We come to the third installment of our devotional series considering the 100th Psalm. In the English Standard Version, the psalm is broken into four stanzas, since it is a song. It is rendered into five Bible verses, but four musical stanzas in this translation:
- Stanza 1: Worship God
- Stanza 2: Know this about God
- Stanza 3: Worship God (again)
- Stanza 4: Why we ought to worship God
Thus, we have opted to use these four broad categories to study the majestic 100th Psalm in our Saturday Psalms series: worship, know, worship (again), and why.
Previously, we considered the first, second, and third parts of this outline of Psalm 100. Today, we consider the fourth part: Why?
Why render to God such glad worship?
One of the wonderful things about the psalms is that, so often, we are enjoined not only to praise God, but we are told why we ought to praise God and why he is so worthy to receive our praise. Why ought we to enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise?
Let us look at stanza four, verse 5:
For the Lord is good;
his steadfast love endures forever
And his faithfulness to all generations.
Notice the little word at the beginning of verse 5, “For the Lord is good.” That little preposition for gives the answer to the why or “Why ought we to worship God?” Verse 5 means that the goodness of God is the reason, the basis, the foundation of the exultation and acclamation that was just given back up in verse 4: “Give thanks to him; bless his name!” Why? For—or we could legitimately translate that preposition as because—the Lord is good.
We observed last time how verse 3 helps us understand that the Lord is a shepherd and that he well-cares for his people. And here now verse 5 tells us that the Lord is good. Indeed, a good shepherd. Psalm 100 ultimately drives us to Jesus’ words in John 10, does it not? “I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep” (John 10:10b–11). The cross-pollination between Old Testament and New Testament theology here is marvelous.
When writing these words and meditating on such truths (the goodness of the Lord, his steadfast love, his never-ceasing faithfulness), the great referential paradigm for the authors of the psalms would have been the Exodus. God rescued his people. He ransomed them. He brought them out of bondage and restored them to himself. And in spite of all their sin and grumbling, he brought them to settle in Canaan’s fair and pleasant land. That would have been their chief reference point when making ascriptions of praise. It was not their only reference point for salvation, but the Exodus event was certainly the great paradigm of salvation for these Old Testament saints.
Dear Reader, if these saints of old rejoiced, thanked, praised, and blessed the Lord for his goodness, love, and faithfulness in those days, how much more should we today after knowing the love of God in Jesus Christ? Having experienced the greater Exodus, the deliverance from sin and hell, from wrath and condemnation—how much more cause do we New Testament saints have to bring the Lord our glad worship? We have been brought from death to life by the greater Redeemer in a cosmic exodus that David and the psalmists may not have fully comprehended.
“For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly . . . but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:6, 8)
What a paradigm-shifting thing this is! Yes, the New Testament believer agrees with the Old Testament believer—the Lord is good. He is full of steadfast love and unceasing mercy, and do you know God’s fullest expression and manifestation of those things? It is the Lord Jesus.
What does God’s goodness look like? What does his steadfast love and faithfulness look like? It looks like Jesus. God’s law must be kept. The price for our damnable sin and insurrection must be paid, and it has been. God promised that he would redeem and restore his people, he promised that he would put all sin away from his chosen. He has kept every single last one of his promises in and through his Son. In Christ, all the promises of God are “Yea” and “Amen.”
The Lord is good, abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness for all generations. That truth has taken on an even fuller meaning and richness this side of the cross, more than those Old Testament saints could ever have dreamed.
Not only did God make us, but he also bought us. It is a happy thing to be made and to be bought and to belong to and be shepherded by God himself. That is why this authority and power in verse 5 is good news.
The Kingly Supremacy of Christ in Psalm 100
We have already touched on how we might rightly find Christ in Psalm 100. But we would be remiss if we did not at least touch on the Kingship of God (and Christ) as it is set forth in this Psalm. Psalm 100 sits squarely in the midst of a section of kingly-reigning psalms in Psalms 94–101. As we read through this section of the psalter, we get a sense of anticipation: this is the eschatological King for whom Israel is longing, the One greater than David who will sit upon David’s throne, who will rule over Israel with justice and equity, putting away all wickedness and evil, and will make all things well. These Psalms look forward to a day that has not yet come, but it will surely arrive, and when it does, oh, what a glad day that will be!
Rev. Andrew Bonar (1810–1892) said that Psalm 100 envisions that glorious future state of “King and kingdom come, and holiness now swaying the sceptre of a happy world, behold the whole earth as one great congregation uttering praise, and blessing, and thanksgiving, led by Messiah, the Chief Musician!”1 In this section of the psalter, we see the grand description of the great King who, in the language of Westminster Shorter Catechism 26, subdues us to himself, rules and defends us, and restrains and conquers all his and our enemies.
Almost as a kind of crescendo in that 94–101 sequence of psalms, Psalm 100 brings the people of God to the next logical station of the soul: adoring worship. Psalm 100 says that not only has God created us, but he has also redeemed us! Psalm 100 is a “psalm for all nations, this thanksgiving for redemption, this utterance of every heart and lip on earth and in heaven, this song of the whole family of God, of the glorified from their place, and the saved nations on earth in theirs.”2
Psalm 100 envisions the end of all time when the world and the redeemed behold the fact that God has kept all of his promises. Surely, the One who is “full of grace and truth” is the one who is leading the great congregation in this paean of praise, as he himself said he would do (Psalm 22:22). Psalm 100, in its own way, is a foretaste of that eschatological anthem of praise in Revelation 19:5–7, when that great multitude at the marriage supper of the Lamb cry out: “Hallelujah! For the Lord our God the Almighty reigns!”
Bonar well-summarizes this whole psalm when he calls it, “The heartfelt thanksgiving of the great congregation led by Messiah.”3
A Globe-Spanning Desire
In closing, we see what the tone and tenor of this Psalm is: Here is good news that we do not want to keep to ourselves—it is biblically contagious! Verse 3: “We are the sheep of his pasture.” The we refers to the people of God. These are the covenant people praising their faithful covenant God. And what is the attitude of these people toward the rest of the world? To whom are these people speaking when they cry out to rejoice? Look back at verse 1: “Shout joyfully to the Lord, all the earth.” Here are the covenant people crying out to the whole earth, saying, “Join us in the joy of our Savior and our God and our King!”
And that is our desire, is it not? That in all of our preaching, praying, witnessing, and laboring, in all of our giving and going, we rejoice in our God and King. And we want every single one of those whom God has appointed unto eternal life to join with us. Our great desire is that all the company of the redeemed would join us in reveling in the everlasting delight of our God. It is what we were made for.
The Lord is good. Let the nations know of his goodness, and may it be that he would gladden all of our lives, and that the reservoirs of our souls would expand, deepen, and ever delight to worship him.
Having given this wonderful text a brief exegetical, expositional, and pastoral survey, we will return one last time for a fourth installment wherein we will consider some further implications and applications from this marvelous psalm.
- A. A. Bonar, Christ and His Church in the Book of Psalms (New York: Robert Carter & Brothers, 1860) 295–296.
- Bonar, 296.
- Bonar, 296.
©Sean Morris. All Rights Reserved.
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