“Come, let us bow down in worship, let us kneel before the Lord our maker; for He is our God and we are the people of His pasture, the flock under His care. Today, if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts as you did at Meribah, as you did that day at Massah in the desert, where your fathers tested and tried Me, though they had seen what I did.”
There is something delightful about walking past a Church and hearing a congregation of the Lord’s people singing the praises of the Lord. One senses an invitation to come in out of the cold of unbelief and to warm oneself at the fire of God’s grace. Iain Murray tells about an event that took place around the time that D.M. Lloyd-Jones was converted. It is contained in the first volume of Murray’s wonderful biography of Lloyd-Jones, and tells about how he was out with some friends attending some sort of social event when a Salvation Army Band passed by them. As Lloyd-Jones listened to the music being played, and being at that time being drawn by the Holy Spirit to faith, he suddenly had an overwhelming sense that “these were my people.” There was an unmistakeable invitation to a faith that would alter every part of Lloyd-Jones’ life.
This compulsive nature of God’s invitation to us to receive His grace is what I believe that the Psalmist is focusing our attention upon in this particular Psalm. Of all of the suggestions that I have encountered regarding how to analyse the 95th Psalm I find myself agreeing with Spurgeon most. Spurgeon divides the Psalm into two parts. In the first five verses Spurgeon sees and invitation followed by convincing reasons why we must believe. In the second half of the Psalm, verses six through eleven, we have the invitation restated followed by a warning that we not harden our hearts to it. In presenting the invitation in this way the Psalmist leads us into a real warm hearted faith in the Lord. He shows us who the God is that we are worshipping. Then he defines the faith that worships the Lord by showing us examples of what it is not.
In leading us into worship in this way the Psalmist answers one of the chief questions that we must wrestle with in our lives. This is to define just what saving faith really is. Here we discover that the faith that saves us is first of all a faith in someone. It is not faith in general. It is not, if you will, faith in faith, as we find ourselves encouraged to think by so many in our world. It is not a belief that it will all work out somehow in the end. It is faith in the real, living God who has created all things, ourselves included, and who sovereignly rules everything for His own glory. It is faith in one who has entered into our world in order to redeem us. Like a good Shepherd He has come and cared for us, laying His life down for His sheep.
There is more here however. Saving faith is revealed in the way in which we respond to the trials we face in our lives. The Psalmist issues an invitation to us to submit to the Lord with warm hearted obedience to His voice. When He speaks to us, through His Son (Hebrews 1:1ff), or through His written Word, we listen to Him with a heart that is already obedient. The Psalmist points us to two Old Testament events, found in Exodus 17:1-7 and Numbers 20:1ff, to show us how not to submit to God. In Hebrews 3:7-4:13 the New Testament takes these definitions and applies them. People with saving faith have hearts which are submissive to the calling of the Lord upon our lives. Our desire is to obey Him even in the deepest, darkest days of our lives. Steven J. Lawson illustrates this in The Unwavering Resolve of Jonathan Edwards (Reformation Trust Publishing, Crawfordsville, Indiana, 2008) when he quotes these words from Sarah Edwards to her daughter Esther on the occasion of Jonathan Edwards death.
My very dear child, What shall I say? A holy and good God has covered us with a dark cloud. O that we may kiss the rod, and lay our hands upon our mouths! The Lord has done it. He has made me adore His goodness, that we had him so long. But my God lives; and He has my heart. O what a legacy my husband, and your father, has left us! We are all given to God; and there I am, and love to be.”