Psalm 100  Be Thankful to the Lord

An Expository Sermon by Wesley McCarter

November 25, 2020


Introduction

How will you celebrate Thanksgiving? Will you cook a big meal? Will it just be a day of rest? Will the kids and grandkids paint those little turkeys with their handprints or make little Indian hats with feathers?

 

I have thought of some of the classic Thanksgiving episodes of Everybody Loves Raymond and wondered if some families actually experience some of those same things. One episode has a woman making a vegetarian turkey that the men are scared to eat, and another has the whole extended family attempting to do a skit of Indians and pilgrims. There is lots of comedy, and I’m sure there has been some humorous times at your family get-togethers over the years and maybe even some nerve-wracking times as well. 

 

Thanksgiving is said to be a uniquely American holiday. Not surprisingly, Thanksgiving as an American federal holiday is said to be a cultural and secular holiday. In many ways it is just that. There are traditions of turkey and dressing, backyard football games, and fall decorations. It looks fairly neutral.

 

However, look at the two terms so often used: “Thanksgiving” and “holiday.”

 

A holiday is a “holy day” at its root. It is a day set aside for a particular purpose—to rest from work, to remember, to reflect, to celebrate.

 

Thanksgiving entails giving thanks to someone. Gifts and blessings imply a Giver. 

 

Christians have always seen thanksgiving as an indispensable part of the life of faith and worship. It is essential in our devotion to God.

 

Thanksgiving, as an American holiday, has these Christian underpinnings. While ongoing thanksgiving is a commitment of the Christian life, we have also always found value in taking this special day every year to do it together as churches and as families.

 

I am happy to share this message with you now to help you do just that—give thanks to God.

 

May God our Father and Jesus Christ our Lord and the Holy Spirit be hallowed and appreciated in our churches, in our families, and in our hearts.

 

I’d like to share some reflections with you from Psalm 100, that most famous of the thanksgiving psalms found in the psalter.

 

READ Scripture- This is the Word of God

 

1 Make a joyful shout to the LORD, all you lands!

This is about the people of God who gather to worship Him. In the Old Testament context, of course, this was primarily a Temple gathering. In the New Testament context, we speak of the gathered church. That’s what it means to be a church, to gather. The people of God have always gathered to worship the Lord, to make a joyful sound. 

 

But notice that the call here goes out to all the lands. All the peoples of the earth are called upon to make a joyful shout to the Lord. One commentator writes, “This verse claims the world for God” (Kidner). I think it may better be said that this verse is a call for all the world to realize to whom it belongs. It is a call for the whole world to acknowledge its Creator.

 

2 Serve the LORD with gladness; Come before His presence with singing.

There is an eagerness on the part of God’s people to serve Him. There is joy and gladness. There is enthusiasm. That is why believers come before His presence, in the gathered assembly, to sing to Him and about Him. Worship is service. It is the first service and all other service to God flows out of it. To this day, in English, we refer to our appointed times of worship as worship “services.” The well-respected scholar on the psalms, Derek Kidner writes, “[S]ervice is indivisible; it is a word which leaves no gap or choice between worship and work. (We find this confirmed, incidentally, in practice, in that praise and prayer go stale in isolation, and activity goes sterile.)” 

 

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.

You may have noticed in this psalm that “LORD” is in all caps. You probably know that this means that the divine name Yahweh is used. The one who revealed Himself to Adam, Noah, Abraham, and Moses; the one who made Himself known to Israel; Yahweh, the Great I AM is God. He is Creator and Sustainer. He is Sovereign. He is the eternally existing and self-existing one. He is the uncreated one, the beginning and end.

 

Because He is Creator and created everything, including us, all creation belongs to Him, including us. We have not made ourselves. We are merely creatures. We were created in His image for His glory, created by Him and for Him. Human beings, of course, are a special creation of the Lord God. Humans are created in God’s image, His very likeness. This is personal, and that is why it we are reminded by the psalmist that we are “His people” and the “sheep of His pasture.” He has a relationship with us. We were created in His image in order to know Him, worship Him, serve Him, and to obey Him.

