Quarreling and Testing to Thanks and Praise

Psalm 95:1-9

Oh come, let us sing to the Lord;
let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation!
Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving;
let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise!
For the Lord is a great God,
and a great King above all gods.
In his hand are the depths of the earth;
the heights of the mountains are his also.
The sea is his, for he made it,
and his hands formed the dry land.

Oh come, let us worship and bow down;
let us kneel before the Lord, our Maker!
For he is our God,
and we are the people of his pasture,
and the sheep of his hand.
Today, if you hear his voice,
    do not harden your hearts, as at Meribah,
as on the day at Massah in the wilderness,
when your fathers put me to the test
and put me to the proof, though they had seen my work.

Quarreling and Testing to Thanks and Praise

“Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts, as at Meribah, as on the day at Massah in the wilderness, when your fathers put me to the test and put me to the proof, though they had seen my work (v.8-9).”

These verses are a reference to a time when the Israelites had been wandering in the desert and were complaining of being thirsty. They were following God’s commands of where to go (Exodus 17: 1) and grumbling because as they followed Him, there was no water to drink. How could God seemingly “forget” such a vital detail during their travel?

Maybe you can relate. Have you ever felt like you were following God’s plan for you, but you couldn’t see where God was? He had made His path for you clear and then suddenly seemed absent, or at the very least, like He’d seemingly forgotten an important detail.

Perhaps you courageously start a Bible study at your school only to find that no one shows up. You tell a friend about Jesus, but they seem disinterested. You excitedly decide on a college, but when you arrive, you can’t seem to get connected to a new church community.

We join the Israelites in grumbling, “Did you not think through the details, God? We’re following you, and you’re not doing a good job of taking care of us.” We wonder where the water is. Where is God’s provision?

God hears the Israelites’ grumbling and instructs Moses to strike a rock and water will come out. Sure enough, water does come and the people can quench their thirst. Moses names this place Meribah and Massah, which means “quarreling” and “testing.”

How do we keep our hearts from hardening, as verse 8 exhorts, in the midst of quarreling and testing? How can we fix our eyes on Jesus when it seems He’s forgotten us? Certainly, this is not something we’ll ever be able to do perfectly, but that doesn’t mean we stop trying!

Every time we are reminded of God’s promises—at church, in devotions and prayer, or time spent with other believers—we have another opportunity to recognize all the ways God provides. And He does provide.

Have you noticed throughout these devotions on the Psalms how many include a retelling of what God has done for His people? They recount God’s acts of creation, deliverance from slavery, and dominance over enemies. This is done to remind ourselves of God’s work in the lives of His people and to encourage us. By focusing and refocusing ourselves on examples of God’s love and faithfulness, we can have faith in the midst of testing that God is with us still.

Psalm 95 reminds us that both the heights of the mountain and the depths of the sea are held in God’s hands. He holds the whole world! Not only so, but God also holds both you and me. “For he is our God, and we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand (v.7).”

When we wonder where God is as we follow Him, we can remind ourselves that He holds us in His hands. As the sheep of His hand, God our Good Shepherd makes us lie down in green pastures, He leads us beside still waters, and He restores our soul (Psalm 23).

Recognizing God’s love and faithfulness leads us to a life of thanksgiving. The psalmist encourages us to sing and make joyful noise to the Lord and come into His presence with thanksgiving. Why? Because even when we can’t see it: “The Lord is a great God, and a great King above all gods (v.3).”

God does provides water for the Israelites in the desert, and He will provide what you need as you follow Him.

God is faithful to His promises and most certainly holds you in His hands. He proved that once and for all on the cross. In Jesus, we are never separated from the love of God (Rom. 8:38-39). That’s a truth to hold onto!

So we can thank and praise God now, even when we don’t yet see how He will provide. Because He will provide; because He does provide. Every time we “come into His presence” at church, in community with other believers, or through time spent in His Word, we once again encounter the sweet living water Jesus freely offers.

Reflection: What retelling of God’s work in the psalms is most significant to you (acts of creation, deliverance from slavery, dominance over enemies, etc.)? Why? What would it look like for you to retell yourself this truth about God’s provision over and over throughout your day?

Pray: Father, I know You are my Good Shepherd, but sometimes I don’t understand where you are leading me or why you chose this path for me. Yet I know You hold me in Your hand and have my best interest at heart. Holy Spirit, strengthen my faith and give me a spirit of joy. Continue to direct my steps that I may follow You. Thank You for Your work in my life—and in the lives of Your people throughout history. Remind me of your faithfulness. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Challenge/Take Away Activity: What would it look like for you to make a joyful noise to the Lord? Who could join you in giving thanks to God? Sit with them at church this week.

About the author

Amy Bird is a child of God and wife of Aaron. She holds a Masters in Systematic Theology from Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, and is continually amazed at how powerfully God's Word speaks into life today.
View more from Amy

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