A Call to Thanksgiving
The one hundredth psalm, with its call to worship, is one of the most well known in the Psalter. This familiarity can make it difficult for it to impact our hearts, though. In many ways, it’s easier to study passages that are less familiar because then we aren’t complacent in our study. We don’t assume that we already know them.
We should never feel so comfortable with the invitation to thanksgiving that we brush over it, as if it were only rhetoric. This psalm urges us into action! As God’s people, we are called to joyful worship and to thankful praise.
“Make a joyful noise” is an invitation to exuberant, vocal adoration. Such praise should not be treated as a forced obligation, as if we’ve swallowed something distinctly unpalatable. Instead, it should be a response to God’s activity in our lives, which leads us, to borrow a phrase from C.S. Lewis, to be “surprised by joy.” The opportunity for worship lifts the spirits of the genuine believer—and nobody is left out of the exhortation. God has made “all the earth” for the praise of His glorious grace.
The invitation also beckons us to “enter … his courts with praise.” Consider the experience of the commoner outside Buckingham Palace in London, where the best you can do is poke your nose through the railings and hope for a fleeting glimpse of royalty from afar. The gate is purposefully closed to protect the sovereign. But that is not our experience with the Father. Jesus’ death tore the temple curtain in two (Matthew 27:51) and opened a new way of living for us. Through Jesus we have gained access to the Father, and the gates are thrown wide open in welcome.
Our expressions of gratitude in joyful worship and thankful praise are not to be tied to our circumstances or feelings. The real foundation for thanksgiving is in knowing that the Lord is God and that He has invited us into His courts, to surround His throne as His subjects but also as His children. To recognize this is to have firm ground underfoot so that each of us can say with the psalmist:
He drew me up from the pit of destruction,
out of the miry bog,
and set my feet upon a rock,
making my steps secure.
He put a new song in my mouth,
a song of praise to our God.” (Psalm 40:2-3)
One day you will stand there, in His courts. Until then, each Sunday you can stand with others in your local church—an embassy of that heavenly throne room—and anticipate that future day by singing with joy to the Lord.
His Steadfast Love Endures Forever
A Psalm for giving thanks.
1Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth!
2Serve the Lord with gladness!
Come into his presence with singing!
3Know that the Lord, he is God!
It is he who made us, and we are his;1
we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.
4Enter his gates with thanksgiving,
and his courts with praise!
Give thanks to him; bless his name!
5For the Lord is good;
his steadfast love endures forever,
and his faithfulness to all generations.
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