As Christians, we have many reasons to be joyous. Some of these are due to physical blessings that God graciously provides to all people. However, we who are of the family of God should feel far more moments of joy than most. One collection of Scripture that often teaches on this topic is the book of Psalms. It speaks of praise, gladness, and singing in a wide variety of contexts. One of the best passages that refers to all of these is Psalm 100.
In the first two verses it mentions multiple examples of joy:
Shout for joy to Yahweh, all you lands! 2 Serve Yahweh with gladness. Come before his presence with singing.Psalm 100:1-2
From the beginning, we read of shouting for joy, serving with gladness, and coming before His presence with singing. Now, it is true that anyone can have joy, gladness, and moments of singing happily. What’s noteworthy about these two verses is that all of them are related to God in some way. For instance, the shouting for joy is not about just anything. Rather, it is joy to Yahweh. Likewise, glad service is for God Himself. Finally, singing is not because of hearing enjoyable music. It is connected to coming before the presence of the Almighty.
All of these are exclamations of joy that are unique to followers of God. They are blessings that are not available to those who are contrary to His will. Thankfully, there is a hint of this being able to be changed. All peoples of the world may share in these joyous actions. We know this because the first sentence says that the shouting of joy to Yahweh is directed to “all you lands!”
This universal aspect will be brought up again briefly after we complete the text. In the meantime, the next verse shares details of the relationship between God and His people:
Know that Yahweh, he is God. It is he who has made us, and we are his. We are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.Psalm 100:3
Where the first two verses presented examples of joy, this one is the first to discuss the nature of God’s people in relation to Him. The first truth that precedes all the others is that Yahweh is God. Without that, nothing in the verse makes sense. Afterall, it requires a group of people and the One who made them to be understandable. If that relationship is taken away then there is no point to be reading this psalm.
Turning back to it, we see mention of God making us. In the context, we recognize that this is not about the Lord making all of mankind. Instead, it is describing a group of people. To see this, take note of all the short clauses:
- We are His
- We are His people
- The sheep of His pasture
Because of these additional clarifications, God making us seems to be a statement concerning Him making the Jews a distinct group of people separate from all the world. This was accomplished through a multitude of different actions including the calling of Abraham, giving him and Sarah a miraculous baby, and the fulfilment of various promises to their descendants.
Today we can also be a part of a special people that God made. Instead of it being physical, these individuals are members of the spiritual Israel (Gal. 3:7-9, 26-29). We are able to be a part of it through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. When we obey the Gospel, we are added to His body, which is His church (Eph. 1:22-23).
Looking at the end of the verse, it is interesting that it describes the people of Israel as the sheep of His pasture. Such words may be difficult for us to appreciate today, but they are relatively common in the Bible. In the first book of the Bible we read of the children of Israel being keepers of cattle, or shepherds (Gen. 46:33-34). Near the end of his life, Moses asked the LORD to set a man over the congregation so that they will not be like sheep without a shepherd (Num. 27:15-17). And of course, the most famous psalm begins with the words, “The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.”
It is verses like these that remind us of God’s people being equated to sheep, and their shepherd being the Almighty. As such, all of the statements in verse 3 are related to His people having a relationship with Him.
The next verse then turns its focus back to more instances of joy:
Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise. Give thanks to him, and bless his name.Psalm 100:4
After reading the above, it is obvious that it includes the same principles as earlier in the psalm. In this text, joy is always connected with God. It is filled with a multitude of words denoting praise and thanksgiving. There are also various pronouns that point them to God Himself.
Looking at the verse and seeing how it mentions gates and courts, it may give us the idea of entering the city of David and coming to the courts of the Temple. Doing so would have been magnificent and thrilling. I can only imagine the joy that faithful Jews would have had when they returned to that place. Of course, none of that would have been possible without the goodness of God, which is how the psalm comes to a close:
For Yahweh is good. His loving kindness endures forever, his faithfulness to all generations.Psalm 100:5
As I just said, the end of our text closes with the goodness of God. His consistent faithfulness, loving kindness, and goodness are all expressed. He is not just faithful to the patriarchs, but to all generations. While we may be loving or kind or a moment, God’s loving kindness endures forever. It has no end and continues even after we die. Finally, Yahweh is good. That sounds simple, but we only know what is good because of Him and His nature. Without Him, we would never truly grasp the concept of good.
Remarkably, that last idea is key for us to understanding this psalm. Verses 1, 2, and 4 all speak of joy in connection to God. Without Him, we can only have fleeting, temporary happiness. Because we do know Him, we can rejoice in being in His presence, enjoying the fellowship of other believers, and serving Him. What’s impressive about many of the blessings in this psalm is that we will benefit from them after this life is over as well!
Hopefully thinking about that will give you great joy in the Lord!
However, there may be some reading this that do not feel that way. That prompts me to reiterate one of the earlier points in this study. The first verse of our text had the phrase, “all you lands!” Although these verses are only understandable in the context of a people’s relationship with God, it also has a sense of universality. People from all the earth can shout for joy to Yahweh. Through Jesus Christ, all of us can be His people and the sheep of His pasture. He is the Good Shepherd and we have tremendous reasons to rejoice in Him. If you need to learn more about that, please go to my About page and send me a message. I will do my best to help you with that need.
A Girl Running Through a Field of Daisies by JillWellington from Pixabay.