What does it say?
Psalm 95 is attributed to David when verse 8 is quoted in Hebrews 4:7. The occasion is unknown in terms of the history of David’s life.
Tradition considers David to be the author of Psalm 97, though this is not specifically given in the title in English Bibles. The psalm is very similar to others by David and the tradition of his authorship is so strong that translations into some languages give David as the author in the title. There is no indication of the occasion of the writing of Psalm 97.
As in the previous psalm, Psalm 98 has a strong tradition of being a psalm of David, though the title simply says “Psalm,” the only one with this simple title. It is a song of victory and praise, applicable to any time and culture.
Very similar to the other psalms we are considering today, Psalm 99 celebrates the kingship and sovereignty of Jehovah. So similar in tone and structure to the others, this psalm also has the tradition of being a psalm of David.
What does it mean?
Though the occasion of writing Psalm 95 is unknown, it is clear that the meaning is to focus Israel on the mistake of hardening their heart in the wilderness. This is certainly clear from how the psalm is quoted in Hebrews 4.
Psalms 97-99 are meant to lead and guide God’s people in worship and praise. Psalm 97 celebrates God’s rule over his creation, while Psalm 98 calls all creation to praise him and give him glory. Psalm 99 celebrate God’s sovereign rule over all.
There is never an occasion or cause inappropriate to worship God and glorify his name, whether in victory or defeat, whether in good times or bad. While different generations often engage in what some call “worship war,” arguing for or against a specific style of music, the Book of Psalms stands as our guide in how and for what to praise and worship God. The musical style is irrelevant and we should be thankful that God did not preserve the music that originally accompanied these psalms. This is what should encourage us to sing unto the Lord a new song (Psa 98:1).
How will I respond?
How can I creatively praise God today? If musically inclined, I might be inspired to write a simple melody to one of these psalms to music. Or, I might be inspired to write a psalm of my own that would be a contemporary expression of one of the themes explored in today’s reading. If nothing else, I will choose one of these psalms to pray back to God.