The verse before the gospel today is very familiar. It comes from Psalm 95 and if I only see the first clause, I can always recite the second. If today you hear God’s voice…harden not your hearts. I usually pass it by making a quick note to myself of the meaning, i.e. “Don’t get mad at God for anything that happens” or “Don’t forget that God always loves you.” This morning I decided to investigate because I didn’t remember why the psalmist was warning the people in that way. Here’s what I found in a commentary.
The experience of the Hebrew people at the oasis of Meribah was one of those historical markers in their journey from Egypt. The waters of Meribah were bitter (which is the meaning of the name) and they also complained to God bitterly that they were brought out into the desert to die. In the record and tradition of the people a miracle was performed and the bitter waters were turned to sweet, drinkable water. They never forgot what happened, but they also failed the same test of trust over and over again. Meribah became a kind of sign to them of their failure and God’s provision. (Ancient Songs Sung Anew, p. 241)
Thus, I guess I wasn’t far off in my assessment of the meaning of that verse, but now I might recall the whole thing myself before I get all huffy when a situation seems unfair. May it be so – for all of us!