A psalm. For giving grateful praise.
Shout for joy to the LORD, all the earth.
Worship the LORD with gladness;
come before him with joyful songs.
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.
Enter his gates with thanksgiving
and his courts with praise;
give thanks to him and praise his name.
For the LORD is good and his love endures forever;
his faithfulness continues through all generations.
The hundredth psalm is one of the most beloved of all the psalms and the only one given the superscript, “For giving grateful praise”. Some psalms call for silence before God, and some call for lament, but not this one. There are moments we need to be still and quiet, and moments we need to cry, but this psalm calls for shouts of joy, “gladness” and “joyful songs”. There are no spectators in worship as “all the earth” is called to worship the Creator and Redeemer. Everyone is to praise the Lord.
While it is important for us to worship God in our private devotions, this psalm reminds us of the importance of worshipping God with others. “His gates” and “his courts” allude to the tabernacle or temple where God called His people to corporate worship. The priests call on God’s people to enter the gates of Jerusalem with praise in their hearts and then proceed through the temple courtyard with shouts of joy. Old Testament theologian Hans-Joachim Kraus describes the scene:
Those who have already gathered in the temple precincts call out greetings and blessing to the crowds who are streaming through the gates (Ps. 118:26). The praise of God knows no limits of time. All the Psalms are characterized by continual never-ending adoration. Even during the night, praise rises up (Ps. 134: 8:3; Isa. 30:29)… The worship of God at the festival began with the call, ‘Serve the Lord with gladness! Come before his presence with singing.’ Thus worship in Israel was characterized by joy. (Theology of the Psalms)
Notice the seven imperatives which describe the worship that pleases God: “Shout for joy”…”Worship with gladness”…”Come with joyful songs”…”Know that the LORD is God”…”Enter his gates with thanksgiving”…”Give thanks”…”Praise his name”. Then the reason for such joyful worship is given in the last verse. God is to be worshipped because of His goodness, enduring love, and faithfulness that will never end.
We live in a world that is always changing, and some people we thought we could count on let us down. But God’s goodness is our anchor. We are His sheep who He cares for and protects. How wonderful that His love does not depend on us, but only on His goodness! Heartfelt joy and gladness in worship begin with remembering who our great God really is!
If we are to enter God’s “gates” with thanksgiving, it’s helpful to first prepare our hearts for worship. Many people find it helpful to prepare for corporate worship by taking a few moments on Saturday night or Sunday morning to reflect on who God is and what He has done. Then it’s good to pray for the worship service and for all the others who will come to offer their praise and thanksgiving. May it all bring a smile to God’s face!
Theologian Hans-Joachim Kraus reminds us of the great joy and privilege of worship:
Praise of God is the highest joy, the fulfillment of life (Ps. 63:3-8), because those who praise God are ‘beside themselves’, enjoying the happiness of God’s presence. In praise the congregation is moving toward the consummation of creation. (Theology of the Psalms)
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