Summary: The reason we shout for joy, the reason we worship Him with gladness, the reason we enter His Presence with thanksgiving, the reason we give thanks to Him and praise His name is that "the Lord is good and His steadfast love endures forever. His faithfulness continues through all generations.”
One of my favorite novels is Daniel Defoe’s “Robinson Crusoe.” You know, it’s sad how we’ve taken great novels like “Robinson Crusoe,” “Gulliver’s Travels,” “Moby Dick,” or “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” and relegated them to children’s stories. We’ve done the same with Samson and Goliath in the Bible. But Defoe’s book is actually a serious Christian treatise on the goodness of God.
Robinson Crusoe starts out as a rebellious young man who, through a series of misfortunes, ends up as the lone survivor of a shipwreck on a deserted island. Among the items that he salvages from the ship’s floating debris is a Bible. Every play the game “If you stuck on a deserted island and could only take one book, what would it be”? Well, that’s the situation that Robinson finds himself. He’s marooned on a desolate island and the only thing he has to read is … the Bible. And here’s one of the beautiful things that Defoe is attempting to say. There is no church on the island. There are no priests on the island. All Robinson Crusoe has is the Bible and, in Defoe’s opinion, the Bible alone can change a life. Robinson reads the Bible and learns about God’s goodness … how God provides forgiveness for our sins and gives us an endless supply of grace. And because Robinson lives on a deserted island, the only one who can provide for him is God. There are no markets, no craftsmen, no farms, no shops … and yet, over and over and over again, God backs up what Robinson is learning by providing food and shelter. The young man comes to trust God, who is providing for all his needs, and he comes to joyfully trust Christ as his Lord and Savior.
One of the things that Robinson Crusoe lacks is human companionship … and God even provide him with that. One day Robinson finds a set of foot prints on the beach and the discovery terrifies him. Having read and heard about the fierce, cannibalistic practices of some of the tribes on the nearby islands, Robinson lives in constant fear. He writes in his diary: “All that former confidence in God which was founded upon such wonderful experiences as I had had of [God’s] goodness now vanished … as if He who had fed me by miracles hitherto could not preserve, by His power, the provision which He made for me by His goodness.”
Robinson eventually comes face-to-face with the man who made the foot prints … and calls him “Friday.” And over the course of the story, Robinson shares the Gospel with him and leads Friday to Christ. The two become inseparable friends and together they both come to know and trust in the good God who provided for all of their needs … even on a deserted island.
Defoe doesn’t tell us what Robinson Crusoe’s favorite scriptures or psalm might be … he’s a fictional character … but Psalm 100 would apply beautifully to his situation. Psalm 100 is a brilliantly and carefully crafted song. The description at the top of Psalm 100 says it’s “A Psalm of Thanksgiving.” It is known as an “entry” psalm that was sung by the people of Israel or a choir of priests or Levites as they entered the Temple for the specific purpose of offering a thanksgiving sacrifice.
As a I said, there is a deliberate movement carefully crafted into this psalm. There are seven imperatives or commands in Psalm 100’s five verses: “Shout for joy” … “worship the Lord” … “come before Him” … “know that the Lord is God” … “enter His gates” … “give Him thanks” … and “praise His name.” The seven commands have a middle or central command. There’s three commands (shout, worship, and come) at the beginning and there are three at the end (enter, give, and praise). And right in the middle of these commands, number four, is what I consider to be the central command of the song: “Know the Lord.”
Hold on now … there’s more. Psalm 100 has five verses and you can do the same thing with the number 5 as you can with the number 7. There are two verses at the beginning of Psalm 100 – verses 1 and 2. There are two verses at the end of Psalm 100 – verses 4 and 5. And the central verse, verse 3, says: “Know the Lord.”
Hummmmm … what could the psalmist be trying to tell us?
You also have a deliberate narrowing of the poem’s focus. Verse 1 says “all the earth” should shout with joy. Then it narrows down in verse 2 to just God’s covenant people, the Israelites, the “sheep of His pasture.” Verses 3 and 4 zero in on the central subject of the psalm … the Lord. And verse 5 is the reason that all the earth should shout for joy and all the children of Israel enter the gates of the Temple with praise … giving thanks and singing His praises! “For the Lord is good ... His steadfast love endures forever and His faithfulness to all generations” (v. 5).