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.
Being In God’s Presence
Can you think of a time when you saw a friend or family member after a long time apart? Do you remember what it was like when you came back together, when you came into their presence? Did you run or throw up your arms or scream in excitement or hug for a few minutes?
The excitement of being in the presence of someone you love is one of life’s most delightful experiences. There is a joy to such reconnections that is so pure and untameable.
In Psalm 95, the author speaks of this joyful moment of coming together in connection to worship. As the author of the psalm comes into the presence of the Lord, he comes in thanksgiving, singing and making a joyful noise to God. Our ever-present God invokes this joy from us, and the author explains why. He is a great God and a great King. He created everything from the depths of the oceans to the heights of the mountains. He is not just any God. He is our God. We are His people.
Sometimes we feel like we do not deserve to be in God’s presence. Sometimes we feel like we are not good enough to stand before our holy God. Sometimes we feel we are too sinful, too flawed, too broken, too mediocre. Instead of coming into God’s presence with thanksgiving and joy and song, we refuse to come at all. We distance ourselves from God because we think we are undeserving.
Such times remind me of the parable for the prodigal son from Luke 15. The younger son had abandoned his family. He had taken his share of the inheritance and run away. He then wasted all of that money. And just when the family money had run out disaster struck and a famine hit the country he was living in. Notice, the prodigal son’s first thought is to keep his distance from his family. He gets a job that for a person of his culture and background is absolutely degrading: He feeds pigs. The prodigal son allows himself to be made unclean, to be demeaned and dishonored before he considers going back to the presence of his father. And when he does come into his father’s presence, he tries to come back in humility, undeserving, only hoping to be a hired hand rather than the son that he is.
But think about how the father reacts to his son’s presence. The father runs to his son, hugs him (even though he was still “unclean” from the pigs). The father comes into his son’s presence with thanksgiving, with a joyful noise, with songs of praise.
Psalm 95 invites us into God’s presence with such joy every time we worship, every time we pray. He is our forgiving Father and He rejoices at our presence. The prodigal son was unclean from feeding pigs, but the father embraced him. The prodigal son had squandered all of his inheritance, but the father threw him a party. Like the prodigal son, we come into the Father’s presence confessing our sins, repentant, begging for His mercy. And like the prodigal son, we are clothed with the best robe, the robe of Christ’s righteousness.
Who is your favorite person to spend time with?
Dear heavenly Father, when we feel like we are not good enough to pray to You or worship You, remind us of the forgiveness Jesus gives us through His death and resurrection. Help us to come into your presence with thanksgiving and joy. Amen.