Thursday, June 17, 2010

Psalm 100

[His Steadfast Love Endures Forever]
[A Psalm for giving thanks.]

[100:1] Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth!
[2] Serve the Lord with gladness!
Come into his presence with singing!

[3] 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.

[4] Enter his gates with thanksgiving,
and his courts with praise!
Give thanks to him; bless his name!

[5] For the Lord is good;
his steadfast love endures forever,
and his faithfulness to all generations.
(Psalm 100 ESV)

This morning I was thinking about why our Christian witness is so feeble sometimes, and it occurred to me that it may be that we have forgotten how to truly rejoice in the Lord. We are burdened down with the cares of our own life and flooded with bad news from TV, radio, newspapers and the web to the point where the cares of the world threaten to completely swamp us. Under such circumstances, rejoicing in the Lord seems to be little more than whistling in the dark, a futile attempt to deny the real pains of this world.

But the ancient Jews also knew much about suffering, yet somehow they managed to write poetry like Psalm 100. And they begin by urging "all the earth" to make a joyful noise to the Lord. Even pagans, idolaters and deadly enemies of both the Lord and His people are called to serve Him with gladness. It is something to imagine the noise that would be made by this polyglot crowd, each proclaiming the goodness of God in their own tongue.

The Psalmist then goes on to proclaim with joy the reason why his people in particular should celebrate. "The Lord," that is the One Whom they worshiped and Who called them out of Egypt, this One is truly God, not a dead idol. And the people He chose are the sheep of His pasture, the people whom He faithfully watches over, protects and guides into good places.

So it is good to celebrate, and we are urged to do so, to enter into the gates of His temple with thanksgiving, rather than long somber faces burdened down with the cares of the world. We are to be grateful for the Lord's steady provision and rejoice in His goodness and greatness, "for the Lord is good, and His steadfast love endures forever." Implicit in this is the idea that we ourselves will also live forever, and so be able to enjoy His love and provision forever.

This is perhaps the reason why the Psalmist could rejoice; he saw beyond the troubles of his day, real though they were, to a life in which the Lord had overcome all these evils. Evils are transient, but God's love never ends. The people of God will outlive all of the sufferings that might plague them and will enter into a joy that makes those sufferings tame by comparison.

Do we live this way ourselves? Do we see that we are part of an eternal kingdom, that Jesus has prepared a place for us in it, and that we shall live forever with Him in glory? Can we look honestly at our sufferings and the sufferings of others and know with confidence that they will fade away, and that God is able to work them all for good? If so, does this realization engender joy in our lives, a joy that shows even in the troubles of life? If we live with a vision of the sure joy that is ours, then that ought perhaps trickle out a little into the rest of our lives, and may add something to our witness that is missing now, and might help some people to believe that there really is something in Christianity that they might want.

May it be so!


Nydia said...

Thank you Ralph for your reminder to pull our heads up from our daily preoccupations and concerns and lift them to the heavens to acknowledge and rejoice in, our Source.

Nydia said...

Thanks, Ralph, for the reminder to disentangle ourselves from the mire of our daily preoccupations and lift our heads up to the Lord, our Source, and rejoice.