FIFTH PSALM
This Psalm contains two parts:-
I. An exhortation to praise God, to adore, worship, kneel, Psalms 95:1,2,6.
II. Reasons to persuade to it.
1. God's mercies, Psalms 95:3-5,7.
2. His judgments in punishing his own people Israel for neglect of this duty.
I. The psalmist begins this Psalm with an earnest invitation, including himself; saying,-
1. "O come, let us;" come along with me. Though a king, he thought not himself exempted.
2. And the assembly being come together, he acquaints them what they came for:-
1. "To sing to the Lord." 1. Heartily, joyfully: "Let us make a joyful noise;" make a jubilee of it. 2. Openly, and with a loud voice: "Let us make a joyful noise with Psalms." 3. Reverently, as being in his eye, "his presence." 4. Gratefully: "Let us come before his presence with thanksgiving."
2. "To worship, to bow down, to kneel," Psalms 95:6. Adoration, humble adoration; outward worship-that of the body, as well as inward-that of the soul, is his due; and that for these reasons:-
II. 1. Because he is "the Rock of our salvation;" whether temporal or spiritual. So long as we rely on him as a Rock, we are safe from the tyranny of men, from the wrath of God, from the power of the devil, death, and hell.
2. Because he is "a great God, and a great King above all gods," JEHOVAH, a God whose name is I am, an incommunicable name to any other; for his essence is from himself, and immutable; all others derivative and mutable; and the great JEHOVAH, great in power, majesty, and glory; for he "is above all gods."
3. The whole orb of the earth is under his power and dominion: "In his hands are all the corners of the earth; the strength of the hills is his also." The globe in all its extensions is subject to him.
4. And no wonder, for he is the Creator of both, which is another argument: "The sea is his, and he made it; and his hands formed the dry land."
5. "He is our Maker," the Creator and Lord of men also.
6. Our Lord God in particular, for he hath called us to be his inheritance: "For we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand."
In which duty, if we fail, he proposeth what is to be expected by the example of the Israelites.
I. God gave them a day, and he gives it to you; it is the hodie, to-day, of your life.
2. In this day he speaks, he utters his voice: outwardly he speaks by his word; inwardly, by his Spirit.
3. This you are bound to hear, to obey.
4. And it is your own fault if you hear it not, for you may hear it if you will; to that purpose he hath given you a day: "To-day if you will hear his voice."
5. Suppose you hear it not; the cause is, the hardness of your hearts: and take heed of it; "harden not your hearts."
For then it will be with you as it was with the Israelites.
I. "As in the day of temptation in the wilderness," at Meribah and Massah.
2. "When your fathers," the Israelites that then lived, "tempted me and proved me." They asked whether God was among them or not? They questioned my power, whether I was able to give them bread and water, and flesh?
3. And they found that I was able to do it: "They saw my works;" for I brought them water out of the rock, and gave them bread from heaven, and flesh also.
Their stubbornness was of long continuance, and often repeated, for it lasted forty years: "Forty years was I grieved with this generation;" which drew God to pass this censure and verdict upon them:-
1. His censure was, that they were an obstinate perverse people, "a people that do always err in their hearts;" that were led by their own desires, which caused them to err; the way of God they would not go in; they knew it not, that is, they liked it not.
2. This verdict upon them: "Unto whom I sware in my wrath, that they should not enter into my rest;" i.e., literally, into the land of Canaan that I promised them. The oath is extant, Numbers 14:28,29. "As I live, saith the Lord, your carcasses shall fall in the wilderness;" and in the wilderness they did fall, every one except Caleb and Joshua, a fearful example against stubbornness and disobedience. Let him that readeth understand.