A Call to Praise

  Psalm 100  

Today in the church, especially in the American church, we have developed a spectator mentality. What I mean is that when most people come to church, they come to watch something rather than participate. In some ways, the way we build churches encourages this attitude – the speaker up front, higher than the rest – seating arranged facing the “stage”. It’s much like a theater. And why do we go to the theater? To watch something. Think about the modern church sanctuary with its theater-style seating and emphasis on the entertainment value of the service. It has become entirely possible that many people may attend church for years and never participate in worship in any meaningful way.

Hear what C.S. Lewis had to say about praise:

“I think we delight to praise what we enjoy because the praise not merely expresses but completes the enjoyment; it is its appointed consummation. It is not out of compliment that lovers keep on telling one another how beautiful they are; the delight is incomplete till it is expressed.” --C.S. Lewis, Reflections on the Psalms

The Westminster Catechism says, “The chief end of man is to glorify God and to enjoy him forever.” The expression of praise to God is necessary because it is the completion of our enjoyment of God.

 Psalm 100 is a call to praise the Lord.

The Lord Is Worthy to Be Praised by All the Earth (vs. 1)

“Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth”

Many know this Psalm from the King James Version “Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, all ye lands”. They pick up on the “make a joyful noise” and say, “Even though I can’t sing very well, I’ll make a joyful noise anyway.” That’s not a bad attitude, because if you’re concerned about how you sound before you’ll sing praises to God, then you probably don’t understand praise.

But, that’s not what this verse is about. What is being referred to here is the custom in that time of shouting praise for the king. When the king, say King David, took the throne the people shouted with joy, “Hallelujah! Long live the king!”  This Psalm is a call for all the earth to acknowledge the Lord as king.

It is a universal call. Not only in Israel, not only in our Christian churches is the Lord to be praised, but he is worthy to be praised by the whole earth. Scripture tells us that this will one day take place:

Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
    and gave him the name that is above every name,
10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
    in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
11 and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,
    to the glory of God the Father (Philippians 2:9-10).

Praising God is not just an add-on in our worship services. It is not just a time filler until the sermon. It is a Biblical injunction. We are commanded to willingly, joyfully praise the Lord and acknowledge him as king.

The Lord Is Worthy to Be Praised by All the Earth with Joyful Singing (vs. 2)

“Worship the Lord with gladness; come before him with joyful songs”

The King James says here, “Serve the Lord with gladness.” The NIV does well to translate this as “Worship the Lord gladness” because that is the meaning of the word “serve.” It refers to the service of the priest in the temple. The service of worship is joy and joy is expressed by singing “joyful songs”.

The normal human response to joy is singing. I am sure you have seen someone singing or whistling as they happily do their job. Probably you’ve done it. It is the way that humans naturally express their joy.

James 5:13 suggests two responses to two different circumstances:

13Is anyone among you in trouble? Let them pray. Is anyone happy? Let them sing songs of praise.

James says, if you’re afflicted, pray. Now, we get that. When we’re in trouble or afflicted we pray and ask God to help us. But, what about when we’re not in trouble; when we’re not afflicted; when we’re happy? Do we just ignore God then? No, James says, then we should sing.

A strange thing has happened to music in our culture today. Once, if you wanted to enjoy music you would sit down at your piano or get out your guitar. You would gather with your friends and family and play music and sing together. Music was participatory.

But now, if you wish to enjoy music, you buy it from iTunes or Amazon, you download it to your phone or other player, stick your earphones in, and enjoy your music in private. YOUR music for YOUR enjoyment.

In both the old Testament and New Testament, however, music is something we share together in praise to God. I think it important that we Christians resist the drive to make music private and reclaim it as a shared expression of our joy in God.

The Lord is Worthy to Be Praised by All the Earth with Joyful Singing Because He is Our Creator and Shepherd (vs. 3)

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

The Lord is worthy to be praised because of Who he is . . .

He is the Creator God--“Know that the Lord is God.” This is a statement of the unicity of God—that he, alone is God. In the Old Testament, the greatest statement of this is found in Deuteronomy 6:4, “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one.” This is, perhaps the most important verse in the entire Old Testament in that it expresses the absolute uniqueness of God. “The Lord is one” is saying more than that the Lord is one god as opposed to being many. It can best be translated as “The Lord is the ONLY God.” There are no other gods.

A non-negotiable of the Christian faith is the uniqueness of God in Christ. There is only one God as revealed in his Son, Jesus Christ.

This is not popular in our culture today. To say that other religions do not have the truth is thought to be narrow-minded and unkind. To say that Jesus is the only way to have a relationship with God and to go to heaven is called intolerance.

But, it is the truth.

