Please turn with me to Psalm 100.
This is a short and sweet psalm, not like some that have a mix of bitter and sweet. This is an uplifting song of praise.
According to Enduring Word,
This Psalm is simply titled, A Psalm of Thanksgiving and it is the only Psalm in the collection to bear this title. It speaks of an invitation to the whole earth to know and to worship God.“It is jubilant with confidence for the whole earth, as it contemplates the glory of that earth, when all its people are submitted to the reign of Jehovah.” (G. Campbell Morgan)
Charles Spurgeon said, “It is all ablaze with grateful adoration.”
Rick Ezell, a Baptist pastor in South Carolina, said on Lifeway Christian Resources website that:
“This psalm is a literary masterpiece. It has been said that the Bible is shallow enough that the immature can play without drowning, but it is deep enough that the most mature can never touch bottom. Such is Psalm 100. This Psalm does not contain a single concept that is not expressed elsewhere in the Psalms.”
Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth.
2 Worship the Lord with gladness;
come before him with joyful songs.
3 Know that the Lord is God.
It is he who made us, and we are his;
We are his people, the sheep of his pasture.
4 Enter his gates with thanksgiving
and his courts with praise;
give thanks to him and praise his name.
5 For the Lord is good and his love endures forever;
His faithfulness continues through all generations.
Our way or expression of praising God can change from generation to generation; from one culture to another; from one person to another, and from one church to another. We may use different instruments, new songs, old songs, and many different styles of music. We may not even have or need music to praise God. We may praise God through our simple words.
There are some churches–and I’ve even participated in this a couple of times, where painters would paint while the worship band was playing or during the entire service as a way of worship.
The point of praise is that it should be a natural expression that comes from our hearts. No matter your age, no matter your wealth, no matter where or when you are placed on earth.
The Lord desires our praise. And he desires that our praise be joyful expressions because God is a joyful God. He wants that experience to be a joyful experience for us. And like any time when we express our love for someone, we are also to receive God’s love in that moment as well.
You’ll notice right off the bat that this psalm calls for all the earth to shout to the Lord. This is an invitation for everyone. When this was written, there was a lot of paganism and false religions. There was no ‘gospel’ yet. There was no evangelism. There were no missionaries. Instead, there was an attitude of “My God is bigger than Your God.” Or “You’re a lousy no good heathen because of your pagan God.”
Israel could rightly claim their God was the One and Only. And we get the idea when Jesus walked the earth that, they kind of liked to keep it that way. They separated themselves. There was Jew, and there was Gentile. What was a Gentile? Everyone who wasn’t a Jew. Everyone else.
There was this eliteness to being a Jew, to having the exclusive temple of The One and Only Most High God.
We can kind of be like that now, can’t we? We can look at a church around the corner and think that. Maybe they’re politically different than we are. Maybe they have a different doctrine about something than what we have. Maybe they just practice their Sunday morning church service differently. Usually, they’re perfectly fine, but there’s just this certain something that rubs us the wrong way. We can think about that with a church, maybe within our own denomination. It’s part of our nature.
But here, we have a better perspective on how we ought to think. There should be an open invitation for the whole world to worship God. We should have a mindset where we should set those prejudices aside and open up our hearts and invite others to worship God, too. We should invite the whole world to know this God of ours. We should invite the atheist, and even those who are hostile toward religion. We should invite the worst sinners.
I shared a story a couple of weeks ago about a Russian Orthodox Priest who went out into the streets, lifted the hungover, foul-smelling people from the gutter, cradled them in his arms, and said to them, “this is beneath your dignity. You were meant to house the fullness of God.”
I also referenced a rather obscure song from about 30 years ago that poetically states every type of person you could think of. And the chorus simply says, “breathe deep the breath of God.” We are all invited into God’s presence and to be transformed into someone that houses the fullness of God.
In another Psalm, Psalm 34, the writer challenges people to ‘Taste and see that the Lord is good.’ Wouldn’t you want the whole world to taste and see and experience the Lord’s goodness that they’ve been missing out on? Think about how much joy the world needs right now. Christmas is coming up in a month (already), and it’s the season of joy. Why is it the season of joy? Because of Christ. It’s the season we celebrate the coming of our Lord. And they’re missing out on the real reason for the season. Just taste and see.
Verse 3 says, “Know that the Lord is good.”
Worship is an experience. Worship is where we experience the joy of the Lord. And this psalm is an invitation for the whole earth to know God. So our worship is evangelical. Our expression of our love for God is missional. It shows people and demonstrates to them that there is more to Christianity than religion. It’s a relationship. It’s real. We communicate with God, and he communicates with us. It’s like I said, not only where we express our love for God, but also where we receive our love for God, too. It’s where we get to soak in his presence.
The Lord calls ‘all the earth’ to worship Him. And again, this was at a time when Israel was warring against other nations, during the time of the Ark of the Covenant. Yet the call, the desire of God, is that all nations would come to Him. Not just exclusively Israel. Not just exclusively those who are already “insiders”.
