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Bible Commentaries
Psalms 95

Utley's You Can Understand the BibleUtley Commentary

Introduction

Psalms 95:0

STROPHE DIVISIONS OF MODERN TRANSLATIONS

NASBNKJVNRSVTEVNJB
Praise to the Lord, and Warning Against UnbeliefNo MT IntroA Call to Worship and ObedienceA Liturgy of God's KingshipA Song of PraiseInvitation to Praise
Psalms 95:1-5Psalms 95:1-5Psalms 95:1-5Psalms 95:1-5Psalms 95:1-2
Psalms 95:3-5
Psalms 95:6-7Psalms 95:6-7bPsalms 95:6-7bPsalms 95:6-7bPsalms 95:6-7b
Psalms 95:7-11Psalms 95:7-11Psalms 95:7-11Psalms 95:7-9
Psalms 95:8-11
Psalms 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.

Verses 1-5

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Psalms 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.

Psalms 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. Psalms 66:1; Psalms 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 - Psalms 88:1; (cf. Psalms 24:5; Psalms 27:9)

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

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

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

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

3. a great King (cf. 1 Samuel 8:7)

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

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

Psalms 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., Psalms 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 Psalms 95:4 to 95:3a. It is possible to relate it to Psalms 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 Psalms 95:5. See SPECIAL TOPIC: HAND.

Psalms 95:5 “The sea. . .He who made it” It is surprising that in Genesis 1:0 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, Psalms 104:0.

However, the theological assertion that He created all things including the “seas” is made in Nehemiah 9:6; Psalms 95:5; Psalms 146:6; Jonah 1:9.

Also notice that Psalms 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).

Verses 6-7

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Psalms 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,

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

1. worship (Psalms 95:6)

a. come (lit. “come in”; different word from Psalms 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 (Psalms 95:7)

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

Psalms 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 Genesis 2:19 (same verb, BDB 427, KB 428).

In Psalms 139:13-16 (“weave,” BDB 697, KB 754) and Job 31:15 (“made,” BDB 793, KB 889, also Psalms 139:15) God forms each human in the womb. The variety is literary but the truth is God did it/does it (cf. Psalms 100:3; Psalms 149:2; Isaiah 17:7; Hosea 8:14). Humans are a special creation of God in His image and likeness (Genesis 1:26-27) for the purpose of fellowship! To miss this is to miss the value and dignity of humankind (cf. Psalms 8:0).

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

1. positively

a. Deuteronomy 32:10-14

b. Jeremiah 2:0

c. Hosea 2:15; Hosea 9:10; Hosea 11:1-2

2. negatively

a. Numbers 14:1-17

b. Psalms 95:8-11

c. Ezekiel 23:0

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., Jeremiah 31:31-34), and His Messiah (i.e., NT revelation).

Psalms 95:7 God as Shepherd and His people as sheep is common OT imagery (see notes at Psalms 23:0).

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 (Psalms 95:7c, quoted in Hebrews 3:7-11, Hebrews 3:15; Hebrews 4:7)

2. they harden their hearts

a. Meribah - Exodus 17:7; Numbers 20:13

b. Massah - Exodus 17:7; Deuteronomy 6:16

3. they tested God - Numbers 14:22

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

Verses 8-11

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Psalms 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.”

Psalms 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.

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

Psalms 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; Deuteronomy 3:20; Deuteronomy 12:9; Deuteronomy 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 Psalms 95:4 relate to Psalms 95:3b?

3. Why is “the sea” not mentioned as being created by Elohim in Genesis 1:0?

4. Explain the implications of the contingency (i.e., “if”) of Psalms 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.

Bibliographical Information
Utley. Dr. Robert. "Commentary on Psalms 95". "Utley's You Can Understand the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ubc/psalms-95.html. 2021.
 
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