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Bible Commentaries

Lange's Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical

Psalms 95

 

 

Verses 1-11

Psalm 95

1 O come, let us sing unto the Lord:

Let us make a joyful noise to the Rock of our salvation.

2 Let us come before his presence with thanksgiving,

And make a joyful noise unto him with psalms.

3 For the Lord is a great God,

And a great King above all gods.

4 In his hand are the deep places of the earth:

The strength of the hills is his also.

5 The sea is his, and he made it:

And his hands formed the dry land.

6 O come, let us worship and bow down:

Let us kneel before the Lord our maker.

7 For he is our God;

And we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand.

To-day if ye will hear his voice,

8 Harden not your heart, as in the provocation,

And as in the day of temptation in the wilderness:

9 When your fathers tempted me,

Proved me and saw my work.

10 Forty years long was I grieved with this generation,

And said, It is a people that do err in their heart,

And they have not known my ways:

11 Unto whom I sware in my wrath

That they should not enter into my rest.

EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL

Contents and Composition.—The Church is called upon to praise Jehovah ( Psalm 95:1-2); first, because of His exaltation as the supreme God and Creator ( Psalm 95:3-5). The call is then repeated, being supported by the relation which the Church bears to Him, and coupled with the exhortation to listen to His voice on that very day ( Psalm 95:6-7). Finally, the declaration of God to His people, which draws its warnings from the history of the march through the wilderness, is announced ( Psalm 95:8-11). No clue is afforded to the time of composition. Its fruitful application typically is shown in Hebrews 3:7-11; Hebrews 4:3-7. The Sept. has the superscription: Psalm of praise of David. The expression in Hebrews 4:7 : ἐν Δαβὶδ λέγων, does not refer to the person of David, but to the Book of Psalm named after him.—The Romish Church begins its daily officium with this Psalm, according to the rendering of Psalm 95:2 : præoccupemus faciem ejus.

[The rendering “strength” in E. V. is derived from the meaning which the word must have in the first two passages above cited, where it is applied to the buffalo. Most recent critics concur in giving the translation of Dr. Moll: heights, or summit, which is that of the Septuagint. The primary idea being that of weariness, the derivation is supposed to be connected with it, by the nature of the fatigue occasioned by the ascent of a great elevation—J. F. M.]

Psalm 95:7-9. We must not render: sheep of His care (Bött.), though the hand is perhaps not the creating hand, which has made the people the flock of God ( Isaiah 19:25; Isaiah 64:7; Psalm 80:6), but the guiding and protecting hand ( Genesis 30:35).—To-day. By the position of יומ at the beginning of its clause, the day on which God’s voice is not only heard, but is also obeyed, is set forth as a day of decision. The אִם would lead us to expect an apodosis, but, when this is wanting, it gives to the clause which it introduces an optative meaning. There lay stamped already upon the names Meribah and Massah [E. V, provocation—temptation,] the events which occurred there ( Exodus 17:1-7, Numbers 20:1 ff.), and they could therefore be so much the more easily applied typically ( Psalm 83:10, comp. Numbers 14:22; Deuteronomy 6:16; Deuteronomy 33:8; Psalm 78:18; Psalm 78:41; Psalm 78:56; Psalm 106:14).—In verse9b. the meaning is not: although they saw my wonderful working (De Wette, Köster, Hengst, Del.), but: they also observed my retributive dealing (Luther, Geier, Ewald, Hupfeld, Hitzig).

Psalm 95:10 f. We should not render: with that generation (Sept.), although the generation living at that time and suffering from that judgment is primarily referred to. The absence of the article rather indicates a general reference, and facilitates the application to men of like character in any circumstances. The oath of God ( Psalm 95:11) follows Numbers 14:21 f, comp. Deuteronomy 1:35. The rest is primarily the place of settlement granted by God ( Numbers 10:33; Deuteronomy 12:9; 1 Kings 8:56; Isaiah 11:10; Psalm 132:8; Psalm 132:14), but includes the idea of rest after wandering, and, according to Hebrews 4:8 f, may be employed as a type of the eternal rest.—The Sept. read in Psalm 95:6 weep, instead of: bow down: and many ancient psalteries have after the Cod. Vat. of the Sept. the addition to Psalm 95:3 : because the Lord will not reject His people.

DOCTRINAL AND ETHICAL

1. God, as the firm and sure ground of all help and of our salvation ( Psalm 89:27; Psalm 94:22), is the worthy object of the praise of His adoring Church. But, when His people assemble to praise Him, they must remember that they appear before the face of Him who, exalted as the only true God above all beings that are honored by men as Divine, is the Creator of all things and the Shepherd of His people. They are, therefore, to humble themselves before Him as the One who is alone worthy of adoration, trust in Him as the Controller of all, and, in the obedience of faith, follow Him as their Guide.

