My boys were the same when they were growing up. Both loved to build things with Legos and make mountains of pebbles and dirt in the yard. And whether you’re a boy or girl, when that special grown-up tells you you’ve made something wonderful, it feels good to be acknowledged for what you’ve made. On a grander scale the Scriptures “take pride” in giving credit to God frequently, especially in terms of the created world. Psalm 95:6 however gives credit to God the Creator in a different way- that is as the Creator of a people in the name “The Lord Our Maker”, Yahweh Ashenu, (pronounced Yah-way Ah-shay-new).
The first part of the psalm is a hymn of praise encouraging God’s people to worship Him (Ps. 95:1-7a). The reason for this is because He has “made them”. The verb “asah” means to “make, accomplish, and to complete with a goal in mind”. It describes the act of performing an action with a distinct purpose, a moral obligation or a goal in view as in Gen. 11:6 or as in the creation of the earth (Prov. 8:26). Since God literally “spoke” everything in to being (Gen. 1: 3, 5, 6, 8, 9, 11, 14, 20, 22, 24, 26; 2:3), or literally voiced us into being, we are to respond with our voices in praise of Him.
The process of God’s creative abilities is emphasized by the words of the psalmist. God “forms” the dry land. The verb here is “yah-sar” which means “to form or fashion; to shape” in the way a potter shapes the clay and brings to mind the way God shaped man from the earth (Gen. 2:7; Is. 29:16; 45:9). Just as a potter uses his hands to shape the clay, God also uses His hands to shape the world He created (Ps. 95:4-5) and His people (Ps. 95:7). While the psalm acknowledges there is a physical process which God applied in creating the world, it also illustrates that this took an incredible amount of strength. One author has noted, “In Psalm 95 the word “hand” appears to be a combination of metaphorical attributes, that is God’s action of shaping the world with “His hands” and the strength and power it took to do that”.
While forming the world was a monumental task (which required a day of rest at its completion! Gen. 2:2), shaping His people is perhaps even more demanding. The second part of the psalm (Ps. 95:7b-11) is a warning to listen to God’s voice and obey it. Verses 8-9 remind the people that in the past their disobedience and grumbling have had disastrous results. When God’s people are unrepentant, God will discipline them. One cannot help but think of Hebrews 12:4-11 when reading this passage. If you are a parent this is quite understandable. Disciplining children and shaping them into responsible and productive members of society is a lengthy process. But the stressful moments when you must reprimand them are usually done with a good outcome in mind and comes from the love you have for them so that they will be the best they can be.
There is only one response the people shaped by God’s hands should have when they recognize God’s activity in making them into a people in the first place (vv. 6-7). They are to shout joyfully (the winning touch-down of the Super Bowl kind of shouting), offer thanksgiving (think “I’d like to thank the Academy for this award…” kind of speech), kneel before (as in the classic courtesy before the queen kind of greeting) and worship Him (that is recognize in this relationship He is the superior and His people are merely sheep). Although Psalm 95 is part of Israel’s songbook and the “people” of this psalm are the nation of Israel, believers today are still part of God’s workmanship (Eph. 2:1-10), so our response to Him should not be any different. It’s not uncommon these days to see a sign declaring “Men at Work” when driving along the road. I wonder what people would think if we wore little signs declaring, “God at Work” when we recognize that God is shaping us and molding us into the image of His Son? But, if we did, wouldn’t that be a great reminder to us in regards to our relationship with “The Lord Our Maker”? Think about it! How often do you thank God and worship Him for the times when He molds you into the image of His Son? As the Hebrews passage reminds us, it’s a sign of His love for us.
Ann H. LeFevre, M. Div.
Week of 1/24/2016