The psalmist calls us to praise the Lord with joyful noise and
songs of praise, to worship the Lord as Creator and King.
Then he evokes a pastoral setting: “We are the people of his pasture,
and the sheep of his hand.” The psalmist looks to God for
help, guidance, and instruction. He trusts in God’s steadfast love
and care. Such a God deserves obedience.
To be captured by the spirit and action of the Lord is nothing
short of awesome! The expanse of the Lord’s majesty, creative
prowess, and perfection boggles the mind. God fashioned
us and knows us better than we know ourselves. We cannot
make wise choices without the Lord’s help. All the options
belong to the Lord, who led the Israelites in the wilderness
and leads them at the time of this psalm’s writing. The psalmist
goes on to recall a time of self-gratification in the desert, a time
when the people failed to trust that God the shepherd would
provide—the M & M (Meribah and Massah) incident. But wait.
We praise and worship the Lord with all we have. We testify
to the goodness of God with all that is within us. Meribah and
Massah did occur and they still do—even among the chosen
people. No one is exempt.
Meribah and Massah—a moment the Israelites would have
preferred to forget. “For forty years I loathed that generation,
the Lord says.” The Israelites, who have come so close to the
promise, remain so very far away. Despite the people’s hardened
hearts, God remains faithful. Only obedience to God’s covenants
and decrees keeps the psalmist on the paths of steadfast love
Holy God, we are not worthy to come into your presence. We have been faithless children; the more you give the more we expect. May the memory of history deliver us from our sense of entitlement. Amen.
All the readings af rm God’s benevolent care of those who place their well-being in God’s hands. While imperishable, God’s love can be frustrated by human pride and faithlessness. Water is an important symbol of God’s sustaining grace. In Exodus 17 the Israelites’ dependence on water becomes a statement about their dependence on God. The manner in which they obtain their water stands as commentary on human pride and arrogance. The psalm recounts this episode as a means of warning the people against the kind of obstinacy that impedes grace. John 4 focuses on the full actualization of God’s love in Jesus Christ through the “living water.” Paul speaks of God’s love being “poured into our hearts,” a grace that comes in the death and life of Jesus Christ.
• Read Exodus 17:1-7. When have you complained to God about a situation, only to discover God had already begun to forge a way through?
• Read Psalm 95. How does weekly worship allow you to hear God’s voice? How do you testify to God’s goodness?
• Read Romans 5:1-11. Reflect on a time when your suffering produced endurance and ultimately character.
• Read John 4:5-42. How do the words of Paul to Timothy about a worker “who correctly handles the word of truth” serve as a bridge between the “truth hurts” and the “truth will set you free”?
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