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Today if You Hear the Voice of the Lord > Harden not Your Hearts

The Woman at the Well and an Open Heart 3/19/2020 2:10:55 PM

Posted by
Lindsay Kresge

Psalm 95

O come, let us sing to the Lord;
    let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation!

Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving;
    let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise!

For the Lord is a great God,
    and a great King above all gods.

In his hand are the depths of the earth;
    the heights of the mountains are his also.

The sea is his, for he made it,
    and the dry land, which his hands have formed.

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.

O that today you would listen to his voice!

    Do not harden your hearts, as at Meribah,
    as on the day at Massah in the wilderness,

when your ancestors tested me,
    and put me to the proof, though they had seen my work.

10 For forty years I loathed that generation
    and said, “They are a people whose hearts go astray,
    and they do not regard my ways.”

11 Therefore in my anger I swore,
    “They shall not enter my rest.

Other Scriptures

Exodus 17:1-7

John 4:5-42

“Today if you hear the voice of the Lord, harden not your hearts.”

In the past I often attended morning prayers at Daylesford Abbey in Paoli.  Morning prayers always included chanting Psalm 95 and the refrain was “Today if you hear the voice of the Lord, harden not your hearts.” Based on verses 7-8.  This refrain is a perfect reminder at the beginning of each day to listen for God. 

Psalm 95:8-9 refers to our reading from Exodus.  The Exodus reading relates one of the times the Israelites heard God’s voice and harden their hearts.

Exodus 17:1-7

The Israelites were wandering in the desert and they had run out of water.  This was a real and urgent need.  God had performed amazing miracles to free the Israelites from slavery.  God provided daily manna and quail.  God travelled with them as a cloud by day and a burning torch at night. Yet in this moment of need the Israelites had forgotten about God’s past faithfulness and had hardened their hearts toward God. 

This took place at Massah and Meribah where the Israelites quarreled and tested God.  They cried out “Is the Lord among us or not?”  Their hearts were as hard as the rock at Horeb from which God brought forth water.

I imagine we have all done that, asked ourselves “where is God?”  We forget all that God has done for us in the past.  We forget all the times God has been with us.  And we harden our hearts to God.  Reminding ourselves daily, “Today if you hear the voice of the Lord, harden not our hearts.” is a holy practice.

Gospel

Our gospel reading is the story of the woman at the well.  She hears the voice of the Lord and rather than shutting down she keeps her heart open. 

The woman at the well needs water.  She also needs something more.  She went to the well in the heat of the day not expecting to meet anyone, yet she encountered Jesus, the Lord.  This Jewish man spoke with her asking for a drink of water.  This was highly inappropriate.  She responded with something like, “You’re talking to me?”

Yes, the Lord was speaking to this woman and God had a gift for her.  She needed water and God offered her something different, something more than she had expected, something more that she had ever imagined.  Living Water.  When everything else in life might fail or fall apart living water sustains.  But the woman misunderstood. 

Then Jesus confronts her with the truth.  Probably a truth she did not want to hear.  A truth about her relationships with others.  She was alone at the well, without the companionship of other women.  She’d had five husbands who had either died or divorced her.  Her life was difficult.  Her relationships were broken. 

Then Jesus spoke a second truth to her.  Her relationship with God was also broken.

The voice of the Lord had two difficult words for the woman, and she didn’t run away. She didn’t close off her heart. She persisted.  And she received the gift that Jesus had offered.  Living water gushing up.  She ran and called to those in her village, “Come and see this man who told me everything.” 

I’m not so sure an encounter with someone who could tell me everything about myself would be a cause for joy.  But this woman was confronted the hard truth of her life which could have led her into despair.  Instead it led to hope.  “Could this be the Messiah?”

What word does God have for you today?  Is God speaking words that tempt you to shut down, run away, harden your heart?  Words of truth that are almost too much to bear? Or is God speaking to you words of comfort and encouragement? 

Listen with an open heart, maybe the gift God has for you today is hope.  Hope in the midst of a bad day, illness, tough and scary times,

“Today if you hear the voice of the Lord, harden not your hearts.”

This week while we have extra time on our hands, I encourage you daily to listen for God’s word and keep an open heart.

 

 

 

 



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