A Journey of Praise: Psalm 100

Thanksgiving. When we think of the word, images of fat turkeys and overflowing cornucopias and tables spread with pumpkin pies naturally flood our minds. And undoubtedly, if we think of a Psalm associated with the word "Thanksgiving," Psalm 100 comes to mind. And it's no surprise: in my bible, underneath the title "Psalm 100," is a header that reads "A Psalm of Thanksgiving." In a believer's life, thanksgiving isn't a one time event set aside on a Thursday in November - it is a daily heart response to our God who "daily loads us with benefits" (Psalm 68:19.) But, as we discussed in our previous posts, a heart response of praise will always have an external response of some kind. So, what did King David have in mind when he wrote Psalm 100? What did a song of thanksgiving look like in action?


Let's look at the Psalm together. It is probably one of the better known Psalms, most likely falling right behind Psalm 23. It is also one of the shortest Psalms in the bible (which may be another reason it's well known - it's quick and easy to learn!). And it is certainly a favorite of worship leaders around the globe, for in it we find a rallying cry to bolster God's people to praise. It reads like this:


1 Make a joyful shout to the Lord, all you lands! Serve the Lord with gladness; Come before His presence with singing. Know that the Lord, He is God; It is He who has 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 to Him, and bless His name. For the Lord is good; His mercy is everlasting, And His truth endures to all generations.


The Hebrew Meaning


So, what did King David have in mind when he wrote Psalm 100? What did a song of thanksgiving look like in action? When David penned this song, he called it "A Song (for that's what Psalm means) of Todah." "Todah," you may recall, is a word that can be translated as 'praise' or 'thanksgiving' because those two words are interchangeable - both are directed to God for something He has done. "Todah" means, "to extend the hands in confession & thanksgiving for what God is GOING to do…." This then is a song of expectation! A song that says, "I can thank God for what He is going to do because I know what my God has already done." We could even call this Psalm a "prophetic psalm" because it is entering into a future reality right here, right now. The musicians in David's tabernacle were actually trained to prophesy in such a way. 1 Chronicles 25:1 says, "Moreover David...separated for the service some of the sons of Asaph, of Heman, and of Jeduthun, who should prophesy with harps, stringed instruments, and cymbals." With their sounds and with their songs, they would prophesy things into being. Now, prophecy doesn't just tell people what's going to happen - that would be foretelling, and that's just one part of prophecy. But another aspect of prophecy is forthtelling which is a declaration that creates an atmosphere in which God can move. It's not manipulating Him; it's actually partnering in faith with what He's already done, knowing that what he has done, he will do again (Hab 3:2; Heb. 13:8). Beloved, your songs have the ability to shift things when you mingle them with faith. They carry power!


So, David wrote this song with the title instruction to "lift your hands to God with expectation for what He will do." That in and of itself is pretty powerful stuff! But wait - there's more! Now, let's look at verse 1-2:


1 Make a joyful shout to the Lord, all you lands! Serve the Lord with gladness; Come before His presence with singing.


The words "joyful shout" in verse 1 is the word "rua" which means "a battle cry; a blast; a alarm of triumph." This is pretty much translated in English as its original intent: a loud, joyful shout! But notice it is also a "battle cry" and you will often find it used in context with armies in the bible. Imagine, then, the army of God's people marching into the sanctuary on Sunday with a joyful shout blasting from their mouths, arms lifted up high, thanking God for all he is about to do! Now that's a praise service! But it only gets better from there, for verse 2 says, "serve the Lord with gladness," and "gladness" is translated as "extreme delight; festivities" and comes from the root word "samchah" which we discussed in our last post. It says to "come before his presence with singing" or in the original translation "with renanah" which is "a shrill shout; a ringing cry." So, let's put in the original language now to better understand what David intended this praise to look/sound like:


1 Make a loud, battle-cry shout of triumph to the Lord, all you lands! Serve the Lord with extreme delight & festivities; Come before His presence with a shrill, ringing cry/song.


This would have been the instructions for the people of God to do during the song. These weren't just words - these were actions! In our Western culture, we often relegate actions to the children's church songs. But, oh! It is time to get the childlike heart back in the main sanctuary and to release some actions during worship!


Now get ready, because this Psalm ends with a bang! Verses 4-5 say,


Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, And into His courts with praise. Be thankful to Him, and bless His name. For the Lord is good; His mercy is everlasting, And His truth endures to all generations.


Verse 4 says to "enter into his gates with Todah" which is the title instruction for this song. So, when we walk into the church doors for a worship gathering, this is one of the responses we should have: hands lifted to God with expectation for what He will do. It goes on to say, "enter into His courts with praise." This word is my favorite word - it's "tehilla." It's the word translated, "High praise; a spontaneous burst of a creative, previously unknown song; a song born of the spirit." So, when you walk into the church doors with hands raised and with a shout of expectation, you should add to that expression your own song of worship that is coming, not from the words on the wall, but overflowing from your spirit. It's the song NO ONE else can sing! It's your song of praise to the Lord - unique to your spiritual DNA - and the one that He loves to enthrone himself upon (Ps. 22:3).


The song continues with these instructions: be thankful to Him and bless His name. The word "thankful" is now the word "Yadah" which means "to extend the hand, to throw out, to shoot out the hand like arrows or javelins (in thanks)". This is a thanks that is rooted in what God has already done - it's a praise of remembrance. It's a praise that roots your heart in your history with God. I love this, because if I am ever having a hard time connecting my heart in worship, I simply recall to mind what God has done in my past, and I am right there connected with Him again. It's a powerful expression of praise and spiritual warfare. But David doesn't end the instructions there - he says "bless" the Lord which is "barak" which means "bow down before Him." It can also mean "abundantly; to congratulate; to bless as an act of adoration." So picture yourself in abundant adoration of God, having to kneel your heart and bend your knee before Him. Why? Because you must "congratulate" Him! Congratulations simply means "praise for an achievement." It's you saying, "God! Great job! You've done amazing things!" I bet you've never thought of congratulating God before, but the word really is rooted in praise! But verse 5 tells us that we are congratulating Him, bowing down before Him, and singing to Him because He is good. He's just good!


Let's put in the original language now in verse 4:


Enter into His gates with hands lifted high to God with expectation for what He will do, And into His courts with an overflowing, spontaneous song of praise born in your spirit. Throw your hands up like arrows of thanksgiving for all God has done, and bow before Him in abundant blessing of His name. For the Lord is good; His mercy is everlasting, And His truth endures to all generations.


Wow! I'd say this Psalm of thanks is definitely not about fat turkeys and pumpkin pies! It is a song to call God's people back to remembrance for all he has done in order that we may create such an atmosphere of overflowing praise, that He steps into our midst and does new things among us. What a song! What an expression! In the days of Covid-19, we may not be able to gather together like we've done in the past, but you can turn your living room, your bedroom, or your man cave into a sanctuary of praise that creates an atmosphere for God to move in our land. Let's enter into that place together, Beloved, remembering all that God has done for our nation in the past, knowing that He is faithful to do it again.

© 2018 by Desiree Dunleavey.

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