Psalm 100: A Hymn of Praise / Thanksgiving to Yahweh (cf. Psalms by the Day: A New Devotional Translation, Alec Motyer)
A1 (v1-2) Invitation Come Because he is God:
Shout (imperative) aloud to Yahweh, all the earth,
Serve/worship (imperative) Yahweh with joy
Come (imperative) into his presence with loud shouting (singing)
B1 (v3) Explanation (affirmation):
Know Yahweh he is Elohim
Because he made us; we are his;
We are the Shepherd’s sheep
A2 (v4) Invitation: Come Because he is Good
Come (imperative) in within his gates with thanksgiving
Give thanks (imperative) to him
Bless (imperative) his name
B2 (v5) Explanation (affirmation)
Because Yahweh is good
His steadfast love is forever
He is true from generation to generation
The Psalms, as with other biblical literary forms such as, parables, historical narratives, didactic, pericopes and so forth are best read contextually. Because of the numerical division of the Psalms I suppose there is a natural tendency to read the Psalms as independent from one another. Yet, this is often not the case as they are intentionally organized, often with thematic connections. For example, Psalms 1 & 2 are wisdom and Messianic or royal Psalms that introduce the larger hymnody codex. Of course, the obvious Messianic Psalms 22-24 are often seen as a natural literary triptych; and the Mosaic Psalms 90-91 (possibly also 92) are easily paired together. Though not as obvious as these examples, Psalm 100 is thematically connected minimally with the preceding Psalms 93-99 and, most like its successor Psalm 101.
As you may know there are a great variety of psalmic types. There are imprecatory Psalms, Psalms of thanksgiving, praise, Messianic Psalms, Psalms of lament, hymns, Psalms of trust, and royal or enthronement Psalms. These Psalms exalt God as King and stress his sovereignty over all creation; men and nations are subject to his Divine will. Six Psalmsnotably fall into this category: Psalms 47, 93, 96, 97, 98 & 99. The Psalms are a reminder that Yahweh is the King of kings & the ruler of the universe. It is because the Lord reigns over all the earth that his people ought to “sing a new song;” indeed, all the earth should sing to the Lord and bless his name (96.2). Ultimately, the earth itself will not be able to contain its voice of praise let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice; let the sea roar, and all that fills it; let the field exult, and everything in it! Then shall all the trees of the forest sing for joy … (96.11-12).
A common theme in Psalms 93-99 is that of the Kingship of YHWH (Yahweh). Psalm 93 opens with Yahweh is king and the theme continues through Psalm 100. “Psalms 93 & 94 depict Yahweh’s kingship in relationship with a turbulent world; while Psalms 95 & 96 reveal him in relationship with ‘other gods.’ The former pair guard us against being blown off course, the latter against being enticed off course” (Motyer p. 269).
Illustrative of the theme of Yahweh as King in Psalms 93-99 we find the psalmist’s warning of the dangers of trusting the false gods of this earth in Psalm 95 and 96. Therein the psalmist extols Yahweh as King to be “… reverenced above all gods. Because all the gods of the nations are godless and as for Yahweh, the very heavens are what he has made!” Linking this Psalm (96.4b -5 he is to be feared above all gods. For all the gods of the peoples are worthless idols, but the Lord made the heavens) with 1 John 5.21 (Keep yourselves from idols – past and present) – Alec Motyer makes the following observation on this Psalm:
"When John commands his readers to ‘keep yourselves from idols’ (1 John 5.21) he is looking beyond the mere outward fact of physical representations of ‘gods’ in wood and stone to the supposed reality behind them. In this sense, the ancient ‘gods’ which the Psalms inveigh against are extraordinarily relevant today. Baal makes the most obvious connection. Mountain tops belonged to him (Psalm 95:4) because his worship required visibility. It had to be performed where he could see it. You see, Baal was not a person but a force, the force that guaranteed fertility – for humans, animals and land. The only way to try make this important force operate was to do, visibly, on earth what you wanted Baal to do from heaven – hence Baal sanctuaries concentrated on the sexual acts of human fertility hoping that Baal would see and copy. It was called imitative magic. If Baal took the hint, the economy prospered. And there, indeed, is the point: wherever nothing is more important than ‘the economy’; where ‘market forces’ are the primary factors; where the ‘gross national product’ is what really matters – Baal is still worshipped.Should we also say that where sex is exalted out of all proportion, Baal is worshipped? Where materialism reigns supreme? Or we trust our bank balances for security? Tiamat ruled the sea (95.5) – the sea with its constant, powerful battering against the defenses of the habitable land. Tiamat was the god of success by power. So then wherever physical prowess is the priority, where problems are to be solved my militarism and domination, Tiamat is still on the throne. At a local level Tiamat is the god of the bully, the ruthless pursuit of the ‘rat race’, the business empire which trampled on its competitors. Molech, with his dreadful rituals in the depths of the earth (95:4) is the god of things done in darkness or in hiding – wherever the occult is ‘god’ – or there is a secret life under whatever cover (Ephesians 5:8-12). May we see to it that for us the deep places are in ‘his hand; the heights belong to him, and the sea is his!’" (Alec Motyer p. 273)
We have noted in these Psalms thus far a link between kingship and holiness (93.5; 94.15, 20; 99.9); in Psalms 97-98 the theme moves to the throne of righteousness (97.6); there is a call to righteousness (97.10-12; Yahweh reveals his salvation and righteousness (98.2); He is coming to judge the earth with righteousness (98.9). Psalms 99 & 100 depict what it will be like when Yahweh reigns. As with Psalm 93 the opening line in Psalm 99 is Yahweh is king. The entire earth will be subject to his rule; so, give thanks for he is great and to be feared (he is awesome 99.3). Yahweh is our God; he is transcendent; he bears sin away. So, exalt Yahweh our God, and bow in worship at the mountain of his holiness, because Yahweh our God is holy (99.8-9). This is where we pick up our text.
