Ps 94 Commentary by Dr Noel Donnelly
for the 4th Sunday of Year B
‘Listen to the voice f God. Harden not your heart.
Psalm 94 has two parts and even two voices addressing us. The first part is a welcoming voice, calling us three times to “come in” to the place of worship. And this voice urges us to sing out with uninhibited joy! Now there’s a welcome we might value today as we come into church , “Come in, show you’re happy and make sure you sing out well!” Well … maybe a welcoming smile at the door might just do all that!
Why should we be joyful? Well the voice tells us that the great God whose reign extends to the ends of the earth and the tops of the hills, who made the seas and the dry land also marvellously gave us the gift of life, and the gift of “today!” But this is God we are talking about, so the welcoming voice urges us that our gestures must respond to our respect and adoration: we are to bend low, to kneel down in worship.
Once we are in the place of worship the second voice takes over. It could be a Temple priest, speaking in the name of God, like a prophet. He warns us to value the gift of “today” unlike our ancestors at Meribah, a word that means “quarrel” when the Israelites quarrelled with Moses for lack of water in the desert; he warns us also about the incident at Massah a word meaning “temptation” when they doubted if God was really with them.
The psalm doesn’t end neatly. It leaves us to ponder: if we ourselves ignore the gift of “today”, if we grumble about the lack of provision for our spiritual thirst or persist in doubting the presence of God then we could be left wandering in the desert of life for another generation … even 40 years! Don’t harden your spiritual arteries, he says. Worship is important but it is not to be escapism: it’s an opportunity to reflect prayerfully and to grasp the gift of the present day, of “today”, and use it with joyful acclaim.
Ps 94: words and music Noel Donnelly; (c) Kevin Mayhew. Recorded by Grace Buckley
score: 94 nd – Full Score