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A Psalm for the Season by Mark Graham

Recently Psalm 95 came around as part of our worship at the congregation I serve. I love all 150 Psalms; but, truth be told, it’s only been recently that I’ve taken the necessary time to give these songs and prayers of the Bible their proper attention. It’s amazing what God has waiting for us when we do.

In Judeo/Christian use of the Psalms, Psalm 95 has long been beloved as a call to worship. “Oh come, let us sing to the LORD; let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation!” It doesn’t get any better than that as an invitation to set one’s mind and heart on the Lord. Psalm 95 also reminds us that God is our Maker and our Shepherd, for we are “the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand.” Here we learn that we are both handmade and hand-held by God, and that revelation alone is worth a study of the Psalms.

But suddenly, Psalm 95 takes a dark turn. Just like that, God warns us not to harden our hearts “as at Meribah, as on the day at Massah in the wilderness…” Four hundred years before this Psalm came to be, the people of God rose up in the wilderness in complaint against the Lord and Moses for a lack of water, as read in Exodus 17. Never mind that God had saved them from slavery, had shown them miracle after miracle, and had always provided for their needs. No, a deep complaining, quarreling spirit had pierced their hearts against the Lord, and their hearts became hardened against Him.

All those hundreds of years later, the Lord’s anger over their complaining still burned like hot bile in His mouth. Few things, it seems, triggers the righteous wrath of our God more than for His own people to say He hasn’t done enough for them.

So this sharp truth of Psalm 95 leads me to see these coming holidays in a new light. Yes, ‘tis the season to be merry. But more so, it’s the time to be grateful—grateful to the Lord for all that He has done for us, grateful to the point that if God never does another thing for us, He has done more than enough already. Gratitude is the best way to protect our hearts from a hardened spirit of complaint.

This week, take time to be very specific in developing an “attitude of gratitude.” Write down a list of blessings for which you are grateful to God. Tuck that list in your wallet or purse and pull it out occasionally. Add to it over the days ahead. Soak your heart with gratitude, rejoicing in the love for you of your Maker and Shepherd.

Mark Graham is the Senior Pastor at  St. John Lutheran Church in Roanoke. Visit them on the web at

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