Make a joyful noise unto the LORD, all ye lands.
Serve the LORD with gladness:
come before His presence with singing.
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.
Enter into His gates with thanksgiving,
and into His courts with praise:
be thankful unto Him, and bless His name.
For the LORD is good,
His mercy is everlasting,
and His truth endureth to all generations.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with being joyful and serving the Lord with gladness, but it has occurred to me that as many times as I have read and quoted this psalm, my mind remains in the spirit of verses 1-2 while my lips move on to recite verses 3-5. Perhaps the same is true of you as well. Yet it is time for the latter three verses to come to the forefront of our focus and gain the attention they deserve.
Know ye that the Lord He is God…. Admit it; accept it, for it is true, whether or not we want to believe it.
It is He that hath made us, and not we ourselves…. God made us. Let’s get personal for a minute. God made me. Say it out loud. I am not a self-made man [or woman, as the case may be]. None of us pulled ourselves up by our own bootstraps. God formed us in our mother’s womb—He gave us life. He also gave us new [eternal] life through His Son. And He has preserved, protected, and provided for us every day from conception until this moment.
We are His people, and the sheep of His pasture…. This reiterates the thought from the earlier phrase. If we are His sheep, then He is our Shepherd. A sheep is a stupid animal. He does not know how to care for himself. All he does is nibble on the grass in front of his face. If he looks up and cannot immediately see the shepherd, he assumes that he is lost; it never occurs to him to turn his head and see that the shepherd is standing right nearby. As our Shepherd, God will look after us. He will lead us to green pastures and still waters, He will ward off any predators that come around, and He will bandage up our wounds. Isn’t that a comforting thought!
Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, and into His courts with praise; be thankful unto Him, and bless His name…. Go to church. Praise and thank God for His many blessings. Have an attitude of gratitude.
For the Lord is good, His mercy is everlasting, and His truth endureth to all generations…. God is good! All the time, God is good. His mercy, unmerited favor, will never cease, nor will His truth. Refusing to believe in God and trust His Word does not make Him a liar, it makes us fools. Did you know that God can be limited? Consider the following verses:
Matthew 13:58 And He [Jesus] did not many mighty works there because of their unbelief.
Psalm 78:41 Yea, they turned back and tempted God, and limited the Holy One of Israel.
When we doubt what He can do for us—and has already done for us—we limit what He is able to do for us. Just think of all the blessings He has desired to shower upon you and me but couldn’t because we were not willing to receive them.
What is the take-away?
Verses 3-5 are the foundation for verses 1-2. If we recognize God for who He is, trust Him as the sheep trusts the shepherd, and learn to be truly thankful for all His goodness and mercy, then we will serve the Lord joyfully, with a song of praise in our hearts and on our lips.
What is the condition of your heart today? Are you joyful? Remember, happiness is like a mood ring; its color changes with the fluctuations in your body temperature. But joy is as a precious stone: it remains the same regardless of the changes taking place around it, and it looks best in a dark setting. Let God give you joy today. And if you are filled with joy, then thank God for it.
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Photo taken in Chesapeake, VA, 2016