Today’s Chocolate: Theo Orange 70% Dark Chocolate
Today’s Passage: Psalm 100
It is with tongue in cheek that I encourage you to extoll my virtues in the caption for today’s photo. After all, this psalm encourages us to praise God, not man, and moreover, it is only five verses long. One square of chocolate is all I need!
Virtually every verb in this psalm is an imperative. The psalmist commands the people to relate to God in a certain way–and when the people sing it, they command each other. You can boil each of the first four verses down to a key imperative phrase, with God on the receiving end of the activity encouraged:
- “Shout joyfully” (v.1)
- “Serve the Lord with gladness” (v.2)
- “Know that the Lord Himself is God” (v.3)
- “Enter with thanksgiving and praise” (v.4)
But you may ask: why should I listen to the psalmist? We don’t even know if he’s David, Asaph, one or all of the sons of Korah, or some other ancient Hebrew lyricist whose name we don’t even know! He essentially encourages us to give ourselves to God, in voice, service, mind, and gratitude, and if I’m going to give myself to a being, I want to make certain that being deserves me.
Fortunately, the psalmist has an answer for us: “For the Lord is good; His lovingkindness is everlasting and His faithfulness to all generations” (100:5). God deserves our worship because he has given us, and those before us, and those to follow us, his love and faithfulness. The psalmist encourages us to recall God’s goodness to us and acknowedge how good he’s been–the essence of thankfulness. Moreover, God’s ontological priority merits our worship. The psalmist writes, “It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves; we are His people and the sheep of His pasture” (100:3). God is better than us because he precedes us as Creator, and thus deserves that we acknowledge his betterness. Any goodness that we possess is because God made us good.
But at times these can be hard ideas to buy into. If you’re anything like me, you’ve come into more than one worship service feeling like joy and gladness are a foreign language. You ask yourself: if God has always been and will always be good to me, why does it feel like he’s abandoned me? How can the suffering I’m enduring be the work of an omnipotent and all-good God? This psalm is a psalm of orientation (remember your Brueggemann?), and as such, the psalmist hasn’t hard-coded any answers in for the joyless would-be worshipper. But if you find yourself in those bitter shoes, I’ll give you the best answer I can:
Write your own song.
Sing your disorientation to God. Tell him your bitterness.