BE THANKFUL UNTO HIM
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.—Psalm 100:4–5
It is not difficult to close our eyes and hear the saints of all ages making a joyful noise unto Jehovah and coming into his presence singing this psalm. It is not difficult to imagine the saints when they at last enter into the eternal gates and the heavenly courts of God, overcome and delighted by the beauties and glories of heaven, singing this psalm of thanksgiving to Go
There is something grand about this psalm: its sweeping expressions of praise to Jehovah as God and as good, merciful, and faithful; its steadfast refusal to point anywhere else but to Jehovah, the only good; its profound statement of the essence of the Christian life as gratitude for grace received; and its exuberant intonation of the praise that swells in the believer’s heart when he contemplates the glories of Jehovah his God.
There is something grand about this psalm: its sweeping expressions of praise to Jehovah as God and as good, merciful, and faithful; its steadfast refusal to point anywhere else but to Jehovah, the only good; its profound statement of the essence of the Christian life as gratitude for grace received; and its exuberant intonation of the praise that swells in the believer’s heart when he contemplates the glories of Jehovah his God. The psalm breathes unshakable confidence and assurance that, God being for us, nothing can be against us; for we are his people and the sheep of his pasture. He has made us and not we ourselves. Psalm 100 is a grand psalm.
There is also something grand about the congregation of God gathering on Thanksgiving Day to do exactly what the psalm commands his people to do: enter into Jehovah’s gates with thanksgiving and into his courts with praise. What a contrast—stark and telling—does this activity of the church of Jesus Christ form to what passes for thanksgiving celebrations in the world. The church’s sober, reverent, holy, and joyful rejoicing in the Lord is lovely; the world’s godless celebration of things is ugly. The church’s thanksgiving to God for his goodness is light over against the darkness of the beastly eating, drinking, and merrymaking of the world’s besotted revelry. Blessing God’s name instead of blessing our own names and accomplishments. Rejoicing in Jehovah instead of bowing down to worship mammon.
Be thankful unto him! Be thankful to Jehovah. He is the great i am that i am. He is the perfectly self-sufficient one, fullness and perfection itself, possessing all things and needing nothing. He is the creator of all things by the Word of his power and the one who upholds all things by the utterance of his mouth. All is his.
Bless Jehovah’s name. Wherever and however God has revealed himself is his great name. The name of God is God. To bless his name is to bless him. To praise his name is to praise him. His name reveals that he alone is God. He alone is the sole object of worship and therefore of all thanksgiving and praise.
He has clearly revealed his name in creation. All the world knows! The whole of heaven and earth and all of history are the theater for the brilliant display of his glory. The earth and everything in it was created for no other purpose than to glorify him. The creation and every creature find their highest purpose in the glory of God, and all creatures are so many instruments to praise him. From the creation of the world are clearly seen his invisible power and Godhead. History speaks of nothing except of the glory of God in upholding and governing all things.
A revelation because of which all men—every man, woman, and child—are inexcusable in the day of judgment for refusing to give Jehovah thanks and to worship him. The world knows that God is and that he must be worshiped because the invisible things of God are clearly seen in the creation, and God has manifested them unto all people. But the world does not praise God; they do not thank him; and they do not bless his name. Inexcusably mad, they take the knowledge of God and hold it under in unrighteousness. Immediately, with their reprobate minds they corrupt that knowledge. Stubbornly, they continue in their sins, knowing the judgment of God. They change the glory of the incorruptible God into the image of corruptible things, and they worship the creature rather than the Creator. The Greek worshiped Zeus and the rest of the Olympian gods. The Roman worshiped Jupiter and the other gods of his Pantheon. The modern man worships himself, his money, his work, the false gods of his apostate philosophies and theologies, and whatever other idols he makes and conjures for himself.
So unthankful! They do not bless his name. They may be thankful that their gods of money, prosperity, rich food, and good health have not abandoned them. But they are not thankful unto Jehovah, and they do not bless his name. The natural man is earthly, sensual, and devilish. Although he sees God’s eternal power and Godhead displayed in creation, he holds that truth down in unrighteousness and reaps for himself the wrath and judgment of God revealed against that ungodliness and unrighteousness of men. And according to Jehovah’s very purpose, the natural man is without excuse.
