by William J. Stewart
The Psalms are filled with expressions of praise and thanksgiving before God. In some, we read about the troubles which the psalmist endured, and can see the transformation from a spirit of distress to one of trust and expectation of the grace of God. In the process of this lifting of the weight of trials, we consistently see the writer giving praise and thanksgiving to God. Yet other Psalms are for that sole purpose—to give thanks to the LORD and to praise His holy name. This is the manner of Psalm 100.
The Psalm is identified in the psalmist’s notation as “A Psalm of praise” (KJV) or “A Psalm of thanksgiving” (NKJV). Let us consider verse by verse this psalm of praise and thanksgiving.
Make a joyful shout to the LORD, all you lands. The writer doesn’t tell us to make a monotone whisper to the LORD. His wording is very descriptive. If we are aware of the greatness and goodness of God, should our hearts not be gladdened and our spirits ready to engage in exuberant praise? Not uncontrolled praise, but that which comes from overflow of emotion and deep devotion to such a wonderful God.
The picture is beautiful. It is not just a few people whom the psalmist prompts to make this joyful shout, but “…all you lands!” What a wonderful sound that would be! “Shout joyfully to the LORD, all the earth; break forth in song, rejoice, and sing praises!” (Psalm 98:4) God is worthy of the worship and praise and thanksgiving of all who are upon the earth.
Serve the LORD with gladness; come before His presence with singing. Singing is the logical manifestation of joy and gladness. “Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing psalms” (James 5:13). Those who are the children of God should be singing before His presence often, both collectively and individually.
When the writer tells us to “Serve the LORD with gladness,” understand that services is not exclusive to worship and praise. Service is our daily life—us putting God’s will into practice. This should be done with gladness. We are told, “…this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome” (1 John 5:3).
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. What a comforting thought, “…the LORD, He is God…” We do not have some tyrant who rules over us. We are not the subjects of a god like the Greeks believed they had, who rarely showed interest in humanity. We have the LORD, “…who has made us…” Not only is He our God, but He is the very one who designed us.
Ever heard of the “self-made man”? It’s a fallacy. Certainly, one might make good decisions and be savvy in this or that business practice, and thus walk the road of success, but none of us are “self-made.” The LORD, He has made us. Not just in the fact that He formed us from the womb, but also that He is the one who showers blessings upon us. “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning” (James 1:17).
Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, and into His courts with praise. Be thankful to Him, and bless His name. Given the LORD is our God, our make, and our sustainer, how should we respond? Thanksgiving. Praise. The Psalmist elsewhere proclaimed, “…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). It should be our desire to be in the presence of God and to lift up His name. choose to be at the gate and house of the LORD, not the house of wickedness.
For the LORD is good; His mercy is everlasting, and His truth endures to all generations. Why worship God? Why make a joyful shout to Him? Why serve Him with gladness? Why come before His presence with singing? Because He is good. Because He is merciful. Because He is the source of truth.
What a wonderful God we serve. What a privilege to serve and worship before Him. Let us do so with our whole heart!