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Psalm 95 and 81: Interrupting Praise with Prophecy?

A few days ago I blogged about Psalm 95 and how I felt that Matthew Henry had missed the emphasis. I’ve mentioned before that my current devotional exercise is to read the lectionary texts for coming Sundays starting two weeks ahead until the Sunday in question. Thus I’m continually reading two sets of lectionary texts. These tend to lead me to various interesting sources of study.

Today, I read Psalm 95 from my New Interpreter’s Study Bible, which has an interesting note. On Psalm 95:8, the point at which the Psalm turns the corner from praise into a call for repentance, there is this note:

. . . In the very midst of Israel’s worship, it seems, prophets would occasionally interrupt the proceedings and call the people to repentance and amendment of life.

On consideration of just Psalm 95, I didn’t find that very convincing. I felt (and to some extent still feel) that the combination of praise and a willingness to listen and obey went well together in a context of worship. However, if one reads Psalm 81, to which reference is made earlier in the same note, there is an even more abrupt transition between praise and the call to repentance. There the praise seems almost to be only an introduction to the meat of the Psalm, which is strong admonition.]

I find this an interesting concept, considering that obedience is scripturally placed above various acts of worship, 1 Samuel 15:22-23 being a good example. Obedience is seen in scripture as an act of worship. I have only seen this sort of thing rarely in modern charismatic worship. Most congregations would regard such a prophetic word as an unseemly interruption of the flow of the service of praise. I have even heard pastors express a strong preference for “words from the Lord” that are positive over those that involve rebuke. I think if one were to survey prophetic words in scripture, one would find that the balance is precisely the opposite.

In addition, of course, one wonders just how one is to get one’s desired balance of positive and negative words from the Lord. If they are, indeed, from the Lord, one would assume he would set the balance!

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One Comment

  1. Don Bosch says:

    Two quick ones:

    – Posted a thought on hymns and psalms a couple weeks ago along this line. Drop by and comment if you have a moment.

    http://www.evaneco.com/?p=929

    – Thanks for your kind link to the Carnival. Am I right that you’re hosting next week? Want to get the reference correct.

    Grace and peace,
    Don
    evaneco at gmail.com
    evangelicalecologist.com

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