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Psalm 100 Biblical Commentary:
Enthronement Psalms 47, 93, 96, 97, 98, 99 celebrate God as king over all the earth (47:7). Psalm 100 isn’t an Enthronement Psalm. However, it is similar to Psalm 95, and Psalms 95 and 100 serve as “praise” bookends around Enthronement Psalms 96-99.
Psalm 100 is a hymn of praise. Such hymns usually call people to praise God, as this psalm does in verses 1-2 and 4. Those hymns typically then give reasons for praising God, which Psalm 100 does in verses 3 and 5.
Isaac Watts based his familiar hymn of praise (Tune: Old Hundredth) on this psalm:
Praise God, from whom all blessings flow;
Praise Him, all creatures here below;
Praise Him above, ye heav’nly host;
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.
PSALM 100:1-3. SHOUT FOR JOY TO YAHWEH
A Psalm of thanksgiving.
1 Shout for joy to Yahweh, all you lands!
2 Serve Yahweh with gladness.
Come before his presence with singing.
3 Know that Yahweh, he is God.
It is he who has made us, and we are his.
We are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.
“Shout (Hebrew: rua) for joy to Yahweh” (Hebrew: ‘eres) (v. 1a). This verse sets the tone for the psalm. It calls people to shout (rua) for joy to Yahweh.
The word rua means to shout and/or to make a loud noise. After the Israelites marched around Jericho seven times, Joshua commanded them to shout (rua)––”for the Lord has given you the city.” When they shouted, the city walls fell down, allowing Israel to win the victory (Joshua 6:16, 20). The word rua, then, can be a battle cry.
This rua, then, is not a subtle, measured sound––dignified and refined. The psalmist is calling people to raise the roof––to give it all they have. They are to praise the Lord for the wondrous things that he has done for his people––for the victories that he gives them day by day.
But they are not simply to shout. They are to shout for joy! This is a call to exuberance and rejoicing––to the kind of energetic praise that wells up within to the point that it can no longer be contained.
“all you lands!” (Hebrew: ‘eres) (v. 1b). The word ‘eres means the earth or land. The psalmist calls not only Israel, but also all the ‘eres––all the earth––all the lands and all the peoples to join in praising of Yahweh. He invites both insiders (Jews) and outsiders (Gentiles) to be part of the chorus of praise.
Given Israel’s understanding of its distinctive covenant relationship with Yahweh, it seems remarkable that the psalmist would extend this invitation so far––that his invitation would penetrate the spiritual wall that separated Jew and Gentile.
But there are a number of hints in the Old Testament that point to the breaking down of walls that excluded Gentiles. For instance, when God called Abram to leave his homeland, God promised, “All of the families of the earth will be blessed in you” (Genesis 12:3).
“Serve (Hebrew: ‘abad) Yahweh with gladness” (v. 2a). The word ‘abad means to work or to serve, and is often used in the Hebrew Scriptures for categorizing the kind of work that a person did. When used, as here, of service to Yahweh, it reminds us that our worship constitutes a significant part of our service to God. Just as we must plow the ground to grow something to eat, so also we must worship God to build a life worth living.
“with gladness” (Hebrew: simhah). Simhah means gladness or joy or rejoicing. The psalmist calls us to worship God with gladness––joy––rejoicing. While there is a place for quiet, reflective worship, rejoicing should predominate in our corporate worship.
Christians have sometimes expressed their faith in ways that some people saw as humorless and dour––stern and gloomy. That sort of faith not only fails to serve the individual Christian well, but it also gives faith a bad name. Who would want to join a community of faith that they see as humorless, stern, and gloomy?
But the fact is that even people of faith sometimes feel gloomy. We have our ups and downs like everyone else. How then can the psalmist expect us to “serve Yahweh with gladness” when we aren’t feeling glad? The psalmist will address that in verse 3, where he gives reasons why we should rejoice.
“Come before his presence with singing” (Hebrew: renanah) (v. 2b). This line introduces two new pieces to the call to praise.
- The first is a call to come the Lord––to stand before his throne––to take advantage of his accessible presence.
- The second is to do so with singing (renanah). This word renanah means a joyful shout or singing, and us thus in keeping with the earlier lines of this psalm. It calls us to bring exuberance and energy and enthusiasm to our song.
