Psalm 100 is a literary masterpiece. When studying Psalm 100 we might get the impression that it is inappropriate for us to barge into God's holy presence without taking the proper actions and necessary steps. God is willing to meet us anywhere, anyplace, and anytime, but we need to come into His presence with a heart and mind, a body and soul that acknowledges the presence of the King.
We might be willing to wait for hours, standing in line to catch a glimpse of some dignitary or celebrity - yet we think nothing of running into the presence of God! A spiritual protocol must be followed for whomever wants to enter into the presence of the King. Psalm 100 show us the path into God's presence ... a procession to visit dignitary, a protocol to visit a king.
Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, all ye lands.
Serve the Lord with gladness: come before his presence with singing.
Know ye that the Lord he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.
Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name.
For the Lord is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations.
Verse 1 tells us to make a joyful noise. When we come to worship our agenda is to meet God and God's agenda is to meet with us. We raise our voices to get His attention. This is not being rude or disrespectful. As we walk down the pathway lit by His word to worship Him, we cannot be quiet. We are not raising our voices to draw attention to ourselves. We shout for joy because the Lord is with us, He is by our side.
We are to serve the Lord with gladness. What really is worship in the sense of praise and adoration? Stephen Charnock, a Puritan called it "nothing else but rendering to God the honor that is due Him." John MacArthur defined it as 'honor and adoration directed to God." A. W. Tozer said that God "wants to cultivate within us the adorations and admiration of which He is worthy. He wants us to be astonished at the inconceivable elevation and magnitude and splendor of Almighty God."
We are also told to sing in His presence. Music is the form through which we often express our gladness, our joy, and our praise. Our songs are not to create our gladness, but to express it. Through our singing we approach God.
Next we are told to acknowledge God. We need to recognize that we are entering into the presence of the King of kings and Lord of lords. Here we acknowledge that Jesus is our Savior and submit to Him as Lord. We remind ourselves about who God really is, and at the same time we are reminded of who we are too. He is the Creator; we are the created. He is the Shepherd; we are the sheep. He is the Supreme Commander; we are His people. We are completely dependent on Him for everything. In other words, He is God; we are not!
The next command is about how we should open the door to God's presence. As we enter His presence we enter into His gates with thanksgiving - here we thank God for what He has done. Once through the gates, the worshipper enters the courts with praise - here we extol God for who He is. One gets the sense of movement from the outside to the inside, moving closer to the presence of God. God is then enthroned in our praises, which create the atmosphere for an audience with the King. We come before God with thanksgiving and praise on our lips and in our hearts.
Again we are told to be thankful. Giving thanks to God and praising Him are stated twice. It is repeated so that we will not miss its importance.
Verse four tells us to come before Him with praise showing thankfulness. The word praise in this context means to kneel. It communicates the idea of showing honor and homage to God, by kneeling before Him - King of kings and Lord of lords. True worship always involves falling at the feet of God. Why on our knees? Because we are in the presence of the King, the God of the universe which He created. The essence of His being, His all-encompassing nature, His very person, His resolute character are summed up in His name. All of God is embodied in His name. He is the object of our worship - the personal God who reveals His name, which includes His presence and His authority. This leads us to ask the question: What do we know about His name, His person, His character, His nature? Psalm 100 tells us that He is good and His love (mercy) is eternal. We must understand the name of God. We have to begin to grasp, as feeble as our minds and hearts are, the greatness, holiness, wisdom, goodness, loving kindness, and truthfulness of the name of God. The essence of worship is to bless, to fall down, and to ascribe glory to the name of God and thus God Himself. Heartfelt worship is to be encompassed in the depth of our beings by the goodness, love, and faithfulness of our Creator.
The presence of God is revealed. At this point we have truly worshipped. Worship is not the shout or the singing or the thanksgiving or the praising, all those are but a prelude. Worship is encountering the person of God as revealed by His name.
Worship is an audience with the King. We have many hymns that remind us of this truth such as: "O Worship the King, All Glorious Above," Praise Ye the Lord, the Almighty, the King of Creation," "Come Thou Almighty King, Help Us Thy Name to Sing." When we come to worship we come to meet the King of the universe and like an earthly king, there is a certain protocol that we must adhere to.
What a privilege we have been afforded to have an audience with the King! Hopefully we will not take it for granted. Let us do what is needed, following the commands of Psalm 100 to meet with Him!