Where the world comes to study the Bible

Psalm 95

STROPHE DIVISIONS OF MODERN TRANSLATIONS

NASB NKJV NRSV TEV NJB
Praise to the Lord, and Warning Against Unbelief
No MT Intro
A Call to Worship and Obedience A Liturgy of God's Kingship A Song of Praise Invitation to Praise
95:1-5 95:1-5 95:1-5 95:1-5 95:1-2
        95:3-5
95:6-7 95:6-7b 95:6-7b 95:6-7b 95:6-7b
  95:7c-11 95:7c-11 95:7c-11 95:7c-9
95:8-11        
        95:10-11

READING CYCLE THREE (see "Guide to Good Bible Reading")

FOLLOWING THE ORIGINAL AUTHOR'S INTENT AT PARAGRAPH LEVEL

This is a study guide commentary which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

Read the chapter in one sitting. Identify the subjects (reading cycle #3). Compare your subject divisions with the five translations above. Paragraphing is not inspired, but it is the key to following the original author's intent, which is the heart of interpretation. Every paragraph has one and only one subject.

1. First paragraph

2. Second paragraph

3. Third paragraph

4. Etc.

 

WORD AND PHRASE STUDY

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: 95:1-5
 1O come, let us sing for joy to the Lord,
 Let us shout joyfully to the rock of our salvation.
 2Let us come before His presence with thanksgiving,
 Let us shout joyfully to Him with psalms.
 3For the Lord is a great God
 And a great King above all gods,
 4In whose hand are the depths of the earth,
 The peaks of the mountains are His also.
 5The sea is His, for it was He who made it,
 And His hands formed the dry land.

95:1-5 This strophe is a call (imperative and 4 cohortatives) to praise YHWH as King and Creator.

1. O come - BDB 229, KB 246, Qal imperative

2. let us sing for joy - BDB 943, KB 1247, Piel cohortative, cf. Ps. 66:1; 81:1

3. let us shout joyfully - BDB 929, KB 1206, Hiphil cohortative

4. let us come before His presence (i.e., temple) - BDB 869, KB 1068, Piel cohortative

5. let us shout joyfully - BDB 929, KB 1206, Hiphil imperfect used in a cohortative sense

These are calls to worship at the temple. The worship is due because YHWH is

1. the rock of our salvation - this and similar descriptions function as titles mostly in Psalms and Isaiah

a. God of my salvation - Ps. 88:1; (cf. Ps. 24:5; 27:9)

b. my Savior and my God - Ps. 42:5-6,11; 43:5

c. my rock and my salvation - 2 Sam. 22:47; Ps. 62:2,7; 89:26; 95:1

d. God our Savior - Ps. 65:5; 68:19; 85:4; 149:4 (see NIDOTTE, vol. 2, p. 561)

2. a great God (El), cf. Ps. 48:1; 96:4; 135:5; 145:3

3. a great King (cf. 1 Sam. 8:7)

4. above all gods (cf. Exod. 18:11; Ps. 96:4; 97:9; 135:5, see SPECIAL TOPIC: MONOTHEISM; this is the use of Elohim, which should retain its plural form, cf. Exod. 3:6; 20:3, see SPECIAL TOPIC: NAMES FOR DEITY

 

95:1 "the rock of our salvation" The imagery of Israel's God as a rock is recurrent (cf. Deut. 32:4, 15,18,30,31; 1 Sam. 2:2; 2 Sam. 22:3,32,47; 23:3; Ps. 18:2,31,46; 28:1; 61:2,7; 78:35; 89:26; 92:15; 94:22). It describes Him as strong, eternal, stable, and a place of safety and security!

95:4 "the depths of the earth" The word "depths" (מחקר, BDB 350, KB 571) appears only here. It is in a construct relationship with "earth" and parallel to "the peaks of the mountains." This is obviously a physical creation poetic line (i.e., Ps. 95:4-5), which denotes YHWH's creation of all physical features of this planet. He is the King and Creator of physical reality (not other ANE deities or myths). Today the question would be, "Is physical creation random or purposeful?" Believers shout "purposeful"!

Just an added thought. In the previous paragraph I related Ps. 95:4 to 95:3a. It is possible to relate it to 95:3b. If so, then "the depths" and "the mountains" would be places the ANE expected the gods to be. In those places it was not "the gods" (elohim) but YHWH, the Elohim of creation (Genesis 1-2) who reigns!

▣ "hand" Notice that "hand" appears again in Psalm 95:5. See SPECIAL TOPIC: HAND.

95:5 "The sea. . .He who made it" It is surprising that in Genesis 1 the only earthly element not spoken into existence was water (salt and fresh). God does separate the waters and controls their boundaries but He is not said to create them, so too, Psalm 104.

However, the theological assertion that He created all things including the "seas" is made in Neh. 9:6; Ps. 95:5; 146:6; Jonah 1:9.