Jehovah’s name must come another way to make men thankful, so that they bless his name. His name must come in Jesus Christ. Jesus is the name of God. He is the name of God come near unto his people, come in the very likeness of their flesh, Immanuel, God with us. He bears the great covenant name, Jehovah, for he is Jehovah come to save us. In Jesus Christ we see Jehovah, the triune God Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—the God of the covenant himself and the God of a gracious covenant with his people. In Christ we see Jehovah as self-sufficient and independent. He alone is. He needs no one else to complete him. He does not depend upon anyone else. No one and nothing can add to his glory. In Christ we know Jehovah as the unchanging God, eternal and eternally the same. There is no shadow of turning in him. In Christ we see that Jehovah is the all-wise God who eternally ordains and perfectly carries out his will for his glory. In Jesus Christ we see that Jehovah is the all-sufficient, independent, all wise, omnipotent savior of his people. He depends on no one and nothing other than his own arm and strength for the salvation of his chosen people.
For we are his people, the sheep of his pasture. He made us and not we ourselves. Creator of the world. Marvelous. Raised the dead. Wonder of grace. God made us his people, recreating us in Jesus Christ after his own image. Surely, he made us in the natural sense. In him all men live and move and have their being. God gave us our lives, our personalities, and our characters. He determined everything about us. He made us who we are. This fact alone demands that we thank him and bless his name.
But more, so much more! He made us his sheep. As independent as Jehovah is, so are we as sheep utterly dependent on him. He chose us as his sheep in his eternal counsel, set his love on us, and made us the apple of his eye and his peculiar treasure and joy. He engraved us on the palms of his hands that we might be ever before him and wrote our names in the Lamb’s book of life. He sovereignly calls his sheep to him from the midst of the world and separates them to himself in Christ. God regenerated each of his sheep and gave them new, thankful hearts, creating each one in Christ Jesus unto good works, which he had before ordained that we should walk in them. All his sheep he seals with the Spirit of promise to make them inviolable and indestructible unto the day of Christ. He is our shepherd who rules in our hearts, cares for us, defends us, and preserves us. He feeds us with the blessings of salvation. He opens the stores of heaven and earth to supply our daily needs. We are his, absolutely and exclusively.
We are his people, and he is our God. We are the sheep of his pasture, and he is our shepherd.
Be thankful unto him.
For Jehovah is good.
He is good in himself. He is only good. He is all good. There is none good but God. In him alone is goodness, and outside him there is nothing good. He is good in all his perfections. He is spotless perfection and holiness. He is immaculate beauty and loveliness itself. Pleasant, altogether lovely, worthy of all praise.
And he is the overflowing fountain of all good. Jehovah lavishes goodness on his creatures. He is good to them. Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, from the Father of lights.
In his goodness he loves the righteous and blesses them. In his goodness he hates the wicked and curses them. In his goodness he punishes the wicked and ungrateful for their thankless lives. And so he reveals the goodness of his holy and righteous judgments. In his goodness he had mercy on whom he would have mercy. In that he reveals the goodness of his particular mercy, for all were equally involved in ruin. He is merciful to some only, whom he has chosen. Jehovah is good, and his mercy is everlasting.
That goodness of God manifests itself in his mercy and his covenant faithfulness. He loved his people and willed to deliver them from all their woes and to bless them with himself, to cause them to know him and to taste and experience his blessedness. He was and is merciful to us in Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ is the revelation of the goodness and the everlasting mercy of God. Jehovah gave us to Jesus Christ in eternity as his people. Jehovah sent Jesus Christ There is something grand about this psalm: its sweeping expressions of praise to Jehovah as God and as good, merciful, and faithful; its steadfast refusal to point anywhere else but to Jehovah, the only good; its profound statement of the essence of the Christian life as gratitude for grace received; and its exuberant intonation of the praise that swells in the believer’s heart when he contemplates the glories of Jehovah his God. in the fullness of time to deliver us from our sin and guilt—our death—which is our greatest misery. And in his goodness and mercy, he also regenerates, justifies, sanctifies, and glorifies his sheep. He adopts us for his children and heirs. He assures us of his goodness, love, and mercy toward us. He held back nothing from us but gave us his own Son to deliver us. Mercy shown in our generations. Good, merciful, and faithful to believers and their seed.
