One thing I have often struggled with has been putting joy into my worship of God. I have known for most my life that God is worthy of praise and that I should give it to Him, but I never had a solid picture of why He deserved my praise.
This lack of knowledge as to why God deserved my praise often led my praise to be lifeless; I knew I needed to give it, but it wasn’t passionate. This is where I was for a long time, I didn’t even realize that my worship should be passionate, let alone have an idea of how to make it so. As I have been reading my Bible over the past 2 years I have continually been shown that in fact my worship has to be passionate. Learning that my worship needed to be passionate left me hanging with a question of how could I make it so? Have you ever been struck with truth that we need to worship God with passion, but stuck on the how we can make our praise that passionate and joyous?
In Psalm 100 the Psalmist is writing for the people of Israel, he tells them to praise the Lord and he gives them a few reasons why. Turn with me in your bibles to Psalm 100. In Psalm 100 the psalmist writes “1Make a joyful noise to the LORD, all the earth! 2Serve the LORD with gladness! Come into his presence with singing! 3Know that the LORD, he is God! It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture. 4Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! Give thanks to him; bless his name! 5For the LORD is good; his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations.”
(In verse three the psalmist writes a profound truth about the relationship of God and His people, which at this time was the people of Israel but, through faith in Jesus, includes us.)
In verse three the psalmist writes: “Know that the LORD, he is God! It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.” In the first part of this verse the Psalmist tells the people of God to “Know that the LORD, he is God!” Throughout psalm 100 the Psalmist gives various reasons why we are to praise God; all these reasons are built on the foundation of this praise being an acknowledgment of who God is. In this verse the psalmist declares the profound truth that God made us, and we are his; we are His people, His sheep! If you are reading in a KJV or NASB you may notice that your Bible reads “It is he who made us and not we ourselves” instead of the ESV’s “It is he who made us and we are His.” This comes from the fact that the Hebrew words for “His” and “not” sound very similar, but because of the parallel between God creating us and we being God’s people; it is most likely that this should be translated as the ESV, NIV, and NET have it; “it is he who made us, and we are His.” This is a monumental truth of our relationship with God; as the people of God we are called His sheep!
Throughout the OT we see the imagery of Israel as the flock of God with Him as their shepherd.
This imagery is continued in the NT and gives profound meaning to us being God’s. A shepherd in the days of the Bible would go to crazy lengths to protect and take care of his sheep. Think of the life of David; he was a shepherd and just before he goes to face goliath he tells Saul that he had, while taking care of his sheep, fought bears and lions! Some lions are bigger than 250 kg! That’s huge! The lengths David went to for his sheep were crazy. He tells Saul that a lion came and took a sheep from the flock; David didn’t just let this sheep wander off; he went after the lion, grabbed it by the beard and struck it down. David fought bears and lions, took his sheep back, and killed the animals that had taken them. That’s insane, but that is what a shepherd would do for his sheep! [1 Samuel 17]
In verse 1 of this psalm we read that this is a call to all the earth to praise the LORD, but here in verse 2 and 3 the psalmist focuses in on Israel’s relationship to God. Because God delivered and created them as a nation; they were His. They were His people and He would be their shepherd. At the time when this psalm was written the people of God were the nation of Israel, but in the book of Romans we are told that gentiles have become part of the people of God through faith in Jesus Christ. Using a different analogy than the psalmist, Paul in Romans writes that we have been grafted into the branch of Israel. The Jewish people were God’s chosen people in the OT, in the NT we see that all who call upon the name of the LORD throughout the entire world–Jew and Gentile– are His elect people and are counted as His Sheep.
In John 10 Jesus talks of Himself as the shepherd of the Flock. He tells the Pharisees whom He is speaking to that He is the good shepherd and that He has sheep spread throughout the world. It is for these sheep that He laid down His life and died, and He promises that He holds them in His hand and protects them.
(This is amazing; we aren’t just nameless human beings that God has saved. In this psalm the author wrote that we are God’s people, that we are His sheep. That means that He takes care of us, He loves us, He protects us, He even laid down His life for us!)
In verse 5 the psalmist writes; “5For the LORD is good; his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations.” In Psalm 100 v. 5 the psalmist gives another reason for the people of God to praise Him; he writes that God is good.
This can be a hard thing to believe, do we always believe that God is good? In the latter part of v. 5 the psalmist explains why God is good; He gives two of many reason given throughout Scripture. The first is that God’s “steadfast love endures forever.”
