Tom Lowe


Psalm 95

(A liturgical psalm, an exhortation to praise God for his greatness and for his goodness; and not to tempt him.)


Title: Lest History Repeat Itself

Theme: A Call to Worship and a Warning Against Unbelief



Scripture (Psalm 95)


 1 O come, let us sing unto the Lord: let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation.

2 Let us come before his presence with thanksgiving, and make a joyful noise unto him with psalms.

3 For the Lord is a great God, and a great King above all gods.

4 In his hand are the deep places of the earth: the strength of the hills is his also.

5 The sea is his, and he made it: and his hands formed the dry land.

6 O come, let us worship and bow down: let us kneel before the Lord our maker.

7 For he is our God; and we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand. To day if ye will hear his voice,

8 Harden not your heart, as in the provocation, and as in the day of temptation in the wilderness:

9 When your fathers tempted me, proved me, and saw my work.

10 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:

11 Unto whom I sware in my wrath that they should not enter into my rest.



Although it is a fact that everyone is “always” in the presence of God in the ultimate sense, yet there is a special way in which men that are assembling for worship do indeed “come into God's presence.” In this light, these verses are a beautiful and proper call to worship in churches all over the world even today.


Psalms 95 begins with the knowledge of God imparted exclusively to Israel, with the second portion of it providing a warning that Israel should not become unbelievers as did their ancestors. Coming before God with praise and thanksgiving is the very essence of worship.


Scholars usually group the six psalms from Psalms 95 through Psalms 100 as liturgical psalms, designed for use by the Israelites when they gathered for Sabbath day worship. “This group of psalms seems to have been composed for use in the services of the second temple.”] Despite such opinions, there is a genuine possibility that David is the author, since it is assigned to him in the LXX, and besides that, the author of Hebrews in the New Testament quoted this psalm, stating that it was "in David." This is alleged to mean merely that the psalm is "in the Psalter"; nevertheless, there is the real possibility that David did indeed write it.





1 O come, let us sing unto the Lord: let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation.


O come, let us sing unto the Lord―The word rendered here as “come,” in actual fact means “go;” but it is used here, as it often is, as a form of invitation, calling on others to share in what is done by the speaker. It is thought to be used here by one portion of an assembly convened for worship when addressing the other portion, and calling on them to unite in the praise of God. Let us praise God, not only with the most joyful sounds which can be made by the voice; but let us also praise him with hearts filled with gratitude for the many benefits we have already received.


In the New Testament we are instructed to sing unto the Lord, the Lord Christ (Ephesians 5:19); to Jehovah the Messiah, the Lord our righteousness; setting forth, in songs of praise, the glory of His person, the riches of His grace, and our thankfulness to Him for spiritual mercies from him. Christ is to be the subject of our spiritual songs, and is the person to whose honor and glory they should be directed.


Let us make a joyful noise―The word used here commonly means to make a loud noise, to shout (Job 30:5). It is especially used to give emphasis to:

(a) Warlike shouts (Joshua 6:16; 1 Samuel 17:20)

(b) The shout of triumph (Judges 15:14)

(c) The sound of a trumpet (Numbers 10:9; Joel 2:1).

It may thus be used to denote any shout of joy or praise. In public worship it would denote praise of the most animated kind.


The psalmist is saying, in essence: Let us praise God with a voice like the sound of a trumpet; clear and loud, and with the most joyful sounds which can be uttered by a human voice, singing with grace in our hearts unto the Lord; but let us also praise him with hearts tuned to gratitude, from a full sense of the manifold benefits we have already received.


To the Rock of our salvation―to Christ, the Rock (1 Corinthians 10:4).

  • A Rock, for height, being higher than the saints, than the kings of the earth, than the angels in heaven, than the heavens themselves.
  • A Rock, for strength, being the mighty God, and mighty Savior; the strong Fortress in which we have always found safety.
  • A Rock, for shelter, being the saint’s security from avenging justice and wrath to come.
  • A Rock, on which the church and all believers are built, and which endures forever.
  • A Rock, the strong ground of our confidence; the basis of our hope; our security.
  • “The Rock of our salvation,” being the author of spiritual and eternal salvation, and the strength and security of it; not only is He strong to save, but, being done by him, it is safe in him; and He is the source from which we have always derived help for our souls.
  • The Rock of our salvation - the unchangeable and sure foundation of our trust (Psalms 18:2; Psalms 94:22).


