Ancient scribes have titled this Psalm, “The Psalm of Praise.” It is the only Psalm bearing this exact title. Many attribute its authorship to David. An anonymous expositor in 1873 wrote, “This Psalm contains the promise of Christianity, for it is filled with the Spirit of worship.”
Psalm 100 has been regarded by many to be the “doxology” of the group of Psalms that precede it, for it is ablaze with grateful adoration of God. Many an old saint in the last 500 years since Martin Luther set this Psalm to music has said “Let’s sing the Old Hundredth.”
The first verse is like a trumpet blast! It is a summons calling worshippers from all over the world. This is a Psalm that can be sung by all nations. In many of the Psalms, the praise comes from Israel, but in Psalm 100, it is universal.
Note the seven exhortations:
1. Make a joyful noise
2. Serve the Lord with gladness
3. Come with singing
4. Know the Lord is God
5. Enter with thanksgiving
6. Thank Him
7. Bless His Name
Psalm 100 gives us good sound reasons to praise the Lord—not just reasons that sound good. Since the human race has one common Father, all have the same privilege of access. Humans may differ in race. Concerning this, they have no choice. But Who they worship is up to each human individually. Myriads of ethnicities will surround the throne of God.
“Make a joyful noise unto the Lord”
The Hebrew word here means to “Make a glad shout!” It is like a shout one would give his King when He appears. The Hebrews often expressed joy by happy shouting, loud trumpet blasts, timbrels and dancing. They found their best expressions of praise in songs. We must bear in mind that the Psalms were set to music.
God should be worshipped by happy people, but what whiners we often are instead. Many try to be happy without God, never knowing the only happiness is in God. A cheerful spirit is in harmony with who He is. A heart for God can never keep silent.
“All ye lands”
This literally means “all the earth”. Everyone is invited to praise God! The summons to praise the Lord is not reserved for Israel alone. Praise was always intended to be universal. The fact that the whole earth does not praise Him is not God’s fault. Psalm 100 is based on the commonality of all human beings. All people can unite under the banner of praise.
“Serve the Lord”
Though what is in view there is the Hebrew public temple worship service, we are to serve Him by all our various acts of obedience. The invitation to worship here comes with one condition: it is to be done cheerfully and joyfully.
“Gladness” here in the Hebrew is emphatic. A saved heart serves the Lord and it should be done with a happy spirit. It is interesting that Jesus’ beatitudes all begin with the word “Blessed” which means “happy.” God created us to be happy.
Cheerfulness is a credit to the Jesus we serve. People are watching you, looking for a glimpse of the Jesus you serve. Better to be a sweet servant than a sour saint! This is an exhortation for God’s people to remember that worship should be done joyfully, for it is a happy privilege. Come to worship God, not with a slavish fear, reluctantly, nor out of duty, but with a happy response to who He is.
“Come before His presence with singing”
Even the birds sing, and so should intelligent humans. Come before God focused, united, humble and happy. Come respectfully, yet with a delighted, deliberate devotion.
“Know ye that the Lord is God”
The term “know” here contains the idea of recognizing this fact and enjoying the results of that knowledge and relationship. It does not mean to merely be aware that God exists, for that is always assumed in the Word of God and never is debated. Blind faith won’t please a seeing God. We are intelligent beings worshipping an all-wise God. We are called to know five things in verse 3:
1. That the Lord is God: Lordship
2. He has made us: Creator
3. We did not make ourselves: Indebtedness
4. We are His people: Ownership
5. We are the sheep of His pasture: Dependency
Idolatry was popular in Israel for a time, for idols demand nothing except slavish fear. But we are to “know” that the Lord is God, for our worship is based on the deliberate decision to do so. We know Who we worship and we know why. A person who wants to know themselves must know God first.
“He made us, and not we ourselves”
This verse gives the foundational reason for worship: He created us. He must be God, for Who else can create? The sum of all created things proves His existence. Our Maker is our Owner, and we belong to Him, not ourselves.
Consider this: He made everything for Himself and by Himself: He completed the task of creation. He made everything from nothing. He made it all without any help. He required no assistance and thus shares no credit. He sustains it all—all the time.
We are not self-made nor self-sustained, let alone self-saved. Some folks act as if they did make themselves, and it is a well-known maxim that “a self made man worships his own maker.” Life is a privilege, not a right, so we are to live to serve and praise our Creator.
“We are His people and the sheep of His pasture”
As His sheep, we are to prefer the company of other sheep, the fellowship of His people.
Consider that we:
a. Experience the trials of His people.
b. Are separated as His people.
c. Enjoy the privileges of His people.
d. We are in His pasture. He owns the land we dwell upon.
We are to be like a flock following our Shepherd, gathering around Him, looking up to Him for everything we need. What a privilege! What cause for joy! How can I be depressed, knowing He is my Shepherd? We belong to Him by virtue of the fact that He made us. This puts God far above the simple role of a Shepherd. Add to this the fact that Jesus redeemed us, purchasing us with His blood.
Someone has suggested that the first three verses were a chant by the Levitical priest as the peace offering was brought to the altar, and that verses 4-5 was the response of the people when the sacrifice was lit by the priest. Recited this Psalm now, in this way, perhaps with your spouse reading the first three verses, and you the last two. Then reverse the roles.
“Enter into His gates”
The concept of passing through the court gates of the temple is in view here. These are the gates that lead to public worship, for there are no private or secret believers represented in Psalm 100. Sometimes we may wonder how God even tolerates the human race, but He desires our worship. “Enter!” for the doors are open to the worst of humankind. Jesus commanded that we “compel all people to come in” (Luke 14:23). This Psalm can be considered a prelude to the Great Commission in Matthew 28:19-20. This entrance includes all places of worship, anywhere, in any country, in any era, where God is worshipped in Spirit and in truth (John 14:24).
