Summary: This psalm moves us to a greater spirit of thanksgiving in our worship.
Psalm 100 Thanksgiving
11/23/03 D. Marion Clark
We are taking a break from our 1 Corinthian series to consider the subjects of thanksgiving and Christ’s birth. These are fun themes and I hope you will be moved to a greater spirit of thanksgiving during this season.
Call to Worship God: With Joy
1 Make a joyful noise to the
LORD, all the earth!
2 Serve the LORD with gladness!
Come into his presence with singing!
“Joyful noise” is not a comment about our singing ability, nor is it a call to be noisy. “Shout for joy” (NIV) is a good rendition. It is the shout of the people as they enter into a large hall and behold their great king standing before them. It is the cheer given to a victorious hero. The psalmist is calling all the earth to hail Yahweh, the Lord over all the
Serve the LORD with gladness! To worship God is to serve him, and to serve him is to worship him. In no better way do we serve God than by offering him worship. We do not serve God on other days by doing good works and then take a break when we worship. Instead, worship is but our highest form of service.
This is an important point. One of our church membership questions reads: Do you promise to support the Church in its worship and work to the best of your ability? I will then ask how the candidates intend to support the church. Sometimes they will say it, but the first answer ought to be “attend worship.” Get this clear. Worship is an act of obedience. God calls us to worship him. When the church doors open for worship – morning and evening, Sunday or weekday – God’s people should come and serve their God.
Worship is entering into the presence of God: Come into his presence with singing! Wherever we are, God is present. Nevertheless, when we come together for public, corporate worship, there is a special sense in which we have gathered together before God. And that understanding ought to control how we appear for worship. Our common take about how we worship runs along the perspective of what we like. We choose our dress based on personal preference; the time we arrive for worship, the songs we sing and the manner in which we sing, and so on. If we are honest with ourselves, we will find that most of how we worship is based on personal taste and not on an inquiry into what God wants from us. If we received an invitation to appear at a White House banquet to honor the president or some other distinguished person, would we not inquire as to what would be expected of us? Would we simply prepare based on “this is what makes me most comfortable”? Would we excuse ourselves by saying that the President is only concerned that we are sincere? We are entering into God’s presence, and our first concern should be what he prescribes for worship.
This psalm makes very clear what is required for this worship service – joy! Make a joyful noise…serve… with gladness…come… with singing! There are certainly times in worship for solemn observance and even expressing grief, but not at this particular service. Somehow an attitude took hold in the church that feeling is secondary in how one worships and serves God. Indeed, we have been taught that it is more noble to serve when one doesn’t feel charitable and to worship when one doesn’t have the heart for it, that God is primarily pleased with our obedience. Truly God does desire obedience. “To obey is better than sacrifice” (1 Samuel 15:22). But as any parent knows, how much better when one obeys out of love and joy.
Do you think God delights in our muttering hymns and songs that express joy for his greatness? Do you think he delights in our stern and indifferent expressions as we sing of his salvation? He is no different from us. We would rather nothing be said than to receive thanks from a person who is clearly going through the motions. If we are going to give thanks to God, then express it like we mean it.
We are all different and express ourselves differently. I am mild mannered and my gestures are more subdued than many others. Nevertheless, a smile is a smile and a frown a frown. Neither one takes effort, and whereas, one can easily falsify a smile to appear to be happy, rarely in worship does one frown while singing a praise song unless he is unhappy or not attentive to what he is singing.
God is like a woman; he doesn’t want us to merely do the right things; he wants us to enjoy doing them! He wants our hearts as well as our obedience.