 

This imagery of us as sheep and God as shepherd gives us a personal feel, and we see God as caring, providing, and protecting. The ancient cultural background tells us that this is often how kings were viewed. In Israel, David is the architype of the shepherd-king. The point that the psalmist is making here is that Yahweh God is our King. He is King of all the earth. And, as a king, one might imagine His palace and having to enter by the gates and into the courts. This is the imagery of the next verse.

 

4 Enter into His gates with thanksgiving,

And into His courts with praise.

Be thankful to Him, and bless His name.

Verse four is in the context of worship. We take the initiative to “Enter.” We get up and go. As we enter “His gates” and “His courts,” language that originally referred to the Temple, we do so with thanksgiving, being thankful to Him (the LORD God), and we bless His name. 

 

Let me just make a clear statement right here, the New Testament application of Temple worship is in the context of the gathered church on the Lord’s Day. Passages such as 1 Pet 2:4-5, 9; Eph 2:19-22; and 1 Cor 3:9-17 explain how the gathering of Christians as a church becomes the spiritual temple within which God’s Holy Spirit dwells. 

 

Back to Psalm 100:4—notice that thanksgiving is repeated. This is usual for Hebrew poetry. It is parallelism. It is repetitious for singing, places an emphasis on the point being made, and makes it memorable for the worshipper. Thanksgiving is something we must all do. Rom 1:21 highlights ungratefulness as a hallmark of the godless, darkened, and condemned society. In the psalm, the repetition of thanksgiving highlights the natural inclination for the people of God to give thanks to God. This is an act. It is a “giving.” It is our worship and our service.

 

We bless His name. Notice that the name of Yahweh is repeated several times in this brief psalm. Why is that? To put the Lord front and center. To lift Him up and to humble ourselves. He is the subject, and we are not (Goldingay).

 

5 For the LORD is good;

His mercy is everlasting,

And His truth endures to all generations.

The basis of our thanksgiving, a major reason for it is stated in verse 5: “For the LORD is good.” Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights (Jas 1:17). The Lord not only gives good, He not only does good, He is good. This is who He is. This is His very character. This is the God we worship and serve.

 

His “mercy” or “loyal love” or “covenant faithfulness” is everlasting. His “truth” or “faithfulness” endures to all generations. This is good news. This is reason to give thanks to God. He truly is good.

 

Conclusion and Christian Application

(1) The world needs to hear that there is a Creator, that they are created in His image, and that they are created to know Him and enjoy Him forever. There is a God to whom we must give thanks.

 

(2) Christians, be thankful. Yes, show appreciation to Christian brethren, friends, and relatives, but, most vitally, give thanks to God from whom all blessings flow. The people you have in your life are there because of the Lord. The church you are a member of is a creation of God and a purchase of Jesus with His own precious blood. Every other good gift you have is from God. Be thankful. If we shun thankfulness, we will be greedy, prideful, arrogant, selfish, and worse. We will damage our Christian witness and even jeopardize our own souls. Let the light of Christ fill you, and be thankful. Praise God, make shouts of joy to Him, serve Him with gladness, come before Him with singing, be thankful to Him, and bless His name.

 

(3) John Goldingay reflects upon this psalm with the words, “Theologically, its central affirmation is ‘Yhwh—he is God.’ Thus the whole earth is bidden to acknowledge Yhwh, not as mere overwhelmed and unwilling vassals but as people who ‘serve with joy.’”

 

(4) God is worthy of thanksgiving. His very nature and His acts of redemption demand our gratitude. Reflect upon the great love of God in Christ Jesus who laid down His life for you and even for the sins of the whole world. As Kidner points out, we not only have God’s gates and courts to enter, but we are invited into the Holy of Holies, into the very presence of God, because of the new and living way. The blood of Jesus, the atoning sacrifice He has made secures our forgiveness of sins, our cleansing. Peace between God and us is accomplished because of Christ’s sacrifice. He is worthy of our praise. He is to be glorified. We must give thanks to Him and bless His name.