“the sheep of his hand”
The image which lies beneath the verse 8 is the same image as Psalm 23: The LORDis my Shepherd. It is an image associated with the story of the Exodus. God leads his people out of slavery to freedom in the flight from Egypt and the crossing of the Red Sea. The LORD gives the gracious gift of the law at Mount Sinai.
There then follows the years of wanderings in the wilderness. The LORD as Shepherd is very present to guide and to provide. Guidance comes not only through the law which establishes the lifestyle of the community. Guidance comes through the pillar of cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night, in the midst of the people when they are at rest and going ahead of the people when it is time to move on.
The LORD as Shepherd provides in the wilderness, where food is not regularly available, through water flowing from the rock, through birds landing in the camp and most of all through the gift of manna, the food from heaven, daily bread.
As we reflect on Psalm 95 today, we thank God that he is our shepherd: that he guides and provides in different ways in our own lives, in our families and in the different church commuinities we are part of. We thank God for his guidance and provision for this Diocese of Sheffield over the last one hundred years, that the LORD has been and remains our shepherd. Like the people of Israel, the calling of the church is to find her way in the wilderness of this world, to remain together, to live in God’s way in challenging times.
Remember that guiding and providing today. Look back and give thanks and rejoice. But remember the story and the image of the Exodus, present in the first verse of psalm (the Rock) and this verse. Psalm 95 has yet more to teach us, rooted in the Exodus story as we journey on.