Sometimes it is hard to utter words of thanks and praise and make a joyful noise unto the Lord. I have been through seasons of bleakness when the words were not there. Somewhat surprisingly, I have even found that when times are good, I still forget what words to use.
I have been reading Psalm 100 most days this year, so I have read it many times. David knew that most of us would have trouble with praise and singing songs of joy, so he provides us with a scaffold – here are the words and thoughts to fill our minds. He is so like the English who are sparing with their use of words and have perfected the art of understatedness.
Verse three contains visual pictures we can imagine to help us and it is jam packed with ideas:
“Know that the Lord is God. It is he who made us, and we are his, we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.”
I’ve spent time thinking about what David is telling his readers here. This is just some of the thoughts I have come up with. I am sure you would have your own ideas to add. This creator is an active participant in our lives. This is not a picture of a distant creator who made us and then abandoned us to our own devices. He didn’t just make us and then leave.
He is also our shepherd. Our shepherd has placed us in a pasture of his making and is there with us – caring, guiding and protecting – these are the qualities of a shepherd and Jesus is our Good Shepherd – the perfect shepherd.
Thinking about what creator, sheep, pasture and “his people” mean have given me a framework of how to be thankful – and what to be thankful for and the words to utter. This is what I can shout for joy to the Lord – along with all the earth in response to what I know to be true. On the really bleak days, all I need do is say these words as they say it all. No further embellishments are required.
The final verse reminds us of God’s character. Do you sometimes forget what God is like? I do – often. Here is a nutshell summary:
“For the Lord is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations.”
Remembering that this is what God is like provides us with a scaffold of words to use. He has demonstrated to each of us His love, goodness and faithfulness in His son Jesus – look to Him and what He has done for us.
It has taken me a while to realise that praise is not about me or my feelings. It has everything to do with God – He is never changing and these truths never falter. They are the same for me today when life is filled to the brim with good stuff, but they were also true in times past when I was in a darker place – here are the words to utter – no more, no less, these are sufficient.