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Bible Commentaries

The Church Pulpit Commentary

Psalms 95

Verse 1

WORSHIP AND REST

‘O come, let us sing unto the Lord: let us heartily rejoice in the strength of our salvation.… Let us worship and fall down: and kneel before the Lord our Maker.’

Psalms 95:1; Psalms 95:6 (Prayer Book Version)

Such is the invitation that Sunday by Sunday and day by day we give one another. We are about to do something joyous, gladsome, and inspiriting, and we wish others to come along with us and share our happiness. We are to fling ourselves at the feet of One Whose works proclaim His majesty.

I. Are we to acquiesce in a resting-place no larger than our counting-house or our office?—Are we never to stretch ourselves beyond the narrow confines of domestic joys and business interests? Is it that we have lost what Bishop Westcott called ‘the ennobling faculty of wonder,’ and with it the power of rising above ourselves and our surroundings? Ah! that is possible. The alarming increase in suicide and lunacy, in spite of the much higher standard of personal comfort, is a warning that we are losing something. And what is that? It is worship. Yes, again we are learning that the soul is made for God, and can find its rest only in Him, that no rest we can find for ourselves is comparable to the rest in worship. We are not indeed accustomed to put the two things together, we do not naturally associate rest with days of worship or places of worship. Worship as an obligation, a duty, we understand, but worship as a refreshment, a recreation, is quite novel. A day of worship we should suppose to be a dull and heavy day. And yet some can remember one day when the word spelt something like rest.

II. And afterwards, though they may not have expressed it, the same feeling was aroused by some sight of nature.—A sunset, a stretch of mountain peaks, a quiet English pastoral scene, nay, even a flower, as it was with Linnæus, have excited feelings too deep for tears. Or it has been the procession of an aged sovereign, dear to the hearts of the people, or of a weather-beaten soldier who has done his country great service, or some statesman who has given his nation peace. And as they stood silent, listening to the gathering roar of the people, they have realised for themselves those old Bible words, ‘They worshipped the Lord and the King.’

III. Alas! alas! My people are gone into captivity to sense for lack of knowledge.—If only they knew! But why do they not know? Because the Book—the real Wonder-Book—is often so imperfectly taught. The very wonder it is meant to excite is sometimes killed in the teaching of it. Instead of the children finding that they are insensibly drawn away from earth to a spiritual world of unseen beings, to which they are led by natural instincts, they never leave the class-room, but are confined to a school of ethics, where angels never minister, God never interferes, and miracles never happen. The natural faculty of wonder so strong in a child is checked instead of developed, and we have young people growing up who never wonder.

Yes, we begin our endeavour with those who pass our churches a little too late. Pleasant Sunday Afternoons, bright musical services, a carefully-arranged ritual, may attract and help those who can still admire and wonder, and so worship, but they cannot, except by Divine grace, touch those to whom life is but a paddock, with very insufficient pasture and very unreasonable competition. Sunday rest certainly depends on Sunday worship, but Sunday worship depends on that faculty of wonder which is kept alive by a living and growing Bible knowledge. It is that which we must strive for if Sunday is to be in the future what it has been in the past.

—Canon Walpole.

Verse 6

WORSHIP AND REST

‘O come, let us sing unto the Lord: let us heartily rejoice in the strength of our salvation.… Let us worship and fall down: and kneel before the Lord our Maker.’

Psalms 95:1; Psalms 95:6 (Prayer Book Version)

Such is the invitation that Sunday by Sunday and day by day we give one another. We are about to do something joyous, gladsome, and inspiriting, and we wish others to come along with us and share our happiness. We are to fling ourselves at the feet of One Whose works proclaim His majesty.

I. Are we to acquiesce in a resting-place no larger than our counting-house or our office?—Are we never to stretch ourselves beyond the narrow confines of domestic joys and business interests? Is it that we have lost what Bishop Westcott called ‘the ennobling faculty of wonder,’ and with it the power of rising above ourselves and our surroundings? Ah! that is possible. The alarming increase in suicide and lunacy, in spite of the much higher standard of personal comfort, is a warning that we are losing something. And what is that? It is worship. Yes, again we are learning that the soul is made for God, and can find its rest only in Him, that no rest we can find for ourselves is comparable to the rest in worship. We are not indeed accustomed to put the two things together, we do not naturally associate rest with days of worship or places of worship. Worship as an obligation, a duty, we understand, but worship as a refreshment, a recreation, is quite novel. A day of worship we should suppose to be a dull and heavy day. And yet some can remember one day when the word spelt something like rest.

II. And afterwards, though they may not have expressed it, the same feeling was aroused by some sight of nature.—A sunset, a stretch of mountain peaks, a quiet English pastoral scene, nay, even a flower, as it was with Linnæus, have excited feelings too deep for tears. Or it has been the procession of an aged sovereign, dear to the hearts of the people, or of a weather-beaten soldier who has done his country great service, or some statesman who has given his nation peace. And as they stood silent, listening to the gathering roar of the people, they have realised for themselves those old Bible words, ‘They worshipped the Lord and the King.’

III. Alas! alas! My people are gone into captivity to sense for lack of knowledge.—If only they knew! But why do they not know? Because the Book—the real Wonder-Book—is often so imperfectly taught. The very wonder it is meant to excite is sometimes killed in the teaching of it. Instead of the children finding that they are insensibly drawn away from earth to a spiritual world of unseen beings, to which they are led by natural instincts, they never leave the class-room, but are confined to a school of ethics, where angels never minister, God never interferes, and miracles never happen. The natural faculty of wonder so strong in a child is checked instead of developed, and we have young people growing up who never wonder.

Yes, we begin our endeavour with those who pass our churches a little too late. Pleasant Sunday Afternoons, bright musical services, a carefully-arranged ritual, may attract and help those who can still admire and wonder, and so worship, but they cannot, except by Divine grace, touch those to whom life is but a paddock, with very insufficient pasture and very unreasonable competition. Sunday rest certainly depends on Sunday worship, but Sunday worship depends on that faculty of wonder which is kept alive by a living and growing Bible knowledge. It is that which we must strive for if Sunday is to be in the future what it has been in the past.

—Canon Walpole.

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Bibliographical Information
Nisbet, James. "Commentary on Psalms 95". The Church Pulpit Commentary. https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/cpc/psalms-95.html. 1876.