A Psalm for Giving Thanks
It is quickly approaching that time of year when we express our thankfulness. Each year as we get closer to Thanksgiving Day, I am reminded of Psalm 100, “A Psalm for Giving Thanks.” Charles Spurgeon said of Psalm 100, “Nothing can be more sublime this side of heaven than the singing of this noble Psalm by a vast congregation.” Augustine said, “A Christian is to be a hallelujah from head to foot.” With those responses, it is interesting that Psalm 100 is the only psalm in the psalter with the heading “Giving Thanks.” It may be the only one, but oh how full of instruction it is for us today. Psalm 100 tells us not only how we are to give thanks, but also why we are to give thanks.
The psalm begins by giving us 3 imperatives (commands) telling us how we are give thanks. We are to make a joyful noise to the LORD. This does not mean our corporate gatherings are just one big cacophony. The Hebrew word here captures the understanding of a fanfare for the entrance of a king. The second imperative we interpret as serve the LORD. Some translations use the word ‘worship.’ This Hebrew word carries the understanding of laboring for and with another. We delight in serving one another because of the service we have received from our Savior. This is the same word used in Exodus 12 where Israel was told to tell their children the meaning of the Passover when they entered the land God was giving them. The third imperative is to come into His presence. We come into His presence with singing. We experience this every Sunday, don’t we? We are blessed to have such wonderful musicians at Christ Church and that includes everyone of us as we open our mouths and sing His praises. Thanks be to God!
The psalm ends by telling us why we are to give thanks – because He is God (verse 3) and He is good (verse 5). I must admit verse 3 has long caused me to scratch my head. I grew up with a mother who taught speech and drama. She constantly corrected our English usage. Reading our verse 3 in English, I can almost hear my mother’s correction, "You are never to use a proper name followed by the pronoun" (ie “Bryant, he…”) and yet we have it here, “…the LORD, He is God.” This is a tool for emphasis in Hebrew. The author wants to be sure we all understand that God is God and we are not. This is why the psalmist uses different names for God. You will notice the psalm opens with yehweh which is translated LORD. This is the name for our covenant making and keeping God. In verse 3 the psalmist uses the name Elohim which is translated God. This is the name for the creator. He is showing us the vastness of our God because HE alone is God. The psalm ends reminding us He is good. He has entered into a covenant with us, He has saved us, He has showered us with grace and mercy because He is good.
Our response then is to give thanks. F.W. Boreham, an Australian pastor from the late 1800’s, said this, “Every hair of my head thanks you; every throb of my heart thanks you; every drop of my blood thanks you; because you gave your best to save me.” That is my response to my LORD and my God. In addition to that, I give thanks for my new friends at Christ Church. It is a great joy to unite my voice with yours in making a joyful noise, serving the LORD, and coming into His presence with singing. I’m looking forward to doing that this Sunday with each of you, when we also will be looking at Romans 8:12-17 together.