Exodus 17: 1-7 Sunday, March 12, 2023

Psalm 95

Romans 5: 1-11

St. John 4: 5-42


“Living Water”


Grace and Peace to you my brothers and sisters in Christ, Amen.


As I read Psalm 95, which as a song ought to be sung rather

than spoken, I am reminded of a chant I and many of my fellow

pastors and seminarians sing every morning we gather in worship

to conduct Matins. On page 131 of your green hymnals – please

open up your green hymnals to page 131 to see what I’m referring

to – on page 131 you see Morning Prayer, aka Matins. When

morning worship is conducted not on Sunday, this is the liturgy we

use. If you turn the page to 132 you see a song which goes by the

words of Psalm 95. I will sing this psalm for you...

This song is very uplifting and quite reverent. It is a call to

worship, thus why it is traditionally sung in the beginning of the

first worship of the day. It is a call to a certain mindset that we are

to hold on to for the rest of the day. And it is a call to what a

proper Judeo-Christian lifestyle looks like; remember this is a

psalm so not only is it sung by Christians but also by Jews.

Imagine a choir of church leaders standing before a

community singing this psalm. They begin by calling the masses

to sing alongside them, to not merely listen but to participate in

the message. They begin by calling the masses to join in shouting

the joy we do indeed have to the Lord who is our rock and our

salvation. And if the message isn’t clear, because poetry requires




you to say the same thing multiple times but in various different

ways using different words, the choir begins by calling the masses

to raise psalms of thanksgiving before His presence.

But why do we reverently and loudly as one heavenly body

lift up our psalmic prayers to the Lord? Why, because He is

indeed a great and amazing king who neither human nor human

made god can compare to. He has made all and in doing so has

provided all good things for us. And in reverence to His might, we

are to bow down to Him and to Him alone. He is our God and we

are His sheep. We faithfully follow Him, and He lovingly takes

care of and protects us. A good shepherd does not take care of

his sheep because it follows him, for if a sheep was to walk away

the good shepherd would search and rescue the lost sheep.

Instead the sheep follows the good shepherd because they know

he has already provided for them. So too is our relationship with

our King and Savior.


This psalm is just filled with joy and righteous respect, and is

a very simple model to live by; to be merry in the Lord whom we

love and revere. Yet, there is another half of this psalm not

included in the beginning call to worship. It reads,

Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts, as at Meribah, as on the

day at Massah in the wilderness, when your fathers put me to the test and put

me to the proof, though they had seen my work. For forty years I loathed that

generation and said, “They are a people who go astray in their heart, and they

have not known my ways.” Therefore I swore in my wrath, “They shall not enter

my rest.” (Psalm 95: 7b-11)




Come on King David, we had it so good and you just had to ruin

this uplifting psalm with this downer; remember most psalms are

written by King David.

The thing is we ought not only to love the Lord our God but

to also fear Him. If we love Him but do not fear Him then we will

naturally devolve into a society that encourages sinful activities

and punishes those who use the Word of God to expose sin for

what it truly is. Sounds familiar? We need to both fear and love

God, and thus while we merrily lift up our voices to the rock of our

salvation we should always remember the consequences of going

astray. God’s Word leads us both toward something desirable and

away from something undesirable.

This is where the latter half of psalm 95 comes into play, for

it provides an actual historical account to help remind the Jews

and all Christians what we ought not to do. And what is that? Do

not harden your hearts in the same way the Hebrews did at

Meribah. Our forefathers, the now rescued Judeans, have seen

multiple signs from God, ten plagues and the splitting of the red

sea none the lest. Yet, this detestable generation put God to the

test. On account of this for forty years God loathed them and

withheld the promise land. On account of their hardened hearts,

God in His wrath said, “They shall not enter my rest.”