2 Let us come before his presence with thanksgiving, and make a joyful noise unto him with psalms.


Let us come before his presence with thanksgiving{1] (expressing our thanks)―“Come before” means literally, go to meet (approach); here it means to come before, in the sense of “in front of.” Let us stand before His face; that is, in His very presence, and give to Him the sacrifice of praise, for there was no other way in the days of the Messiah; all ceremonial sacrifices were of no value when His sacrifice was offered up. But the offering of “thanksgiving” remained in the days of the Messiah. Come to Christ with “thanksgiving,” as a priest, to offer it by Him to God His Father, for it is made acceptable through Him. And give “thanksgiving” to Christ for the great salvation He has wrought. This is the essence of all true worship. To “come before his presence,” or “face,” supposes He is present in the flesh, His being God manifest in the flesh; and likewise his having done his work as a Savior, He now sits upon his throne as a King.


And make a joyful noise unto him (The same word which occurs in Psalm 95:1.) with psalms (Songs of praise.)―with a melodious voice, and love for Him in the heart, with psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs. Since this belongs to Gospel times, it shows that singing of psalms vocally in a musical way is an ordinance of Christ, to be performed to Him under the Gospel dispensation (Ephesians 5:19{2]).




[1} This phrase has also been rendered, “Let us anticipate his face, that is, prepare our hearts at home, before we come into the public; or, let us give thanks for mercies already received, that we may make way for more.”

[2} Speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord;” (Ephesians 5:19). Although these can be separated, there is no need to do so. The teaching declares that not all songs are acceptable in the worship of God, but only those with spiritual value.


3 For the Lord is a great God, and a great King above all gods.


For the Lord is a great God―For Yahweh is a great God{3]. The Supreme Being has three names here: El, Jehovah, Elohim, and we should apply none of them to false gods. The first implies His strength; the second His being and essence; the third, His covenant relation to mankind. In public worship these are the views we should entertain of the Divine Being. The object is to exalt Jehovah, the true God, as distinguished from all who were worshipped as gods, but are not. The idea is that He is “great”; that He is exalted over the entire universe; that He rules over all, and that He is to be worshipped as such.


The apostle understands that Christ is truly and properly God (Hebrews 3:4, 1 Corinthians 10:4{4]), and for that reason divine service is to be rendered unto Him; principally by singing psalms and declaring His greatness and glory. He is truly a “great God”; great in power, wisdom, justice, truth, mercy, and grace. Greatness is to be attributed unto Him, and worship given Him, because of His greatness (Titus 2:13{5]).


And a great King above all gods―This does not mean that He is a great ruler of all other gods, as if they had a real existence, but that He is king or ruler far above all that were worshipped as gods, or to whom homage was paid. Whoever, or whatever was worshipped as God, Yahweh was supreme over all things. He occupied the throne; and all others must be beneath Him, and under His dominion. If the sun, the moon, or the stars were worshipped―if the mountains or the rivers―if angels good or bad―yet Yahweh was above all these. If imaginary beings were worshipped, yet Yahweh in his perfections was exalted far above all that was ascribed to them, for He was the true God, and the Ruler of the universe, while they were only imaginary.


He is King of the whole world; He is King of kings, and Lord of lords. He is King of saints, the government of the whole church is upon His shoulders, which He presides over in the most wise, powerful, and righteous manner imaginable; He is above all that are called gods, all the insignificant and fictitious deities of the Heathens; above all civil magistrates, who are gods by office; and above the angels, who men have mistakenly called by this name, (1 Peter 3:22). Even the angels (who men thought of as gods) are nothing in His sight, much less the idols, which man's brain invents.


