Manuscript of this sermon is available for reading services.
Readings: Psalm 100 WCF 21:1
Text: Psalm 100
Let All People Praise the Lord
Psalm 100New American Standard Bible (NASB)
All Men Exhorted to Praise God.
A Psalm for [a]Thanksgiving.
100 Shout joyfully to the Lord, all the earth.
2 Serve the Lord with gladness;
Come before Him with joyful singing.
3 Know that the Lord [b]Himself is God;
It is He who has made us, and [c]not we ourselves;
We are His people and the sheep of His pasture.
4 Enter His gates with [d]thanksgiving
And His courts with praise.
Give thanks to Him, bless His name.
5 For the Lord is good;
His lovingkindness is everlasting
And His faithfulness to all generations.
Let all the earth praise the Lord
Readings WCF 20.1
Text: Psalm 100
This section of the WCF has to do with worship and much of the chapter has to do with how we are to worship. This was written back then in then1640s partly because of the excesses of worship before the reformation which included such things as the worship of Mary and the veneration saints in worship, masses for the dead uncontrolled development of the use of candles and images in worship and so on.
Following the Reformation the Lutheran wing of the Protestant churches were more relaxed about the regulation of worship saying whatever is not forbidden, is permitted. The followers of Calvin took a firmer stance and said whatever is not warranted in Scripture is forbidden or should not be permitted in worship.
There are very good reasons for taking a the firmer line in worship but as this chapter of the confession teaches us but in the meantime we shouldn’t lose sight of the end to the means,….. and the purpose of our lives which is that we are made to worship God with all our heart and soul and strength and mind. This is really what I want to focus on today with Psalm 100. Our God is an awesome God who is worthy of and demands our worship.
I want to look at this Psalm in three parts who should worship God, how the Psalmist says we worship God and the why must we worship God.
The Psalmist writes “shout joyfully to the Lord all the earth!” Who is this addressed to?
There are two possibilities. All the land of Israel or all the lands of the earth. As far as the Hebrew word is concerned it appears to favour Israel since land is written in the singular and also because of what it says in verse 3, “we are his people the sheep of his pasture.” Who are the sheep of his pasture but those who are chosen by and in the care of God as the great shepherd of his sheep? Who are those who enter the courts of God with praise? Were they the hostile nations surrounding Israel? No. They were those who knew and loved the Lord.
Who worships Almighty God today? Are they those who do everything but worship the Lord on a Sunday? No! They fill sports stadiums, and concert halls, pubs, restaurants and beaches but no time to worship the one who is their Creator; who causes the rain to fall on their gardens and the sun to warm their backs, even while they deliberately turn their backs on Him and on his Son. They do not want to worship the Lord.
No this Psalm was written by a man of faith in God, an Israelite who loved the Lord quite likely David and who with the true Israelites wants to worship the Lord.
However there is an eschatological aspect to the Psalm too and that is seen the translation all the earth. With the coming of Christ true worship of God was no longer confined to Israel but has become universal in the sense that the gospel has reached people of all lands, to the ends of the earth as Jesus predicted before his ascension. And so the call to worship now extends to people of faith in Christ everywhere which means this Psalm is addressed to us.
We are those who are called by the Psalmist to worship the Lord
2. Well how are we to worship Him? Three things stand out the first is with joy. Sometimes people ask why is it that people often look cheerful when they come to church? Even though there are difficult things going on in their lives they greet one another with a smile and seem happy to be going into church. It’s because true joy is not an end to itself but is a by-product of a life with God. Many people who do not know God think that the most important thing in life is to be happy and the way to gain happiness is by being successful or by having enough money or having someone to love and who loves you. But we all know that money success and even human relationship do not last. Thus joy can never be an end to itself. It can only be something which is given by God and is received by faith with the gift of salvation.
For example David at one time experienced the chastening of God when he sinned and his prayer in Psalm 51:8 was “let the bones you have crushed rejoice.” David knew that only the Lord could give him joy and that joy depended on David being reconciled with God. When God’s judgment fell on Israel as a nation because of their idolatry the prophet Jeremiah lamented their situation saying “Joy is gone from our hearts” (Lamentations 5:15) So what was it that restored Israel’s joy? It was God’s forgiveness given to those who trusted in God and repented from their sin. In fact the angels in heaven rejoice at the repentance of every sinner according to Luke 15:10.
This is the underlying cause for our joy. We know that God accepts us and our worship because we know that He has forgiven us through the sacrifice of Christ. That means that we are free from the burden of sin; a burden which those who don’t know Christ have to carry on their own. Such people may have an outward appearance of being joyful but unless you know Christ as your saviour from sin that kind of joy can only ever be skin deep.
So we worship the Lord joyfully through faith in Christ and then the Psalmist says we also worship the Lord “with singing” according to verse 2. It is evident in the Psalms that God loves music and singing and we who are made in his image love it too and so everywhere you go and in every culture there is music and song. People compose romantic songs, working songs, fighting songs, songs of sorrow and songs of joy. Major events in people’s lives are often accompanied by songs.
