Next weekend, I will be gathering with a few men from our church to instruct them on preaching. I have been trying to emphasize the role of the Holy Spirit in preparation and in delivery, and that many models of preparation and preaching inadvertently steal opportunities from the Spirit. Just this morning, I had a beautiful example of the Spirit’s grace in my preparation. I am preaching Hebrews 10:19-39 this coming Lord’s Day, and it took me several days to wrap my mind around its argument and how it coheres together in order to be able to have an outline, a step that for me often comes quite quickly (by God’s grace.) I was beginning to fill out the body of my sermon and writing that there is a strong, communal or congregational emphasis in the book, such that when we get to Heb 9:24-25 (“do not give up meeting together”), this is not in any way a new idea, but merely one made more pointed and explicit. So I was thinking about Psalms which emphasize communal worship, certainly a prominent theme with dozens of examples. The verse that popped into my mind was “come let us worship and bow down.” I didn’t know where it was found, and so did a quick search. [If anyone knows where this is going already, bless you and your knowledge of the Psalms!] It was from Psalm 95.
I read Psalm 95:1-7 and thought, “this is a great example. I will probably use it.” And then I read the end of verse 7: “today if you hear his voice.” The verse that just “happened” to pop into my head (praise the Holy Spirit) is one that the author of Hebrews cites in chapter 3, a section immediately followed by a communal call to take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you, and “exhort one another” (v12-13). Is it possible that Psalm 95 lies more strongly in the background of Hebrews than commonly assumed? I don’t know. I don’t want to base my answer on my experience alone. But I am thankful for experiences like this, even if, at the end of the day, the only benefits are that 1) I see how closely woven together is the Lord’s word and 2) I experience the tender providences of God by His Holy Spirit in how he teaches me and causes me to experience His word in sermon preparation.