Summary: (1) A Statement of How to give thanks (Psalm 100:1-2), (2) An Explanation of Why God’s people must give thanks(Psalm 100:3), and (3) An invitation to Whom should we give Thanks (Psalm 100:4-5)
If someone was unfamiliar with Canadian culture they might get some strange ideas from the calendar. They may assume that families are most important on the Ontario "Family Day". They might assume that we idolize the powers of the groundhog on "Groundhog Day". Finally they might think that we are only thankful on "Thanksgiving".
It is a striking fact about the one hundredth psalm that it is the only one in the Psalter explicitly identified as “a psalm for giving thanks.” The setting is assumed to be that of a company of worshipers in front of the gates to the sanctuary summoned to enter the courts of the sanctuary with shouts and songs of praise. A thanksgiving service, with a thanksgiving sacrifice, would follow the entry (cf. Lev 7:12–15). A part of the service would be a meal, with the worshipers sharing together in eating part of the meat from the sacrifice (Tate, M. E. (1998). Psalms 51–100 (Vol. 20, p. 535). Dallas: Word, Incorporated.).
It's striking that so much of this Psalm reflects contemporary celebrations of thanksgiving save one element. Today, most people misplace their source of thanks. We can be a joyous and thankful people yet have a completely misplaced joy and thanks. Unless we place God as the exclusive source of blessing and praise, then our thanksgiving will be little else than a session of pride.
Psalm 100 contains seven great imperatives, plus two explanations of why we should give thanks. It shows us: (1) A Statement of How to give thanks (Psalm 100:1-2), (2) An Explanation of Why God’s people must give thanks(Psalm 100:3), and (3) An invitation to Whom should we give Thanks (Psalm 100:4-5)
1) How Should We Give Thanks? (Psalm 100:1-2)
Psalm 100:1-2 Make a joyful noise to the LORD, all the earth! Serve the LORD with gladness! Come into his presence with singing! (ESV)
Occasionally, when someone has done something special for us, we find ourselves asking, “What can I do for so-and-so to show my appreciation?” It is a valid question and not always an easy one to answer. But think: If it is hard to know how to show appreciation to another human being, how much more difficult must it be to show appreciation to God? How should we show appreciation to God? We cannot thank God by giving him something. He needs nothing from us. What can we do? The opening verses suggest three things.
First, We can “make a joyful noise/shout.” That seems a strange place to begin, particularly since the psalm envisions the people of God giving thanks together in God’s house. Is that really what we are to do? Are we to come to church in order to make a joyful noise/shout? It is helpful to know that the Hebrew word originally meant a glad shout, such as loyal subjects might utter when the king appears among them, the emphasis being on the gladness. It would be accurate to express this idea by saying that the people of God are to praise God loudly because they are happy with him.
• When do we see this happening? Ever been to or watched a sporting event? Do you notice what happens when a crowd of anticipation sees the team take the field? There is cheering and excitement. That is the type of joy we are to have in coming into the presence of God. Is worship boring for you? You may not realize exactly who it is you are coming to.
Quote: Spurgeon said of this verse, “Our happy God should be worshipped by a happy people; a cheerful spirit is in keeping with his nature, his acts, and the gratitude which we should cherish for his mercies.”
What is the scope of this indented joyful noise/shout: "all the earth". It is an invitation to all the people of all the world to praise God. There is a very strong intended connection between evangelism and thanksgiving. If we exist as a thankful people, God will use that joy in Him to draw others to Christ. If we are a complaining, doubtful, and discouraged people, we are not a thankful people, and we fail in the call to draw "all the earth" in giving thanks. The whole earth too is summoned to “shout for joy to the LORD.” The nations must recognize who the Lord is (VanGemeren, W. A. (1991). Psalms. In F. E. Gaebelein (Ed.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs (Vol. 5, p. 639). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House.)
How should we show appreciation to God? Second, We can “serve.” Verse 2 says, “Serve the LORD. An act of worship is well named a ‘service’. It is the first response we owe him—and not, in either sense of the word, the last (Kidner, D. (1975). Psalms 73–150: An Introduction and Commentary (Vol. 16, p. 389). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.)