Hello, I’m Daniel Westfall on the channel “Pray with Me”.
Psalm 95 communicates two different messages. The first is a beautiful call to worship, an invitation to praise God in a community of worshippers. The second is a stern reminder, repeated from the previous psalm, that true worshipers listen to God and obey his voice.
The call to worship summons us to praise God because he rules over creation. The depths of earth, the heights of the mountains, the roiling sea and the dry land are all works of his hand.
A second call to worship summons us to kneel before God, thankful that we too are his creation. But we are not mere created objects, wandering aimlessly through a vast universe. We are God’s sheep, God is our shepherd. The hand that formed the worlds cares tenderly for his flock.
The poet now moves to his second theme, saying:
If only you would hear his voice
do not harden your hearts (vv. 7-8).
Here, the poet speaks as prophet revealing God’s heart. God longs that people would listen to him and heed his voice. But he has often experienced the opposite: His people turn from the place of worship back to lives of faithless struggle. Our songs of praise get lost in lives of employment, pandemic, personal failure, social injustice, or outright idol worship. “O, if you would only listen to me and heed my voice” says God. But sadly,
Their hearts go astray
and they have not known my ways (v. 10).
Our father, we worship you in the temple of creation.
Yours are the depths of the earth and the height of the mountains. The title deed to my small property on earth excludes mines and minerals lurking below. But your ownership extends from the centre of the earth to the highest mountains. You built the world, and your name is on the title deed.
We praise you for the seas, the vast oceans that we use for work and play, where we harvest food, where our ships travel for commerce and our navies patrol against enemies. Thank you also for the dry land, for we are land animals who walk the solid earth, and work it,and build on it, and fight over it.
Thank you for sunsets and sunrises as earth spins from day to night and night to day. Thank you for the phases of the moon that regulate the tides and mark our months, for the seasons that attend our pilgrimage around the sun. Thank you for our home in the solar system, for the Christmas conjunction of Saturn and Jupiter that reminded us of the Star of Bethlehem.
Thank you that you are our shepherd, the guardian and overseer of our lives. In the pandemic, conspiracy theorists derisively call us “sheeple”, accusing us of giving away our freedoms by wearing masks and following questionable medical advice.
O God, our shepherd, we are not your sheeple, we are the sheep of your pasture, who listen to your voice and search for your truth. In the social and political confusion of life, our society shows the weakness of its hold on sanity and wisdom. Care for us, God, lead us through problems bigger than we can understand and solve. We are not the independent, self-sufficient cowboys of the American myth, we are people bound together by a common culture, a shared civilization, worldwide medical problems, and governments that triy to act wisely.
Help us to live as the sheep of your flock, help us to speak your truth to our world, help to live your life into our culture. And save us, Lord, for we need your deliverance.
I’m Daniel on the channel “Pray with Me”.