This is huge! The word that the ESV translates “Steadfast Love” is the Hebrew word HESED. This word is a powerful word that is found throughout the Old Testament. The NASB and KJV translate HESED as God’s lovingkindness.
What is it about God’s lovingkindness lasting forever that makes Him good? God’s HESED is an expression of His love and covenant faithfulness for His people; in the OT this was Israel but this extends to all those who believe upon Jesus Christ; we have all entered a new covenant with God. This word Hesed carries with it a lot of theological weight. It is God’s faithfulness to His elect people based upon His love; no matter what they do He still has love for them.
It is His Hesed that led Him to make a covenant with Israel and then later with us through the blood of Christ. We are weak and in a pitiful state; we don’t deserve God’s mercy, kindness, graciousness, or love. But His covenant faithfulness, His lovingkindness, His Hesed, means that He will love us and stay faithful to His promises because we are His sheep, we are His people, and we are in covenant with Him. Why does this make God good? This means that even though we make mistakes, even though we do foolish things, God’s lovingkindness means that He will never fail to fulfill His promises for our lives; He will always work the events of our lives according to His will so that we become conformed more and more to the image of His son and enter into His presence after we die.
In the last part of this psalm the psalmist writes that “God’s faithfulness [is] to all generations.” Here the psalmist gives the second reason that God is good; because of this faithfulness, in Hebrew; His “emunah”. The psalmist writes that it is to all generations.
God’s faithfulness is His utter dependability, what some translations call; His truthfulness. God is faithful in both His words and actions. Because He is faithful we can trust that what He says will come to pass, what He promises is true. He is a fixed and stable foundation for our faith.
The psalmist relates here that God is good because He is stable, faithful, He is trustworthy.
(In verse five the psalmist declares that God is good because His promises will never fail, He will be loyal to the covenant He has made with His people, His love forms a foundation for us to put our faith in Him and trust that everything He says will come to pass and that He will truly work the things in our lives for the good of us becoming more like Him. God’s goodness and His relationship to us as His sheep are the foundation that the psalmist gives for the command in this psalm.)
The whole of psalm 100 revolves around an imperative, a command, for the whole earth and the people of God to follow; the psalmist declares we need to praise the Lord. He declares that; our good God deserves our joyful praise.
Psalm 100 is a resounding call for the people of God to praise the Lord! In the psalm the psalmist describes a few different ways in which the people of God can praise the Lord.
In verse 1-2 we read “Make a joyful noise to the LORD all the earth! Serve the LORD with gladness! Come into His presence with singing!” and in verse 4 we read “Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! Give thanks to him; bless his name!”
In these verses the psalmist gives three distinct ways to praise the Lord within His general command to do this.
Making a joyful noise, in verse 1, is cheering for our God. It is a call to clap, shout, cheer for the Lord.
In verse two the psalmist talks about singing joyful songs, which is pretty self-explanatory.
And in verse four we are told to bless His name; this would be declaring Him to be who He is. Declaring Him to be Holy, majestic, great, and mighty, awesome, powerful, loving, and righteous.
(Throughout the psalm the psalmist refers to praising God in different ways, but the clear exhortation is for the people of God to praise the Lord. Our Good God deserves our Joyful praise!)
There is one last clear theme in this psalm; with all the exhortations to praise the Lord it is made clear that it should be done with joy and gladness!!! The psalmist declares that our Good God deserves our JOYFUL praise!!
When we praise God it cannot be free from any emotion, it cannot be dry and lifeless! This is the lesson that God has been teaching me over the past few years; my praise to Him has to reflect my response to the truth that the psalmist shares here in psalm 100. We are not to worship God resigned and unenthusiastic; this is GOD!!! We are to praise Him for who HE is, we are to praise Him because He is good!!! We are to praise Him because we are His sheep!!!
Unfortunately over the years some people have gotten the idea that Christians are supposed to be cold, dry and formal, in their worship, or on the other side there has been the opposite of some charismatic’s with hyper emotionalism. The psalmist is calling here for the powerful middle ground.
John Piper in his book Desiring God writes; “Truth without emotion produces dead orthodoxy and a church full (or half-full) of artificial admirers (like people who write generic anniversary cards for a living). On the other hand, emotion without truth produces empty frenzy and cultivates shallow people who refuse the discipline of rigorous thought.”
