Come, let us sing for joy to the LORD;
let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation.
Let us come before him with thanksgiving
and extol him with music and song.
For the LORD is the great God,
the great King above all gods.
In his hand are the depths of the earth,
and the mountain peaks belong to him.
The sea is his, for he made it,
and his hands formed the dry land.
Come, let us bow down in worship,
let us kneel before the LORD our Maker;
for he is our God
and we are the people of his pasture,
the flock under his care.
Today, if only you would hear his voice,
“Do not harden your hearts as you did at Meribah,
as you did that day at Massah in the wilderness,
where your ancestors tested me;
they tried me, though they had seen what I did.
For forty years I was angry with that generation;
I said, ‘They are a people whose hearts go astray,
and they have not known my ways.’
So I declared on oath in my anger,
‘They shall never enter my rest.’”
King David is back with a reflection on the greatness of God and an invitation to bow down before him in worship. He cautions: Today, if only you would hear his voice, "Do not harden your hearts as you did at Meribah, as you did that day at Massah in the wilderness, where your ancestors tested me; they tried me, though they had seen what I did."
To understand these words, we need to travel to the Old Testament to the time of the Exodus. Meribah and Massah are places where the Israelites grumbled and tested the Lord's patience.
At Meribah, they complained about the lack of water, questioning whether God was truly with them. They quarreled with Moses and tested the Lord's patience, asking, "Is the Lord among us or not?" (Exodus 17:7).
At Massah, they again demanded water from Moses, saying, "Why did you bring us up out of Egypt to make us and our children and livestock die of thirst?" (Exodus 17:3). They both refer to the same incident.
The Lord instructed Moses to speak to a rock at Meribah to bring forth water for the people. However, Moses, in his frustration with the people, struck the rock instead of speaking to it as God had commanded (Numbers 20:1-13).
As a result of his disobedience, God pronounced a judgment on Moses and his brother Aaron, stating that they would not enter the Promised Land (Numbers 20:12). The Israelites, too, were denied entry because of their unbelief and grumbling, and doomed to wander in the wilderness for forty years.
The incident serves as a reminder of the importance of trusting in God's faithfulness and following his instructions. It also teaches us the consequences of grumbling and doubting God's power and presence in our lives. Let us not harden our hearts and be denied entry into the new Promised Land of heaven.
God bless you.