[3} The title “gods” is also sometimes given to princes, judges, and rulers, (Psalms 8:6; Psalms 82:6; Psalms 96:4-5,)

[4} “And all drank the same spiritual drink, for they were drinking from a spiritual rock which followed them; and the rock was Christ” (1 Corinthians 10:4). The Messiah is called “a rock” in the Scriptures; the Jews believe that the “angel of Jehovah” who attended them (Exodus 3:2, and other places) was the Messiah; and that the design of the apostle was, to show that this “attending Rock,” the Messiah, was the source of all their blessings, and particularly of the water that gushed from the rock.

[5} “Looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus” (Titus 2:13). There can be little doubt, if any, that by “the great God” here, the apostle referred to the Lord Jesus, for it is not a doctrine of the New Testament that God himself as such, will appear at the last day. It is said, indeed, that the Savior will come “in the glory of his Father, with His angels” Matthew 16:27, but that God as such will appear is not taught in the Bible.


4 In his hand are the deep places of the earth: the strength of the hills is his also.


In his hand are the deep places of the earth―“In his hand” denotes His power, that is, he so possesses all things that they can be claimed by no other, His right over them is absolute and complete, they are like His own, for they are under His government and His control.


The Hebrew word translated “Deep places” signifies that which is known only by searching the innermost recesses of the earth. See Jeremiah 31:37{6]. To the ancients the interior of the earth was a fathomless mystery, which modern science has only hypothetically dispelled. Here is where the ancients placed sheol, or hadesthe region of departed spirits. They had no conception either of the absolute or relative dimensions of the earth. In recent history the earth has been penetrated by men looking for the oil and minerals that are in it. But its deep recesses have been penetrated only by the Lord himself; these are in the hands and power of Christ, which He can search into, discover, and dispose of; these are the foundations of the earth, which cannot be searched out by mere men, Jeremiah 31:37{6]. So, what does the psalmist mean by “The deep places of the earth”? It may refer to many things; things that are difficult for men to understand; ocean caves and mighty mountain peaks, mighty palm trees of the desert as well as the tiniest flowers that grow at the snow-line; they all belong to God because He made them all, protects them all and uses them all. The evidence and unmistakable witness of God's limitless intelligence and glory are seen in the sub-microscopic wonders of the tiny atom and in the measureless light-year distances of the universe, so large and limitless that even the imagination of men cannot reach to the farthest edge of it.


The primary idea that the psalmist has in mind here is that of searching by boring or digging; and the allusion here is to the parts of the earth which could be explored only by digging―as in mining, or sinking shafts in the earth. The meaning is that all those places which lie beyond the ordinary power of observation in man are in the hand of God. He knows them as clearly as those which are most apparent to human view; he possesses or owns them as his own just as He does those which are on the surface of the ground.


The strength of the hills is his also― The phrase “strength of the hills” has the sense of “mines” or “treasures of the mountains,” wealth obtained by the wearisome labor required in extracting precious metals from the earth. This suits Job 22:25{7], and makes a good parallelism. Some believe this phrase means the heights of the mountains; the opposite of “deep places of the earth.” From the former, as I said, we attain treasures by wearisome labor; the latter are unsearchable, but God knows, governs, and possesses them all.


All this belongs to God, for He is the Maker of these hills, and of all that they contain. The strongest or highest mountains are under His feet, and at his disposal. The sense of the verse is, all the parts of the earth, whether high or low, are subject to His power and providence, and therefore it is not strange if all the nations of the earth are brought to the acknowledgment of Him, and if the Gentiles receive His gospel. What language of modern science can more beautifully and impressively exalt our conceptions of God?


[6} “Thus saith the Lord; If heaven above can be measured, and the foundations of the earth searched out beneath, I will also cast off all the seed of Israel for all that they have done, saith the Lord” (Jeremiah 31:37). The illimitableness of the material universe is a type of God’s inexhaustible and boundless love.

[7} “Yea, the Almighty shall be thy defense, and thou shalt have plenty of silver” (Job 22:25). The idea is, “and the Almighty shall be treasures of silver unto thee;” that is, he shall be better to you than an abundance of the precious metals.


5 The sea is his, and he made it: and his hands formed the dry land.


The sea is his, and he made it― The psalmist invites us to sail the sea, to weigh anchor, to shove off from shore, to spread our sails, to venture out beyond sight of land, to learn that “the sea is His, He made it”—all two hundred million square miles of it. He made it, and all the creatures in it; he sets bounds to it, and its waves, and restrains the raging of it at His pleasure (Matthew 8:26{8]). It is His, “because” He made it. The creation of anything gives the highest possible right over it.


