For forty years I loathed that generation and said, ‘They are a people whose hearts go astray, and they do not regard my ways.’ Therefore in my anger I swore, ‘They shall not enter my rest.’” vss. 10-11Psalm 95
The psalmist was a person of faith and had a profound sense of God’s glory and majesty. He gladly proclaimed that God was the Lord of heaven and earth, the Creator of all that is seen and unseen. He called upon the people to bow down and worship, saying, “For he is our God, and we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand.” And then, to make sure the people understand how important it is to bow down before the Lord, he adds a threat! Using an old story from Israel’s wilderness tradition, he recalls the time when the people complained to Moses about the lack of water. Because they questioned the Lord’s leadership, the story says that the Lord refused them entry into the Promised Land. For some this is an acceptable understanding of God–in their book, if people don’t fall in line, they should expect to be punished. Even Christian preachers have adopted this tone and will regularly issue warnings from the pulpit about the consequences of sinful and rebellious behavior. There may be times for such warnings; there is a place for the law in our lives. But how much better it is when people mired in sin hear the good news that God is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love.
Thought for the Day: When do people need to hear threats?