Psalm 95:6-7 – O 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.
I own 30 stuffed sheep of varying sizes. That’s not a statement many people can share. Many years ago, I encouraged a small child to represent the shepherds at Jesus’ birth manger by holding a borrowed stuffed sheep. What began as one large, fluffy toy used in a children’s nativity program has since grown into a full herd.
I find it interesting that I purchased neither the first sheep nor the 29 that followed; every single one was gifted to me. It seems many people own a stuff sheep at some point, but not many have a use for them on a regular basis. Seeing a lone sheep used in the worship of Jesus caused a sort of domino effect. Many people determined that more is better… and here I am, 30 sheep later.
I have to acknowledge that a flock of stuffed sheep can be an impressive and effective visual for worshipping people. A field of soft white wooliness splashed with the occasional black face and legs is enough to warm a solemn room and create an atmosphere worthy of smiles. Without much prompting, one might easily see how the different shapes, sizes and colors accurately symbolize God’s people. A few well-placed words within a sermon might bring to mind the significant and dependent relationship sheep have with their shepherd. While sitting within the community of faith, one may feel the safety and comfort that comes from being numbered among the flock. Even with stuffed sheep, a creative imagination might actually hear a gentle baaaaah coming from the herd as if the sheep have something to add to the worship of God.
“Come, let us worship and bow down!” begins the 95th Psalm. The simplistic beauty of the psalmist’s words calls God’s people to gather – to herd up. The invitation to “come” indicates that the worship of God is not something to be done alone. While there is a time and a place for solitary adoration of God, this psalm calls for more. We are gently summoned to join the community. The strong beckoning is immediately re-emphasized in the words “let us” which again moves us into the collective. When it comes to praising our Lord and Shepherd, what may begin as one is much more poignant when it grows into a herd of worshippers.
In the Hebrew language, “worship” and “bow down” are almost the same in meaning. Emphasis through repetition is as effective in poetry as it is in collecting stuffed sheep. The psalmist appeals to us for worship followed by worship. More is better:
let us (all of us)
worship (adore God)
and bow down (humble ourselves in worship).
I can almost hear the shepherd boy David singing his mantra to his sheep: Everyone, all of us, worship and humbly worship! As a sheep, I am comforted by the song and feel a stirring within me to baaaah right along.
May my Lenten devotion to the Good Shepherd re-emphasize my commitment to the worship of God among the People of God.
PRAYER FROM PSALM 95
Creator God, you are my Lord, my God, my Shepherd, and I am your sheep. Call my heart into your flock, and receive my grateful and faithful heart as I live each day as an act of worship. Amen.