Psalm 95 Commentary
Nearly all worship practices in the house of God today come from psalms such as this one. We can sing, shout, and give thanks in song; we can bow down in worship as well as kneel before the LORD our Maker.
Of course, other psalms will talk about clapping of hands, dancing, lifting hands, use of instruments, and meditating.
All this is fine but the chapter is keen on one even more important act of worship: obedience. “Do not harden your hearts as you did at Meribah, as you did that day at Massah in the wilderness.” Verse 8.
It’s not the first time the scripture is placing obedience ahead of rituals. “To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams,” said the great prophet Samuel to errant King Saul.
It is little wonder that obedience becomes the yardstick for measuring one’s worthiness of eternal rest.
At the waters of Meribah Kadesh, the community in transit rose up against Moses and Aaron for lack of water. After prayer, the LORD instructed Moses to speak to the rock. But in anger and pride, Moses hit the rock instead, dishonoring the LORD in the process. Moses and Aaron were immediately disqualified from crossing over into Canaan.
The warning is strong. At Massah, the Israelites quarreled and tested the LORD saying, “Is the LORD among us or not?”
It is a ‘Massah scandal’ when the saint sets to pray by questioning God’s presence because of some difficulties they face. Or probably because the LORD hasn’t intervened the way I wanted and at the time I set. The saint will have put the LORD God in a box he has defined. He has subtracted from the sovereignty of the Creator God. He will have created a sub-god who simply says yes to mortals. The saint has disobeyed commandment number one.
There was pride at Meribah. There was also direct disobedience by Moses. Speaking to the rock and hitting it are two very different things. Going by what the scripture says about this rock, the saint should be speaking to the LORD Jesus Christ and not hitting the master. The temptation to complain as we pray is very high but the LORD instructs that we simply pray. Let there be obedience, submission, trust, peace, and joy each time we pray.
And why not? The Rock is tender, loving, kind, caring, peace-loving, ever-present, and gracious. But the immortal Rock is also just, always right, and almighty. Let there be no anger; let there be no pride. Let there be no disobedience.
You probably want to check yourself before you pray, lest you create your own Meribah situation.
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