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Serve the LORD with gladness! Come into his presence with singing! —Psalm 100:2

As spring draws near, it is as though all creation bursts into life. Flowers bloom, trees blossom, grass grows, and weeds shoot up like they have been fertilized. Thus, it is time to break out the weed-eater, which soon leads to firing up the blower. These gas-powered instruments for beautifying the yard, however, cannot crank with just one tug on the pull cord. The engine requires priming, which involves pushing a small pump to deliver fuel, making the engine ready for combustion. Our hearts are like those cold engines. To be ready for worship, fired in our souls to give God the praise due His name, we need shots of truth, heart-focusing facts about the greatness of the Lord and His grace, so that our cold hearts would be roused to action. Psalm 100 can be such a primer for us.

Psalm 100 is the climax of a collection of psalms focused on the Lord as King. From the declaration of Psalm 93:1, “The Lord reigns,” to the reminder in Psalm 99:1, “The Lord reigns,” the psalmist has fixed the believer’s heart on the fact of the Lord’s present enthronement and future glory. These psalms are laden with gospel hope because they depict all the earth singing to the Lord (Ps. 96:1), and all the earth seeing the revelation of His righteousness (Ps. 98:1), which previews Paul’s declaration about the gospel in Romans 1:16–17 as the revelation of God’s righteousness.

But Psalm 100 is specifically a psalm for giving thanks, whereby those saved by the Lord now serve Him with gladness. Service, the very service given to God as we corporately come into His presence (and that is why we rightly call it a worship service), is the only appropriate action in view of the Lord’s saving mercies. But that action also requires a certain attitude: gladness. It’s the gladness associated with liberation seen in Isaiah 35:10: “And the ransomed of the Lord shall return and come to Zion with singing; everlasting joy shall be upon their heads; they shall obtain gladness and joy, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.”

It is obvious to us that we have not yet reached the day when sorrowing and sighing vanish. Nevertheless, King Jesus has brought everlasting joy with His redeeming mercies, and those who have been awakened by the Spirit of Christ must necessarily sing, make melody in their hearts, and give thanks (Eph. 5:18–20). It is our joy to be called before the living God to sing in His presence. However, if we are to prepare ourselves for this action, service, with this attitude, gladness, on what truths do we need to think?

The psalmist highlights eight things. First, “Know that the Lord, he is God” (Ps. 100:3). Move past an intellectual assent to God being God and know Him, set the eyes of your faith on who He is, see and embrace the truth about Him. He is the Lord, the covenant God, Yahweh. He is self-existent, independent, infinite, eternal, and unchangeable. He is steadfast in His commitments. He’s not a man that He should lie (Num. 23:19). He is not weak, ignorant, limited, flawed, or confined to our thoughts of Him. He is sovereign. He is incomprehensible. He is the only living and true God. He triumphs over all so-called deities. There is none like Him. Know this fact and rest your soul in His prevailing rule as the promise-keeping King.

Second, know that “It is he who made us” (Ps. 100:3). He created us. He knit us together in our mother’s wombs. He designed everything about us. He formed our bodies. He is “the Father of spirits” (Heb. 12:9); the very one who breathed life into us giving us a soul. All that we are we owe to Him. Indeed, there is nothing we have which is not derived from Him. What do we have that we have not received (1 Cor. 4:7)? As the Maker, we thereby depend totally on Him. What power this declares to us! What boundless creativity! Each of us are fearfully and wonderfully made (Ps. 139:14), shaped by the master potter. And though the Lord stands over us as the transcendent Creator, He yet calls us to come into His presence. Marvel over this fact!

To be ready for worship we need shots of truth, heart-focusing facts about the greatness of the Lord and His grace.

Third, know that “we are his” (Ps. 100:3). He owns us by virtue of creation. He has a right to our service, our thanksgiving, our loyalty. He has enlivened us. He has directed us by His will. He has formed us for His glory (Isa. 43:7). And, while His creation right over us demands our devotion, His saving mercies all the more so! We are not our own. We have been bought with a price (1 Cor. 6:19–20). Precious blood has been spilled, better blood than bulls and goats, the blood of His beloved Son. We come to serve with gladness as those freed from our sins by Jesus’ blood and made a kingdom and priests to God (Rev. 1:5–6).

Fourth, know that “we are his people” (Ps. 100:3). Our God is our ruler, and we have been designated by grace as His subjects. He is our King, our Judge, our Lawgiver. We are citizens of His kingdom bound to follow His directions for life. Moreover, He’s identified Himself with us. The great covenant declaration throughout the Scripture is “I will be your God, and you will be my people” (Gen. 17:7; Ex. 6:7; Lev. 26:12; Ezek. 36:28; Rev. 21:7). We’ve been drawn into a covenantal relationship, one filled with lavish grace. We are “a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession” that we may proclaim his excellencies (1 Peter 2:9).

Fifth, know that we are “the sheep of His pasture” (Ps. 100:3). In choosing us, drawing us to Himself with cords of steadfast love, the Lord has stooped to take us under His tender care. It is not simply that He has made us and functions as our King. He is our Shepherd. He carries us near to His heart, gently leading the weak (Isa. 40:11). We are the objects of special affection, and He gives us all kinds of good things to enjoy. He feeds us, nourishes us, and protects us, and that protection will go beyond our farthest comprehension when the Good Shepherd lays down His life for the sheep (John 10:11). We are precious to the Lord, a crown of beauty, a royal diadem (Isa. 62:3), and as the Lover of our souls, He has given us refuge under the shadow of His wings (Ps. 17:8).

Sixth, after giving more commands to enter His gates, to give thanks and bless Him (Ps. 100:4), the psalmist says we should do so “for the Lord is good” (Ps. 100:5). Who can begin to describe the goodness of the Lord? He is good in Himself—namely, He’s kind (Titus 3:4), tender-hearted (Ps. 34:18), full of compassion (Ex. 34:6), boundless in mercy (Ps. 25:6; Eph. 2:4), lavishing grace (Eph. 1:8), and great in love (Eph. 2:4). This is who He is, and goodness is likewise what He does, as seen in Psalm 119:68: “You are good and do good.” The goodness of God’s works are seen in creation, providence, and redemption, and a sight His mercy over all He has made (Ps. 145:9), should compel believers to bless Him.

Seventh, a particular evidence of His goodness is that “his steadfast love endures forever” (Ps. 100:5). The Lord Himself is the fountain of living waters, and therefore all He is as a God of steadfast love can never run dry. His covenant loyalty, His dogged affection, can never wear out. His love is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear Him (Ps. 103:17). Even when hard providences come, when our hearts are heavy with grief, when the fiercest afflictions strike, still His steadfast love is new every morning (Lam. 3:22–23). How can that fact fail to fire your soul for worship?

Finally, in connection to His steadfast love, “his faithfulness [endures] to all generations” (Ps. 100:5). Not one word of all His good words will fall to the ground (Josh. 21:45; 23:14; 1 Kings 8:56). While everything we experience in this life fails us—flowers fade, offers expire, contracts run out, men prove unreliable—the Lord’s Word stands forever (Isa. 40:8). He will not renege on a promise. He is trustworthy. Therefore, when we come to worship, even if the darkness of a cursed world aims to pull us into despair, we have a future and hope, and these things resting on God’s faithful promise can never wear out. Oh, what gladness should erupt from our hearts! If we would give our Lord the thanks owed to Him, let us prime the pump of our heart with these truths from Psalm 100. Let us ready ourselves to resound with praise to our great God.

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