Thank you to George Munkenbeck for this multi-part study!
Today we look at Psalm 95 and another famous Thanksgiving hymn!

Today’s Verse: Psalm 95:1-6

Oh come, let us sing to the Lord! Let us shout joyfully to the Rock of our salvation. Let us come before His presence with thanksgiving; Let us shout joyfully to Him with psalms. For the Lord is the great God, and the great King above all gods. In His hand are the deep places of the earth; the heights of the hills 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. (NKJV)

Discussion

The first six verses of Psalm 95 are meant as a hymn for public worship. This portion of the Psalm is still found as a call to worship today. In this portion the psalmist works hard to stir up the congre- gation and for that matter all others to publically worship and praise God. This Psalm though not titled or ascribed, is often attributed to David and uses the Temple confessional offering as a Thanksgiving to God. In this Psalm God is named in the Hebrew version in three ways that describe His characteristics. As in all name use in the Bible they have special meanings. God is –

El, a name that honors God’s strength. This comes from a root word meaning “might, strength, power” and is used in the Bible over 250 times.

Jehovah, a name that honors God’s very being and essence. This is the form of the Hebrew YHWH and the pronounceable version is written as Yahweh. This translates into English as Lord or Master and is first found in Genesis 4:2, and is a reference to His divine nature. There is still some controversy today on exactly how this was pronounced in Hebrew as written Hebrew does not use vowels and in the third century it was ruled as a word that should not be pronounced so as not to take the Lord’s name in vain, so the original pronunciation has been lost.

And Elohim, a name that honors God’s covenant relationship to mankind. This is the plural of El and is the name used for God the Creator and is found in Genesis 1:1 and Psalm 19:1.

The first two verses are an invitation to enthusiastic and exuberant praise in worship because this praise is warranted as God is the sovereign Creator (V. 3). In verses 4 and 5, the psalmist uses the opposite extremes of dry land and sea to include all things on the earth. Verse 6 tells us that the proper way to worship is to approach that worship in humility and supplication.

Hymn: Now Thank We All Our God (#102 in the hymnal)

This hymn was originally written in German by Martin Rinkart as a two-stanza family table grace during the Thirty Years War (1618-1648). The original printing and text have disappeared so the date given for this hymn is usually given as 1663 which is the date for the oldest existing printed copy of the words. The inspiration for this was Sirach 50:22-24 one of the books of the Apocrypha. The hymn was translated into English in 1858 by Catherine Winkworth and it is this translation that entered the Methodist Hymnal in 1881. The tune we sing the words to is entitled “Nun danket” was originally written in 1647 by Johann Crueger and the tune was harmonized by Felix Mendelssohn in 1840 and it is in this form we sing it today.