“Know that Yahweh, he is God.
It is he who has made us, and we are his.
We are his people, and the sheep of his pasture” (v. 3). In this verse and verse 5, the psalmist gives us reasons to be glad in the Lord.
- The first reason is that, unlike the gods of surrounding nations, “Yahweh, he is God”––the one true God.
- The second reason is that “It is he who has made us.” We find the foundational creation story in Genesis 1-2, but God’s creative enterprise continues every day––every second of every day. God created us as the human race in the beginning, and new human lives take shape every day. Our lives came into being by the grace and agency of God. Our mothers and fathers played a role in that, but it was God who made us what we are and gave us life. Elsewhere, the psalmist expresses his amazement:
“When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars, which you have ordained;
what is man, that you think of him?
What is the son of man, that you care for him?
For you have made him a little lower than God,
and crowned him with glory and honor.
You make him ruler over the works of your hands.
You have put all things under his feet:
All sheep and cattle,
yes, and the animals of the field,
The birds of the sky, the fish of the sea,
and whatever passes through the paths of the seas.
Yahweh, our Lord,
how majestic is your name in all the earth!” (Psalm 8:3-9).
- The third reason is that “we are his. We are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.” The Israelites celebrated their covenant relationship with God, but Christians are also God’s covenant people (Luke 22:20; 1 Corinthians 11:25; 2 Corinthians 3:6). Elsewhere, the psalmist expresses his faith that the Lord watches over his people:
“Behold, Yahweh’s eye is on those who fear him,
on those who hope in his loving kindness;
to deliver their soul from death,
to keep them alive in famine.
Our soul has waited for Yahweh.
He is our help and our shield.
For our heart rejoices in him,
because we have trusted in his holy name.
Let your loving kindness be on us, Yahweh,
since we have hoped in you” (Psalm 33:18-22)
PSALM 100:4-5. GIVE THANKS TO HIM AND BLESS HIS NAME
4 Enter into his gates with thanksgiving,
into his courts with praise.
Give thanks to him, and bless his name.
5 For Yahweh is good.
His loving kindness endures forever,
his faithfulness to all generations.
“Enter into his gates with thanksgiving,
into his courts with praise” (v. 4a). Gates and courts describe the temple. The prophet Ezekiel saw visions of temple gates and courts (Ezekiel 11:1; 40; 42:15; 43:1-4; 44:1-4; 45:19; 46:1-19; 47:2; 48:31-34). Several large gates permitted access to the temple. There were four courtyards:
- The Court of the Gentiles (open to Gentiles).
- The Court of Women (open to Israelite women).
- The Court of Israelites (open to ritually pure Israelite men).
- The Court of Priests (restricted to priests).
Beyond the courtyards were:
- The Holy Place (where priests attended to the golden lampstand, the table of showbread, and the golden altar of incense).
- The Holy of Holies or the Most Holy Place (where only the high priest was authorized to enter, and he only on the Day of Atonement).
The psalmist specifies how we should approach these places of worship––with thanksgiving and praise.
“Give thanks to him, and bless (Hebrew: barak) his name” (v. 4b). The word barak (bless) is closely related to berak (kneel) and berek (knee). When the psalmist calls us to bless Yahweh’s name, he is suggesting that we kneel in homage to Yahweh as a demonstration of reverence and an expression of praise.
Names were important to the Jewish people, and served as a proxy for the person him/herself. God’s name was Yahweh, and the psalmist calls people to bless or honor God’s name.
“For Yahweh is good.
His loving kindness endures forever,
his faithfulness to all generations” (v. 5). As in verse 3, the psalmist gives the reasons why we should give thanks and bless God’s name:
- First, “Yahweh is good” (Hebrew: tob). The Hebrew word tob has a variety of meanings, such as good or moral. In using tob to describe Yahweh, the psalmist is ascribing those positive characteristics to him.
- Second, Yahweh’s “loving kindness” (Hebrew: hesed) endures forever.” The word hesed has a rich variety of meanings––kindness, lovingkindness, mercy, goodness, faithfulness, or love. Each of these meanings indicate a kindly and positive attitude toward the beloved.