When I say that a relationship with Jesus is the only way to heaven, I don’t say it because I hate non-Christians. When I say that other religions do not have the truth, it is not because I hate those who believe them. I say it because it is what the Bible says, and if I am to be true to God’s revelation of himself in the scriptures, then it is the only truth I can espouse.

Do I believe that followers of other religions are due all the dignity, respect and rights of anyone else in society? Yes, I do. Do I believe that they have the right to worship in any manner they see fit? Yep. But, I will not compromise the uniqueness of Jesus Christ by saying that all religions are equally paths to God simply to sound tolerant.

God is our creator, “It is he who made us” and creation implies ownership – “and we are his”. God is our creator and because he created us he owns us. And because we are his, he commands us.

We don’t like this very much. We don’t like the idea that someone can tell us what to do. In our pride, we want to thin that we are the master of our fate and captain of our soul. But, it is not the case. God gave us existence and he calls the shots.

Well, I used to build model airplanes. Some of them I spent a lot of time on and they looked pretty good. Others . . . well, let’s just say they didn’t meet the standard. It was these that served another purpose.

Boys like to blow things up. When I was a boy, especially around this time of year, you could get firecrackers. Not fireworks that just shoot sparks up in the air, but things that explode. I remember getting these things, and it wasn’t good enough to just set them off in the middle of the driveway or something. It was much more fun to blow things up.

So, you would take one of those not-so-perfect model airplanes, stuff the biggest firecracker you could find in it, light the fuse, and . . . You might say that was destructive, but I would say, “They’re my model airplanes, I built them and if I want to blow they up, I can.”

When you make something, it belongs to you and you can do with it whatever you wish. If you write a song, you own the copyright and you can sell it or keep it as you wish. If you make a sculpture or paint a picture, it belongs to you and you can dispose of it any way you want. It belongs to you.

We belong to God. Not only by right of creation, but also by right of redemption. He made us and he also purchased us with the shed blood of Jesus. So, those of us who have placed our trust in Jesus Christ alone for our salvation are doubly his. “We are his people” the people he has called to himself.

And, he is our shepherd -- “We are his people, the sheep of his pasture” Because God made us he takes special interest in us and cares for us as a shepherd cares for his sheep. We see this in Matthew 6:25-34. Jesus said:

25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life ?

28  “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? 31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

The Lord cares for us and he knows what we need.


The Lord Is Worthy to Be Praised in Public Worship with Thankful Praise (vss. 4-5)

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.

“Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise” implies worship in the temple--going to a specific place and gathering with others to praise and worship the Lord. And how were they to enter the temple? With thanksgiving and praise.

When we think about praising God we must not think that we have anything that God needs. God is absolutely self-sufficient. We cannot bring anything or do anything that will add anything to God. So, in praising God, we are not adding to him in any way. (Nor, in refusing to praise him are we detracting from him.) When we praise God we are simply recognizing who God is and proclaiming it.

The Lord is worthy of our praise because of who he is and because of his goodness (vs. 5). “For he is good” serves as a summary statement of the verse. Then we have “his love endures forever his faithfulness to all generations”.

The word translated love is the Hebrew word “hesed.” This is one of the most important words in the Old Testament. It is translated love, as here, it is also translated lovingkindness, mercy. It means covenant-keeping love, “love that motivates someone to keep their promises” or “loyalty”

The point is this: “God always keeps his promises”. This is not always true of us. We will usually keep commitments—if it is convenient—or comfortable. Some time or other people will fail you. But not God. He always keeps his promises.

So, when we hear a promise in the Bible, such as “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John. 3:16) we can know that it means exactly what is says.

“To all generations” -- His love never fails, his faithfulness never falters from generation to generation.

When we consider that God made us; he owns us; he has our good in mind and he is always loyal—why would we not praise him? How can we stay silent?

The hymn “All People That on Earth Do Dwell” is a metrical setting of Psalm 100. It is set to the tune “Old 100th” which we know as the Doxology. We don’t sing it much in the church anymore, but there was a time when it was a regular part of the church’s worship expression.

 “All People That on Earth Do Dwell”

(Old One Hundredth)

All people that on earth do dwell,
Sing to the Lord with cheerful voice.
Him serve with fear, His praise forth tell;
Come ye before Him and rejoice.

The Lord, ye know, is God indeed;
Without our aid He did us make;
We are His folk, He doth us feed,
And for His sheep He doth us take.

O enter then His gates with praise;
Approach with joy His courts unto;
Praise, laud, and bless His Name always,
For it is seemly so to do.

For why? the Lord our God is good;
His mercy is for ever sure;
His truth at all times firmly stood,
And shall from age to age endure.