Philippe R. Sterling
Some think of Thanksgiving as a time for eating: “Gobble 'till you wobble." For most it is a day for food, football, and family. For all it should be primarily a day of giving thanks. Of course, every day should be a day of giving thanks.
Psalm 100 is one of the most loved psalms of the Bible. It is only rivaled in popularity by Psalm 23. The heading tells us that it is a psalm for giving thanks. Other psalms focus on giving thanks, but this is the only psalm that is specifically labeled as a psalm for giving thanks.
Jews of ancient times used the psalm as a call to worship. Imagine that you are a Jew who lives in the Ancient Near East. The time for one of the three Jewish annual feasts has come. You make the pilgrimage from where you live to the holy city of Jerusalem. As you draw near to Jerusalem, you hear a joyful sound. As you reach the gates of the city, you see the source of this joyful sound. There are greeters there waiting for you. They do not greet you with a handshake, instead they lift a song. The song is Psalm 100 which functions as a call to worship. It is a twofold call. The first call is to come to worship with gladness. The second call is to enter into worship with gratitude.
COME TO WORSHIP WITH GLADNESS (100:1-3).
A. What to Do: Worship the Lord with gladness (1-2).
In verses one and two we are told to come to worship with gladness. This first call has three commands.
Shout joyfully to the LORD, all the earth.
The first command is this: “Shout.” You should not come to worship as if you are attending a funeral. When you come before God, you ought to come before him with a joyful shout of praise.
I've been to professional sporting events and I've seen the emotion people express when someone makes a good play. They shout with joy. There is something wrong if you know who God is and what God has done for you and you can't open your mouth and shout joyfully. Something ought to well up in your heart and overflow in a shout of joy to the Lord.
Serve the LORD with gladness;
Then verse two says “Serve.” Serve is a synonym for worship. To serve the Lord is to worship the Lord. The emphasis of the word here, "serve," means that God expects you to be an active participant in worship. Worship is not a spectator sport. You have a personal responsibility to offer your service of worship to the Lord.
Come before Him with joyful singing.
The third command is “Come.” This is a divine invitation. God invites you to come to worship him. God wants your presence, fellowship, and communion. That's the privilege of worship.
God says, "Come into my presence." And He has one stipulation when you come, “Come before Him with joyful singing.” God doesn’t care if you can’t sing. I thank God for musically gifted people, but don't let singers do your worshiping for you. This is not a show for somebody to entertain you. These people on the platform are exhorting you to join in the praises of the living God. If you know what the Lord has done for you, you might not be a talented singer, but you ought to sing. Come before Him with joyful singing.
B. Why Do It: Because the Lord is God (3).
Know that the LORD Himself is God;
Verses one and two say if you're going to worship you've got to put your feelings into it: joy and gladness. Now verse three says that worship isn't just about emotions, you need to know something. The psalmist says if you're going to worship God, you need to know who He is.
There are a few things you need to know about God. You need to know that God is God alone. The title “LORD” is translated from the verb “to be.” This is Yahweh, the self-existent or eternal One, the “I AM WHO I AM” revealed to Moses at the burning bush. Yahweh is God’s covenant name; the God who forever exists to fulfill His Word. The title “God” is Elohim, the Mighty One; the Creator of Genesis 1:1.
It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves;
God is your Creator. He made us. You didn't make yourself. There is no such thing as a self-made person.
Looking in a mirror should inspire us to echo David’s thanksgiving in Psalm 139: : “I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; wonderful are Your works, and my soul knows it very well.” We are not the products of evolution; we were formed in the womb according to the Creator’s special prescription. Post a copy of Psalm 139:14 on your mirror to serve as a good reminder from the manufacturer of mortals that we are not self-made.
We are His people and the sheep of His pasture.
Our Creator cares for us. God is a Shepherd, we are his sheep. David said in Psalm 23, "The Lord is my Shepherd." And because he's my Shepherd, I shall not want.
ENTER INTO WORSHIP WITH GRATITUDE (100:4-5).
There is a simple structure to Psalm 100. It is a call to worship in verses one and two, and then there is the reason for that call to worship in verse three. Then that format is repeated again in verses four and five. There is a call to worship in verse four, and the reason for that call to worship in verse five.
A. What to Do: Worship the Lord with gratitude (4).
Enter His gates with thanksgiving
And His courts with praise.
Here in verse four, as the writer commands us to be thankful, he orders us to approach God with grateful praise. Enter the gates of the city of Jerusalem and the courts of the temple precinct. God is inviting you to enter into worship, but note again that with the invitation there is a stipulation: "Enter his gates with thanksgiving, enter his courts with praise." Thanksgiving focuses on what God has done and praise on who He is.
Give thanks to Him, bless His name.
We understand how God blesses us, but how do we bless His name? We bless God by not forgetting all His benefits (see Psalm 103:1-5).
This is not how we typically enter into worship. You know how we enter into worship? We come to worship sometimes in apathy; we sit there with our attitude and our arms folded, waiting on something to happen to get us in the mood to praise the Lord.
You should not come to worship and then see if you feel like worshipping. You ought to enter with thanksgiving and praise. You do not need a worship leader, musician, or mood music. You ought to be able to come into worship with gratitude.
You say, "Well, that's easy for you to say, but you don't know what I'm dealing with. You don't know what I'm going through. You don't know what I'm facing. With all that I'm carrying how can I come into worship praising God?"
B. Why Do It: Because the Lord is good (5).
Verse four contains three commands: enter, give thanks, and bless his name. And now in verse five the psalmist says, "Let me tell you why to do it. I have three reasons." Reason number one: For the Lord is good. Reason number two: His steadfast love endures forever. Reason number three: His faithfulness is to all generations.
For the LORD is good;
God’s character is good. Everything God does is good. His plans are good, his purpose is good, his providence is good, his provision is good, his protection is good, and his pardon is good. James 1:17 says, "Every good gift and every perfect gift comes from above, and it comes from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning."
His lovingkindness is everlasting
We ought to praise God because His lovingkindness is everlasting. This is God’s covenant love; His “loyal-love.” The New King James calls it "mercy." The NIV calls it "unfailing love." The New American Standard calls it "lovingkindness." The ESV calls it "steadfast love." Loyal love, steadfast love, means God will not change his mind about you even if you change your mind about Him. That's how good God is.
And His faithfulness to all generations.
God is faithful. His faithfulness is to all generations. He is faithful to us today.
Worship the Lord with Gladness and Gratitude for He is God and He is Good