The psalmist notes that Yahweh’s loving kindness endures forever. Israel had ample opportunity to see the truth behind this statement. Israel gave Yahweh ample reason to abort his covenant relationship with Israel, but he maintained that relationship through thick and thin. With the coming of Jesus, Yahweh didn’t abort the covenant relationship, but simply expanded it to include those previously excluded.
- Third, Yahweh’s “faithfulness (emunah) (endures) to all generations.” The word emunah means faithfulness, and is also found in Psalm 33:4 and 119:90 in praise of God’s faithfulness.
The key here is that Yahweh’s faithfulness endures to all generations. He is not just faithful to Abraham or Isaac or Jacob. His faithfulness is eternal, stretching from the beginning of time to its end.
SCRIPTURE QUOTATIONS are from the World English Bible (WEB), a public domain (no copyright) modern English translation of the Holy Bible. The World English Bible is based on the American Standard Version (ASV) of the Bible, the Biblia Hebraica Stutgartensa Old Testament, and the Greek Majority Text New Testament. The ASV, which is also in the public domain due to expired copyrights, was a very good translation, but included many archaic words (hast, shineth, etc.), which the WEB has updated.
Anderson, A.A., The New Century Bible Commentary: Psalms 73-150 (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1972)
Broyles, Craig C., New International Biblical Commentary: Psalms (Peabody, Massachusetts: Hendrickson Publishers, 1999
Brueggemann, Walter, The Message of the Psalms A Theological Commentary (Minneapolis: Augsburg Press, 1984)
Clifford, Richard J., Abingdon Old Testament Commentaries: Psalms 73-150 (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2003)
DeClaisse-Walford, Nancy; Jacobson, Rolf A.; Tanner, Beth Laneel, The New International Commentary on the Old Testament: The Book of Psalms (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 2014)
Gower, Ralph, The New Manners and Customs of Bible Times (Chicago: Moody Press, 1987)
Kidner, Derek, Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries: Psalms 73-150, Vol. 14b (Downers Grove, Illinois: Inter-Varsity Press, 1973)
Limburg, James, Westminster Bible Companion: Psalms (Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2000
Mays, James Luther, Interpretation: Psalms (Louisville: John Knox, 1994)
McCann, J. Clinton, Jr., The New Interpreter’s Bible: The Book of Psalms, Vol. 4 (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1996)
Ross, Allen P., A Commentary on the Psalms, 90-150, Vol. 3 (Grand Rapids: Kregel Publications, 2016)
Tate, Marvin E., Word Biblical Commentary: Psalms 51-100 (Dallas: Word Books, 1990)
Waltner, James H., Believers Church Bible Commentary: Psalms (Scottdale, Pennsylvania: Herald Press, 2006)
DICTIONARIES, ENCYCLOPEDIAS & LEXICONS:
Baker, Warren (ed.), The Complete WordStudy Old Testament (Chattanooga; AMG Publishers, 1994)
Baker, Warren and Carpenter, Eugene, The Complete WordStudy Dictionary: Old Testament (Chattanooga: AMG Publishers, 2003)
Bromiley, Geoffrey (General Editor), The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, Revised, 4 vols. (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1979-1988)
Brown, Francis; Driver, S.R.; and Briggs, Charles A., The Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon (Peabody, Massachusetts: Hendrickson Publishers, 1906, 2004)
Doniach, N.S. and Kahane, Ahuvia, The Oxford English-Hebrew Dictionary (Oxford University Press, 1998)
Fohrer, Georg, Hebrew & Aramaic Dictionary of the Old Testament (SCM Press, 2012)
Freedman, David Noel (ed.), The Anchor Yale Bible Dictionary, 6 vol. (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2007)
Freedman, David Noel (Ed.), Eerdmans Dictionary of the Bible (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 2000)
Mounce, William D., (ed.), Mounce’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2006)
Renn, Stephen D., Expository Dictionary of Biblical Words: Word Studies for Key English Bible Words Based on the Hebrew and Greek Texts (Peabody, Massachusetts: Hendrickson Publishers, Inc., 2005)
Richards, Lawrence O., Encyclopedia of Bible Words (Zondervan, 1985, 1991)
Sakenfeld, Katharine Doob (ed.), The New Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible, 5 vol. (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2006-2009)
VanGemeren, Willem A. (General Editor), New International Dictionary of Old Testament Theology & Exegesis, 5 vol., (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1997)
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