PSALM 100 - The Heart of Thanksgiving
What is "Thanksgiving" from a biblical perspective?
This Psalm goes a long way toward answering that question.
Note the title of this Psalm: "A Psalm of praise."
There are several words in the Hebrew OT which are sometimes translated "praise." The one used here {HB=todah, lit. 'an extension of the hand'} is usually translated as "thanksgiving" or "give thanks." Its basic meaning is "a confession." So, to give thanks is to confess the truth concerning God's goodness toward us.
     Giving thanks to God is much more important than you think. The unthankful heart is a heart that turns away from God. The role of unthankfulness is central to the progression of sin, as given in Rom 1:18-21-23. These verses describe the condition of the unsaved... but unthankful Christians will also drift away from the Lord.
1. A Psalm of praise.
Make a joyful noise unto the LORD, all ye lands.
2 Serve the LORD with gladness:
come before his presence with singing.
The first thing that we notice is that our expression of thanksgiving to God can take several forms.
  • make a joyful noise - That is, with "a cry of triumph."
    It is the LORD who gives His people victory over their enemies, which include sin (manifest in the world, the flesh and the devil) and our ultimate enemy, death. This victory is not only for Israel, the Jewish nation, but for "all ye lands" (ie., also for the gentiles who trust in Him). See 1Cor 15:56,57
  • serve the LORD with gladness -
    Thanksgiving is expressed, not only by shouting with our voices, that there is victory in Jesus, but also in living for Him. There is joy (gladness) in serving Jesus. "Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with all thy might..." (Eccl 9:10) "...whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God" (1Cor 10:31). (See Php 4:3,4, where labor and joy are linked.)
  • come before His Presence with singing {HB=renanah, a ringing song of joy}.
    Here are the "psalms and hymns and spiritual songs," with which we are to make melody in our hearts to the Lord (Eph 5:19). So, it would be well to sing together around your Thanksgiving table.
3 Know ye that the LORD he [is] God:
[it is] he [that] hath made us, and not we ourselves;
[we are] his people, and the sheep of his pasture.
4 Enter into his gates with thanksgiving,
[and] into his courts with praise:
be thankful unto him, [and] bless his name.
Notice that the center of our thanksgiving is not about the way we express it,
nor is its focus upon the things for which we are to be thankful.
The object of our thanksgiving must be the One who is the source of all blessings.
"Come before His Presence with singing..." (v.2b)
  • It is His Presence (ie., Face) which has shined upon you favorably.
"Know {HB=yada} ye... (v.3)
  • The LORD, He is God -
    Only He is the same yesterday, today and forever.
    Only He sits outside of time and space, working all things according to the good pleasure of His will.
  • He hath made us, and not we ourselves -
    • We are dependent upon Him for life, and for all that sustains life.
    • We ought to be subservient to Him, for we exist not to please ourselves, but to glorify Him.
  • We are His people... the sheep of His pasture... (therefore, He is our Shepherd...)
    • He tends His flock... leading and feeding... in green pastures... by still waters... and also through the valley of the shadow of death... (Psa 23)
    • He seeks the lost... and binds up the wounded... "He shall gather the lambs with His arm, and carry them in His bosom, and shall gently lead those that are with young" (Isa 40:11).
    • Yet, there are times, when He allows His flock to suffer distress. "Yea, for thy sake are we killed all the day long; we are counted as sheep for the slaughter" (Psa 44:22). Even then, we are to "know" that "the LORD, He is God." There is nothing that touches His children, except what He allows for their ultimate good (Rom 8:28). There will come a day, when He will gather us home to Himself.
"Enter into His gates..."- (v.4)
The Shepherd, Himself, is the door of the sheep. Joh 10:7-10
  • He is the way of entrance into the fold.
  • By Him, we have access into favor with God, and before His throne (Rom 5:1,2; Heb 4:14-16).
"...into His courts {HB=chatser, yard enclosed by a fence, a village}..." -
The Lord's 'space' includes...
  • The Shepherd's fold - a place of protection against the enemy.
    Those within the Shepherd's fold enjoy His rich provision...
    • all that we need for life and godliness (2Pet 1:3),
    • freedom to serve Him fully and to be nourished ('go in and out, and find pasture'),
    • the assurance and joy of His Presence.
  • The LORD's Temple - a place of worship, to glorify His Name. eg., Psa 116:17-19; Isa 35:10
"Enter... with..."
  • with thanksgiving {HB=todah}, confessing the goodness of His Person and of His provision.
  • with praise {HB=tehillah, song}
  • "Be thankful {HB=yadah}..." - The word is related to "know" in v.3.
    We are to tell what we know. Thus far, all of these expressions of thanksgiving are external: involving what we do (our service) and say (or sing) to reflect the worthiness of the LORD and Savior. "By Him therefore, let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is the fruit of our lips giving thanks to His name" (Heb 13:15).
    But the next word speaks of something even deeper...
  • "bless His Name"- The word 'bless' {HB=barak, kneel} depicts the attitude of heart toward the LORD.
    The picture is similar to that drawn by one of the OT words for worship {HB=shachah, to bow down before}. eg., "Thou shalt worship no other god: for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God" (Ex 34:14). We are to worship Him in spirit and in truth (Joh 4:23). Likewise, we are to bless Him with our whole hearts (eg., Psa 103:1-5).
    When we bless God, from our hearts, we are responding, in kind, to Him whose whole heart desires to bless His children. In fact, the first occurrence of the word 'bless' (and almost half of all other occurrences) is of God's blessing of man. The occasion was God's first communication with man (Gen 1:22 "God blessed them, saying, be fruitful and multiply..."; also see Gen 12:1-3).
    Our hearts are to kneel before God, in humble submission. But how does God "kneel" toward us? Like as a Father, bending down and humbling himself, to tend to His child's need.
    The LORD wants His children to commune heart to heart with Him. No matter what we say or sing, when we are in the presence of other people, He desires to hear the humble appreciation of thankful hearts, who find their greatest joy in His Presence.
5 For the LORD [is] good;
his mercy [is] everlasting;
and his truth [endureth] to all generations.
What moves the believer's heart with thanksgiving?
The character of the Person in whom he trusts.
"For the LORD is good..."-
We can be confident of His unchanging desire to bless His own, even while we endure times of difficulty. "In every thing give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you." 1The 5:18
...His mercy... His truth... - are unchanging and enduring.
Believers are blessed...
  • with the riches of His mercy (Eph 2:4), in that He does not give us the wrath which we deserve.
  • with the riches of His grace (Eph 2:7,8), in that He bestows upon us bountiful favor which we do not deserve.
  • with the assurance that He is Faithful and His Word is True (Psa 89:1,2; Heb 6:13-18).

This Concludes the study in Psalm 100.
Return to Psalms of Messiah - Book Notes menu page.

Limited permission is granted to copy & distribute these notes from

Go to The Book opening page.