On Sunday, June 18, many of our churches will sing this setting of Psalm 100 from Christian Worship Psalter.
Psalm 100 has two halves, and each half has two parts: encouragements/calls to do some things, followed by the reasons for doing them.
The encouragements/calls are piled one upon another: Shout! Worship/serve! Come! Know! Enter! Give thanks! Praise his name!
The reasons for doing these things, though fewer in number, are the most wonderful parts of Psalm 100.
Notice the encouragements/calls-followed-by-reasons pattern in the first half of the psalm.
1 Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth.
2 Worship the Lord with gladness;
come before him with joyful songs.
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 second half of verse three is spectacular all by itself. It contains the love language of the LORD for his people Israel. He chose them. He created them. They belonged to him. He led them as a shepherd caring for his sheep.
The second half of verse three is even more spectacular because it follows four lines that are addressed to “all the earth.” The LORD invites all the nations of the earth to come before him with joyful songs and to know that “the LORD – He is God!”
Believers in Old Testament times sang this psalm in anticipation of its New Testament fulfillment. Until the time of Pentecost, the Savior and his apostles preached the nearness of the kingdom of heaven to the lost sheep of Israel. After his resurrection and ascension into heaven, the Lord Jesus Christ extended his kingdom from Jerusalem, to Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.
Notice the encouragements/calls-followed-by-reasons pattern in the second half of the psalm.
4 Enter his gates with thanksgiving
and his courts with praise;
give thanks to him and praise his name.
5 For the Lord is good and his love endures forever;
his faithfulness continues through all generations.
We read verse four with wonder. Really? The LORD—the one true God, the one who revealed his name to the people of Israel—is inviting us to enter into his presence with thanksgiving and praise? But we are so unworthy. Our hands are dirty. Our lips are unclean. Our hearts are evil.
It is only because of verse five that this is even possible. The LORD is good. The LORD’s love endures forever. The LORD is faithful. The LORD has demonstrated this goodness, love, and faithfulness to us by his eternal Son. Jesus is the High Priest whose sinless life and atoning death have brought us near to God. Redeemed by his blood and covered with the robes of his righteousness, we are able to serve as priests before the LORD every day of our lives.
Let’s not lose the wonder of this. We are the people of God, grafted into the tree called Israel. Because we are believers baptized into Christ, Psalm 100 is our song to sing: “Enter His Gates with Thanksgiving!”
We sing this psalm with joy, remembering that the best is yet to come. Jesus has gone ahead of us into the heaven. He will take us to be with him there. In the world to come, we will be completely redeemed and made holy, so that John’s words about the heavenly Jerusalem are fulfilled: “Nothing impure will ever enter it, nor will anyone who does what is shameful or deceitful, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life” (Rev 21:27). Enter his gates with thanksgiving. His love endures forever.