In Psalm 100 we are given the truth that should inspire in us emotion! Because of who God is—because He is our amazing, sovereign, gracious God—we should praise Him with joy!!
I found myself starting to learn that I needed to praise God joyfully 1st semester of last year; I had an experience with the psalmist’s idea of joyfully praising God in light of who He is. I had systematic theology 1 on Thursday mornings before chapel and one day I was with some friends after chapel. Me, being my awkward self, told them enthusiastically “I worshipped well today!” It was kind of a weird thing to say, and it drew a few laughs out of my friends—left me feeling like an idiot—but I had experienced what the psalmist here was telling the Israelites. In Systematic Theology we had been talking about who God was and I loved having chapel immediately after because I would get excited during class for praising Him. Learning about God and His goodness, about all of who He is, in that class gave me ammunition that turned into passionate praise.
When we are worshipping God we should think of his goodness, of all that He has done. In worship when we think of God’s free favor of salvation through His son we should overflow with joy and gladness at the amazing work of God in our lives.
When we think of ourselves as the Sheep of God’s flock and think of what that means we should erupt in praise at the thought of what Jesus did for His sheep. In John 10 John records Jesus as saying that He laid down His life for His sheep and promises to keep them in His hand and protect them from all who would try to tear them from His fold! On the Cross He died for YOU, with your sins, to bring you, his sheep, into his fold! He promises to protect you from every power of Hell that would come against you [John 10:11-30, Romans 8:28-39].
In this psalm the psalmist declares the truth that who God is, what He has done for us, and our relationship with Him leads anywhere but a stale and unexcited faith. Because of all He is, praise should continually be on our lips and we should be overflowing with Joy for all that He does!!
(Our good God deserves our Joyful praise!)
In Psalm 100 the psalmist writes; “1Make a joyful noise to the LORD, all the earth! 2Serve the LORD with gladness! Come into his presence with singing! 3Know that the LORD, he is God! It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture. 4Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! Give thanks to him; bless his name! 5For the LORD is good; his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations.” Our Good God deserves our joyful praise! We are His sheep! We need to praise Him joyfully and continually in our lives.
I want to end off with praise today, I am going to read prayer written by the puritans a few hundred years ago, this is a prayer of thanksgiving and blessing the name of God.
“Heavenly Father, blessed Son, eternal Spirit,
I adore thee as one Being, one Essence, one God in three distinct Persons,
for bringing sinners to thy knowledge and to thy kingdom
O Father, thou hast loved me and sent Jesus to redeem me;
O Jesus, thou hast loved me and assumed my nature,
Shed thine own blood to wash away my sins,
Wrought righteousness to cover my unworthiness;
O Holy Spirit, thou hast loved me and entered my heart,
implanted there eternal life,
revealed to me the glories of Jesus.
Three Persons and one God, I bless and praise thee,
for love so unmerited, so unspeakable,
so wonderous, so mighty to save the lost
and raise them to glory
O Father, I thank thee that in fullness of grace
thou hast given me to Jesus, to be his sheep, jewel, portion;
O Jesus, I thank thee that in fullness of grace
thou hast accepted, espoused, bound me;
O Holy Spirit, I thank thee that in fullness of grace thou hast
exhibited Jesus as my salvation,
implanted faith within me
subdued my stubborn heart,
made me one with him for ever.
O Father, thou art enthroned to hear my prayers,
O Jesus, thy hand is outstretched to take my petitions,
O Holy Spirit, thou art willing to help my
infirmities, to show me my need,
to supply words, to pray within me,
to strengthen me that I faint not in supplication
O Triune God, who commandeth the universe,
thou hast commanded me to ask for those
things thy kingdom and my soul Let me live and pray as one baptized into the threefold name.”
Amen. Our good God deserves our joyful praise.
A recording(video) of this sermon can be found here
John Piper, Desiring God : meditations of a Christian hedonist (Colorado Springs, Colo.: Multnomah, 2011), 81.
 Arthur Bennett, The Valley of Vision: A Collection of Puritan Prayers & Devotions, first edition. (Edinburgh: Banner of Truth Trust, 2002), 2–3.
Bennett, Arthur. The Valley of Vision: A Collection of Puritan Prayers & Devotions. First edition. Edinburgh: Banner of Truth Trust, 2002.
Piper, John. Desiring God: Meditations of a Christian Hedonist. Colorado Springs, Colo.: Multnomah, 2011.