And his hands formed the dry land―He invites us to explore the earth, the forest and the plains, the deserts and the towns, the pampas and the prairies. The sea and the dry land are equally his, for he has formed them both, and they are His property. He governs and disposes of them as he sees fit. He is the absolute Master of universal nature. Therefore there is no other object of worship or of confidence.  “His hands formed the sea and the dry land,” the whole world, land and sea, the vast continents and the restless oceans, and all creatures in them; without Him was nothing made that is made; and, seeing that He is the Creator of all things, He is the proper object of worship (John 1:2). So we are to praise Him by proclaiming His greatness in creation and by approaching Him with reverent respect, therefore, Revelation 4:8-11{9].


When Jonah was confronted by his fellow ship-mates who demanded to know who he was, he replied, "I am a Hebrew, and I fear Jehovah the God of heaven and earth, who made the sea and the dry land" (Jonah 1:9). These words of God's praise were often used in Israel.




[8} ‘“He [Jesus] said to them, Why are you afraid, you men of little faith?’ Then He got up and rebuked the winds and the sea, and it became perfectly calm” (Matthew 28:26).

[9} “And the four beasts had each of them six wings about him; and they were full of eyes within: and they rest not day and night, saying, Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come. And when those beasts give glory and honor and thanks to him that sat on the throne, who liveth forever and ever, The four and twenty elders fall down before him that sat on the throne, and worship him that liveth forever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne, saying, Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honor and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created” (Revelation 4:8-11).

6 O come, let us worship and bow down: let us kneel before the Lord our maker.


O come, let us worship and bow down―Let us worship Him by bowing down; by prostrating ourselves before him. The word rendered “come” is not the same that is used in Psalm 95:1. Its literal meaning is “come,” and it is an earnest exhortation to come and worship. It is not a particle merely calling attention to a subject, but it is exhortations to approach―to enter―to engage in a thing. The word rendered “worship,” means to bow down; to incline oneself; and then, to bow or prostrate oneself before anyone in order to show Him homage, or reverence. Then it means to bow down before God in the attitude of worship. It would most naturally refer to an entire “prostration” on the ground, which was a common mode of worship; but it would also express adoration in any form. The word rendered “bow down,” means to bend, to bow, and it is usually spoken regarding the knees. Isaiah 45:23 says: “every knee shall bow” (Compare Judges 7:5-6; 1 Kings 8:54; 2 Kings 1:13). The word might be applied, like the former word, to those who bow down with the whole person, or prostrate themselves on the ground (2 Chronicles 7:3{10]).


Did you notice, we are not told to say anything, for there are times when words are not necessary, when we are overwhelmed by the goodness and greatness of God?  All we can do is come in reverence and awe to adore Him.  The thoughts roll over us like the billows of the sea.  Our hearts are strangely moved; they burn within us.  There comes to mind the verse of a hymn: “How Great Thou Art!” which says it all.  Praising Him is all we can do.  For the rest, we are lost in wonder and love, in unexpressed, unspoken praise.  At such times we worship Him instinctively.


Let us kneel before the Lord our Maker―The usual attitude of prayer in the Scriptures (See Daniel 6:10; compare 2 Chronicles 6:13; Luke 22:41; Acts 7:60; Acts 9:40; Acts 20:36; Acts 21:5.) All the expressions employed here denote a posture of profound reverence in worship, and the passage is a standing rebuke of all irreverent postures in prayer; of such habits as often prevail in public worship where no change of posture is made in prayer, and where a congregation irreverently sits in the act of professedly worshipping God. People show to their fellowmen the respect indicated by rising up before them: much more should they show respect to Godrespect in a posture which will indicate profound reverence, and a deep sense of His presence and majesty. Reverently kneeling or standing “will” indicate this; sitting does not indicate it. The exception, of course, is those who are not physically able to stand without experiencing pain or discomfort.



