By Tom Quiner
This is a psalm of praise.
It suggests that, for starters, we need to be attentive, to open our hearts to God and listen for Him, our Father. We live in a noisy world with non-stop distractions.
Whatever you do, don’t harden your heart. What does that mean? Considering that God is love (1 John 4:8), we should savor the experience and not keep it bottled up inside. Let it out!
The psalmist gives us four practical ways NOT to harden our hears in the first verse:
- SONG: “Come, let us sing joyfully to the Lord;
- ACCLAMATION: “Let us acclaim the Rock of our salvation.”
- THANKSGIVING: “Let us come into His presence with thanksgiving,” whether at Mass or in the quiet of your own home as we pray on our knees.
- JOY: “Let us joyfully sing psalms to him.”
In light of the text in this verse, the cantor’s demeanor is critical. Be joyful! Smile! You are encountering the essence of existence, namely God’s unfathomable Love. You have the privilege of conveying this reality to the assembly.
Here’s the thing: joy is contagious! Sing joyfully.
In the final verse, we run into a couple of words from the Old Testament with which we may not be familiar: Meribah and Massah. According to the US Conference of Catholic Bishop’s website, Meribah is “the place where the Israelites quarreled with God;” and Massah is “the place where they put God to the trial.”
Don’t test God. Don’t harden your heart. Rather, sing joyfully in this hymn of praise.
The sentiment of this psalm stands in stark contrast to Psalm 46:10 which states, “Be still and know that I am God.” In other words, our interior prayer life is critical to getting to know our Father and hearing what it is He is saying to us, just as Psalm 95 reminds us that our public worship calls for joyous song. Let it ring!
[Lenten psalms are powerful prayers. Tom Quiner, composer of THE FIRE AND THE MERCY, The Pentecost Musical, has set over 100 psalms to music, including all of the psalms included in the Catholic lectionary for this Lenten cycle. This blog will post his commentaries on each of these psalms throughout Lent.]