Unchangeably good. His truth endures to all generations. Give thanks unto him and bless his name because he is unchangeably good and merciful. His truth is his faithfulness. His mercy endures forever because he is unchangeable and his promise is unchangeable. God’s faithfulness is the unchangeableness of his goodness and mercy. In his faithfulness he does not change, turn back, or swerve from his eternal purpose to bless his people in Jesus Christ. Nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus. He so preserves us that not a hair can fall from our heads; yea, all things must be subservient to our salvation.
Good to us in all things. In his goodness, mercy, and faithfulness everything must serve God’s purpose and will to bless us. In fruitfulness, prosperity, and health, God is good. He gives us bounties to enjoy. By the blood of Jesus Christ, we have again the right to have, to enjoy, and to be thankful for the earthly bounties we receive.
No unrighteous man, no wicked person, has any right to anything of the bounties of God’s creation. He is a robber and a thief. All his eating and drinking do nothing but increase his guilt, and for his unthankfulness he is doubly guilty.
In Christ we have again the right to the fullness of the earth because Jehovah bought us from death and sin and made us his own children. He is good and merciful in everything. In sickness, in poverty, and in barren years, our God and Father is good, for these things must also serve our blessing and salvation. In all things Jehovah is good because he causes all things to serve the everlasting salvation of his people, whom he has willed to bless.
Be thankful unto him; bless his name. Profoundly simple calling, encapsulating the whole duty of the believer, the quintessence of the Christian life. Be thankful to him and praise him: in all your praise thank him, and in your thanksgiving bless his name.
Thanksgiving is not everyone’s business, the National Day of Thanksgiving notwithstanding, and not everyone who takes the word thankful on his lips gives thanks. All are duty bound to give thanksgiving, for the Lord is good and is good to all. Some will not. And for that they will be judged for their unthankfulness. God will give them over to their insatiable lusts.
Thanksgiving is the noble duty and spiritual activity of God’s dear sheep, the beloved people of his pasture. Thanksgiving is worship. Thanksgiving is the confession of him in truth as the God Jehovah. Nowhere is thanksgiving more marred and destroyed than where the truth of his name is denied. Thanksgiving is the confession of Jehovah and that we are entirely dependent upon him. He is independent and needs nothing from anyone. We are dependent and need everything from him. Thanksgiving is our praise, our singing, our prayers, and our whole thankful lives of obedience to him.
Be thankful unto him and bless his name, for Jehovah is good. We are thankful because we have prosperity? But what if we lack? What if instead of health, we have sickness; instead of riches, we have poverty? Instead of a fruitful year, we have a barren; instead of peace, there is war? Are we then without cause for thanksgiving?
No, Jehovah puts the cause of our thanksgiving well beyond the reach of the vicissitudes of this life, beyond all changes that may happen in the world, and beyond all the circumstances of our lives. He puts the cause of our thanksgiving outside ourselves, outside the world itself, and locates the cause of that thanksgiving in himself and his own being, in his goodness, steadfast covenant love, and faithfulness to his people. He places us firmly and securely in his own hands.
This is a reason for praise and thanksgiving. It is he that made us and not we ourselves; we are his people and the sheep of his pasture. He is good, his mercy is everlasting, and his truth endures to all generations. Is not that ground for thanksgiving? Shall we not give thanks unto him and bless his name for that?
Bless him in his gates and courts—the sanctuaries within the temple of God in the city of Jerusalem. This refers to the intimate confines of his gracious presence in the church, covenant, and kingdom of God. The gates and courts of God are where the church gathers for public worship. It is the most appropriate place. How different from the world’s beastly celebrations concerned only with food, drink, and football.
A lifelong, all-consuming activity for believers. Not for a day, a month, or a season. Nothing else is fitting for children of God than to give thanks and to bless Jehovah’s name. To praise God in the depths of regenerated hearts with joy, gladness, and singing because he has delivered our souls from death, forgiven us our sins, and sanctified us as his people. To praise him in all our lives. To praise him with song. To praise him in our whole lives in the vocations that he gives to us, whatever those stations may be. To praise him in his courts in the church. To praise him in the school, in the home, on the job site, and in everything we do. To praise him by drawing near to him in our prayers. To praise him in our whole thankful lives.
O Jehovah, we thank thee that we may thank thee. —NJL