As we enter the season of Thanksgiving, I believe it would be very helpful to look at what God’s Word says. People can debate the story of the Pilgrims, their survival, and the relationship they had with the native people after that first deadly winter, but there should be no debate that God deserves ALL our praise, obedience, worship, and thanksgiving.
Therefore, I would ask you to take a few minutes to walk with me through a short Psalm of thanksgiving: Psalm 100.
Make a joyful noise unto the LORD, all ye lands. Serve the LORD with gladness: come before his presence with singing. Know ye that the LORD he [is] God: [it is] he [that] hath made us, and not we ourselves; [we are] his people, and the sheep of his pasture. Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, [and] into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, [and] bless his name. For the LORD [is] good; his mercy [is] everlasting; and his truth [endureth] to all generations. – Psalm 100:1-5 KJV
When I break down Psalm 100, I see it divided into two distinct sets of 3, a middle, and a prelude consisting of three reasons for our thanksgiving, worship, and praise.
The prelude to which I refer is not at the beginning of the chapter, but at the end. It is verse 5 that gives us the reasons for why we should be thankful. However, when delivering this outline in sermon form, moving verse 5 to the beginning keeps us focused on God’s goodness, His mercy, and His immutability throughout the discourse.
Therefore, observe below how the entirety of Psalm 100 could be (and was) preached.
- Because (“for”) the LORD is good
- Because … His mercy is everlasting
- Because … His truth endureth to all generations
The Christian’s Invitation
1. Praise! “Make a joyful noise…”
2. Obey! “…serve the LORD with gladness…”
3. Worship! “…com before his presence with singing…”
A) Know the LORD he is God
B) [Know] it is He that hath made us and not we ourselves
C) [Know] we are His people and the sheep of His pasture
The Stranger’s Invitation
1. Enter His gates with thanksgiving
2. Enter His courts with praise
3. Be thankful and bless His name
The Citizen’s Invitation
The reason I think we can divide the psalm into the described divisions is based on the context in which David wrote Psalm 100. The imagery is that of a king and his kingdom. In this case we are talking about the King of Kings who is Sovereign over all the Earth.
Therefore, when we look at verses 1 and 2, we can see actions implored of citizens, while verse 4 can be seen as an invitation to those “on the outside looking in.”
Because the LORD is good…because His mercy is everlasting…because His truth endureth to all generations, the citizens of His kingdom can and should praise, obey, and worship with a joy that only comes with the realization and wonder developed in relationship with the King.
Like I mentioned at the first, there is a middle part. This is the part that separates the citizen’s invitation and the stranger’s invitation. It is found in verse 3.
- Know the LORD he is God
- [Know] it is he that hath made us, not we ourselves
- [Know] we are his people, the sheep of his pasture
Proper theology, the biblical kind, is essential to not only knowing who God is, but knowing Him personally. The word translated “know” is the same word used in Genesis 3:7 which described how Adam and Eve felt upon realizing their nakedness – their eyes were opened, and they knew they were naked. Until we open our eyes and see who God is, not a man-made version, then our worship will not only be incomplete, but it will be powerless.
(See Elohiym in Genesis 1:1. See also how Jesus describes the Triune God in Matthew 28:19.)
The Stranger’s Invitation
By “stranger” I mean the one on the outside looking in, the non-citizen. The invitation in verse 4 can be seen as calling out to the ones who long to be part of such a nation of people as the children of God. It is an invitation to “enter the gates.”
When you think of an old, biblical-type city, don’t you think of walled cities with gates? Well, when one was outside the gate, locked outside, entering in without an invitation would be called an invasion, right? That is why Jesus said that “no man cometh unto the Father but by me.” Jesus IS the Door, the Gate. But, the invitation is there. “Enter with thanksgiving!”
Why enter with thanksgiving? Because you have heard the great noise of the shouts of praise! The joyful roo-ah’ that was the war cry of praise shouted out by the Israelites in Joshua 6:16 and 20 has been ringing in your ears. YOUR king isn’t good. Your king isn’t merciful. Your king is always changing his mind, always unpredictable. Enter? Why YES! Joyfully and thankfully!
Why enter His courts with praise? The stranger no longer has to worry about being brought into the throne room to be judged. The poor and needy, mourning over sin, needs not worry about his countenance when stepping into the presence of Majesty! No, the invitation is to “enter his courts with praise,” because this King is merciful beyond compare and “willing that none should perish!”
The invitation is there, so “be thankful and bless his name.”
And it can ONLY be done, both citizen and stranger, because the LORD is good, his mercy is everlasting, and his truth endureth to all generations!