On more than one occasion in my life I have been caught up in the excitement and enthusiasm of a crowd of people gathered together in a football or baseball stadium or in a basketball arena as we cheer on our favorite team. It may not be anything that you would do if you were sitting in front of your TV screen at home, but when you come into the company of others who have gathered inside the place where the game is being played you find yourself getting caught up in the atmosphere of what is going on.
Sometimes a voice will come over the sound system saying something like, let's make some noise. Perhaps the words defense will flash across the scoreboard, and before you know it everybody in the arena is standing on their feet rhythmically shouting out the words defense at the top of their lungs. I have even seen it happen that some people do not want to shout or cheer for the home team that is playing, but others in the crowd will stand up in front of them and start waving their hands and cheering and urging everybody around them to do likewise. Before long a whole section is on its feet cheering and shouting and stomping their feet and clapping their hands all because one exuberant fan had encouraged everybody else to join in.
Let that image of people coming into a sports event all pumped up and ready to cheer for their favorite team serve as the best way to understand what is being asked for in Psalm 95. Imagine that you are on your way to church one Sunday morning and as you approach the building you can feel a sense of excitement in the air. The closer you get to the church building the more clearly you can see the crowds of people that are gathering for the service that is about to begin.
Then you can hear the sounds from inside the church drifting outside through the open doors and windows. Someone inside the church stands up and begins to say to everyone who has gathered that day, "O come let us sing unto the Lord, let us kneel before the Lord our maker." Then someone else says, "The Lord is a great God and a great King above all gods." Finally the shouts reach a fever pitch as the whole congregation says together, "O come, let us worship and bow down, let us kneel before the Lord our maker."
That is the background for Psalms 95. It is a psalm that tries to describe what was happening in Israel as people started approaching the house of the Lord in Jerusalem. One person would cry out, "O come, let us sing unto the Lord." In response to that another person would say, "Let us come before his presence with thanksgiving and make a joyful noise unto him with psalms." Then together they would all sing out, "O come, let us worship and bow down, let us kneel before the Lord our maker." In other words, Psalms 95was a congregational call to worship; it was one believer telling another believer that it was now time to celebrate the God we serve through songs and shouts of praise.