The Great Commission, the great mandate of Christ, the last thing he commanded his disciples was what? Go into all the world and make disciples of all men. Jew and Gentile.
9 After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. 10 And they cried out in a loud voice:
“Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.”
Verse 4 of the psalm says:
Enter his gates with thanksgiving
and his courts with praise;
give thanks to him and praise his name.
It can be a little hard to picture gates and courts. What is that? Well, it was the gates and courts of the Jewish Temple at the time. The outer wall of the Temple in Jerusalem had gates and inside those gates was a large courtyard, and then there were gates that led to a smaller inner courtyard. It was in the courtyard areas where the worship took place. So the psalmist is saying that we should enter his temple with praise already in our hearts. We should be entering the gates with praise, not entering the gates then praising.
From the moment we step foot on the steps of God’s house–outside before we even walk through those doors–we should have our hearts ready for worship. We should be glad, ready, willing, and able to praise God as we enter into the House of God.
Do you come expecting to meet God? Do you come with great anticipation to engage in worship? Worship is a verb, not a noun. It isn’t the name of a service. It is the act of what we do in the service. We should get out of our cars with expectation and joy and worship already filling our hearts ready to have a worship experience where we meet God with thanksgiving.
Thanksgiving Day is more than a meal; at least it should be. The original intent for the Pilgrims and the Native Americans was to give thanks to God. And that was the original intent when Thanksgiving Day was instituted as a national holiday–a day–a celebratory day set aside in addition to our regular Sunday morning worship to specifically give thanks to God.
Did you know that the Israelites at this time had their own Thanksgiving ceremony? It was a special kind of sacrifice. Ironically, it was also a meal.
This is what Joy Mosbarger had to say about the Thanksgiving sacrifice in a blog on the Talbot School of Theology website:
“It was not prescribed or required by God. It was offered by the worshiper on those occasions when he was motivated to express thanksgiving to God. The sacrifice was willingly presented to the Lord with a heart of joy and gratitude.
“In addition, the sacrifice of thanksgiving, again like all peace offerings, was shared among the Lord, the priest, and the worshiper. This contrasted with other types of offerings, which were either entirely consumed (except for the skin) on the altar as an offering to the Lord or partly burned on the altar and partly consumed by the priest. But for a peace offering offered as a sacrifice of thanksgiving the protocol was different. After the Lord and the priest received their portions, the worshiper who brought the sacrifice would take the remaining portions of the meat and the bread and prepare a feast in which family and friends who were ritually pure could share. Any of the meat not consumed on the day the sacrifice was offered had to be destroyed by burning.”
There’s a Rabbi whom David Guzik quotes as saying, “All sacrifices will be abolished; but the sacrifice of thanksgiving will remain.” Think about that. Because of Jesus, our once for all sacrificial lamb, all sacrifices have been abolished. But our sacrifice of praise remains. And it is a voluntary sacrifice.
David Guzik said, “Under the new covenant, not only are the gates and courts open, but even the way to the Holy of Holies is thrown open.” And that is in a spiritual sense.
The writer of Hebrews said in chapter 10:
19 Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, 20 by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, 21 and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22 let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water.
This is the kind of relationship we have with God now. Thanks to Christ. This is something that we often take for granted. But we have access to God through the blood of Jesus. And we can draw close to him. But even though the sacrifices are obsolete. We still have a thanksgiving that will continue forever.
The psalmist concludes with the reason why it is so important to come to God with thanksgiving and praise. And it’s simple:
“For the Lord is good and his love endures forever;
his faithfulness continues through all generations.”
Look at that–all generations. We’ve just talked about the obsolete temple, the obsolete sacrifices, and the obsolete veil that separated the Holy of Holies. Even the Ark of the Covenant is obsolete. There’s the big mystery of what happened to it. There’s the myth and legend of it that has been exaggerated thanks to Hollywood. But if you really want to know, if it is ever found, it’s actually obsolete. Thanks to Christ, it has no power because the power was God himself dwelling there. But now, God doesn’t dwell there. Thanks to Christ, he dwells in our hearts. But his love endures forever. His faithfulness continues through all generations.
That’s something to be thankful for.
He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. His love is the same. His goodness is the same. He will always be on the throne. He will always be all-powerful. He will always be God.
As we close, I want us to focus on thanksgiving as a way of life. I’ve talked before about meditating on God and God’s word, of making praise and prayer a lifestyle. Have you thought about thanksgiving as a lifestyle? Have you thought about giving thanks and having a grateful heart as a lifestyle?
We all could use a greater sense of gratefulness. I know I could. I try to remember the simple things–we got our roof fixed a few weeks ago, and now we need a whole new furnace. I’ll tell you what, I will never take those simple things for granted ever again. That’s what the Thanksgiving holiday is all about. So won’t you join me in starting a new habit, a new lifestyle of thanksgiving?
This is an updated edition of a post originally published on First Baptist Church of Watkins Glen