There must have been many joyful moments in the lifetime of King David, but to judge from the narratives the brightest of all must have been when the ark of God was brought to Jerusalem from its temporary resting place in the house of Obed-Edom. Thousands of people were assembled, led by hundreds of priests. There were choirs and an orchestra. And when the priests set out with the ark their steps were heralded by the sounding of rams' horns and trumpets, the clash of cymbals, and the plucking of lyres and harps. David was so delighted that he threw decorum aside and danced among the people before the Lord.

There is one more thing we need to notice before ending our study of this psalm today. And that is that there is an inspired commentary on it in the New Testament, in Hebrews 3:7-4:13. These two chapters of Hebrews quote Psalm 95 no less than four times, beginning with an extensive citing of the entire last stanza (Heb. 3:7-11). In other words, Psalm 95:7-11 is introduced as a text to be expounded, just as I usually print out the words of a Bible text at the start of one of my sermons or Bible studies. After this, verses 7 and 8 are cited again in Hebrews 3:15, verse 11 in Hebrews 4:3, and verses 7 and 8 for a final time in Hebrews 4:7. This is probably the most thorough citing of an Old Testament passage in the New Testament.

Suddenly in the midst of these strong calls to joyful personal worship, we find an unexpected warning (vv. 7d-11). It is so sudden that some of the more liberal commentators speculate on this being an entirely separate psalm that somehow got attached to the earlier portion. There is no good reason for such speculation. Abrupt changes like this are not infrequent in the psalms, and the warning to hear the voice of God and obey it is actually a critical part of what needs to be said about the worship God accepts.

We owe God worship because he is God and has created us. But even more, we owe him worship because he has given his life for us, has called us to faith and now keeps and preserves us with a power that nothing either in heaven or earth can shake. We are the sheep of Jesus' hand, and nothing will ever snatch us out of Jesus' hand.

And there is this, too. If we have been able to worship God joyfully, it is natural that we should invite others to do the same. The psalm itself is doing that when it begins: "Come, let us sing for joy to the LORD" (v. 1), and later, "Come, let us bow down in worship" (v. 6). When the great pioneer missionary William Carey reached India in 1792, he found that his predecessor, Christian Friedrich Schwartz, had inscribed over the portal of the Mission Church at Tranquebar the words from Psalm 95: "O come, let us worship and fall down, and kneel before the Lord our Maker,” an appropriate invitation to those Schwartz was trying to win to faith in Jesus Christ.