However it does seem that the Israelites excelled in music. Singing was at the heart of temple worship and there were trained singers who lead it There were also instruments to accompany singing such as trumpets, harps, lyres, stringed instruments and loud cymbals according to Psalm 150. In the past some have argued for unaccompanied singing in New Testament worship because there is no mention of instruments in the NT and because temple worship was done away with in Christ. Certainly the temple sacrifices are no more Christ has replaced those with his own. But worship is not done away with and since the Lord loved music and commanded the use of instruments and choirs in worship then why wouldn’t he still love music and worship today? Songs from the Song of Moses though to the many beautiful doxologies in the book of Revelation say that he does.
And when it comes to singing and music in any age I might sound a bit biased here but I say we find the best, highest and noblest songs in the church composed by those who wrote them to the glory of God; songs which express faith in and love for God.
The third aspect to the how of worship is that according to verse 3 we are to worship God knowingly. “Know that the Lord himself is God.” People have made caricatures of God such as calling the God of the OT a god of wrath and the god of the NT a god of love. Another example: the Deists think God is remote and uninterested in his world or his people but having created everything just lets the laws of nature run their course. Not a very encouraging concept. The Universalists have no Son of God and no saviour from sin which is equally depressing.
In any case where there are false representations of God worship is destroyed. In Israel idolatry all but destroyed true worship. Jeremiah’s lament speaking on God’s behalf was “My people do not know me.” The sad result that the godly psalmist living in exile wept by the rivers of Babylon saying “how can we sing the Lord’s song in a foreign land?” Knowing God precedes the true worship of God. Unless you know God how can you worship the Lord in Spirit and in truth?
A final answer to the question how are we to worship god is seen in verse 4, “Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise.” In other words when you come to worship, are you thankful? Do you come counting your blessings as many of the Psalmists did for example Psalm 85 says “you restored the captivity of Jacob, you forgave the iniquity of your people, you covered all their sin, you withdrew your fury and turned away your burning anger.” There’s five great reasons to give thanks in just a single sentence. There are many other reasons to give thanks, rooves over our heads, food on our tables, warm clothing and family and friends. However the greatest of them all is that we belong to the family of God through the blood of Christ. For that reason alone we have every reason to come thankfully into the worship of God.
Sing psalm 150
3. So we worship God joyfully with singing, knowing God, worshipping in Spirit and truth and thankfully. In the third place why are we to worship God? There are several reasons given here in the Psalm, the first being because he is God. The name used for God is the same name used in Genesis 1:1 Elohim, the creator of the universe. The name Elohim is also a plural form of God and as we continue reading through scripture we find that this God is triune, one God in three persons; God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. He is not only our Creator but our Savior and our Counsellor. Psalm 8 helps us to put this in some perspective. There the Psalmist asks the question what is man compared to God? Listen to what it says.
“When I consider the heavens the work of your hands the moon and the stars which you have ordained what is man that you take thought of him and the son of man that you care for him you have made him a little lower than God and crown him with majesty and glory. You make him to rule over the works of your hands and put all things under his feet all sheep and oxen also the beasts of the field the bird of the heavens and the fish of the sea whatever passes through the paths of the sea O Lord our Lord how majestic is your name in all the earth.”
He is God and we are his creatures unique, rational, made in the image of God and made to rule over his creation for God made to worship God.
The person who doesn’t believe in God who thinks that we have evolved from lower life forms; thinks its all about survival of the fittest and that we all have to make our own way in life. Such a ‘self-made’ man or woman will not worship God. But we know that everything we are and have comes from our creator. The Psalmist says “It is he who made us not we ourselves” and therefore our worship is directed to Him.
Another reason given is seen in verse 3b we are the sheep of his pasture. Not only has God made us but he cares for us as a shepherd cares for his sheep. Sheep need to be fed fenced in protected from wild animals dogs, livestock thieves, and need to be led.” This is what God is to us. Look at Psalm 23 The Lord is my shepherd I shall not want he makes me down to lie in green pasture he leads me beside still waters He restores my soul He guides me in the paths of righteousness for His names sake. There is no safer, spiritually nourishing, pleasant place to be than to be led by the good shepherd in the paths of his righteousness and especially since this Good Shepherd has laid down his life for his sheep.
And then in verse 5v the psalmist writes “For the Lord is good. His loving kindness is everlasting his faithfulness to all generations.” This verse sums up the character of God. To the believer God is good, gracious, kind, generous and loving. The unbeliever may see God as a God of justice a stern distant and cold God, but this is not the God of revelation. The unbelievers god is a truncated caricature of the true God. Our God is good to us, he is faithful and he is loving and his love is not fickle or arbitrary. It doesn’t change. His faithfulness and love is everlasting to all who believe. The covenant he has entered into with us won’t be revoked and that is a powerful incentive for worship. I fact his everlasting love and faithfulness will be the subject of our worship for eternity.
So when we worship God we are fulfilling our primary purpose because that is what we were made for ; to worship our creator and our saviour from sin. So let’s do that joyfully, thankfully and knowingly because the Lord is good. He has been infinitely good to us through the cross of Christ and his faithfulness and love is everlasting.