The Callousness of Worship

Bible Book: Psalms  95
Subject: Worship; Hard Hearts; Hearts, Hardened
Series: Worship

Our Sunday morning theme in recent weeks has been “Worship.” And we have dealt with this subject by looking at “The Concept Of Worship” from Genesis 22. We’ve considered “A Call To Worship” in Exodus 34, and “Some Components Of Worship In Isaiah 6.”

Last week, we saw “The Congregation That Worships” from 2 Chronicles 29. The Bible says in 2 Chronicles 29:28…

(2 Chronicles 29:28) And all the congregation worshipped, and the singers sang, and the trumpeters sounded: and all this continued until the burnt offering was finished.

This morning, it’s on my heart to talk about the opposite end of the spectrum. We’ve talked about the congregation that worships, but what about the congregation or the congregants that are not worshipping because their hearts have become hardened? From Psalm 95, I want to talk about “The Callousness Of Worship.”

The first church that I pastored was a bi-vocational situation, and in addition to pasturing, I worked at a pallet factory called Swift Creek Forest Products, and I mainly operated a pneumatic nailing machine and performed other tasks associated with manufacturing 100 or 200 wooden pallets every day. I usually wore work gloves, but even wearing gloves there were some days that I would come home with so much wood resin and dirt and grease on my hands that I would have to pour bleach over my hands to get them clean. And then there were the calluses. When I first started working there, I would get blisters, and those could be so painful. But over time, my hands toughened to the nature of the work, and I developed calluses on my hands from the ongoing exposure to the wood and the hammer and the machinery and the tools.

A similar thing can happen to our hearts as we are regularly exposed to church experience and areas of service and other believers and preaching and teaching and singing. We can become calloused and our hearts can become hardened to worship so that we are unaffected by elements that used to touch our hearts.

The American Heritage Dictionary defines callous as…

cal·lous (adj). 1. Having calluses; toughened: callous skin on the elbow. 2. Emotionally hardened; unfeeling: a callous indifference to the suffering of others. --cal“lous·ness n.

In the context of Psalm 95, we can see the callousness of worship.

In “The Treasury of David,” Charles Spurgeon said…

This Psalm has no title, and all we know of its authorship is that Paul quotes it as “in David” (Hebrews 4:7). It is true that this may merely signify that it is to be found in the collection known as David’s Psalms; but if such were the Apostle’s meaning it would have been more natural for him to have written, “saying in the Psalms;” we therefore incline to the belief that David was the actual author of this poem. It is in its original a truly Hebrew song, directed both in its exhortation and warning to the Jewish people, but we have the warrant of the Holy Spirit in the epistle to the Hebrews for using its appeals and entreaties when pleading with Gentile believers. It is a psalm of invitation to worship. It has about it a ring like that or church bells, and like the bells it sounds both merrily and solemnly, at first ringing out a lively peal, and then dropping into a funeral knell as if tolling at the funeral of the generation which perished in the wilderness. We will call it THE PSALM OF THE PROVOCATION.

But the elements of this psalm lead us beyond the callousness of worship.

I. These Words Of Wonder Should Lead Us Beyond The Callousness Of Worship (vs. 1-5)

A. Notice The Wonder Of God’s Deliverance

(Psalms 95:1) O come, let us sing unto the LORD: let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation.

1. There Is A Fortress Wrapped Up In His Deliverance

rock – Hebrew 6697. tsuwr, tsoor; or tsur, tsoor; from H6696; prop. a cliff (or sharp rock, as compressed); gen. a rock or boulder; fig. a refuge; also an edge (as precipitous):--edge, X (mighty) God (one), rock, X sharp, stone, X strength, X strong.

Like the crevice at Caesar’s Head State Park and like Moses in the cleft of the rock, God is our “rock of ages.”

“Let me hide myself in Thee.”

2. There Is A Freedom Wrapped Up In His Deliverance

salvation – Hebrew 3468. yesha', yeh'-shah; or yesha', yay'-shah; from H3467; liberty, deliverance, prosperity:--safety, salvation, saving.

