November is the month that we officially celebrate Thanksgiving. For those living beyond the American or Canadian boarders, it is generally a combination of Native American and European end of harvest celebrations. Now that’s a really succinct way of putting it, but there it is. Now why am I talking about Thanksgiving when we don’t even have an enormous turkey (or turducken) thawing in our refrigerator? Because thanksgiving isn’t just a day (there’s even a category of psalms,) it’s a lifestyle. I know that sounds really corny, but it is something we should do continually, not to make ourselves feel better just for having done it, but because it is the right thing to do.
Let’s consider Psalm 100 (NRSV.) Now this is really short, but it’s a very cool psalm that is, if you’ll look closely, split into two distinct parts:
1 Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth.
2 Worship the Lord with gladness;
come before him with joyful songs.
3 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.
4 Enter his gates with thanksgiving
and his courts with praise;
give thanks to him and praise his name.
5 For the Lord is good and his love endures forever;
his faithfulness continues through all generations.
It is described in the title as “For giving thanks,” however within this psalm it appears to be designed to highlight the jubilance that should encompass God’s people, and as such, it feels very hymn-like, which strangely enough makes me happy. According to Psalm 100 we are to “make a joyful noise,” (v. 1,) “worship the Lord,” and “come into his presence with singing” (v. 2,) we are to “know that the Lord is God,” ( v. 3,) and “Enter his gates . . . and his courts [giving] thanks to him,” (v. 4.)
As I said before, the entire psalm is split into two. In verses 1-3 we are praising God in his presence, involving the whole Earth, everyone where they are at. In verses 4 and 5, we move that praise into a more intimate setting: into God’s own house. With this, we understand that God is not impersonal; he wants us to engage him with our praise, song, and thanksgiving. After all, he is the one who made us, (v. 3,) and as such we belong to him. It is only right that we offer praise and worship to our creator, but what makes him so special, is that he invites us in. A king is under no obligation to make his table available for the people, but The True King does. And his table is open for eternity.