Also notice that Ps. 95:5b asserts God formed (BDB 427, KB 468, Qal perfect) dry land. Genesis 1:9-10 asserts it was by the spoken word. Remember this is ANE imagery. We should not create theology on poetic lines. I think Genesis 1-11 is both historical and literary. Please see the exegetical commentary on Genesis at www.freebiblecommentary.org. Western, modern people are far too literal and atomistic in their approach to Scripture (see online Seminar on Bible Interpretation).

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: 95:6-7
 6Come, let us worship and bow down,
 Let us kneel before the Lord our Maker.
 7For He is our God,
 And we are the people of His pasture and the sheep of His hand.
 Today, if you would hear His voice,

95:6-11 This strophe is addressed to the Covenant people, calling them to

1. worship (Ps. 95:6)

a. come (lit. "come in"; different word from Ps. 95:1 but parallel) - BDB 97, KB 112, Qal imperative

b. let us worship - BDB 1005, KB 295, Hishtaphel imperfect used in a cohortative sense

c. let us bow down - BDB 502, KB 499, Qal cohortative

d. let us kneel before - BDB 138, KB 159, Qal cohortative

2. respond in faith (Ps. 95:7)

3. not be hard hearted, as they were in the past (i.e., wilderness wandering period, Ps. 95:8-11)

 

95:6 "our Maker" Genesis 2:7 describes the special formation of Adam. The animals are said to be formed out of the ground also in Gen. 2:19 (same verb, BDB 427, KB 428).

In Ps. 139:13-16 ("weave," BDB 697, KB 754) and Job 31:15 ("made," BDB 793, KB 889, also Ps. 139:15) God forms each human in the womb. The variety is literary but the truth is God did it/does it (cf. Ps. 100:3; 149:2; Isa. 17:7; Hos. 8:14). Humans are a special creation of God in His image and likeness (Gen. 1:26-27) for the purpose of fellowship! To miss this is to miss the value and dignity of humankind (cf. Psalm 8).

95:7c-11 It is interesting how the OT characterizes the wilderness wandering period differently.

1. positively

a. Deut. 32:10-14

b. Jeremiah 2

c. Hosea 2:15; 9:10; 11:1-2

2. negatively

a. Num. 14:1-17

b. Ps. 95:8-11

c. Ezekiel 23

This is the dilemma of all of our lives. None is perfect. There are good days and bad days, areas of strength and weakness. Thank God for His unchanging, merciful character, the New Covenant (i.e., Jer. 31:31-34), and His Messiah (i.e., NT revelation).

95:7 God as Shepherd and His people as sheep is common OT imagery (see notes at Psalm 23).

The intimacy between Shepherd and sheep is strong and constant. It is ridiculous and dangerous for sheep not to listen to their shepherd! The Fall has affected us all!

1. they did not listen (Ps. 95:7c, quoted in Heb. 3:7-11,15; 4:7)

2. they harden their hearts

a. Meribah - Exod. 17:7; Num. 20:13

b. Massah - Exod. 17:7; Deut. 6:16

3. they tested God - Num. 14:22

Several of the English translations start a new paragraph at Ps. 95:7c because at this point in the Psalm, YHWH is speaking (i.e., Ps. 95:7c-11).

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: 95:8-11
 8Do not harden your hearts, as at Meribah,
 As in the day of Massah in the wilderness,
 9"When your fathers tested Me,
 They tried Me, though they had seen My work.
 10For forty years I loathed that generation,
 And said they are a people who err in their heart,
 And they do not know My ways.
 11Therefore I swore in My anger,
 Truly they shall not enter into My rest."

95:9 The fact that Israel had experienced the miracles of the exodus and the protection and provisions of the wilderness made their unbelief and lack of trust all the more serious.

95:10 "forty years" See Special Topic: Symbolic Numbers in Scripture. Forty is often a round number.

95:11 "I swore in My anger" Humans are forced to use vocabulary of this world to describe God, His thoughts, feelings, and actions but they are only metaphors (see Special Topic: God Described as Human).

These metaphors are true but not exhaustive. They do truthfully assert the reality of the consequences of unbelief and rebellion, both in time and beyond! This generation of Israelites, including Aaron and Moses, did not enter Canaan (cf. Hebrews 3-4; Deut. 3:20; 12:9; 25:19).

This psalmist is imploring worship, trust, and obedience to YHWH. He is worthy of praise and faith!

Hebrews 3-4 uses this text to assert three senses of "rest."

1. peace with God

2. the Promised Land

3. heaven

 

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

This is a study guide commentary which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

These discussion questions are provided to help you think through the major issues of this section of the book. They are meant to be thought provoking, not definitive.

1. Explain the possible origins of the phrase "rock of our salvation."

2. How does Ps. 95:4 relate to Ps. 95:3b?

3. Why is "the sea" not mentioned as being created by Elohim in Genesis 1?

4. Explain the implications of the contingency (i.e., "if") of Ps. 95:7c.

5. How do we test/try God?

6. Explain the use of the term "rest" in Hebrews 3-4, which quotes this Psalm.