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O come, let us sing unto the LORD: let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation. Let us come before his presence with thanksgiving, and make a joyful noise unto him with psalms. For the LORD is a great God, a great King above all gods. In his hand are the deep places of the earth: the strength of the hills is his also. The sea is his, he made it: his hands formed the dry land. O come, let us worship and bow down: let us 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 ( Psalms 95:1-7 ).
So the beautiful psalm encouraging us of singing unto the Lord, making a joyful noise of praise unto Him, coming into His presence with thanksgiving. It's a beautiful psalm, really, of thanksgiving and making a joyful noise with praise for the greatness of God.
Now there is the warning. "For he is our God; we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand."
Now to-day if you will hear his voice, harden not your heart, as in the provocation, as in the day of temptation in the wilderness: When your fathers tempted me, proved me, and saw my work. 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: Unto whom I sware in my wrath that they should not enter into my rest ( Psalms 95:7-11 ).
Here we are warned not to harden our heart against God or the work of God. The example that is given to us is the children of Israel in the wilderness. They had come to the border of the land that God had promised to them. They had come to Kadesh Barnea. They're on the border of entering in to the land that God had promised to give to them. Now God had made some marvelous promises. He said, "I'll drive out the enemy from before you. I will go before thee and drive out your enemies. And every place you put your foot, I've given it to you for your inheritance." All these glorious promises.
Moses said, "Well, let's send spies in that they might spy out the land, that we might know what kind of a land we're coming into." And so they picked from each tribe a man to go in and to spy out the territory. And when they returned, ten of the spies brought a discouraging report. "The cities are big, the walls are high, the people who dwell in them are like giants. We were like grasshoppers before them. They'll eat us up."
Joshua and Caleb brought back an encouraging report. They said, "Ah, sure they're giants, but they're bread for us. Let's go in and eat them up. Their defenses have departed from them. Let's go in right now and take it." But the people were discouraged by the ten fellows who brought the evil report, and they began to murmur against the Lord and against Moses, and they said, "Let's choose a leader that will take us back to Egypt. We were fools to follow Moses out here."
And the anger of the Lord was kindled against them because of their unbelief. Failing to believe God that He would bring them into this land of rest and promise that He had promised to give them. And because of their unbelief, they did not enter into the rest, but they wandered for forty years there in the wilderness and perished in the wilderness experience.
Now these things all happened, Paul tells us, to them as an example for us. The whole history of Israel's deliverance out of Egypt and coming into the Land of Promise is known as typical history. That is, there are spiritual analogies to be drawn from it. And in the spiritual analogy, the land of Egypt represents the old life of bondage that we experienced in our life of sin. The Promised Land, coming into this Promised Land spiritually represents that glorious life in the Spirit that God wants you to know. That life of rest, resting in God.
Now between my conversion and entering into the fullness of the life in the Spirit, there is a wilderness that I must pass through. And there is a legitimate wilderness experience. As I am growing, as I am learning about God, as God is revealing His power to me, as I come to the bitter waters of Mara, and yet I see how God can turn the bitter waters sweet and I realize how God can take the bitter experiences of my life and bring sweetness out of them. As I'm learning to follow God with the pillar of fire and with the cloud, and I'm learning to just commit my life and trust God to lead me and guide me, coming into this new relationship with God, into this new life and experience.
But there is an illegitimate wilderness experience, too. God doesn't expect you to spend your whole life in a spiritual yo-yo. God wants to bring you into a full, rich, abundant life of the Spirit. God wants to bring you into His rest. That glorious rest that God has for His people where you're not always worried, not always upset, not always fretting, not filled with anxieties. But where you have that neat confidence and beautiful rest, "The Lord's going to take care of it, you know. So the place is burning down, God's got another place, you know." And that beautiful neat rest that you just know it's in the Lord's hands. You know the Lord is taking care of it. He's proven Himself to you. You're confident that God's got the whole thing under control. And hey, that is a glorious place to live.
Where you just learn that even in tragedies, apparent tragedies, God's hand is working and God's going to bring out His perfect purpose and will. And it's going to be for the best. So the children of Israel perished in the wilderness, never entering into the Promised Land.
Now, in Hebrews this psalm is quoted, even as the scriptures say it, "Today, if you will hear His voice, harden not your hearts as in the day of provocation." Don't harden your heart against God for in Hebrews it says, "Lest, a promise having been given to us of entering into his rest, we should fail to come in to it" ( Hebrews 4:1 ).
There are many people today who are failing still through unbelief to enter into that rest that God has for you. Your Christian experience is still like a wilderness experience. You haven't really entered in to that full rest in the Lord. But God wants you to enter into that rest. So let us beware, lest the promise having been given to us of a place of rest that we would fail to enter into it. What a tragic thing when there is rest for us that we are so filled with turmoil and worry and anxiety when God has promised rest to you. So harden not your heart, believe and trust God.
Copyright © 2014, Calvary Chapel of Costa Mesa, Ca.
Smith, Charles Ward. "Commentary on Psalms 95". "Smith's Bible Commentary". https://studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 14 / Ordinary 19