PSALM 95 continued...
Listening to the Shepherd, or not...
"O come, let us worship and bow down :
let us kneel before the Lord our Maker.
For He is our God; and we are the sheep of His hand.
Today if ye will hear His voice,
Harden not your heart, as in the wilderness
When your fathers tempted me, proved me,
and saw my work.
Forty years long was I grieved with this generation,
and said, 'It is a people that do err in their heart,
and they have not known my ways
Unto whom I sware in my wrath,
that they should not enter into my rest.'"
This is an, Oh, my! It begins in beauty and ends in a dire warning.
"Let us kneel before the Lord our Maker."
*"Let us crouch, or cower down, bending the legs under as a dog
in the presence of his master, who solicitously waits to receive his commands."
"For He is our God; and we are the sheep of His hand."
*"He has taken us for His own...
He feeds and governs us, and His powerful hand protects us."
In the New Testament, Jesus is called the Good Shepherd and He says...
"But you do not believe, because you are not of My sheep.
My sheep hear My voice, and I know them,
My sheep hear My voice, and I know them,
and they follow me
and I give eternal life to them,
and they shall never perish;
and no one shall snatch them out of My hand.
My Father who has given them to Me, is greater than all;
and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father's hand."
I believe in free will, even in sheep. We choose to listen to His voice and follow or harden our hearts in disobedience and wander away. We are the sheep of His hand, yet this passage is a warning to what can happen with the example of the Hebrew children who perished in the wilderness because of the hardness of their hearts. Nothing can snatch us from His hand, but He will not hold onto those who would pry away from His grasp and crawl away from His care. Disobedience and rebellion, "obstinate refusal," cancel out God's promises as in shown in these verses.
"To-day if ye will hear His voice."
*"To-day--you have not time to lose--to-morrow may be too late.
God calls to-day; to-morrow He may be silent...
as if he had said, 'Seeing you are in so good a spirit, do not forget your own resolutions, and harden not your hearts, as your fathers did in Meribah and Massah, in the wilderness; the same fact, and the same names as are mentioned Exodus 17:7 ("because of the quarrel of the sons of Israel, and because they tested the Lord, saying, 'Is the Lord among us, or not?'") When the people murmured at Rephidim, because they had not water; hence it was called Meribah, contention or provocation, and Massah, temptation."
"When your fathers tempted me."
*"Tried me by their insolence, unbelief, and blasphemy."
"They proved me."
*"There they saw my works;--they saw that nothing was too hard for God."
"Forty years long."
*"They did nothing but murmur, disbelieve, and rebel...
During all this time God was grieved by that generation."
"It is a people that do err in their heart."
Or, according to the Chaldee, these are a people whose idols are in their hearts.
At any rate they had not God there.
"They have not known my ways."
*"The very 'to know,' is used here...They knew God's ways well enough:
but they did not like them; and would not walk in them."
Oh, here goes the old Psalter once again...
"These wretched men, were gifnen to the lufe of this lyfe:
knewe noght my ways of mekenes, & charite:
for thi in my wreth I sware to thaim;
--that es, I sett stabely that if thai sal entre in till my rest'--
*"This ungrateful people did not approve of God's ways; they did not enter into His designs;--
they did not conform to His commands,--they paid no attention to His miracles ("for I brought them water out of the rock, and gave them bread from heaven, and flesh also."), and did not acknowledge the benefits which they received from His hands; therefore God determined that they should not enter into the rest which He had promised to them, that is, provided they were obedient, they should inherit the Promised Land. So none of those who came out of Egypt, except Joshua and Caleb (not even Moses), entered into Canaan; all the rest died in the wilderness, wherein, because of their disobedience,God caused them to wander forty years."
Living on the edge outside of the fence.
*"It is well known that the land of Canaan was a type of heaven; where, after all His toils, the good and faithful servant is to enter into the joy of His Lord...Paul hence takes occasion to exhort the Jews, Hebrews 4:2-11, to accept readily the terms offered to them by the Gospel. He shews that the words of the present Psalm are applicable to the state of Christianity; and intimates to them, that if they persisted in obstinate refusal of those gracious offers, they likewise would fall, according to the same example of unbelief."
*Are quotes from Adam Clarke
Thus, the last warning:
"Today if you hear My voice,
Do not harden your hearts as when they provoked Me
as in the day of trial in the wilderness."
(Hebrews 3:8 quoting this Psalm)
Nothing worse than a sheep with a hardened heart.
It will not listen to the shepherd's voice
and will be lost forever in the wilderness.
It comes down to the choice of a hardened heart.
It is not the shepherd's fault as the parable Jesus told:
"Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!"
No wonder the picture in our hearts is the young lost lamb,
Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep....
The thief comes only to steal, and kill and destroy;
I came that they might have life, and might have it abundantly.
(entering into His rest)
Or as Jesus said, "and the sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name,
and leads them out. When he puts forth all his own, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him because they know his voice. And a stranger (stranger-danger) they simply will not follow, but will flee from him, because they do not know the voice of strangers"
How can we refuse and ignore the great Shepherd who has laid down His life for us,
the One who knows us by name?