2. God’s people worshipping in His sanctuary have, for the reasons and with the aim above-mentioned, both to raise their own voices to God, and to listen to His voice addressed to them. Both of these are essential to true devotion, and not only express the lively nature of the relations which exist between God and His Church, but promote also their intimacy, reality, and strength. God will preserve, protect, and rule the people of His Church as His flock, not merely physically, temporally, and outwardly, but will also spiritually, eternally, and inwardly care for them, revive them, and sanctify them for His own inheritance. For this end He employs especially His holy word, by which He compels none, but invites, instructs, and directs all.

3. In order to praise God truly, and to follow His guidance with docility, the heart must be surrendered to Him; and history, including that of God’s word, teaches us how seldom and with what difficulty men yield to this demand, and how often, on the other hand, and how easily, they, even with God’s judgments before them, and with the evidences of His blessings around them, harden themselves even to obduracy. Then they go astray in the wilderness, and do not arrive at rest with God, since in their hearts they have wandered away from Him. As long as the voice of God over us calls upon us to hear by rebuke and punishment, we are still far from the goal. But we can learn from His voice, still sounding through the Church in the preaching of His word, that we are upon the way. And from the fact that long after the time of Moses, and again after that of David, God caused such a call to be sounded forth in the Church, and appointed days of decision, impressing upon men’s minds the severity of the judgment and the preciousness of the day of grace which still runs on, we may learn that, with the possession of Canaan, neither the blessedness of Israel nor the teaching of God came to an end, but that there still remains a rest for the people of God.

[Hengstenberg: The Psalm has its full significance for the Christian Church, inasmuch as we stand in the same relation to the second coming of the Lord, of whose time and hour we know nothing, as the people of the Old Testament did to the first.—J. F. M.]

HOMILETICAL AND PRACTICAL

There is reason enough for daily thanksgiving, but is there delight in it?—It is a telling accusation of our forgetfulness, indolence, and ingratitude that we need to be called upon to praise God.—All worship is based upon an acknowledgment of the Divine majesty, creative omnipotence, and watchful love of the Eternal.—We are not merely to feel what we have to thank God for and what we owe to Him, but to express it also in word and deed.—Thou hast, perhaps, a desire to speak with God; art thou also inclined to hear and to obey Him? He who would come into the rest of God, must hear the voice of the Good Shepherd and feed in His pastures as a member of His flock.—We are to-day still upon our pilgrimage; to-day we hear still the voice of God; to-day we can still seek the face of the Eternal; why then do so many wander about in the wilderness and perish?—When God’s people tempt Him instead of trusting Him, they will not stand in the day of trial.

Starke: If our hearts were not by nature so slow to serve and praise God, He would not need to awaken and encourage us.—The world rejoices and shouts in its service of sin; how it puts to shame the children of God, who are often so indolent in the far more blessed employment of praising Him!—The more thou wilt meditate upon the greatness of our God, the more tiny and insignificant will created things and thine own fancied greatness appear in thine eyes.—A Christian does not know how to humble himself sufficiently before God even in behaviour. It is ever with him as with the Psalmist: I will yet be more vile than this before the Lord ( 2 Samuel 6:22)—The whole good of the believer is contained in one word: God is his God.—As certain as are the oaths of God, whereby He promises life and blessedness to the penitent, so certain are those by which He announces eternal destruction to the obstinate ungodly.

Frisch: God’s anger falls suddenly; and then it is too late to do what is not already done.—Tholuck: God’s words speak loudly, and afford an inexhaustible subject of grateful songs of praise.—Guenther: A rest still remains even for the people of the Dispersion, but the way thither lies over Golgotha.—Diedrich: God Himself is the Rock on which our salvation rests, and that is one great consolation, for if it rested on our own strength, it would be a tottering support.—Taube: God, who is worthy to be praised, who has led the people of His pasture to Himself through the acceptable days of salvation, and who feeds them until the full enjoyment of the eternal Sabbath rest, calls upon us to triumph in His power and mercy; but the warning example of those of old, the shortness of today, the sweeping progress and terrible deceitfulness of sin, the labyrinth of errors in our own hearts, call upon us o exercise a holy fear of the Lord.

[Matth. Henry: The more experience we have had of the power and goodness of God, the greater is our sin if we distrust Him. What, to tempt Him in the wilderness when we live upon Him! This is as ungrateful as it is absurd and unreasonable—Hardness of heart is at the bottom of all our distrusts of God and quarrels with Him. That is a hard heart which receives not the impressions of Divine discoveries, and conforms not to the intentions of the Divine will; which will not melt, which will not bend.

Hengstenberg: The more clearly God makes Himself known, the more base is our conduct, if we only put Him to the test in time of need; as though He could not till then give proof of His true Divinity.—J. F. M.]

 


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Bibliography Information
Lange, Johann Peter. "Commentary on Psalms 95:4". "Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/lcc/psalms-95.html. 1857-84.

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