[10} “All the sons of Israel, seeing the fire come down and the glory of the LORD upon the house, bowed down on the pavement with their faces to the ground, and they worshiped and gave praise to the LORD, saying, "Truly He is good, truly His lovingkindness is everlasting" (2 Chronicles 7:3)


7 For he is our God; and we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand. To day if ye will hear his voice,


For he is our God― Not only the God whom we worship as the true God, but One who has revealed Himself to us as our God. We worship Him as Godas entitled to praise and adoration because He is the true God; we worship him also in order to sustain our relationship with Him, or because we recognize Him as our God, and because He has manifested himself to us as our God. He has condescended to enter into a covenant with us, and he has taken us for his own; therefore, He is our “Immanuel,” God with us, which increases the obligation to worship Him; it would be unreasonable and abominable for us to forsake Him, when the Gentiles submit to His law. 


And we are the people of his pasture―whom He has recognized as His flock; to whom He sustains the relation of shepherd; who feeds and protects us as the shepherd does His flock. He has provided us with a good pasture in the land which He has appropriated for Himself; He leads us into it, and we feed in it, even by the ministry of the Word and ordinances. The Chaldee, Syriac, Vulgate, and Ethiopic versions read, "We are his people, and the sheep of the pasture of his hand." We are His own; He feeds and governs us, and His powerful hand protects us.


And the sheep of his hand―The flock that is guided and fed by His hand, made and fashioned by His hand, both in a natural and spiritual sense; led and guided by His hand, as a flock is led by the hand of the shepherd; are in his hand, having been put there for safety by His Father; and sustained by it, and preserved in it, and none can be plucked from His hand (see Deuteronomy 33:3); having received such special treatment from Him, He ought to be worshipped by them.


Who else among the singers of the Hebrews could speak so rapturously of the Shepherd and His sheep?  The psalmist’s mind goes back to His shepherding days.  He thinks of the sheep he led from pasture to pasture, how he had foraged for them, defended them, fought for them, how he had named them and numbered them.  He knew them all, each and every one.  “We are the People of His pasture, and the sheep of His hand.” David would think when putting them into the fold at night, how he would pass each one under his hand, carefully searching for thorns and bruises.  So we are to adore God intelligently, with full appreciation of what it means to have a God like Him, and what it means to be His! 


To day if ye will hear his voice―His voice calling you; commanding you; inviting you; encouraging you. The word “today” here means “the present time;” now. The idea is, that the intention to obey should not be deferred until tomorrow; should not be put off to the future. The commands of God should be obeyed at once; the intent should be put into action and be executed immediately. All God‘s commands relate to the present. He gives us none for the future; and a true purpose to obey God exists only where there is a willingness to obey “now,” “today;” and can exist only then. A purpose to repent at some future time, to give up the world at some future time, to embrace the Gospel at some future time, is “not obedience,” for there is no such command addressed to us. A resolution to put off repentance and faith, to defer attention to religion until some future time, is real disobedience―and often the worst form of disobedience―for it is directly in the face of the command of God. “If ye will hear.” That is, If there is a disposition or willingness to obey His voice at all; or, to listen to His commands (Hebrews 3:7{11]).


The psalmist is saying: adore Him!  Do it now!  Instantly!  Don’t put it off!  This takes priority and precedence over all else.  This is life’s highest duty, life’s supreme moment.  Let nothing come between—not even a flickering moment of time.  The moment we allow something to get in between, the mystic moment passes and mundane things intrude.


At this point, there is an abrupt change in the psalm.  The contrast is startling!  Up to now we have been praising God.  Now comes a word of warning



[11} Therefore, just as the Holy Spirit says, "TODAY IF YOU HEAR HIS VOICE, (Hebrews 7:3). The Hebrew reads, O that you would hear his voice todayToday is prophetically interpreted by the writer as referring to the Christian present, the time of salvation inaugurated by the appearance of Christ.


