There is perhaps no better place in Scripture to look to find genuine, sincere, constant thankfulness to God than in the Psalms. David and the other psalmists fill their poetry with gratitude to God, lifting up their voices in praise to Him constantly, during the best and worst times of life.
In what I like to refer to as “The Original Thanksgiving Hymn,” David writes in Psalms 100:
Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth! Serve the Lord with gladness! Come into his presence with singing! Know that the Lord, he is God! It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture” (Psalm 100:1-3).
This passage answers two vital questions about giving thanks that I’d like to unpack today. First, how do we give thanks to God?
David uses three verbs that demonstrate how God wants us to offer our praise to Him. Let’s take a closer look at each verb:
“Make a joyful noise” could literally be translated “raise your voice” or “shout” to the Lord with verbal expressions of thanksgiving. This isn’t a quick, quiet internal prayer, but external, verbal praise to God that hopefully others will hear and be encouraged by as well. And that’s important! Giving thanks is not just to benefit you, but so others can hear your shouts of praise and glorify God with you.
Do you associate service with thanksgiving? David did. We thank God by serving Him with gladness. If you ever find yourself serving the Lord as if plodding through some mundane chore or half-hearted activity, you may have forgotten Who it is you’re serving. Ultimately, our service isn’t for someone else or even for the body of Christ–––it glorifies and honors our Lord. Carefully notice that line again from verse 2, “Serve the Lord with gladness!”
You might wonder how you can possibly make yourself glad. Perhaps you remember when you were little – or more recently as you’ve raised your own children, you often heard or said, “You’d better change your attitude right now and put on a happy face,” or “Listen here, you need to adjust your attitude right now.”
Attitudes can be adjusted. Evidently, God is fully aware of that principle. Doing the right thing with the wrong attitude is not honoring to God. Just as we expect our children to do their chores without grumbling or talking back, so also God expects us to adjust our attitude as we obey His will.
If an attitude can be adjusted to serve the Lord with gladness, this indicates that a thankful heart is not a personality trait. It is a decision. It is the result of daily submission to the will of God. It’s doesn’t come easily . . . but it’s the standard of a right spirit/attitude we are accountable to demonstrate.
“Come into his presence with singing!” (Psalm 100:2b). While singing around the house or in church, we often focus more on hitting the right note or what our physical appearance might be to others around us. David encourages true worshippers to focusing on the lyrics, and allow the words of praise to fill our hearts and mouths with joy and thanksgiving?
One of God’s antidotes to difficulties and challenges is joyful singing, and we should be doing that regularly. And this is a lesson from God’s word on how to thank Him.
The second vital question is why we need to thank Him. Is it because God needs to hear “thank you” from His children every so often? Is He simply attempting to teach us “good manners” in the same way we teach our children?
WHY DO WE GIVE THANKS TO GOD?
David moves through this Psalm to show us many of the attributes of God that fill our hearts with worship and thankfulness. He begins by redirecting our focus not on what God does, but on who God is. “Know that the Lord, he is God!” (Psalm 100:3a). He deserves our thankfulness and worship because of who he is. He is God!
What kind of God is he? David can’t wait to tell us:
“For the Lord is good; his steadfast love endures forever” (Psalm 100:5a).
This expression, “steadfast love” means that God will never change His mind or forget His promises to us. “His faithfulness to all generations” (Psalm 100:5b) means that in every generation he remains the same. He won’t become weary with us or decided somewhere in eternity future that He’s rather bored with us after all. God is not temperamental or fickle, He is faithful.
With a better understanding of who God is, we can better appreciate what God has done. David rejoiced verse 3: “It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture” (Psalm 100:3b).
God made us. He made you and He made me – down to the details of how we happen to look! Your body, aches and all, were woven into you as your Creator fashioned you. God wired the way you think and gifted you with the talents He knew you would use for His glory.
Sovereign, almighty God cares so much about you that He crafted every single detail of who you are. You will never be able to fully praise God with what you have, until you accept His creative design for who you are.
And above all, you happen to be His redeemed bride, through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. So, with an understanding of “why we should worship our Creator God,” let’s apply the “how we should worship Him” today.
Plan time today to sing to Him, and serve Him . . . with gladness!