Lesson 91—November 22, 2015
The Blessing of Giving Thanks
Scripture: Psalm 100
Lesson Goal: To gain a better understanding of the true believer’s response to the blessings of God.
As a Town Creek, Alabama grade-school student in the 1960s, I remember having to memorize Psalm 100 as part of a Thanksgiving assignment. I’m sure, as with most grade-school students, my greatest attention was on the fact that Thanksgiving meant holidays, which meant days out of school. But in our public school of yesteryear, Psalm 100 was as much a part of the recognition and celebration of Thanksgiving as Plymouth, pilgrims, and pumpkin pie. Psalm 100 was as much a part of Thanksgiving as Luke 2 was to Christmas. Today, we will look at the timeless truths of this great psalm of praise and thanksgiving.
Have you ever noticed how, as parents, we quickly teach our children to express their gratitude and say thank you? Most parents can remember the first time their child said thank you without any prompting or bribing. It was truly one of those memorable moments. Parents delight in their children expressing their gratitude and appreciation. A simple “thank you” can be a great blessing.
How long has it been since you spent just a few minutes with your heavenly Father expressing your gratitude and appreciation to Him? How long has it been since you spoke with Him, making no request, no petitions, just expressing your heart’s genuine gratitude by saying, “Thank you”?
Why not take a couple of minutes from your busy study time, pause, take a deep breath, clear your mind, and voice to Him your thanks? Just let the gratitude flow from the fountain of a grateful heart.
“Make a joyful shout [noise] to the Lord, all you lands.”
Psalm 100 is a wonderful testimony of thanksgiving, gratitude and praise. The theme is worship, primarily a call to worship. “The psalm was sung at the entry into the temple” (Weiser). The psalm opens with a call to sing the praise of God with shouts of joy. It is a call for all people from “all lands” to worship Him.
In the Hebrew language, the words “joyful shout” are an energized command with reference to public praise. There is certainly an appropriate time and place to honor God with the joyful shout of public praise. This time and place is defined by all honor to Him, all glory to Him, led by the Holy Spirit moving in the hearts of His people.
• Have you ever been directed to “give or lift to Him a handclap of praise”? Have you ever been encouraged to lift your praise to Him through a joyful shout? How did you respond? Why is it so difficult for us to express our praise with a joyful shout? Why is it difficult for us to show any public expression of praise?
(V2) “Serve the Lord with gladness.”
Worshippers of God are instructed to express their worship with a gladness of heart. In verse two, we find the motive, the aim, and the spirit of the service rendered to God in worship, which is to be done with a joyful heart expressing gladness. By the manner in which the people of God worship, others are drawn to worship Him.
• Why is it so very difficult for some to express their worship with a joyful heart? Answer prayerfully.
My experiences in Guatemala have taught me many wonderful truths, but the single most important lesson the believers there have taught me is how to collectively worship the Lord. From the smallest child to the most aged adult, they truly participate in worship, joyfully singing with hearts of gladness and praise. I wish I could transport our congregation there, so they could teach us what they know about worship. A joyful, singing heart has nothing to do with talent or impressing others. It has nothing to do with material possessions or blessings, for most of the dear people in Guatemala live day-to-day very simple lives. Many live in small houses with dirt floors and no running water or other modern conveniences, but, oh, how they worship Jesus! They truly “make a joyful shout to the Lord” and “come before His presence with singing.”
• What are some excuses we, the MHBC family, give for not participating in worship with singing?
• What does a simple smile say about the heart of a worshipper?
(V3) “Know that the Lord, He is God.”
From the Old Testament mindset, this statement is the most important thought of the entire psalm. It literally means: “Yahweh alone is God.” These words are a declaration and confession of a genuine faith. Please read Deuteronomy 6:4-7.
“It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves. We are His people and the sheep of His pasture.”
As we worship Him, we (true believers) experience the reality of who He is and that we are totally dependent upon Him. He is our creator and maker. Without Him, we are nothing. But He has graced us that we might be called His children.
Oh for a Thousand Tongues to Sing
Oh for a thousand tongues to sing
My great redeemer’s praise
The glories of my God and King
And triumphs of His grace
My gracious Master and my God
Assist me to proclaim
To spread through all the earth abroad
The honors of Thy name
So come and sing out
Let our anthem grow loud
There is one great love
There is one great love, Jesus
Jesus the name that charms our fears
That bids our sorrows cease
Tis’ music in the sinner’s ear
Tis’ life and health and peace
He breaks the power of canceled sin
He sets the prisoner free
His blood can make the foulest clean
His blood availed for me
To God all glory, praise and love
Be now and ever given
By saints below and saints above
The church in earth and heaven (Wesley).