8 Harden not your heart, as in the provocation, and as in the day of temptation in the wilderness:


Harden not your heart by obstinate unbelief, and the deceitfulness of sin (Hebrews 3:8{12], 12-13), against Christ, and against His Gospel, and against all the light and evidence of it, rebelling against the light, and resisting the Holy Ghost. There is a natural hardness of the heart, due to the corruption of nature; and there is an habitual hardness, acquired by a constant and long practice of sinning; and there is a judicial hardness, which God gives unto men. There is a hardness of heart, which sometimes is fastened onto God's own people, through the deceitfulness of sin catching up with them; of which, when sensible, they complain and guard against.


The thought here seems to concern the hardness of the Jew’s hearts in the times of Christ and His apostles, which the Holy Ghost foresaw, and gave this warning; but the Jews, notwithstanding the clear evidence of Jesus being the Messiah, from prophecy, from miracles, from doctrines, from the gifts of the Spirit, etc.; hardened their hearts against Him, rebelled against light, and would not receive Him, but rather, reject him.


As in the provocation; or “as your fathers did at Massah and Meribah”―do not be as good at resisting the Holy Ghost as they were (Acts 7:51{13]) at “Meribah”; a place so called because of the contention and striving of the people of Israel with the Lord and His servants. At “Meribah,” they provoked not only the meek man Moses to speak unadvisedly; but also the Lord himself by their murmurings (Exodus 17:7{14]); however, this may have to do with their provocations in general in the wilderness; for they often provoked Him by their unbelief, ingratitude, and idolatry (Deuteronomy 9:8).


 And as in the day of temptation in the wilderness—The Hebrew simply reads: As Meribah, as the day of Massah, in the wilderness. The allusion is to Exodus 17:7{14]. “And he called the name of the place Massah and Meriba”; Temptation and Rebellion. “The day of temptation” (or, the day of Massah) is the name given the time when they tempted Him at Massah by distrusting His power and presence among them, by disobeying His commands, and limiting the Holy One of Israel to time and means of deliverance (see Exodus 17:7{14]).


Since this occurred in the wilderness, it was an aggravation of their sin; for He had just brought them out of Egypt, and wonderfully appeared to them, there and at the Red sea; and besides, they were in a place where they were totally dependent upon God, where they could have nothing but what came from Him. It was foolishness as well as wickedness to provoke and tempt God. The unfaithfulness of Israel was principally that of their complaining and murmuring against God, a behavior that was actually due to their unbelief. These were noted instances of rebellion through unbelief, and are cited here only as examples of the disobedience of their forefathers in the desert, against which the people are warned here. Meribah, which was the proper name of the place where that happened, and which also was called Massah, as is evident from Exodus 17:7{14] and Deuteronomy 33:8. Afterward, the name “Meribah” was also given to Kadesh, (Numbers 20:13; Numbers 27:14,) written fully, “Meribah-Kadesh,” (Deuteronomy 32:51).



[12} “Harden not your hearts, as in the provocation, in the day of temptation in the wilderness:” (Hebrews 3:8). Provocation… temptation—In Exodus 17:7, at the smiting of the rock to bring water for the murmuring people, it is said that Moses “called the name of the place Massah, [temptation,] and Meribah, [bitterness,] because of the chiding of the children of Israel, and because they tempted the Lord, saying, Is the Lord among us or not.” The word provocation, here, is the Septuagint translation of Meribah, and temptation of Massah.


[13}  “Ye stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost: as your fathers did, so do ye” (Acts 7:51). Although the men were physically circumcised, they were acting like the uncircumcised pagans of the nations around them. They were not truly consecrated...

[14} “And he called the name of the place Massah, and Meribah, because of the chiding of the children of Israel, and because they tempted the Lord, saying, Is the Lord among us, or not?” (Exodus 17:7) Massah … Meribah: Had the people not behaved so horribly, God would have provided the water in a context of blessing, and the names for the place would have been positive. Sadly, the names are negative.


9 When your fathers tempted me, proved me, and saw my work.


When (or “where”) your fathers tempted meThis tempting of God was their complaining against God in the words, “Is God among us, or not?” (Exodus 17:8). This outrageous question showed their disrespect for, unbelief in, and blasphemy toward God.


“When your fathers” means Your ancestors.