He not only closes us in with safety, but He liberates us with salvation.

B. Notice The Wonder Of God’s Dimensions

1. His Height Is Great

(Psalms 95:3) For the LORD is a great God, and a great King above all gods.

great – Hebrew 1419. gadowl, gaw-dole'; or (short.) gadol, gaw-dole'; from H1431; great (in any sense); hence older; also insolent:-- + aloud, elder (-est), + exceeding (-ly), + far, (man of) great (man, matter, thing, -er, -ness), high, long, loud, mighty, more, much, noble, proud thing, X sore, (X) very.

He is the elder One, the exceeding One, the exalted One, the excellent One.

God – Hebrew 410. 'el, ale; short. from H352; strength; as adj. mighty; espec. the Almighty (but used also of any deity):--God (god), X goodly, X great, idol, might (-y one), power, strong. Comp. names in "-el."

above – (same as) Hebrew 5920. 'al, al; from H5927; prop. the top; spec. the Highest (i.e. God); also (adv.) aloft, to Jehovah:--above, high, most High.

gods – Hebrew 430. 'elohiym, el-o-heem'; plur. of H433; gods in the ordinary sense; but spec. used (in the plur. thus, esp. with the art.) of the supreme God; occasionally applied by way of deference to magistrates; and sometimes as a superlative:--angels, X exceeding, God (gods) (-dess, -ly), X (very) great, judges, X mighty.

There’s elohim (gods in the ordinary sense), and then there’s Elohim (the supreme God)!

2. His Handiwork Is Global

(Psalms 95:4-5) In his hand are the deep places of the earth: the strength of the hills is his also. {5} The sea is his, and he made it: and his hands formed the dry land.

Listen to the Barnes’ Notes commentary on this verse…

[In his hand] In his power, or under his control as his own. That is, he so possesses all things that they can be claimed by no other. His right over them is absolute and entire.

[Are the deep places of the earth] The word used here - ‎mechqaar ‎- means the interior, the inmost depth; that which is “searched out,” from - ‎chaaqar ‎- to search, search out, explore. The primary idea is that of searching by boring or digging; and the allusion here is to the parts of the earth which could be explored only by digging - as in mining, or sinking shafts in the earth. The meaning is that all those places which lie beyond the ordinary power of observation in man are in the hand of God. He knows them as clearly as those which are most plain to human view; he possesses or owns them as his own as really as he does those which are on the surface of the ground.

[The strength of the hills is his also] Margin, “The heights of the hills are his.” The word rendered “strength” - means properly swiftness or speed in running; then, weariness, wearisome labor; and hence, wealth obtained by labor; “treasures.” Here the expression means “treasures of the mountains;” that is, treasures obtained out of the mountains, the precious metals, etc. All this belongs to God. As he is the Maker of these hills, and of all that they contain, the absolute proprietorship is in him.

II. These Words Of Welcome Should Lead Us Beyond The Callousness Of Worship (vs. 6-7)

A. These Words Of Welcome Are Repeated

1. It Is Repeated With Different Terms

a. There Are Multiple Terms That Express The Approach Of Worship

(Psalms 95:1-2) O come, let us sing unto the LORD: let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation. {2} Let us come before his presence with thanksgiving, and make a joyful noise unto him with psalms.

(Psalms 95:6) O come, let us worship and bow down: let us kneel before the LORD our maker.

come (vs. 1) – Hebrew 3212. yalak, yaw-lak'; a prim. root [comp. H1980]; to walk (lit. or fig.); causat. to carry (in various senses):-- X again, away, bear, bring, carry (away), come (away), depart, flow, + follow (-ing), get (away, hence, him), (cause to, make) go (away, -ing, -ne, one's way, out), grow, lead (forth), let down, march, prosper, + pursue, cause to run, spread, take away ([-journey]), vanish, (cause to) walk (-ing), wax, X be weak.

come (vs. 2) – Hebrew 6923. qadam, kaw-dam'; a prim. root; to project (one self), i.e. precede; hence to anticipate, hasten, meet (usually for help):--come (go, [flee]) before, + disappoint, meet, prevent.

