Give Thanks to God
Psalm 100 is a song of worship. It probably was a psalm of ascent worshipers used as they approached the temple complex. It contains seven distinct commands that, combined, make for a complete worship experience.
Serve the Lord with gladness. (1–2)
The first phrase is an invitation for the whole world to experience the power and joy of God’s presence. The so-called “gods” of other faiths were of local regions or geographic features. In 1 Kings 20 the Aramean king made the devastating mistake of calling the Lord “a god of the mountains only” (v. 28).
Israel always knew the Lord was indeed the God who created everything. Even the Genesis account of God creating the sun, moon and stars was a jab at those who worshiped the celestial bodies as gods.
Psalm 100 is the opposite of a jab — it is an invitation for all people to come before the Lord in worship. This may have been a literal invitation to come to the temple mount in Jerusalem.
The command to serve may seem out of place, but the Hebrew word can be translated “serve” or “worship.” A strong connection exists between worship and service — if the Lord is indeed God, true worship cannot take place without obedience to His commands.
Acknowledge that the Lord is God. (3)
The command to acknowledge the Lord is the only one that does not carry an explicit physical component; but this is no mere mental assent to God’s lordship — this is an invitation into a relationship. He is Lord because He created all people. Everyone belongs to Him by right of creation. Everything that exists carries His copyright.
All people belong to Him by right of possession and care. As the sheep of His pasture, God personally cares for all His own. He does not delegate the task to a hired hand, nor does He send His people to the pasture-lands of another.
Though the psalmist was unaware, Psalm 100 provides a beautiful setup for the coming of Jesus, the Good Shepherd (John 10:1–18)
Give thanks to Him and bless His name. (4–5)
Acknowledging that the Lord is Creator God and everyone belongs to Him is not necessarily a reason for rejoicing. History provides countless examples of legitimate rulers who have been cruel despots. God Himself has stated that a creator has the right to exalt or destroy his or her creation (Jer. 18:1–7). Why should coming before the Creator be a time for thanksgiving?
The psalmist invites people deeper into the Temple. This is a literal summons to draw closer into the Temple complex through its various gates and courtyards; it also is a figurative invitation deeper into the presence of the Lord, and to do so with praise, thanksgiving and blessing. But why?
Because He is a good God and a loving Lord. He has shown Himself to be faithful throughout Israel’s history, and will continue to be faithful throughout all generations to come.
Last week’s lesson examined God’s covenant with Abram 1,000 years earlier. Now, after a millennium of faithfulness, God’s people can trust Him to continue to care for His creation and to love and bless them. As a response, all God’s people can enter into His presence with joy and with hearts full of thankfulness to Him, and mouths full of praise and blessing.
By Daryl Watts
Watts is a church consultant in Fresno, California.