June 9: Psalm 100
June 9, 2010
The apostle Paul is well known for writing letters with an indicative/imperative structure--his New Testament epistles. The indicative comes first, as Paul tells us what God has done for us in Christ. The imperative comes next. In this section of the epistle, which often begins with the word "therefore," the apostle tells us what to do in response to what God has done.
The structure of Psalm 100 is nearly the opposite. The psalmist begins by telling us what to do:
"Make a joyful noise to the LORD, all the earth!
Serve the LORD with gladness!
Come into his presence with singing!" (vss. 1, 2)
"Enter his gates with thanksgiving,
and his courts with praise!
Give thanks to him; bless his name!" (vs. 4)
These are not just commands; they are also exclamations. The psalmist is telling us--as emphatically as possible--to worship the Lord.
Yet Psalm 100 tells us more than what to do; it also tells us why to do it. The imperative (what we do in response to God) is based on an indicative (what God has done for us in salvation). The indicative does not come first, the way it usually does in the writings of Paul, but only comes afterwards. Either way, however, the important thing to understand is that our gratitude is a response to God's grace.
As short as it is, Psalm 100 gives us many good reasons to give praise to God. There is simply the reality that God is God ("the LORD, he is God!"). Add to this the fact that he made us and takes care of us. He is both our Creator and our Provider (see vs. 3). Furthermore, God knows us in a personal way and claims us as his own ("we are his people"). But even this is not all. God is good, loving, and faithful forever. The psalm thus ends by testifying to his essential goodness, covenant love, and inter-generational faithfulness (see v. 5).
The strong imperatives of Psalm 100 are well-grounded in God's person and work, especially when we experience his grace through Jesus Christ. Everything Psalm 100 says about God is true about his Son. Jesus Christ is the God who made us, the Shepherd who takes care of us, and the Lord whose love will be faithful forever.