• How do you privately express your praise to God?
• How do you publically express your praise to Him?
(V4) “Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, And into His courts with praise.”
These are words of instruction. Artur Weiser explains: “They are also the opening words of the second part of Psalm 100 and sung by the choir of priests before the festival congregation passed through the gates of the Temple and entered its forecourts. As in the first part of the psalm, they begin with a call to enter the sanctuary with songs of praise in order to testify and praise His name.”
• What do we do as we enter our place of worship?
As we entered the sanctuary for mid-week Bible study this past Wednesday evening, Brother Robin was seated at the altar offering a sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving. As worshippers entered, many just made their way to the front to join in a spontaneous time of praise. It was indeed a special time of worship. We had truly entered into His gates with thanksgiving and into His courts with praise.
• Explain the difference in being a participant in worship and being a spectator to worship.
• Prayerfully answer this question. Are you a participant in worship or a spectator to worship?
During our 2013 men’s conference, Dr. Kevin Hamm spoke on worship and praise. He emphasized two words “shout” and “sing.” He quoted from the prophet Isaiah: “Return to Me, for I have redeemed you. Sing, O heavens, for the Lord has done it! Shout, you lower parts of the earth…” (Isaiah 44:22b-23a). Dr. Hamm reminded us of how wonderful it is to be redeemed (saved); and therefore, our worship should never be dead. It should be alive with energy and purpose. He challenged us (real, true followers of Jesus) to sing and shout, because of all peoples of all lands, we have something to sing and shout about.
(V4b) “Be thankful to Him, and bless His name.”
“Be thankful” is meant to be an expression of a genuine heart, but it also an expression of a genuine heart that finds expression in public praise. The result of a thankful heart is to “bless His name.”
“[Bless His name] is the expression of that personal feeling towards God which only His own redeemed people can cherish” (Spence and Exell).
• Do you find blessing in “Bless His name,” as you verbally declare your praise to Him with thanksgiving and “bless His name”? Explain.
• What does it mean to you personally to bless His name?
• How do you personally bless His name?
(V5) “For the Lord is good; His mercy is everlasting, and His truth endures to all generations.”
“The knowledge of God’s grace and faithfulness is the true source from which the joy and the enthusiasm of the psalm spring. The joy expressed in the psalm is joy simultaneously derived from God and joy in God. It emanates from him and returns to him” (Weiser). We return it to Him through our worship.
(V5b) “And His truth endures to all generations.”
The psalm closes with a focus on His everlasting truth. He, like no other, is completely/totally trustworthy. He, alone, is truth as truth can only be. He is faithful. His faithfulness is measured only by His truth. He is truth and forever shall be.
Questions for Life Focus
1) What does Thanksgiving Day really mean to you?
2) How do you express your “thanks” “giving” to Him?
3) If you are a parent or grandparent, what are you teaching those in your care concerning Thanksgiving?
4) What is the difference between a believer’s Thanksgiving Day and a nonbeliever’s Thanksgiving Day?
5) If unknown to you, Jesus was part of your Thanksgiving Day activities,* would He know that you are His follower by the way you express your thanks and enjoy the day?
*In reference to question 5 above—HE IS!!
Barton, Bruce B. Life Application Bible Commentary, Mark. Carol Stream: Tyndale House Publishers, 1994.
Berlin, Irvin. “God Bless America.” 1918.
MacArthur, John. The MacArthur New Testament Commentary-Matthew 1-7. Chicago: Moody Publishers, 1985.
Phillips, John B. Exploring the Epistles of John. Grand Rapids: Kregel Publications, 2003.
Rienecker, Fritz, and Cleon Rogers. Linguistic Key to the Greek New Testament. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1982.
Spence. H. D. M., and Joseph Exell. The Pulpit Commentary, Vol. 8. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Eerdmans Publishing, 1978.
Stott, John R. W. The Message of the Sermon on the Mount. Leicester: Inter-Varsity Press, 1973.
Weiser, Artur. The Psalms. Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1962.
Wesley, Charles. “O for a Thousand Tongues to Sing.” 1740.