come (vs. 6) – Hebrew 935. bow', bo; a prim. root; to go or come (in a wide variety of applications):--abide, apply, attain, X be, befall, + besiege, bring (forth, in, into, to pass), call, carry, X certainly, (cause, let, thing for) to come (against, in, out, upon, to pass), depart, X doubtless again, + eat, + employ, (cause to) enter (in, into, -tering, -trance, -try), be fallen, fetch, + follow, get, give, go (down, in, to war), grant, + have, X indeed, [in-]vade, lead, lift [up], mention, pull in, put, resort, run (down), send, set, X (well) stricken [in age], X surely, take (in), way.

b. There Are Multiple Terms That Express The Act Of Worship

(Psalms 95:6) O come, let us worship and bow down: let us kneel before the LORD our maker.

worship – Hebrew 7812. shachah, shaw-khaw'; a prim. root; to depress, i.e. prostrate (espec. reflex. in homage to royalty or God):--bow (self) down, crouch, fall down (flat), humbly beseech, do (make) obeisance, do reverence, make to stoop, worship.

bow down – Hebrew 3766. kara', kaw-rah'; a prim. root; to bend the knee; by impl. to sink, to prostrate:--bow (down, self), bring down (low), cast down, couch, fall, feeble, kneeling, sink, smite (stoop) down, subdue, X very.

kneel – Hebrew 1288. barak, baw-rak'; a prim. root; to kneel; by impl. to bless God (as an act of adoration), and (vice-versa) man (as a benefit); also (by euphemism) to curse (God or the king, as treason):-- X abundantly, X altogether, X at all, blaspheme, bless, congratulate, curse, X greatly, X indeed, kneel (down), praise, salute, X still, thank.

2. It Is Repeated With Definite Tenderness

The “O” seems to be unexpressed in the Hebrew, but I’m glad the translators have included this word of passion and emotion and tenderness, because it allows us to see that this is more than the demand of the psalmist. It shows us the desire of the psalmist that there be a corporate response to who God is and what He’s done.

B. These Words Of Welcome Are Relational

1. We See The Relationship Of Creation

(Psalms 95:6) O come, let us worship and bow down: let us kneel before the LORD our maker.

maker – Hebrew 6213. 'asah, aw-saw'; a prim. root; to do or make, in the broadest sense and widest application

2. We See The Relationship Of Connection

(Psalms 95:7) For he is our God; and we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand. To day if ye will hear his voice,

God – Hebrew 430. 'elohiym, el-o-heem'; plur. of H433; gods in the ordinary sense; but spec. used (in the plur. thus, esp. with the art.) of the supreme God; occasionally applied by way of deference to magistrates; and sometimes as a superlative:--angels, X exceeding, God (gods) (-dess, -ly), X (very) great, judges, X mighty.

He’s not just the mighty Elohim, but He’s my Elohim.

Barnes’ Notes explained these relational phrases…

[And we are the people of his pasture] whom he has recognized as his flock; to whom he sustains the relation of shepherd; who feeds and protects us as the shepherd does his flock.

[And the sheep of his hand] The flock that is guided and fed by his hand.

III. These Words Of Warning Should Lead Us Beyond The Callousness Of Worship (vs. 8-11)

A. The Psalmist Mentions The Disturbing Carnality In The Wilderness

(Psalms 95:8-10) Harden not your heart, as in the provocation, and as in the day of temptation in the wilderness: {9} When your fathers tempted me, proved me, and saw my work. {10} Forty years long was I grieved with this generation, and said, It is a people that do err in their heart, and they have not known my ways:

Albert Barnes explained in his comments on Hebrews 3…

[As in the provocation] Literally, “in the embittering” – (‎en ‎‎too ‎‎parapikrasmoo). Then it means what embitters or provokes the mind – as disobedience. Here it refers to what they did to “embitter” the mind of God against them; that is to the course of conduct which was adopted to provoke him to wrath.

tempted – Hebrew 5254. nacah, naw-saw'; a prim. root; to test; by impl. to attempt:--adventure, assay, prove, tempt, try.

proved – Hebrew 974. bachan, baw-khan'; a prim. root; to test (espec. metals); gen. and fig. to investigate:--examine, prove, tempt, try (trial).

