May 22 (Daily reading: Psalms 95, 97-99) Psalm 95 is, as we say in sports, a story of two halves. The first half, verses 1-7, shows the greatness of God, “King above all gods.” He holds the entire world that He created in His hands. A rock is referred to, “the rock of our salvation.” Our response is clear: “Come, let’s worship and bow down, let’s 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.”
The second half, verses 8-11, warns us to not be like those who do not recognize the greatness of God, and who do not worship Him: “A people whose hearts go astray, and they have not known my ways.” The writer identified the Israelites in the desert as a people who hardened their hearts at Meribah and who tested God at Massah. They grumbled against Moses because of their thirst in the desert (Ex. 17:3). Another rock is referred to in this story. God told Moses: “I will stand before you there on the rock at Horeb; and you shall strike the rock, and water will come out of it, so that the people may drink” (Ex. 17:6).
The writer of the Hebrew letter also refers to this story and quotes Psalm 95:7, “Today if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts” (Heb. 4:7). There is yet another reference to a rock, by Paul, writing of this experience in the desert: “For they were drinking from a spiritual rock which followed them; and the rock was Christ” (1 Cor. 10:4). The way to NOT harden our hearts, but to recognize who God is and worship Him, is provided in what Christ called “living water.” He said that when one drinks this water, it “will become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life” (Jn. 4:14).
– Al Gary