An Invitation to Praise God – Translating Psalm 95
Let us sing praise. Let us respond to the invitation before us. Let us choose to Praise God with our voices, and let our hearts respond to Him who saves us. This wonderful psalm has one of the most prominent positions within the Divine Office. It is the introductory psalm which is prayed each day (there are alternatives in psalms 100, 67, and 24). In the tradition of the divine office the first words spoken each day would be “Lord open my lips, and my mouth will proclaim your praise.” You would then find yourself joining the chorus of voices around the world and throughout time praying “Come, let us sing praise to the LORD.”
An Invitation to Praise God
1Come, let us sing praise to the LORD, * shout with joy to the Rock of our salvation. 2Let us enter His presence with a song of thanksgiving, * singing joyful songs to Him. 3For the LORD is a great God, * and the great king above all gods. 4In His hand are the depths of the earth, * and the mountain peaks are His also. 5The sea is His for He made it, * the dry land His hands formed. 6Come, let us bow down and worship, * let us kneel before the LORD our maker. 7For He is our God, and we are the people of his pasture, * and the flock of His hand. Today, will you hear His voice, † 8 "Do not harden not your hearts, * as at Meribah and during the temptation in the wilderness. 9Where your ancestors tested and provoked Me, * although they were witness to My work." 10"Forty years that generation disgusted Me", † and I said, "they are a people whose hearts go astray, * and they do not know My ways." 11So I swore in My anger, * "never shall they enter into My rest."
There is a gentleness within the opening lines of this psalm. The Psalmist beckons us, all of us, into praising the Lord. There is an incremental building of praise. Sing praise, shout with joy, sing a song, sing many songs, bowing down, and kneeling before the Lord. How this wonderfully mirrors the journey of falling in love with God.
As time continues its forward march I find myself never lacking of Gods grace and mercy. It wells up within me. In these opening verses we find ourselves reminded of that first invitation to turn towards the Lord our great God. May we treasure the building of praise this psalm returns us to in our own lives. May each day build with praise from our first words until our eyes end their day in slumber.
6Come, let us bow down and worship, * let us kneel before the LORD our maker.
Wisdom as a Warning
The second part of this psalm provides us contrast and a warning. For the sake of contrast let us place these passages side by side.
7For He is our God, and we are the people of his pasture, * and the flock of His hand.
11So I swore in My anger, * "never shall they enter into My rest."
Without seeing these lines within the same psalm you would be forgiven for thinking they were from different places. There is such a stark difference between the interaction of God with those in verse 7 and those in verse 11.
The warning is presented to us with words from the Lord. Echoing back to their time in the wilderness. We are reminded of their choice to turn from God and let their hearts harden. The psalmist has already made very clear what God longs for – for us to be the people of his pasture protected by Gods hand.
They had witnessed God save them from Egypt and provide for them in the arid wilderness. This should have led to praising God and trusting Him. Instead they tested God, worshiped idols, pursued temptations, and were left to perish in the desert.
The wisdom of the psalmist is to call us to praise. The wisdom is to not forget the good works the Lord has done for us. There is wisdom in the honesty of how easy it is to forget. Embracing a humble refrain of praise for what God has done for us.
Let us praise the Lord who has made all things, holds all things, and sustains all things.
Selecting a Title
The Latin title given to this psalm is ‘Invitatio Ad Laudem Dei’ or ‘An Invitation to Praise God’. This reflects the first several verses that are loaded with praise for God, and the conclusion of the psalm as a warning where lack of praise can lead us. At the same time it reflects its placement within the Divine Office. That we open every day with an Invitation to Praise God.
Initial Translation Finished 26 October 2022
Translations for Urban Monastic are open to refinement and improvement. This has been translated. Yet, this is a reminder that no translation is ever complete. Cultures change, languages change, we better understand the source texts and languages, and adapt them as they get used in context. We will continue to refine and enhance our translations. If you are interested in helping, please let us know!
Paul Prins on 28 September 2022 along the Antrim Coast of Northern Ireland.