A few thoughts about Psalm 100
Psalm 100 is, if anything, a call to worship. The psalmist evokes images of God as creator, as Shepherd (100.3 cf. 95.7; Psalm 23), King (the goodness, love and faithfulness of his character and as such is worthy of joyful service, thankfulness, worship and praise. The preceding Psalms are a reminder that Yahweh is the King of kings and the ruler of the universe. It is precisely because the Lord reigns over all the earth that his people ought to come into his presence with singing. As we have seen, Yahweh is king (cf. 93.1; 95.3; 96.10; 97.1; 98.6; 99.1) and Creator and we are his people. If you are a part of the covenant community, then your allegiance is to the Lord of that fellowship. The theme segues naturally into the worship theme of Psalm 100 with its seven imperatives to worship the King.
"Ps 100 may be regarded as the Doxology which closes the strain” of the “Jehovah is King” psalms in Pss 93–99: “It breathes the same gladness: it is filled with the same hope, that all nations shall bow down before Jehovah, and confess that He is God.” … Thus Ps 100 is both an appropriate sequel for Pss 96–99, for 93–99, and even for 90–99." (WBC, Marvin Tate)
Psalm 100 celebrates the new heaven, the redemption of God’s people who abandon the city of man found in Isaiah 24.10-13; 25.2 (as with Bunyan’s allegory of the city of destruction in Pilgrim’s Progress) for the strong city of GodIsaiah 25.6-10a, 26.1-4 (also see Augustine’s City of God for the contrast with the city of man). Isaiah contrasted the two cities and the apostle Paul also looked to the coming day when God’s people would be united together with Christ in the day of resurrection 1 Thessalonians 4.13-17; and John’s Apocalypse records his heavenly vison of the redeemed, peoples from all tribes and languages standing before the throne and before the Lamb … crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!” (Revelation 7.9-17; cf. 21.1-8).
Jesus’ upper room discourse assures the disciples that there is a day coming when they will be physically united with him: Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also (John 14.1-3). The Father and the Son by the Spirit makes his home with us (John 14.23) and the earnest of the Spirit (Ephesians 1.13-14) is the guarantee that we will in due course be at home with him. The apostle Paul makes this point emphatically as he contrasts those who are earthly minded with those who have their eyes fixed on Christ and his heavenly kingdom: Brothers, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us. For many, of whom I have often told you and now tell you even with tears, walk as enemies of the cross of Christ. their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with mind set on earthly things. But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself (Philippians 3.20).
The opening verses of the Psalm employ three verbs that suggest an increasing nearness to Yahweh Shout (joyful noise),serve (worship) as one who is a servant devoted to his Lord and finally, come into his presence with triumphal singing. One may initially know facts about God; this may lead to knowing God more fully which may lead to a sense of wonder and awe but finally there is the intimate relationship of worship. The psalmist is building upon what has been said already about the covenant relationship between the king Yahweh and his covenant people what remains is the affirmation that his steadfast love endures forever and his people, the sheep of his pasture know the joyous reality of their inheritance. They know the first table of the law; they regularly reflect on the words of the Shema (Hear O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one – Deuteronomy 6.4). The shepherd motif is common throughout the Old Testament (e.g. Ezekiel 34.11-15; Isaiah 40.11; 49.9-10; Micah 4.6-8; 7.14 etc.). Thus, it is not surprising that the praise song sung in worshipful response to Yahweh as the great King should repeat the shepherd motif. Of course, as we examine the Psalm through the lens of the New Testament we are immediately drawn to John’s portrait of Jesus as the Shepherd of the sheep.
As the covenant people of the Old Testament look to Yahweh as the keeper of the covenant of love, so, too, the New Testament believer looks to Christ as the fulfillment of God’s promise to care for his disciples. The psalmist declares that the Lord God “it is he who made us and we are his; we are the people, and the sheep of his pasture.” The psalmist is not speaking of creation, but of the effectual call that set apart a covenant people who are his very own. Likewise, Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep: I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep (John 10.11-15).