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An exhortation to praise God, for his greatness and for his goodness; and not to tempt him.
THIS psalm was written by David; for the apostle to the Hebrews cites a passage out of it under his name. See Hebrews 4:7. It seems to have been intended as a solemn invitation of the people, when they were assembled together on some public occasion, to praise their God, and to hear instructions out of his law. But it also plainly relates to the days of Christ, as the Jews themselves acknowledge, and as the apostle proves fully in the third and fourth chapters of the epistle before mentioned.
Psalms 95:7. To-day if ye will hear his voice— The people having said, We are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand, God is introduced, saying, "Since then you are so, from this day be not like your fathers; behave like my sheep, and harden not your hearts." It is plain, therefore, that the voice of God must begin here; accordingly, this sentence should begin the 8th verse, and be rendered thus: From this day, if you will hear my voice, harden not your heart as at Meribah, as in the day of Massah in the wilderness; Psalms 95:9. When your fathers put me to the proof, tried me, even at the same time that they saw my glorious doing. Mudge. We would just observe, that the word rendered pasture, in the original, signifies also dominion. According to this sense of the word, the other phrase, sheep of his hand, will here be a more fit, though figurative expression: the shepherd who rules the sheep, doing it with his hand, which manages the rod and staff by which they are ruled. See Psalms 23:4.
Psalms 95:11. Unto whom I sware— Wherefore I sware, &c. It is well known, that the land of Canaan was a type of heaven, where, after all his toils, the good and faithful servant is to enter into the joy of his Lord; and as those Israelites in the wilderness were not permitted to enter into the land of Canaan, because of their unbelief, their distrust in God's providence, and consequent disobedience; St. Paul hence takes occasion to exhort the Jews, Heb 2:1-4 to accept readily the terms offered to them by the gospel: and in the subsequent chapter he shews that the words of the present Psalm are applicable to the state of Christianity; and intimates to them, that if they persisted in an obstinate refusal of those gracious offers, they likewise would fall through unbelief.
REFLECTIONS.—1st, The Psalmist opens with a warm exhortation to all around him, to unite in the delightful work of praise to the great God and Saviour.
1. He directs how they should draw near to him with a joyful noise, not only making melody in their hearts, but speaking forth his praise in psalms and hymns, and spiritual songs, with thanksgiving for all his boundless mercies; with humble reverence and lowly adoration kneeling before him; the posture of their body expressing the deep abasement of their souls in his presence.
2. He points out abundant matter for their praises.
(1.) He is the rock of our salvation, hath obtained it for his faithful people; and all who are perseveringly built upon him, are secure from all wrath, and safe from all enemies.
(2.) He is a great God, partaking of all the essential attributes of Deity; eternal, omnipotent, omniscient.
(3.) His dominion is universal: He is a great king above all gods; by him all earthly princes reign, to him all magistrates are accountable, and before him the fictitious gods of the heathen perish: he is King of kings, and Lord of lords. His dominion is wide, extending from pole to pole; both land and sea acknowledge his sovereignty: the deepest recesses of the earth he searches, and the highest mountains are fixed by his power, and upheld by his providence. Note; If all the world be thus in the hands of our Jesus, how can his faithful people want any manner of thing that is good?
(4.) He is the maker of all, and therefore justly the owner; by him and in him we live and move and have our being: he bade the dry land appear, and bound up the great deep in swaddling-bands. These are thy works, O God; and justly therefore does he deserve to be praised; of whom are all things, and for whom are all things.
(5.) He stands in a peculiar relation to his believing people, and demands their grateful tribute of thanksgiving. For he is our God and Saviour, who became incarnate for us, our substitute and surety; and we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand; not merely fed by his providence, but formed for himself by grace, to be a peculiar people, led by his word and Spirit, and protected by his power. Well, therefore, may we say in this view, O come, let us sing unto the Lord, who is so worthy to be praised, and to be had in everlasting remembrance.
2nd, The tribute of our lips is but a vain oblation, unless our lives also shew forth the Saviour's praise; therefore we are called upon,
1. To hear his voice: this is our great duty as the sheep of his hand, who must know the shepherd's voice, and follow it. Note; If Christ be our Saviour and King, justly does he expect that we should be obedient subjects: to none but these is he the author of eternal salvation.
2. This must be done immediately, to-day, while it is called to-day; delays are dangerous. By nothing are souls more frequently undone than by procrastination; they put off the concerns of eternity to a more convenient season, and perish ere it arrives.
3. We are warned of our danger. Harden not your heart against Christ and his gospel, as the Jews did, who rejected the true Messiah; and as their fathers before them had done in the wilderness, their whole conduct being one continued scene of rebellions and provocations against him. Note; (1.) However slightly men pass over their sins, in God's sight they are highly provoking. (2.) Disbelief of God's promises is among the greatest insults that we can shew him, yet a crime that we are very apt to disregard and make light of. (3.) That heart is hardened indeed, which the great and precious promises of the gospel cannot affect. (4.) It is wise to be warned by others misfortunes, lest we fall after the same example of unbelief.
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Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on Psalms 95". Coke's Commentary on the Holy Bible. https://studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 14 / Ordinary 19