Commentary of the Old and New Testaments

Psalms 95

By Joseph Benson


Verses 1-3
Psalms 95:1-3. O come, let us sing, unto the Lord, &c. — Thus the pious Jews, in ancient times, exhorted and excited each other to employ their voices in honour of Jehovah, and to celebrate the rock of their salvation — And Christians are now called upon to stir up each other to the same blessed work, in the same or similar language. For the Lord is a great God — And therefore is greatly to be praised; and a great King — A great sovereign, even the universal Lord of all nations and worlds; above all gods — Above all that are accounted or called gods, whether angels, earthly potentates, or the false gods of the heathen.

Verse 4-5
Psalms 95:4-5. In his hand — Under his government, and in his possession; are the deep places of the earth — With all the treasures they contain; even those parts which are far out of men’s sight and reach. The strength of the hills — Which, with majestic pride, tower above, and lift up their heads to heaven; is his also — Even the highest and strongest mountains are under his feet, and at his disposal. The sea is his — With its unnumbered waves, which roll in perpetual motion round the world; and all the millions of living creatures, of all forms and sizes, that inhabit its fathomless depths and immeasurable waters. And his hands formed the dry land — With all its rich and variegated produce, when, by his word, he commanded it to appear, and it was so; and he crowned it with verdure and beauty. And though he hath given it to the children of men, it is, nevertheless, still his, for he reserved the property to himself. His being the Creator of all, makes him, without dispute, the Owner and Lord of all.

Verse 6
Psalms 95:6. O come, let us worship and bow down — Let us not be backward, then, to comply with this invitation; but let us all, with the lowest prostrations, devoutly adore this great and glorious Being. Let us kneel before the Lord our Maker — With humble reverence, and a holy awe of him; as becomes those who know what an infinite distance there is between us and him, how much we are in danger of his wrath, and in how great need we stand of his mercy. The posture of our bodies, indeed, by itself, profits little; yet certainly it is meet and right they should bear a part in God’s service, and that internal worship should be accompanied and signified by that which is external, or that the reverence, seriousness and humility of our minds, should be manifested by our falling down on our knees before that great Jehovah, who gave us our being, and on whom we are continually dependant for the continuance of it, and for all our blessings.

Verse 7
Psalms 95:7. For he is our God — He not only has dominion over us, as he has over all the creatures, but stands in a special relation to us. He is our God in a peculiar sense, and therefore it would be most unreasonable and wicked if we should forsake him, when even the Gentiles shall submit to his law. And we are the people of his pasture — Whom he feeds in his church, with his word and by his ordinances, and defends by his watchful providence. And the sheep of his hand — Under his special care and government. To-day — That is, forthwith, or presently, as this word is often used. Or the expression may mean this solemn day of grace, or of the gospel, which the psalmist speaks of as present, according to the manner of the prophets; if ye will hear his voice — If ye will hearken to his call, and obey his further commands, which may be added as a necessary caution and admonition to the Israelites, that they might understand and consider that God’s presence and favour were not absolutely, necessarily, and everlastingly fixed to them, as they were very apt to believe, but were suspended upon the condition of their continued obedience, which, if they violated, they should be rejected, and the Gentiles, performing it, should be received for his people. And this clause may be connected with the preceding, and considered as expressing the condition of their interest in God as their God, thus: “He is our God, and we are the people of his pasture, &c., if ye will hear his voice;” that is, if ye will be his obedient people he will continue to be your God. Or else the word אם, im, translated if, may be rendered in the optative form, O that you would hear his voice to-day, saying unto you, Harden not your hearts. “However this be,” says Dr. Horne, “what follows, to the end of the Psalm, is undoubtedly spoken in the person of God himself, who may be considered as addressing us, in these latter days, by the gospel of his Son; for so the apostle teaches us to apply the whole passage, Hebrews 3:4. The Israelites, when they came out of Egypt, had a day of probation, and a promised rest to succeed it; but by unbelief and disobedience, they to whom it was promised, that is, the generation of those who came out of Egypt, fell short of it, and died in the wilderness. The gospel, in like manner, offers, both to Jew and Gentile, another day of probation in this world, and another promised rest to succeed it, which remaineth for the people of God in heaven. All whom it concerns are, therefore, exhorted to beware, lest they forfeit the second rest, as murmuring and rebellious Israel came short of the first.”

Verse 8-9
Psalms 95:8-9. Harden not your heart — As if he had said, If ye will hear his voice, and profit by what you hear, then do not harden your hearts by obstinate unbelief and wilful disobedience, rebelling against the light, and resisting the Holy Ghost, and the clear discoveries which he makes of the truth of the gospel; as in the provocation — As you did in that bold and wicked contest in the wilderness. Hebrew, כמריבה, chimeribah, as in Meribah, which was the proper name of the place where this happened, and which was also called Massah, as appears from Exodus 17:7, and Deuteronomy 33:8. As in the day of temptation — In the day when you tempted me. Or, as in the day of Massah, that is, when you were at Massah. When — Or, in which place, namely, in Meribah, or Massah, or the wilderness last mentioned, your fathers tempted me — Doubting of my power, and demanding new proofs of my presence among them, Exodus 17:7, though they had had such extraordinary proofs of my presence and favour in their late deliverance at the Red sea, in my making the bitter waters sweet, and in sending them bread from heaven; and saw my works — Both my works of mercy, which gave them abundant cause to trust me, and my works of justice, for which they had reason to fear and stand in awe of me. Hebrew, my work, namely, that great and stupendous work of bringing my people out of Egypt with a strong hand; of conducting them safely through the Red sea into the wilderness, and of destroying the Egyptians.

Verse 10
Psalms 95:10. Forty years long, &c. — Nor did they cease their discontented murmurings and distrust of me; but persisted in their stubborn infidelity and disobedience for the space of forty years; was I grieved with this generation — Or rather, with that generation, which then lived, who were your ancestors; and said, It is a people that do err in their heart — They not only sin through infirmity, and the violence and surprise of temptation, but their hearts are insincere and inconstant, and given to backsliding, and therefore there is no hope of their amendment. And they have not known — Or, they do not know, namely, with a practical and useful knowledge; they do not rightly understand, nor duly consider, nor seriously lay to heart, my ways — That is, either, 1st, My laws, or statutes, which are frequently called God’s ways; or, rather, 2d, My works, as it is explained Psalms 95:9, which also are often so called. They do not know nor consider those great things which I wrought for them and among them.

Verse 11
Psalms 95:11. Unto whom I sware in my wrath, &c. — In my just displeasure, I passed an irreversible sentence upon them, and confirmed it by an oath: that they should not enter into my rest — Into the promised land, so called Deuteronomy 12:9; 1 Chronicles 23:25, of which sentence, see Numbers 14. Now this case of the Israelites, who were prohibited from entering Canaan, is here applied by the psalmist. 1st, To those of their posterity who lived when this Psalm was composed, and they are cautioned not to harden their heart, as their forefathers did, lest, if they were stubborn and disobedient, God should be provoked to prohibit them from enjoying the privileges of his temple at Jerusalem, of which he had said, Psalms 132:14, This is my rest. But it was intended also, 2d, For the instruction of all after ages, as has been observed on Psalms 95:7, and particularly of those Israelites who should live in the times of the Messiah, that they might take heed of falling after the same example of unbelief, as the apostle observes from this place, Hebrews 4:11, where see the notes.


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