Psalm 100 wastes no time with preliminaries. Rather than try to convince the reader to praise the Lord for His goodness and our many blessings, the composer issues three commands in the first two verses.
Shout joyfully to the LORD (100:1). This is quite a beginning! The Hebrew gets straight to the point. In fact, the term "joyfully" doesn't appear in the Hebrew. Literally rendered, it's "Shout to the Lord!" The word "shout" comes from a Hebrew word meaning "to raise a noise, to give a blast (as on a trumpet)." The composer calls for the kind of shouting that erupts from a person so full of joy he can't contain his emotions, the kind of uninhibited whooping you hear from fans at a football game. He says, in effect, "Shout in joyful approval of God!"
It's hard to imagine feeling that joyful about the Lord, isn't it? Let's face it; when's the last time you shouted like a sports fan because of something you read in Scripture? When have you ever pumped your fists and shouted after a sermon on God's attributes? I'm not suggesting we become charismatic; but certainly we should feel some excitement, at least a little joy. Sometimes the Lord does things that defy natural explanation, accomplishing something completely beyond our capabilities. When He comes to our rescue, don't accept this silently. Shout to Him. Lift up your voice in praise! By doing so, we counteract that grind of ingratitude that so easily can climb aboard.
Serve the LORD with gladness (100:2). A healthy sign of the grateful life is serving. Few decisions are more effective in easing the daily grind of ingratitude than serving others. In doing God's work, we serve Him, not the local church, not the superintendent of some department, not the pastor or some board. We serve the Lord. It is He we worship and for Him we labor—not people! And please observe that the motivation is neither grudging nor guilt-ridden; we are urged to serve "with gladness." The Hebrew term for this phrase was used to describe pleasant things that gave happiness.
Now let's get real for a moment. You don't always feel like serving. Yet waiting until you feel grateful isn't a good plan; you'll never serve! (I write from personal experience.) The psalm doesn't imply we should serve only when our hearts are filled with joy. On the contrary, we are commanded to serve regardless; gladness will soon follow. In fact, when I start feeling sorry for myself or my attitude takes a cynical turn, I know it's time to serve someone who's in worse shape. It's not long before gladness pushes negativity out of my heart.
Come before Him with joyful singing (100:2). Let me simply emphasize the word "joyful." I get the picture that God prefers to have us be happy people, rejoicing in His presence, for He has mentioned it in each line of this psalm thus far.
Are you joyful? Really now, is your face pleasant—is a smile frequently there? Do your eyes reveal a joyful spirit within? When you sing in church, for example, is it with joy? The next chance you get, glance at the fellow in the next car on the freeway. He is never smiling! Look at the lady ahead of you or behind you at the grocery store. No smile . . . no joy.
It's time to lighten up! After all, joy is a choice. Dress up your testimony with a genuine spirit of joy! It does the heart good and it's truly contagious.
Adapted from Charles R. Swindoll, Living the Psalms: Encouragement for the Daily Grind (Brentwood, Tenn.: Worthy Publishing, a division of Worthy Media, Inc., 2012). Copyright © 2012 by Charles R. Swindoll, Inc. All rights are reserved. Used by permission.
Used with permission. All rights reserved.