“Come, let us sing to the Lord, and shout with joy to the rock who saves us./ Let us approach Him with praise and thanksgiving and sing joyful songs to the Lord./ The Lord is God, the mighty God, the great king above all the gods./ He holds in His hands the depths of the earth and the highest mountains as well./ He made the sea, it belongs to Him, the dry land too for it was formed by His hands./ Come let us bow down and worship, bending the knee before the Lord our Maker,/ for He is our God, and we are His people, the flock He shepherds./ Today, listen to the voice of the Lord. Do not let your hearts grow stubborn as your fathers did in the wilderness,/ when at Meribah and Massah, they challenged me and provoked me although they had seen all of my works./ Forty years I endured that generation./ I said, “they are a people whose hearts go astray, they do not know my ways. “/ So I swore in my anger, they shall not enter into my rest.”
Psalm 95 is the first Psalm that one prays as part of the Liturgy of the Hours each day. It is attributed to King David, and is a hymn of praise and thanksgiving to God, acknowledging Him as our Creator and Savior. It also refers to a troubling episode in the history of the Israelites, the rebellion of the people at Meribah and Massah. This event is found in chapter 17 of the Book of Exodus (17:1-7). The people are in the wilderness under the leadership of Moses, and the Lord commands them to go to a certain place and make camp there. But in that place there is no water, and in their thirst the people begin to grumble and complain to Moses, even saying: “Why did you bring us out of Egypt? To kill us and our children and our cattle with thirst?”
Their rebellion is shocking if we consider what this generation had seen. They saw the plagues suffered by the Egyptians, from which they were preserved. They passed through the Red Sea on dry land to escape the army of Pharaoh. They were guided by a mysterious column of smoke and a pillar of fire in the wilderness. They had received the manna, the bread that rained down from heaven to feed them when they did not have food. They witnessed first-hand all of these incredible signs of God’s concern for them, and yet they still did not trust Him, accusing Him of not caring about them and even tricking them to leave Egypt in order to lure them into the desert to die. Always faithful, however, the Lord instructed Moses to strike a rock with his staff and water began to flow from the stone.
God is always with us. Life is filled with moments when we might feel anxious and afraid for the future, and even might be tempted to wonder if the Lord has abandoned us. Psalm 95 forces us to stop and remember that the Lord is almighty and His concern for us is unfailing. It is a strong reminder that in times when we are troubled, we must confess our trust in the Lord, over and over again. Because the temptation is to abandon the Lord, our God, and to seek to put our trust in other things. Things that are essentially idols, false gods and false saviors – dark powers that come in many forms and which promise to come to our rescue when we’ve convinced ourselves that God is too slow to act, ineffectual, or nowhere to be found.
We belong to an even more privileged generation than that of the Israelites in the wilderness. We have received the fullness of those signs that merely foreshadowed our true liberation from the powers of darkness. As members of the Church, we have received a share in divine life through baptism. We have received the Eucharist, the true bread from Heaven, as well as the medicine of Confession. We have access to the treasury of God’s wisdom through the scriptures, Church teaching, and tradition. We should know more than anyone that our help is in the Lord Jesus, and only in Him – and that He never abandons us.