“Make a joyful shout to the Lord, all you lands! Serve the Lord with gladness; Come before His presence with singing. Know that the Lord, He is God; It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves; We are His people and the sheep of His pasture. Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, and into His courts with praise. Be thankful to Him, and bless His name. For the Lord is good; His mercy is everlasting, and His truth endures to all generations.” – Psalm 100
There is good reason why we sing this wonderful psalm regularly in corporate worship. Many voices over the years have come together, rejoicing and praising God in the words of “The Old 100th” (All People That on Earth Do Dwell). There’s also good reason as to why this psalm is often read in the Call to Worship, for that is precisely what we are called to do with much thanksgiving.
See the threefold call that opens the psalm in verses 1 and 2 – 1) Shout to the Lord, 2) Serve the Lord, and 3) Come before His presence. In what manner are we to do so?
• All lands are to shout joyfully to Him – As the Gospel goes forth and is preached to all nations, as the nations are discipled, we see this summons is and will be joyfully answered, even more and more.
• We are to serve Him with gladness – As we have a grand invitation to worship the living God, as He fills us with His joy, we don’t serve him reluctantly or grudgingly, but we are rather glad and cheerful to devote ourselves fully and completely in His service.
• We come before Him with singing – We don’t only employ ourselves in glad service and obedience to His law and commands in daily life. We also come before Him in the ordinances He has appointed and promised His presence with His people. We do so with much singing, with His fellow servants, together!
We do these things having a threefold knowledge that fuels our worship (v. 3):
• The Lord is God – Yahweh (translated LORD), God’s special covenant name, is God alone. He is the living and true God, who is “infinite in being and perfection, a most pure spirit, invisible, without body, parts, or passions; immutable, immense, eternal, incomprehensible, almighty, most wise, most holy, most free, most absolute…” (Westminster Confession of Faith 2.1)
• God made us, not we ourselves – He is the Creator. We are His creatures. This truth and distinction is essential to understand and hold to.
• He is our God – The living God is wonderfully our covenant Lord, by His sovereign will. We belong to Him by purchase. We are the sheep of His pasture, Jesus Christ being our Good Shepherd. (John 10)
In addition, we are summoned to enter His gates and courts, not with demands, but with thanksgiving and praise. In the Old Testament temple, the people were not permitted to enter into the holy place. Only the priests went in to minister there. But the people were to be thankful and praise God for their place in the courts of His house. Remember David’s gladness when he said, “I was glad when they said to me, “Let us go into the house of the Lord.” (Psalm 122:1) And again, “For a day in Your courts is better than a thousand. I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of wickedness.” (Psalm 84:10) David knew God’s summons. David also knew God had granted him a place in His house, and that gave David great joy. In that gladness, David went to God’s house, and went often to be with and worship His Lord.
And so, we are to be thankful and bless His name. Why? See how the psalmist ends with three final truths to further fuel our worship:
• The Lord is good – God’s goodness is part of His character. God is pure. He isn’t evil, hates sin, and can’t be tempted by evil (James 1:13). God’s goodness is also connected to His justice. God not only abhors evil, but also punishes it. (Exodus 34:6-7) God’s goodness is seen in His benevolence to His creation in His good providence. The earth is full of His goodness (Psalm 33:5). He gives food to all flesh (Psalm 136:25). “The Lord is good to all, and His tender mercies are over all His works.” (Psalm 145:9) He gives rain to the just and the unjust (Matthew 5:45). In His special love for us, His people, His goodness is evident as Jesus came, lived a perfect life, suffered and died for us, receiving the punishment for our sins. He is the propitiation for our sins (Romans 3:23-26). Further, God is working all things for our good (Romans 8:28). His goodness is also seen in His protection of His people (1 Thessalonians 3:3).
• His everlasting mercy – We can never be at a loss for constantly praising God, for His mercy is a fountain that never runs dry.
• His enduring truth – God’s truth can’t fall short or fail. It wasn’t solid for some in the past, and then became insignificant. No, it remains as true now as when it was given. God’s truth endures, especially in the midst of those who are against it and seek to extinguish its fire. “The grass withers, and its flower falls away, but the word of the Lord endures forever.” (1 Peter 1:24-25)
Beloved, we have much reason to, and are called to worship privately, as families, and as a body together. Know the Lord your God, serve Him with gladness, and enter His gates with thanksgiving! It’s a joyful privilege to do so. Soli Deo Gloria!