George Booker
Psalms Studies - Book 4

Psalm 100

1. Title

A Psalm of praise: Since many of the Psalms equally well deserve this title, why should this one be singled out for such a title? Because it calls for praise (or todah: thanksgiving: AV mg., and v. 4, s.w.) on some special occasion. Which?

2. Historical setting

Here again is Hezekiah’s splendid call to the northern kingdom, lately overrun and desolated by the Assyrians, to renew allegiance to the Lord and His temple at Jerusalem, and to keep once again the Feast of Passover. The parallels with 2 Chronicles 30 are considerable and significant:

Psalm 100

2 Chronicles 30
Make a joyful noise unto the Lord
There was great joy in Jerusalem
All the earth (mg.) (eretz = Land)
All Israel, from Beersheba unto Dan

Throughout all Israel and Judah
Serve the Lord with gladness
With gladness
He hath made us, and (mg.) we are his... the sheep of his pasture

Passover, and the slaying of the lambs celebrating Passover
Enter into his gates
Enter into his sanctuary
Be thankful (yadah)
To make confession (yadah: same root)
Into his courts with praise
Singing with loud instruments unto the Lord
His mercy... his truth (i.e., the Promises)
The Lord God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel
To all generations
The Lord God of their fathers

Psalm 95 has clear verbal links with 100 (cp. 95:1 with 100:1; 95:2 with 100:2; 95:3 with 100:3; 95:6 with 100:4; and 95:7 with 100:3); and it appears to belong to the same occasion. Note the force of:

Today, if ye will hear his voice. This is Hezekiah’s appeal to the northern tribes. That appeal was not a political move, but it was guided by some prophetic inspiration — thus: His, or God’s, voice.
The provocation. A double meaning: not only allusion to Exodus 17, but also to the original schism between two tribes and ten in 1 Kings 12.
This appears to be a most unnatural end to the psalm. It is possible, then, that Psalm 100 is the real and much more satisfying, conclusion to Psalm 95.

3. Messianic reference

Such a psalm as this is, of course, appropriate to the Lord’s people in all ages (“to all generations”: v. 5). Hence the great popularity of the “Old Hundredth”. But Jesus made special allusion to it in his parable of the Good Shepherd (John 10):

“My sheep hear my voice” (vv. 3,16,27)...
“And I know them” (vv. 14,27)...
“And am known of mine” (v. 14)...
“He shall go in and out and find pasture” (v. 9)...
“By me if any man enter in” (v. 9).

But what riches of fulfillment there will be in Christ’s kingdom! Consider Revelation 5:9,12:

“And they sang a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation... Worthy is the Lamb, that was slain, to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing.”

4. Other details

Make a joyful noise... all ye lands. As in Psa. 98:4, the Hebrew has a plural verb with a singular noun — i.e., all the earth (eretz). To emphasize individual participation of everyone? So also in Psa. 66:1, where v. 6 has pointed links with the Passover and with 95:5.

Of course, a Messianic fulfillment requires the plural lands, now all united in one.

Despite some well-intentioned efforts to encourage, or excuse, universal participation in the service of song, the “joyful noise” is not the special contribution of the tone-deaf, still less of the shallow and jovial. “Joyful noise” is here, as in 95:1 and 98:6, the intelligent, exuberant shout of acclamation and homage to a king — or the King! This verse claims all the world for God, and any joy at its singing should surely be tempered with reason and godly fear at such an awesome prospect.
Serve the Lord. It must never be forgotten that a service is that which is offered in humble submission. It is not just a “going through the motions”. So even today, when one comes in “from the field”, it is time to “gird oneself [that is, find those hidden reserves of strength one no longer believes to exist] and serve Him” (Luke 17:7,8).

In Exod. 12:25,26 and 13:5 the same word is used about the Passover.

Come before his presence (panim = faces) with singing. The presence, or “faces”, of God suggests, as in Psa. 99:1, the Cherubim and the mercy-seat of the Most Holy place.
Know ye is s.w. 46:10, another Hezekiah psalm: “Be still, and know that I am God.”

He hath made us. It was at the first Passover that God “made” Israel into His people.

And not we ourselves. This is an obvious redundancy, made un-necessary by the preceding “He hath made us”. The rabbinic scribes have recognized that here is a confusion between two Hebrew words which sound the same: lo’, “not”, and lo, “his” or “to him”. Therefore this should be read, as AV mg. (and most modern versions): “And we are His”. (The same confusion has arisen in about 14 other passages, including Exod. 21:8; Isa. 63:9; Ezra. 4:2; and 1 Sam. 2:3. In some of these, King James’ men boldly made the correction without even a note in the margin.)

If “we are his”, this gives all the more weight to v. 2: “Serve him”. Here is the point of Christ’s “Render therefore unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, but render unto God the things that are God’s” (Matt. 22:21). And of Paul’s “We are his workmanship, created... unto good works” (Eph. 2:10). And in the New Testament, compare also Matt. 4:10; James 1:18; and 1 Cor. 6:19.

In the Old Testament, compare Isa. 43:1,21 and 44:5. Israel is God’s “special possession” among all peoples (Exod. 19:5; Mal. 3:17).

Made us. Psa. 119:73; 145:10; and Jer. 32:17,18 all have the idea of two “creations” — natural and spiritual.

We are his people, and the sheep of his pasture:

And ye my flock, the flock of my pasture, are men, and I am your God, saith the Lord God” (Ezek. 34:31).
Enter into his gates with thanksgiving — gates which are closed to the unclean (Rev. 21:27).

And into his courts with praise. And they are His! This is to be remembered. Note the brusque reminder in Isa. 1:12:

When ye come to appear before me, who hath required this at your hand, to tread my courts?”
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