In reading Christian Perfection by Francois Fenelon, I was introduced to an interesting concept that I am reminded of as I read Psalm 95. We see the majority of the psalm invite the reader/singer to come before the Lord with joy and thanksgiving. The psalmist then explains God’s sovereignty through a description of how He reigns over all the other Gods and even owns the mountains and hidden places of the world that man has yet to discover.
In verse 6 we encounter a very powerful message. The phrases “worship and bow down” and “kneel” before the Lord are key to understanding what the psalmist is inviting us to do. The phrase “worship and bow down” literally means to bend over and take a drink, which lends itself to a more powerful understanding of verse 7. The kneeling is literally a self-subjugation to God, as a serf would kneel before his king in reverence. When we bow down in worship of God, it isn’t just a recognition of who He is and who we are, but our bowing is a position of vulnerability. Sheep don’t go to the stream to drink if they are afraid or under attack. They only do so when it is safe. Not only is worship an act of reverence, but an act of vulnerability. It is an act of complete surrender and trust.
This is why in verse 8 we are encouraged not to harden our hearts as if we were Israel in Meribah (aka Massah). In Numbers 20 we read the story of Israel wandering in the wilderness complaining to Moses and Aaron about their suffering. In anger and frustration, Moses struck a rock and water sprung forth. This is the moment that Moses lost his opportunity to enter into the promised land. It is also one of the instances where Israel lost faith and as God says through the psalmist in verse 10, he loathed that generation. Their lack of trust in God to provide for them, after so many signs and wonders, was despicable in the eyes of the Lord. This is why they were not able to enter into His rest aka the Promised Land.
I mentioned that this passage reminds me of something I read in Christian Perfection and it is now that I can circle back around to explain. As humans, we benefit from obeying God and worshipping Him. We get to experience His goodness, His love, His blessings, His very presence. However, this should not be the reason why we worship Him and surrender ourselves to Him. Since we don’t live under a monarchy and especially aren’t very prone to trust our leaders, it is difficult for us to fully grasp the gravity of what the psalmist is encouraging us to do.
While we benefit from worshipping the Lord, our reason to do so should not be because we get something out of it. Our honor of God should come from understanding who He really is. Go back to verses 3-5 and soak in who God really is. He’s the Maker of heaven and earth, the King of Kings, the Creator God who holds all of creation in the palm of His hand. He loves us and cares for us so we can fully surrender in His presence and drink water from the fountain of Life. In Isaiah 45:23 and later repeated in Romans 14:11 and Philippians 2:10 God proclaims that one day every knee shall bow when He fully reveals Himself to mankind. His glory is so great you won’t have a choice but to fall over in awe and reverence. Today, however, we get a choice to honor Him and glorify Him with the recognition He deserves.