The Rock - Psalm 95 Sermon, January Prayer Service
Sermon – January 1st, 2020 – Wed Prayer Service
Mount Olive Lutheran Church, Regina, SK
Text: Psalm 95
Theme: “The Rock”
Intr – If you throw a piece of paper into the water it usually doesn’t sink, or it at least takes some time to dive down to the bottom. Now, if you tie that same piece of paper to a rock and do the same thing, the result is totally different. That piece of paper won't stay for a second on the surface of the water, being dragged down to the bottom. It simply won’t float anymore.
In our life, there are some heavy, undesired stones we often tie up to our life which drag us down to the bottom. They stick to us compromising our stability and ability to float and breathe. They pose a serious threat to our faith, and may indicate an imminent drowning.
The sooner these stones, consequence of sin, are identified and removed the less likely they will become the cumbersome weight that, day in and day out, attempt to drag us down to the worst place.
Our Psalm for today, number 95 talks about The Rock. Not one that drags us down but the one where our faith is built on. The Bible tells us that Jesus Christ is our Rock. He is our cornerstone. This is the rock we need, for it is not one attached to our life dragging us down, but it is the very foundation whereupon our life is built on. He saves, He keeps our heart healthy and steady. He is there to prevent rocks, gravel and pebbles of sin from taking over our minds, and does not let them drag our hearts into the depths. When our faith is built upon and bound to this Rock with, there is nothing to fear.
That’s why our Psalm is an invitation to worship, to sing, to thank the Rock of our Salvation. He is The One worthy of our joy, our praise, our singing; all our reverence.
When we think about God being the Rock of our Salvation, what also comes to mind is the parable Jesus told about the wise man and the fool one.
A man decided to build a house. He sat down, calculated the money, the time, and the investment needed. He forgot one detail though: he did not realize that the foundation he had made was not enough to support it. The house was built on sand. But the worst was yet to come. For several weeks while the weather was good he perhaps did not notice anything. But the disaster came on a rainy and stormy day. The house could not resist. Because it was built on sand, it lacked proper foundation; it just completely fell apart.
Another man, about the same time, set to build his house as well. Now this man worked with planning and care. He especially made it sure that his dwelling was built on firm rock; that it would have a reliable foundation.
The day in which that rain and storm came (which knocked down the house built in the sand) his house did not fall apart. It remained tall and strong, for it was built on the rock. It was able to steadily and securely withstand the force of wind and the rain.
Back to Psalm 95, there are other three significant titles attributed to God in it:
_The King – above all Kings;
_The Creator – of everything there is;
_Shepherd and Leader – While the two other encompass all the Creation, for He is the King and Creator of all Universe, this one is specific. He is the Shepherd and Leader of his People, His flock; those who held fast to the promise of the coming Messiah, those who are held fast in the Messiah that has already come, the Rock of our Salvation. Jesus.
So, “let us come to adore Him!” It is a vibrant, contagious invitation to all the people of God. It is not a general invitation, because later the psalmist will say that we are “sheep of his pasture”. It is through faith in Christ that we enter that fold, so His sheep are the ones who adore Him. If you don’t recognize Yahweh as God by faith, you won’t find any reason to worship Him.
Now, after a vibrant beginning, Psalm 95 takes sort of a sharp turn. Here comes admonition, heavy preaching of the Law. There is a solemn call to avoid unbelief, hardened hearts, deaf ears.
In the past it happened with the people of God, and Yahweh remembers them of two crucial episodes – Massah and Meribah.“There were two places in the wilderness named Meribah (“quarreling”) and Massah (“testing”) because the Israelites twice argued against God’s leadership and provoked God by complaining about His care for them (Ex 17; Nu 20). Because of these provocations and many other similar actes of rebellion, God swore that those who rejected him would never enter rest in the Promised Land. All those over the age of 20 at the time of the Exodus died in the wilderness, except for Caleb and Joshua.”
In the present it may still happen. At the same time that Psalm 95 is an invitation to Worship, it is a warning against that “automatic pilot” type of worship; going through the motions, perfunctory actions. If our hearts are hardened, if our ears are deaf to the Word, just being in the House of the Lord won’t make any difference. Our lips might be praising the Lord, but our hearts would be further away from His presence. “Like the remaining psalms of this group, it sounds a joyful call to worship. However it has also embedded in it a warning against throwing away the opportunity to serve the Lord, as Israel did in the wilderness.”
Hebrews chapters 3 and 4 quotes this Psalm repeatedly, both to present Jesus as superior to Moses, and to encourage us Christians to enter God’s rest. The Lord warns us that unbelief prevents us to enter His Holy rest forever. So the author of Hebrews quotes the Psalm to warn us: “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion.” It encourages us toward true worship, honor, and fear of the Lord.
As for our worship, it’s still worth noticing that this psalm brings to mind that true worship combines joy (“shout”, “thank”, “sing”) with reverence (“bow down”, “kneel”). Since God is our Great King, and awesome God, our worship should reflect our respect and honor in our words and actions.
Jesus is our Rock, He is our salvation. He is infinitely exalted above everything we may call God. He invites us to no squander opportunities. Today is the day and you are invited to celebrate our King, Creator and Shepherd and Leader of your soul.
Cc - When you feel like life is out to drag you to the bottom, when sin and death seem to be bound to you in a way that there is no hope to remain in the surface, your heart always has the Rock of our Salvation. As you are built upon Him you know you are sustained by the King, the Creator, the Shepherd and Leader of your souls. So, come! Sing! Thank! Shout! Make a joyful noise with all our heart and with all our life. He is the Rock of our Salvation.
 Matthew 7:24-27. So is everyone who comes to me, listens to my words and practices them, says Jesus. Not foolish, but wise. He builds his house upon the Rock, which gives secure foundation to life and heart.
BRUG, John. A commentary on Psalms 73-150, page 176.
BRUG, John. A commentary on Psalms 73-150, pages 173-77
BRUG, John. A commentary on Psalms 73-150, pages 173-77
KEIL and DELITSCH. Commentary on the Old Testament Vol 5 – Psalms. Pages 84-8.