“Come, let us sing for joy to the Lord; let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation. Let us come before Him with thanksgiving and extol Him with music and song. For the Lord is the great God, the great King above all gods. In His hand are the depths of the earth, and the mountain peaks belong to Him. The sea is His, for He made it, and His hands formed the dry land. Come, let us bow down in worship, let us kneel before the Lord our Maker; for He is our God and we are the people of His pasture, the flock under His care.” Psalm 95:1-7
We have been instructed to come before the Lord. It is our great need and our great reward to come before Him and experience His Presence. When we are before Him, all the good grace He has promised flows freely: forgiveness, salvation, deliverance, provision, direction, protection, peace, hope, etc. In His Presence, we gain right perspective. We can see life circumstances in light of His greatness and in light of eternity. Everything changes for good before Him. As such, it is in our best interest to come and remain before Him as much as possible.
David, the psalmist, was one who sought the Presence of the Lord diligently. He not only came before Him, but he also tried to learn from history. He took note of those who had lived before God with the evidence of grace in their lives, and those who did not, who were perpetually lacking in such grace. From them, and from the commands of God, he learned the vital importance of remembering and extolling God and His deeds, and the dangers of not.
Remembrance and thanksgiving are the common traits of those who remain in God’s Presence. Those who keep recalling and thanking God for Who He is and what He has done strengthen and compound their faith and love, while those who do not are forever responding to life circumstances out of their own resources and perspectives.
If you read the rest of Psalm 95, you will find a reference to this lesson from David. He writes, “Today, if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts as you did at Meribah, as you did that day at Massah in the dessert, where your fathers tested and tried me, though they had seen what I did. For forty years I was angry with that generation; I said, ‘They are a people whose hearts go astray, and they have not know my ways.’ So I declared on oath in my anger, ‘They shall never enter my rest.’” Psalm 95:8-11
The incident at Meribah and Massah was a day when the Israelites freaked out because they were thirsty. Being thirsty in a dessert is a serious matter, but their response was the result of completely forgetting God. These same people had been recently delivered from Egypt with spectacular signs and wonders, miraculously rescued from the Egyptian army by a large body of water that parted a dry path for them through the middle but drowned their pursuers, and then fed by bread that fell out of the sky every morning. They had eaten that bread for breakfast on the day they grumbled against Moses, saying, “Why did you bring us up out of Egypt to make us and our children and livestock die of thirst?” (Exodus 17:3) Their failure to come before the Lord, remembering and thanking Him for what He had done left them with no faith to trust Him for what He would do, but instead, only complaint and grumbling for their current condition.
The reality is that, though Psalm 95 implies that God swore His oath to give those people no rest for forty years after the Meribah and Massah incident, He did not actually do it until later (Numbers 14), at their refusal to enter into the promised land because they were afraid. But the pattern of complaint instead of remembrance they began early in their journey brought them all the way to the border of Canaan, only to turn around and march in a circle for the rest of their days.
Will you learn, as David did, from the history of others? Today you have a choice. You can harden your heart to the grace of God by looking at the circumstances around you with complaint and grumbling. There are no good results from that choice. Or, you can heed David’s exhortation to sing, shout, give thanks, extol and remember Who God is and what He has done. Everything changes for good in God’s Presence.