Second Verse Different from the First...

Our reading for today from Psalm 95 should sound very familiar to many of us. Not because we read the Psalms so much that we have them memorized but because we sing them so much we have part of them memorized. Several of the praise songs we sing from time to time come from Psalm 95. In fact one of them is cleverly titled "Psalm 95" (Music by Jason Hill, Dick Dalzell and words by God)

Come, let us sing for joy to the Lord
Let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation.
Let us come before him with thanksgiving (and extol)
And extol him with music and song...

Actually that song is Psalm 95:1-5 word for word out of the NIV.  So you might not like the song, but it's hard to complain much about the lyrics! The same is true for the song "Come Let Us Worship and Bow Down" by Dave Doherty. He picks up where Hill and Dalzell leave off in Psalm 95:6-7a

Come let us worship and bow downLet us kneel before the Lord, our God our Maker.For He is our God,And we are the people of His pastureAnd the sheep of His hand,    And the sheep of His hand.

These two songs are very different (the first is way uptempo, the second is slow and reflective) but they come (almost) word for world from Psalm 95. They also share in common the fact that ignore the second verse and stern warning of the Psalm--

Today, if only you would hear his voice,8 “Do not harden your hearts as you did at Meribah,
as you did that day at Massah in the wilderness,
9 where your ancestors tested me;
they tried me, though they had seen what I did.
10 For forty years I was angry with that generation;
I said, ‘They are a people whose hearts go astray,
and they have not known my ways.’
11 So I declared on oath in my anger,
‘They shall never enter my rest.’ ”

So maybe that part of the psalm is just harder to put to music; it is definitely not happy-clappy. But the message of this part of the psalm must be important because that is the part that is picked up and used by the writer of Hebrews... twice (Heb 3:7-11, 4:3).

God is "the Rock of salvation" and we are "the people of his pasture" not because of what and how we sing on Sundays. The stern warning here is not to harden our hearts as Israel did at Meribah and Massah when they complained against Moses because they did not trust God to provide them water in the wilderness. They complained about the hardships of the journey and did not trust God to provide for them. You see, if we really believe that God is our Rock (from where water comes) and that we are the people of his pasture (thus taken care of by Him), then we will not have hard harts and become discouraged by the difficulties of our journey. That generation of Jew did not enter the rest of Promised Land because they didn't trust God on the journey.

It's one thing to sing the praise songs on Sunday. We need to sing them because they remind us of who God is and what God does. But those songs have meaning only if they lead us to trust and obey God daily as we live through the wilderness that can be our lives. We need to sing that last verse of Psalm 95, because that verse is the point.