1. They Had Notable Demonstrations Of The Work Of God

saw my work

saw – Hebrew 7200. ra'ah, raw-aw'; a prim. root; to see, lit. or fig. (in numerous applications, direct and implied, trans., intrans. and causat.):--advise self, appear, approve, behold, X certainly, consider, discern, (make to) enjoy, have experience, gaze, take heed, X indeed, X joyfully, lo, look (on, one another, one on another, one upon another, out, up, upon), mark, meet, X be near, perceive, present, provide, regard, (have) respect, (fore-, cause to, let) see (-r, -m, one another), shew (self), X sight of others, (e-) spy, stare, X surely, X think, view, visions.

work – Hebrew 6467. po'al, po'-al; from H6466; an act or work (concr.):--act, deed, do, getting, maker, work.

2. They Had No Discernment Of The Ways Of God

they have not known my ways

There was no God-consciousness!

known – Hebrew 3045. yada', yaw-dah'; a prim. root; to know (prop. to ascertain by seeing); used in a great variety of senses, fig., lit., euphem. and infer. (including observation, care, recognition, and causat. instruction, designation, punishment, etc.) [as follow]:--acknowledge, acquaintance (-ted with), advise, answer, appoint, assuredly, be aware, [un-] awares, can [-not], certainly, for a certainty, comprehend, consider, X could they, cunning, declare, be diligent, (can, cause to) discern, discover, endued with, familiar friend, famous, feel, can have, be [ig-] norant, instruct, kinsfolk, kinsman, (cause to, let, make) know, (come to give, have, take) knowledge, have [knowledge], (be, make, make to be, make self) known, + be learned, + lie by man, mark, perceive, privy to, X prognosticator, regard, have respect, skilful, shew, can (man of) skill, be sure, of a surety, teach, (can) tell, understand, have [understanding], X will be, wist, wit, wot.

ways – Hebrew 1870. derek, deh'-rek; from H1869; a road (as trodden); fig. a course of life or mode of action, often adv.:--along, away, because of, + by, conversation, custom, [east-] ward, journey, manner, passenger, through, toward, [high-] [path-] way [-side], whither [-soever].

B. The Psalmist Mentions The Divine Conclusion In The Wilderness

(Psalms 95:10-11) Forty years long was I grieved with this generation, and said, It is a people that do err in their heart, and they have not known my ways: {11} Unto whom I sware in my wrath that they should not enter into my rest.

grieved – Hebrew 6962. quwt, koot; a prim. root; prop. to cut off, i.e. (fig.) detest:--be grieved, lothe self.

1. God Declared The Problems Of These People

err- Hebrew 8582. ta'ah, taw-aw'; a prim. root; to vacillate (waver), i.e. reel or stray (lit. or fig.); also caus. of both:--(cause to) go astray, deceive, dissemble, (cause to, make to) err, pant, seduce, (make to) stagger, (cause to) wander, be out of the way.

2. God Declared The Punishment Of These People

they should not enter into my rest

rest – Hebrew 4496. menuwchah, men-oo-khaw'; or menuchah, men-oo-khaw'; fem. of H4495; repose or (adv.) peacefully; fig. consolation (spec. matrimony); hence (concr.) an abode:--comfortable, ease, quiet, rest (-ing place), still.


Over the years, I have had people, especially older people, explain to me that the reason they didn’t come to the altar was because they had bad knees. Perhaps they had gone through knee replacement surgery, or perhaps they had arthritis in their knees, or perhaps their knees had become stiff from aging. But I’m really not as concerned about stiff knees preventing you from coming to the altar as I am concerned about hard hearts preventing us from worshipping God. Have you become calloused in your worship? Let God soften your heart with the lotion of His word and the warmth of His presence!