Psalm 95

May 02, 2024

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.

The Point: 

We call God’s people to worship Him, but before this can happen, it is critical that they come with the right heart-attitude. 

How do we feel in the recitation of this psalm? 

Waves of joy sweep over us as we contemplate the power of God’s creation and His covenant love towards His people. Reverently, we kneel before the Lord Who is both a King and Shepherd to us. As we read verse 7, we are shocked a little by this exhortation that comes directly from God Himself. Instead of congratulating us for the worship we render to Him, He firmly warns us against unfaithfulness and grumbling. 

What does this psalm say? 

Verses 1–2. Our psalm begins with an invitation to sing God’s praise, but we must sing with rejoicing. How many Christian sects spend excessive quantities of time defending a certain music style or some form of psalmody? Then, when they finally manage to force the congregation into this form, have they really succeeded at what God wants in their music? While it is important to replicate God’s truth in our singing, it is also crucial that we express the sanctified emotional tone found in the psalms. GOD STILL WANTS REJOICING! It is possible to sing the most glorious lyrics ever written, words that express the most powerful human emotions, without feeling a shred of that emotional tenor or even comprehending the meaning of the words. May God forgive us when this happens! In a real sense, the kind of tunes used are not of primary importance. We ought to employ the best music we can find to appropriately meet the meaning and emotion of the psalms and hymns written from Scriptural truths. But at the end of the day, it is the hearts of those singing the songs that really matter. Are they singing because that’s what everybody is supposed to do? Or are they expressing true joy in the salvation of God, the Rock of their salvation? We have great cause to be thankful, especially if God has redeemed us from sin, death, and hell forever!

Verses 3–5. The following verses provide reasons for our rejoicing and praise: God is great and God is powerful. These words help to bolster the idea of rejoicing. For many today, rejoicing is the emotion expressed over such superficial things as eating a sweet dessert or receiving a compliment. But biblical rejoicing includes the sentiment that the children of Israel experienced as they watched Pharaoh’s army flailing about in the mighty waves of the Red Sea. Creation also provides great testimonies of God’s might. Thanks to powerful telescopes, we can see the power of God in billions of galaxies burning with trillions of gigantic nuclear fusion reactors.

The reference to “gods” in verse 3 alludes to authorities over which God is the ultimate authority. There is no competition with God’s authority anywhere in the universe or outside of the universe. He is King over all gods.

If you were to stand upon the mountains or the great deep valleys in the oceans, you would find them to be breathtakingly large and deep. It is extremely difficult for a man to climb Mount Everest or descend 36,000 feet into the depths of the Marianas Trench. Many men have lost their lives in deep waters or on the high mountains, all of which speak to the breathtaking power of God’s creation. But we also observe God’s wisdom and intention in the formation of the world. He is no distant God. His hands formed the dry land, both by His works of creation and by the worldwide flood that reordered the earth’s crust. There are no accidents, and nothing is left to the mechanisms of impersonal laws. What we see in nature is exactly what God intended to bring about through His works of creation and providence. 

Verses 6–7. Here is the second reason for praise and rejoicing: we are in relationship with God. By the mere fact that He is our Creator, we owe Him our allegiance (verse 6). But He is more than a Creator for us. He is the Shepherd for us. At the final judgment, Christ will say to some, “I never knew you.” Yet in John 10:14 we find that the good Shepherd knows His sheep. There must therefore be some who are not in the shepherd-sheep relationship with the living Savior. If this is the case, then this psalm must apply only to those who are in covenant relationship with the living God. 

Verses 8–12. Abruptly, the worship psalm grinds to a halt. Out of the blue, the psalmist shifts from worship to exhortation and warning. Though it may seem odd, it shouldn’t. Actually, men and women who sit in worship services can develop callused hearts towards God as the people of Israel did in the wilderness. Children who grew up in church services forget why they are there. Within a generation or so, they grow indifferent towards God and the mighty works of God in salvation. They yawn through the worship services. They might even demand more of God’s blessings or more miracles before they will agree to believe in God.

This warning is real and relevant to those who sit in church, for there were some who participated with the church in the wilderness (Acts 7:38) but never quite made it to the Promised Land. In like manner, there are some who participate in the church of the New Testament. They eat of the spiritual meat (1 Cor. 10:3–4, 16–17), and they taste of the spiritual gift (Heb. 6:4). But they harden their hearts to the grace that is given them (Heb. 3:13–15), indicating that they were never truly regenerated in heart (Matt. 13:20–21; Heb. 6:9). It is not enough to sit in church worship services, listening to the Word preached week after week. By faith, we must receive the truths of God’s Word. By faith, we ascertain that the worlds were framed by the word of God. By faith, we must call to remembrance His mighty acts of deliverance at the Red Sea and at Calvary. And we must never cease to be amazed at His great and powerful works. When we fail to see the hand of God in history, that is the point at which we cease to wonder, and we fail to give Him the praise that is due Him. 

How do we apply this psalm to our lives?  

The children of Israel did not enter into God’s rest in the Promised Land, though it was only a temporal rest. Let us carefully assess our own hearts, lest we are hardened as well and forfeit our eternal rest. Indications of hardness of hearts include a failure to recognize God’s good gifts, a lack of trust in Him during times of trial and difficulty, and a coldness to the Word of God as it is preached. 

How does this psalm teach us to worship God?  

Without daily exhortation in God’s Word, we may begin to see the hardening of hearts towards the things of God in our own households. As a plant withers when it receives no water over two or three weeks, so hearts will harden when there is no daily exhortation in our homes. This is the thrust of Hebrews 3:13ff. That the Lord would include this strange exhortation in the middle of a praise psalm should be of no surprise to us. Men’s hearts usually harden, whether there are a million people in the wilderness or one hundred fifty people in a little community church in Tucson, Arizona. Therefore, worship leaders should not think twice about stopping a service in the midst of a time of praise in order to warn the congregation about hardening their hearts. Maybe the songwriter sensed that minds were wandering and distracted within his own congregation even as they sang this psalm of praise. Singing such majestic lyrics out of mere rote may amount to dishonoring the name of God. At the very least, this mindless rote is incompatible with the holy exercise of worship in which we purportedly engage.


1. What does God want from us in our singing, according to this psalm?

2. How do we know that God was intimately involved in the formation of this world’s valleys and mountains? 

3. How does this psalm speak of our covenant relationship with God? Does everybody enjoy this relationship with Him?

4. Who is the good Shepherd, according to the New Testament? 

5. What did the children of Israel do to tempt the Lord in the wilderness?

6. Give several examples of Exhortation Psalms. 

Family Discussion Questions: 

1. Over the last ten years, have we seen our hearts harden or soften to God’s Word? What is the general spiritual trend in our home? What is the spiritual condition of our church? 

2. Do we experience joy when we sing at home and at church? Is it important that we rejoice in every song that we sing? What sorts of songs might commend more rejoicing