True Worship

Shout for joy all the earth!

Serve the Lord with Gladness!

Come into his presence with joyful singing!

Know that the Lord, He is God! He has made us and not we ourselves. We are his people and the sheep of his pasture.

Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and is courts with praise!

Give thanks to him;

Bless his name!

For the Lord is good; his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness for all generations.”

(Psalm 100)

People are worshipers. All people everywhere are worshipers. God designed it deep into our hearts. We cannot not worship. But because we are fallen and sinful, we find many objects of worship that are not worthy of worship. But make no mistake about it, we will worship. Only the Lord God almighty is worthy of worship. God calls us to worship and actually seeks true worshipers, according to Jesus (John 4:23).

Psalm 100 is one such passage where God calls and commands us to worship him. Psalm 100 is a call to the public worship of the Lord. This is a beautiful psalm in the words the psalmist uses to call us to worship; but also it is a beautiful psalm in the way the psalmist calls us to worship. By the way he calls us to worship I mean the way he sets up the flow or structure of his praise poem.

Psalm 100 has four stanzas: (1) verses one and two, (2) verse three, (3) verse four, (4) verse five. We find seven commands related to worship in the first three stanzas and three concluding truths in the last (4th) stanza. In the first stanza (100:1-2) we have three commands: shout, serve and come. In the second stanza (100:3) we have one command, know. And in the third stanza (100:5) we have three commands: enter, give and bless.

The psalmist set up the psalm in chiastic form, which is a rhetorical or literary device in which words or ideas are repeated in reverse order for emphasis and meaning. The first goes with the last, the second with the next to last, and so forth. The central word or idea is the main idea. We see this form all over the Bible. This is what the seven commands looks like in this form in Psalm 100.

A – Shout

B – Serve

C – Come

D – Know

C’ – Enter

B’ – Give

A’ – Bless

First, the psalmist calls all the earth to shout for joy as they bless the name of the Lord (A – A’). Shouting for joy is an exuberant praise of the highest magnitude. We cannot express our joy in any higher way. Our joy in the Lord should be highly expressive. This kind of joy blesses the name of the Lord. When we think about blessing we normally think about receiving blessing from the Lord. But the idea of us blessing the Lord means we kneel in worship and adoration. We speak in the highest way about his name, which is his honor, authority and character. We are overcome with joy by the thought of who the Lord is and all he has done or us!

Second, the psalmist calls us to serve the Lord with gladness by giving thanks to him (B – B’). Here serving the Lord means to worship him, to bow before him. We do that with gladness. We are happy and joyful in our worship of the Lord. HIs presence in our lives and his blessings to us have excited our sense of gratitude to him. Our thanksgiving to the Lord must overflow with gladness. We cannot thank him enough. The attitude of thanksgiving is the heart of true worship.

Third, the psalmist calls us come into his presence with joyful singing as we enter his gates and courts (C – C’). The focus of this third level of worship is that of the journey of holiness. Under the old covenant the tabernacle and then the temple was the center of holiness. They were the dwelling place of the Lord, therefore the most holy place in the holy land. The further one went from the tabernacle/temple the less holy was the place. But coming to the festivals one came from a less holy place, outside the holy city, to a more holy place, the gates of the temple into its courts. In worshiping the Lord we move from the less holy to the more holy. We move from outside his presence to an encounter with his presence. Worshiping the Lord is a journey into his presence. We do that with joy in our hearts and songs on our lips.

Fourth, the psalmist calls us to the deepest level of worship. He calls us to know that the Lord id God (D). This is the central idea and the main focus. Knowing that the Lord is God speaks of an intimate relationship with him. We know him, we follow him, we love him. This relationship is revelational. God reveals himself to us in his word. We listen to his voice so that we know him. In this deepest intimacy we know three realities (100:3). First, he as made us, we did not make ourselves. This refers to creation and new creation. He created us and he redeems us. We are the work of his hands, the work of his grace. Second, we are his people. We have a covenant relationship with him. He called us into that relationship by making promises to us. Today, we are under the new covenant in his blood. The Lord Jesus sacrificed himself for us by his cross to purchase us by cleansing us from all our sins. We are his people, his children, Third, we are the sheep of his pasture. We are his sheep. We are totally dependent upon him for all our needs. He is our shepherd. He cares for us and feeds us by laying down his life for us and leading us into the green pastures of his word. We know our shepherd and he knows us. He calls us and we know his voice and follow him.

After the three stanzas of divine commands to worship the Lord, we see in the final stanza three concluding truths (100:5). These three truths are what we realize by obeying the seven commands to worship. The first truth is that the Lord id good. As we draw nearer to his presence in worship we realize his absolute goodness. When we meditate on his person and his works we see his goodness. His great goodness startles us and overwhelms us. The second truth is that the steadfast love of the Lord endures forever. The Hebrew word for steadfast love is variously translated as love, steadfast love, loyal love, mercy, kindness, and lovingkindness. This may be the single most important word in the Old Testament. It speaks of the deep and amazing love of God for is people, and what God does for us because of his love. The psalmist goes on to say that this love endures forever. It will never end. Nothing in all the universe will separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 8:37-39). And finally, the third truth we realize by obeying the commands to worship the Lord is that his faithfulness is to all generations. God is faithful. We can depend on him. We can trust him. He will never leave us nor forsake us. This truth brings great joy, peace and hope.

Conclusion: What can we say from Psalm 100 about the true public worship of the Lord? Three conclusions follow from this call to worship the Lord. First, the public worship of the Lord id communal. The plural words of the psalm show that the call to worship is not only a calls for private worship but primarily a communal call. We are to worship the Lord together. It is synergistic worship. The communal worship is greater than the sum of all our private worship. It is the command of God! Second, The public worship of God is joyful. When we are gripped with the greatness and goodness of our God, we joyfully enter his presence with gladness. Our hearts are so full of God that we shout and sing as an overflow of our joy in God. And thirdly, the public worship of God brings us into his presence. You can only worship God in his presence. He calls us into his presence through the salvation that is in Jesus Christ through the Holy Spirit. In his presence there is wholeness and peace and flourishing. God is seeking true worshipers to experience his holy presence.

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