Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Psalm 95: Praise is Antidote to Complaining

KEY TEXT: Psalms 95:6-9 Oh come, let us worship and bow down; let us kneel before the Lord, our Maker! For he is our God, and we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand. Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts, as at Meribah, as on the day at Massah in the wilderness, when your fathers put me to the test and put me to the proof, though they had seen my work.

KEY THOT: The gathering of God's people should be marked by joyful noise and songs of praise because the Lord who is the "great God" and "great King" (v.3) is in our midst. When we gather in Jesus' name, He promises to be in our midst, to join us in offering praise to the Father: "That is why he (Jesus) is not ashamed to call them brothers, saying, "I will tell of your name to my brothers; in the midst of the congregation I will sing your praise.So, the psalmist calls us to "worship and bow down; let us kneel before the Lord, our Maker!" The context for this call is the bad-mouthing of God and his appointed leader at Meribah and Massah in the wilderness (v.8).  Praise and worship is a manifestation of our gratitude to God. A complaining habit is a manifestation of our ingratitude to God.

The kind of praise and worship that will uplift our spirits and transforms our negative fatalism into positive faith is one that is marked by a "joyful noise" (v.1,2). OT worship based on the psalms is marked by high-energy and loud praise. Such worship is attractive to the young and energetic. The old, slow and tired singing that marks some churches attracts only the old, the slow and the tired--mostly the elderly. Even NT worship was never like that. When Paul and Silas were praying and singing in the prison, all the prisoners could hear them: "About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them, and suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken" (Acts 16:25-26). God added to their joyful noise with his own earth-shaking percussive drum-roll!

The psalmist's call to "sing to the Lord...make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation!" must be understood in the context of that complaining episode of Israel at Meribah and Massah in the wilderness. It is the antidote to protect us from the sin of negative speaking. Positive speaking towards God will result in positive speaking towards God's leaders.

When we are in the habit of affirming God in worship for his greatness, we will also find it easy to affirm His work of grace in His people. A fault-finding mindset is a fruit of ingratitude towards God.

Father, fill our hearts with Your Spirit so that we can praise and worship You in Spirit and in truth. Amen.

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