Psalm 100 (CSB)
“Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise. Give thanks to him and bless his name” (4)
When my family lived in the Philippines, we discovered that they do not have a national day of Thanksgiving, like we have in America. Instead, each church had its own Thanksgiving Day. It usually corresponded to the date when that particular church was established.
As Americans, we tried to keep our national Thanksgiving as well. One time we had a big spread with all the fixings, only to discover later that we had done it on the wrong week.
But we appreciated God and we enjoyed celebrating him and his connection to all of us. It just seems natural for us to show our gratitude. Showing gratitude is what this psalm is all about.
who should show gratitude?
The psalm is not too particular about who should celebrate their gratitude to God. In fact, note the expression “the whole earth” in verse 1.
Neither does the psalm limit the celebrants to the very old or the young. Verse 5 says that “all generations” should show their gratitude to him.
There is no age limit, no ethnic, geographic or cultural boundary to showing gratitude to the God of the Bible.
how should we show our gratitude?
We should show our gratitude to God by serving him. Verse 2 encourages us to “serve the LORD.” Do you know that is an honor to serve a great leader? People send in resumes and take proficiency exams in order to get an opportunity to be the president’s butler, or the queen’s maid. They don’t do that because they are slaves, but because it is their opportunity to express their gratitude. In the same way, our service to God demonstrates the level of our appreciation for him.
We should also express our gratitude to God with our worship. Verse 4 talks about entering God’s gates and his courts. It is talking about the gates and courts of the temple in Jerusalem. People had all kinds of reasons for entering into the gates of Jerusalem. But when they entered the gates of the temple, they were supposed to do it as worshipers. Our English word worship is a contraction for worth-ship. A worshiper is someone who is in the act of expressing how much God is worth to him or her.
The Jews had gotten too formal and materialistic about their worship. It had come to the point where people rated a person as a worshiper by the monetary value of the gift they brought with them. But this psalmist suggested that there are two things every worshiper needs to bring with him when he comes into the temple. note what comes after the word “with” in verse 4. The worship had to enter “with thanksgiving” and “with praise.”
We also need to check our emotional state when we dare enter God’s presence to worship him in public. What comes after the word “with” in verse 2? We are to serve “with gladness.” The way some people act in church, you would think that it said “with grimness.” They seem to regard the worship service as a chore. No sir. We will earn our living in ways that cause our brow to sweat and our back to ache and our feet to blister. But when we come into the presence of our God, we need to do it with gladness.
We have lots to be glad about. God has blessed us with a place, and a time, and a community like no other in history. We are overflowing with potential. And at the same time, our God has prevented so many disasters, diseases, pestilences and wars that we could have experienced. One of the advantages of learning history is that it gives a person perspective. For us, as believers in Christ, we have every reason to worship the Lord with gladness.
Also in verse 2, we are to show our gratitude “with joyful songs.” It does not say dirges, or mournful songs. There is a time and a place for singing the blues, but it is not this time and this place. God wants to hear our joyful songs. He is listening for the sweet sound of joy coming from his children’s throats. It brings a smile to his face.
And look at verse 1 again. It says we are to shout triumphantly. This is the first psalm I memorized as a kid. From my Rainbow edition of the King James Bible, I memorized “Make a joyful noise.” Saying those words, I think of Joshua and the Israelites attack on Jericho. They marched with their musical instruments, but they didn’t blow those horns until the last day of the march. Then they blew those horns, but not just that. Joshua told them to “Shout! For the LORD has given you the city” (Joshua 6:16).
Brothers and sisters, a triumphal shout is a sign of faith. It says my God is stronger than those city walls. It says God is the God of my coming triumph. The walls didn’t come down when the people marched. They didn’t even come down when the trumpets blew. The walls came down when the people shouted triumphantly!
So, I have exhausted all the ways we can show our gratitude from this text. No, I lied, there’s one more. Look again at verse 4. It says we can show our gratitude by blessing his name.
God has a name that is above all names. We cannot add to his greatness by anything we do. But we can bless his name. He allows us the privilege of demonstrating the greatness of his character by affirming it.
There is a world all around is which is gaining an ever-increasing gratitude for the planet itself, but has never learned to express its gratitude for the planet’s creator. When we bless God’s name, we complete the circuit. The world is not going to learn how to do that unless we demonstrate it.
Which brings me to my third point.
why should we show our gratitude?
Verse 3 challenges us to show our gratitude by acknowledging that the Lord is God. He is God and we are not. I, for one, am grateful that I am not God. I do not qualify. I don’t have the skill-set it takes to control this planet. I cannot even set my alarm clock.
Also, according to verse 3, “he made us, and we are his.” We are living in an age dominated by mechanical computers, but we are still not able to reproduce the computing capacity of the human brain. God is our creator, and we should show gratitude for that.
Also, in verse 3, the psalmist calls us God’s sheep, which implies that he is our shepherd. A shepherd guides and provides for the sheep. Without the shepherd, sheep tend to wander off and die by accident, predators, or starvation. Even stupid sheep learn this. They learn to respond the voice of their shepherd, obeying out of gratitude.
Now, look at verse 5. Here are three more reasons that we should show our gratitude to God. He is good. All the time. We don’t always know how God is manifesting his goodness based on what we are experiencing. But we know that he causes all things to work together for good to those who love him, to those who are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28). If we cannot spot his goodness short-term, we know enough to expect it to manifest long-term.
God is also faithful, and that is another reason to show our appreciation for him. He is faithful to his promises, and for keeping his covenant. The word translated “faithful love” in verse 5 is a technical term for covenant faithfulness.
And finally, look at that word “forever” in verse 5. That is the word “le’olam” in Hebrew. It indicates permanence. I am grateful that God is not temporary like I am. I have a “use-by-date” but my God does not. My grandchildren’s grandchildren will be reading this same Bible and serving this same God long after I have expired. My only hope for permanence is his promise of a resurrection.
LORD, we want to show our gratitude because you are our good, faithful, permanent creator, guide and provider God.