Make a joyful shout to the LORD, all you lands!
Serve the LORD with gladness;
Come before His presence with singing.
Know that the LORD, He is God;
It is He who has 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 to Him, and bless His name.
For the LORD is good;
His mercy is everlasting,
And His truth endures to all generations (Ps. 100:1-5).
Perhaps you have heard the old fable about a day when the sun did not rise. Six o’clock in the morning came and went, yet still there was no sign of dawn. By seven o’clock, darkness remained. At noon, it was as black as midnight. The morning songs of Steller’s jays gave way to the hoot of owls and the distant howls of coyotes. Then came the long, dark hours of the afternoon, one after the other, creeping by. Finally, the evening hours arrived, but no one slept that night. Some wept, some prayed, everyone wrung their hands in anguish. After an endless night of terror and agony, confusion and bewilderment, millions of tired, tear-streaked faces turned tentatively toward the east. When the sky began to grow red and the sun began to rise, shouts of joy filled the morning air. Millions of voices rang out, “Thank you Lord!” because the sun had risen after just one day of darkness.
The lesson of this simple fable is this: Sometimes the very consistency of God’s great blessings seems to dull our sense of gratitude. We often take for granted the daily dose of God’s blessings and care that are ours to enjoy without even asking. The thankfulness that lies dormant in our hearts should rise in expression each and every morning with the dawning of a new day.
In our country, we set aside a special time each year of reflection on the blessings of God. It is a time of thankfulness. It is a time of Thanksgiving. That time is upon us this week and I cannot help but wonder, “How many of us really need a designated day to help spur our hearts on to thankfulness?” If Thanksgiving were not a national holiday, do you suppose there would be some folks who actually go a whole year without pausing to reflect on God’s goodness and express their gratitude to Him? The very idea is insane when you think of all that we have to be thankful for.
Psalms 94-100 are a series of anonymous songs that tell of Israel’s great God, Yahweh, who reigns in majesty. Psalm 100 is a sort of doxology or climax to this section of hymns. In it, the writer gives us a glimpse at a thankful heart. He uses five particular Hebrew words, one in each verse (three verbs, one noun and one conjunction), which give us five key elements of gratitude.
In verse one, we learn that a thankful heart is active.
Make a joyful shout to the LORD, all you lands! (Ps. 100:1).
The Hebrew verb shout means “to raise a shout; give a blast with a horn; shout a war cry; sound a signal for marching; shout in applause or triumph; cry out in distress.” All of these are active actions. Thankfulness is not internal. It is external. Thankfulness may be developed in the heart but it overflows into the life and actions.
. . . out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks (Matt. 12:34).
The Psalmist places this verb at the very beginning of the verse for emphasis. It is as if he is saying, “Thankfulness begins with a shout. Say it! Don’t think it.” It is not enough to feel grateful. A true thankful heart is expressive.
In verse two, we learn that a thankful heart is attractive.
Serve the LORD with gladness;
Come before His presence with singing (Ps. 100:2)
The Hebrew noun gladness means “joy, gladness, or mirth as displayed in festivities.”
Jewish festivities were always very visually appealing. They were attractive. They were major productions. Gratitude should be something that is attractive to look at. Sometimes when I hear people expressing gratitude, I cannot help but notice that their words do not seem to match their faces. Their heart is just not in it. The Psalmist says that gratitude should be expressed with gladness.
We will finish looking at this beautiful Psalm tomorrow.
(Read Part 2)
Dr. J. B. Hixson is the president of Not By Works Ministries and the host of Not By Works with Dr. J. B. Hixson, a national, daily half-hour radio program. Hixson has traveled to all 50 states and spoken in more than 500 churches and conferences. He also has wide experience as a pastor, professor and Christian college administrator and is the author of six books. Dispensational Publishing House is grateful to include him as one of our contributing authors.
Copyright © 2017 by Dr. J. B. Hixson. Used by permission of the author.
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®.
Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
 Francis Brown, Samuel Rolles Driver and Charles Augustus Briggs, Enhanced Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1977), p. 929; Ludwig Koehler et al., The Hebrew and Aramaic Lexicon of the Old Testament (Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1994–2000), p. 1,206.
 Francis Brown, Samuel Rolles Driver and Charles Augustus Briggs, Enhanced Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1977), p. 970; Ludwig Koehler et al., The Hebrew and Aramaic Lexicon of the Old Testament (Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1994–2000), p. 1,336.
This article was first featured on November 21, 2016.