Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts...Psalm 95:7b-8a
God speaks to us in this Psalm to tell us what it is that He essentially wants in worship, what makes worship true worship. It is that today we would listen to His voice! That is what He wants. He wants us to heed his voice--not just come together.
It is commendable for people to come to a church service, but the value of it soon vanishes if all we do is sit while our thoughts are elsewhere. The central fact of worship is to listen to the Word of God, the voice of God. That is why the exposition of Scripture must be the central thing in public worship. Those churches that have departed from this are making a travesty of worship. Worship must include listening to the voice of God, hearing what He has to say, and letting His Word correct our attitudes and our reactions. I wish it were possible for each of you to watch people during the hour of worship. Externally it looks as though you are all paying attention. You sit there quietly, with rapt, turned-up faces, your eyes open and staring straight ahead, apparently attracted by what the Word of God is saying. But having sat there myself, I know it is not always true. Some of you are playing golf. Others of you are rehearsing a business deal. Some of you are planning a trip. Some are going over a conversation you had two days ago. It would be fascinating at the end of a service to know where everybody has been! But God is desirous that whatever else you may do in a service, when His Word is speaking, listen! And not only listen, hearken! Hearken means to heed the Word, to do something about it, to let it really change you.
Hardening the heart is the exact opposite of hearkening to His voice. If you hearken to His voice, you are not hardening your heart. If you harden your hearts you are not hearkening to His voice. The two are mutually exclusive. He gives us an example of what He means by
hardening the heart. It occurred shortly after the Israelites had come through the Red Sea and had journeyed only a week or two into the wilderness beyond. They came to a place where there was no water, and they all became thirsty. They had hardly had time to become very thirsty when the leaders of the people came to Moses and began to complain.
What are you doing? Leading us out into this wilderness to perish? Where is this God that is supposed to be taking care of us? Why hasn't He provided water for us? They demanded that God prove Himself again.
That, says God, is what it means to harden your heart. This is the problem God has with us. It disturbs God that people can come week after week and hear stirring and glowing reports of what He is doing in many lives and see the evident change that has come to many and experience the release and freedom He is bringing about in many hearts, and still, the minute anything goes wrong with them, they are ready to fall apart.
Lord, we pray that You will help us to hearken, to not be like the fathers of old who resisted You, vexed you, and grieved you for forty years
Besides church, are we purposefully seeking quiet times and spaces when we can pay attention and hearken to God's word letting Him speak peace into our souls?