This introduction serves as an invitation to join in an on-going journey of discovery. You will not need to buy tickets nor make travel plans. All that's required is your Bible and a quiet place to read and meditate. Together we'll explore the Book of Psalms, Israel’s hymnal and longest collection of poetry.  

Psalm 95:1-7a

Two Invitations to Praise

(1) Come near, let us sing for joy to Yahweh!Let us shout to the rock of our salvation! (2) Let us enter his presence with thanksgiving! Let us shout to him with songs of praise, (3) for Yahweh (is) a great God and a great king above all gods. (4) In his hand (are) the depths of the earth. The heights of the mountains (are) his. (5) The sea (is) his, for he made it, and his hands fashioned the dry land. (6) Come in! Let us worship and bow down! Let us kneel before Yahweh, our maker, (7a) for he (is) our God, and we are the people of his pasture and the sheep of his hand. 

Two imperatives, both translated as “come,” establish the structure of the first half of this psalm. The first “come” (vs. 1) commands us to approach God with outbursts of praise, “shouts” (used twice in vss. 1 & 2), and loud singing. Why? Two repeated words tell us. We find the adjective “great” used twice (vs. 3) to describe Yahweh’s nature, and then three times we encounter the word, “hand(s)” (vss. 4-7). This word describes how our creator God fashioned and sustains the universe. In the first place, we are to praise him because he is our great creator/sustainer.

The second “come” (vs. 6) is not the same Hebrew word translated “come” or “approach” in verse 1. This word should rather be translated “enter in.” In other words, once we have drawn near to God with loud praises, we are now to enter into his presence with the actions described by three verbs: “worship” (prostrate), “bow down,” and “kneel” (vs. 6). Instead of adoration that is loudly voiced as we move closer, we are now to offer our homage with visible manifestations of love and devotion as we approach him.

Why the change? Two possessive pronouns, “our maker,” and “our God” along with the covenant formula “and we are the people of his pasture and the sheep of his hand” answer this question (vss. 6 & 7). Those who are in covenant relationship with Yahweh have been granted special access into his very presence. The closer we are to him the less we are to rely on shouts of praise and the more we should display in our attitudes and actions the reverence of our hearts.

I.  Voiced worship: loud praises to our creator and sustainer  (1-5)
II.  Visible worship: reverent devotion to our loving shepherd  (6 & 7a)

We worship God with both loud acclamation and reverent devotion.

Ancient Greek philosophers used a two-word phrase to express what they considered to be the primary goal of human endeavor: “Know thyself.” In essence, they taught that the key to wisdom is self-discovery, or, to put it another way, the more we know about ourselves, the more we understand the world around us. 

While this phrase may seem logical when we first hear it, there is a fatal flaw hidden within this self-centered approach. Simply put, it places us at the wrong starting place. In Proverbs we read, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding” (Prov. 9:10). True wisdom never emerges from self-discovery but rather from a growing knowledge of the One who created us for himself. It is only when we are grounded in God’s revealed truth that we are able to gain an understanding of ourselves and the world around us.

The covenant formula, “For he (is) our God, and we are the people of his pasture and the sheep of his hand” (Ps. 95:7), shows us our true identity. First, we learn that Yahweh is our great shepherd. Then we realize who we are, the members of his flock whom he deeply loves. Our identities can only be discerned when we know who he truly is. Once we grasp this, our hearts will respond with shouts of joy and reverential awe for the One who has created us to know and love him as the great Shepherd of the sheep.

Psalm 95:7b-11

Psalm 94:16-23