This is what Psalm 95 elaborates, but let us dive into the

story itself, Exodus 17. The Israelites had just crosses the Red

Sea in chapter 14 and received manna from heaven after

complaining in chapter 16. Moses hasn’t even gone up to Mt Sinai

to receive the Ten Commandments, that’s chapter 19, and once




again the Israelites are complaining. I thought this was sturdy folk,

that’s obviously wrong. Do these people even know how to

provide for themselves? Do they not know how to search for

water or hunt or make shelter? According to the accounts of

Exodus it appears they either don’t know basic survival skills or

they have become brattish expecting God to just give them water

if they are thirsty. They are like a dumb sheep that follows a

shepherd expecting the shepherd to hand feed them all while

ignoring the plentitude of good grass at their feet and the crystal

clear stream just meters to their side.

Their whining and complaining towards God after He quite

literally rescued them from complete slavery irked Him so much

that He punished them to live in the wilderness for forty years. Oh

you’re going to complain about a lack of water and threaten to kill

my prophet Moses? Fine, you’re grounded. No promise land filled

with milk and honey for you for forty years. Congratulations,

instead of thanking me for rescuing you from totalitarianism, you

complain because you find yourself in a wilderness, your reward

is forty years of more wilderness. Play stupid games; win stupid


Maybe this way the forty years of suffering will teach them

how to endure suffering instead of complaining, and the

endurance will generate within them character so that they may

became a sturdy people, and their character produce hope and

joy which recognizes that God is present and wants to provide.

And eventually that does happen, for after forty years of suffering

in the wilderness, God’s people came out stronger.




The trouble is all they had to do was ask God and He would

provide. In fact, even though they complained, because God did

not want them to die He did provide water. But because the

people decided to test God and quarrel with Moses to the point

that they were threatening Moses’ life, God punished them and

even named the location two different names: Meribah which

means quarrel and Massah which means test.


If only the people of God during the days of Massah was like

the women at the well. Now that is a person who has character

and is made of sturdier stuff. Do you ever wonder why she was at

the well all alone instead of during the usual hour when all the

towns people would gather to get water. Traditionally, one would

get water during the morning or evening when it was cool. But this

lady, alone, is getting water during the sixth hour which to us is

high noon, during one of the hottest hours of the day, a time when

it is guaranteed she would not trouble others. She must be of

sturdy stuff if she gets waters during high noon. But again, why

does she wait till then? It is because, as Jesus noted, she has

committed the sin of divorcing multiple times, remarrying four

times, and is now staying with a man whom she isn’t even

married to. Because of this she is a stain upon the city Sychar, so

she gets her water at a different hour.

Yet when Jesus notes this she isn’t perturbed, she knows

what she is doing is wrong, but is filled with joy. She is a sinner,

and she owns up to that, but she still has faith in the coming

Messiah. So when Jesus says that He is the Messiah and that He

has living water which will quench all thirst, she runs to the city

and proclaims the Good News. Christ has come, and I believe this




because he knows my sins. This lady has suffered long and she

has endured this self-inflicted suffering. Yet, this endurance has

produced character within her as she does not hide from her sins,

and this character has produced hope which exploded out of her

one Jesus proclaimed Himself Christ to her. She was so excited

that she left her water jar behind. The Israelites complain over a

lack of water, but this Samaritan is so happy with this good news

that she leaves behind her precious water.

Unlike the Israelites of old whose bellies dictated their faith

and was most concerned with quenching their thirst, this lady

found something more precious than water. She found a source

of living water that quenched her thirst far better than any natural

water on earth. She was so filled with life even the townspeople

believed her testimony. She was practically shouting for joy the

rock of her salvation. And we go round circle, back to Psalm 95.

Oh come, let us sing to the Lord; let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our

salvation! Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving; let us make a joyful

noise to him with songs of praise! For the Lord is a great God, and a great

King above all gods. In his hand are the depths of the earth; the heights of the

mountains are his also. The sea is his, for he made it, and his hands formed the

dry land. Oh come, let us worship and bow down; let us kneel before the Lord,

our Maker! For he is our God, and we are the people of his pasture, and the

sheep of his hand. (Psalm 95: 1-7a)

Let us pray,

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit; as

it was in the beginning, is now, and will be forever. Amen.

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