“Neither were thankful” was Paul’s indictment against the reprobates in the first chapter of Romans. A grateful spirit recognizes our position as servants of God. Paul consistently blends thanksgivings into the opening verses of his epistles.
It is the sacrifice of praise God desires, not animal sacrifices. The sacrificing of bulls and goats is out of date, but the sacrifice of praise will never be. In the Old Testament, one did not attempt to approach God without a sacrifice. Our praise is to be like the incense in the temple, constantly ascending. But is that same attitude of reverence and respect lacking in twenty-first century Christianity? We are never too old to learn to praise the Lord, for earth is our school in which we learn to praise God. Psalm 100 teaches us that when we come into His house, we are to express thoughts of praise. There is a place for private prayer, but this Psalm is not about that, it is about the need for public worship.
“And into His courts with praise”
The courts were the open space surrounding the temple and it was there the people worshipped, not inside. There is no wiggle-room in Psalm 100 for anyone to say “I only worship God in the privacy of my own home!”
“Be thankful unto Him”
We must have an attitude of gratitude, come with a grateful heart and with deepest appreciation. In Deuteronomy 8, Moses called on the people to renew their thankfulness to God for their preservation in their wilderness wanderings. We, as pilgrims on the earth, should daily renew our thankfulness to God for our preservation in our pilgrimages.
“And bless His Name”
His is the Name which is above all names. A name represents a being. When you praise His Name, you praise the Person of God Himself who is represented by that Name. But there is a difference between just thanking God and blessing God. These are expressions which only His redeemed can comprehend. There is no thought of a cold, liturgical formula for blessing God here, for it must come from our hearts spontaneously. We tend to bless those who show personal love to us. Since God has given us “richly all things to enjoy”, how can we not praise Him daily? He blesses us and we must reciprocate by ascribing to Him honor and praise.
“For the Lord is good”
Goodness sums up all of God’s character traits. This is why we give Him honor and praise. Since God is good, He therefore does that which is good. We are the blessed objects of His attention and affection. We should imitate Him by doing good to others. After God created man, He said it was very good (Genesis 1:31). Since God is good, He must have had a good motive for creating man in His very image (1:26). God wanted a people He could lavish His love upon and He knew we would love him back, for the human being who does not praise God is incomplete.
“We love Him because He first loved us” (I John 4:19). He continues to love us, despite our circumstances. In fact, the more trials we have, the more apparent and precious His goodness appears (I Peter 1:7). Furthermore, He made us so that no trial will be unbearable: He will allow none of His children to suffer total defeat. The psalmist here challenges us to examine His works and see His goodness. We are not simply to be happy about His goodness to us, we are to do something about it! We must praise the Lord!
“His mercy is everlasting”
Two primary attributes of God are in view in Psalm 100: His truth and His mercy. God is not only just, He is kind. These facts should breed joy in our hearts. If He was just powerful, we would not dare approach Him, for we might be terrified. But Jehovah is one who ought to be loved, for He is not only good, but His character, His mercy, His truth is enduring. And His good reputation is passed on to every generation. Our God is radically worthy of all our praise.
The Hebrew word “everlasting” means “unbounded; limitless.” Our praise should be also, for our praise begins here on earth and never ends in heaven. The concept in this verse is that of unchangeableness. We are put on this earth to find God and then praise Him forever. His faithfulness cannot change. However, our can, but must not. The word “mercy” involves our dealings with those weaker than we are, or with those who have wronged us. Mercy means dealing with them otherwise than what they really deserve. God is not stern, cold, or insensitive. He is good, merciful and compassionate. He is unwilling that any would perish, so He sent His only Son. Someone once said, “The goodness of God is a fountain; the mercy of God is a stream; the salvation of God is the ocean into which His mercy and goodness flow eternally.”
“And His truth endures to all generations”
This is for all people, in all points of the globe. There is not the slightest trace of racial exclusiveness or bigotry in Psalm 100. God is not fickle, partial nor gender-biased. He will never revoke or alter His covenant. All generations will find Him faithful. All generations can anchor in His truth. How could we love a God who was not true to His Word? How could you trust a God who was true to one generation, but not the next? How could you confide in a God who told you one thing one day, and changed His mind the next? How could you honor a changeable God? But we praise the One who has never broken or changed His Word. In our changing world: only One never changes. “Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8).
Since God is changeless, so His mercy, love and truth are changeless. So also should our praise be unceasing and it should increase. Throughout eternity we will continue to reap the benefits of His goodness and mercy and truth.
Psalm 100 stresses factors that should be observed whenever God’s children gather in worship.
Psalm 100 is like the batch of grapes the spies came back with, a foretaste of what is in the Promised Land.
Psalm 100 shows the privilege of access and the duty of thankfulness, and the reasons for enjoying both!
Psalm 100 has no sad note in it, for God is praised from start to finish.
Psalm 100 – note its universality and it joyfulness
Psalm 100 fully expresses our joy in God which is a marked feature of all the Psalms.
Psalm 100 is the high watermark of praise.
From Psalm 100, we must consider:
The duty of praise to which we are summoned
The grounds of this summons to praise God
The cultivation of this high privilege.
We have good reasons to be thankful, and our gratitude will bless God, ourselves, and others.
Let no one steal your joy. All God’s children should nourish a happy, glad, merry, bright, hopeful spirit! As born-again optimists, “Be thankful unto Him and bless His Name!”
God is so very good to us and we are so very undeserving.