22 November 2012

Give thanks! [updated repost]

by Dan Phillips

First posted in 2010, this features a new hymn and extended notes.

Psalm 100

A Psalm for giving thanks.

Make a joyful noise to the LORD, all the earth!
2 Serve the LORD with gladness!
Come into his presence with singing!

3 Know that the LORD, he is God!
It is he who made us, and we are his;
we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.

4 Enter his gates with thanksgiving,
and his courts with praise!
Give thanks to him; bless his name!

5 For the LORD is good;
his steadfast love endures forever,
and his faithfulness to all generations.

Though many psalms feature the giving of thanks, this is the only psalm whose title labels it such. No psalmist could have envisioned our notion of a private inner glow of gratitude; to them, thanking God was characteristically out-loud (vv. 2, 4), loud (v. 1), public (vv. 1, 2, 4), and communal (v. 4).

This psalm is in two movements; or rather, one movement that is then echoed. Though his reasoning parallels Paul's, his order is backwards: first, the call to action (vv. 1-2, 4); then the reason (vv. 3, 5). There's always a why to the what. While Paul characteristically gives the why (Eph. 1—3; Col. 1—2) before the what (Eph. 4—6; Col. 3—4), the psalmist formally does the reverse.

You know, this wouldn't be a bad psalm to memorize.

Or sing.

Happy Thanksgiving, friends, from us to you.

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