I was struck by a few verses in Psalm 95 on Wednesday morning. Psalm 95:6-9 reads this way: 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. Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts, as it 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.

Most English Bibles will probably have something at the start of Psalm 95 about singing songs of praise. That fits well with the words of verse 6 that invite or call us to worship and bow down before the Lord. The reason for that invitation seems straightforward enough in the first part of verse 7. The Lord is our God. We belong to Him as His sheep. The sense seems to be that worship should be a quick and easy response on our part when we recognize who God is and who we are. He is our Maker. We owe our lives to Him! But worship does not always seem to be an easy response. Why might that be the case?

That is where the rest of verse 7 and what follows got me thinking. The psalmist reflected on history with the awareness that God’s sheep had this habit of hardening their hearts. Verses 8 and 9 speak of events from the Exodus. People or I guess you could say sheep of God, ones who had experienced God’s deliverance out of Egypt and guidance by the pillar of cloud in the day and pillar of fire by night hardened their hearts to God. Instead of following the voice of the Good Shepherd, those sheep ran off and did their own thing. The psalmist is concerned that we might do the same thing. Though we are sheep who need the Good Shepherd, we are not immune to hearing problems that come from hard hearts.

The words of those verses made me pause and think about my heart and my hearing. Hearing God’s voice is directly tied to God’s Word. If I am going to hear His voice, I need to be in God’s Word. But a hard heart can be a barrier to that. A hard heart could develop from a distracted heart that is consumed with seeking something other than God and His Word. Or it could develop from a wounded or wounding heart that is not embracing God’s forgiveness. Or maybe it could grow out of a stubborn heart that does not want to submit to God and His Word. None of us benefit from hard hearts. Maybe we should also ask God to do an electrocardiogram of our hearts so that we can move away from hard hearts and embrace hearts that long for His voice through His Word.