“Tempted me,” or tried me; means tried my patience, to see how much I would bear [we may say “put-up with”]. This does not mean, as it commonly does now with us, to place inducements before one to lead him into sin; but to try one―to put His patience to the test. This they did, in the case referred to, by their pig-headedness and evil conduct. What’s worse is that they repeated the affront ten times, while in the wilderness (Numbers 14:22); but here He is referring to Meribah and Massah. It appears from 1 Corinthians 10:9 that it was Christ they tempted: “Neither let us tempt Christ, as some of them also tempted, and were destroyed of serpents.”


Proved me―Had proof of His power, goodness, and mercy, in providing for them, and in the preservation of them: or "tried" Him, His patience, longsuffering, and forbearance, by repeatedly provoking Him, when they had full proof of His power to save and to destroy.  


And saw my work― His work of judgment upon their enemies the Egyptians, by inflicting plagues upon them, and by the destruction of Pharaoh and his host at the Red sea; and His work of goodness to them, in bringing them out of bondage, leading them through the Red sea safely, raining manna about their tents, and giving them water out of the rock; or particularly His work in consuming them in the wilderness, as He swore He would, and which they saw with their eyes, and He was almost forty years in doing―they saw that nothing was too hard for God. The specific "work of God" which is referred to here is the miraculous gushing of the water from the rock which, at God's command, Moses had smitten in the presence of the multitude, especially the elders of the people.


10 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:


Forty years long was I grieved with this generation, and said ―They did nothing but murmur, disbelieve, and rebel, from the time they began their journey at the Red Sea till they passed over Jordan, a period of forty years. During all this time God was grieved by that generation; yet He seldom displayed that judgment which they had most righteously deserved.


Chronic disbelief was settled into the character of this people.  They saw God’s works, but they did not know God’s ways.  They could not help but know God’s works for they were all about them, miracle after miracle, from the time Moses flung his rod on the ground and it became a serpent until the time he made a serpent of Brass and set it on a pole so that the serpent-bitten people might look, believe, and live.  They saw His works, but they did not know His ways.  The character of Israel was one of worldliness and carnality.  It persisted all through the 40 years in the wilderness.  It was a fact well-known to David.  It persisted all through the years spent in the Promised Land.


It is a people that do err in their heart―Or, according to at least one authority, these are a people whose idols are in their hearts. At any rate they did not have God there.


And they have not known my ways― They knew God's ways well enough; but they did not like them; and would not walk in them. This ungrateful people did not approve of God's ways, they did not enter into His plans, they did not conform to His commands, they paid no attention to His miracles, 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 on the condition that, if they were obedient, they should inherit the Promised Land. So none of those who came out of Egypt, except Joshua and Caleb, entered into Canaan; all the rest died in the wilderness, where, because of their disobedience, God caused them to wander for forty years.


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. And just as those Israelites in the wilderness were not permitted to enter into the land of Canaan because of their unbelief, their distrust of God's providence, and consequent disobedience, the Apostle Paul seizes the opportunity to exhort the Jews (Hebrews 4:2-11), to accept readily the terms offered to them by the Gospel. He shows 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 .


11 Unto whom I sware in my wrath that they should not enter into my rest.


Thus, at the beginning of the wilderness journey, the persistent hardness and unbelief of Israel, which came to a climax at Kadesh-barnea, brought down God’s sentence on them.  Except for Joshua and Caleb, not one of the adults who had experienced the exodus entered into Canaan.


Thus, at the end of the wilderness wanderings, the provocation of Moses and Aaron in smiting the rock when told to speak to it brought down God’s sentence.  They also were excluded from Canaan.


God’s promise to rest was lost to an entire generation.  The word that the psalmist uses for “rest” is the word used in Ruth 1:9 for the rest of marriage.  What a tragedy to believe God in bringing them out of Egypt, but not to believe Him in bringing them into Canaan; to trust Him for redemption, but not to trust Him for rest.  That was the provocation.


This entire passage is picked up and quoted almost verbatim in the New Testament.  It is used by the writer of Hebrews as part of His second warning.  Israel’s failure to enter into Canaan rest is used by him to illustrate the sad possibility of our failure to enter into Calvary rest.  The result will be spiritually the same: a frustrated, fearful, second-class life and temporal loss.  Let us make sure history does not repeat itself in our lives.