Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth.
Worship the Lord with gladness;
come into his presence with singing.
Know that the Lord is God.
It is he that made us, and we are his;
we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.
Enter his gates with thanksgiving,
and his courts with praise.
Give thanks to him, bless his name.
For the Lord is good;
his steadfast love endures forever,
and his faithfulness to all generations. (NRSV)
The way we approach God is significant. No matter the circumstances, entering the presence of God by means of thanksgiving and praise helps us to rightly acknowledge that God is good. And God will continue to be good because love is intrinsic to the Lord’s character.
Perhaps there are days or extended periods of time we do not feel like God is good. Chronic world and national problems such as COVID-19, poverty, and injustice; continued personal, family, or communal bouts of physical or emotional pain; out of control situations with no resolution in sight – these and many more realities may cause us to question God’s goodness, much less give us reason to praise the name of the Lord.
Yet, here is where this psalm needs to be as familiar and common to us as putting on our shoes in the morning. Saying the psalm aloud repeatedly, despite how we feel, is the kind of spiritual medicine we need to alter our sour dispositions and change the face of our anxious attitudes.
Declaring the psalm multiple times in the day – not in a legalistic or magical sense as if it were some rabbit’s foot to ward off evil – will allow biblical truth and solid theology to slowly and deliberately sink down deep in our souls.
I believe psalm reading (and singing) ought to be a noisy affair. Tepid narrations and mumbled song bring out a mere milquetoast form of spirituality. Say it and sing it with some flavor! When we have a reason to praise, this is not difficult. Fully internalizing our worship of the Lord will seep us in praise. To know God is to experience God – and when we experience the divine, oh, what rapture it is!
The psalms enable us to put words and emotions to our confession – that the Lord is reliable, worthy of all our worship and praise, and fully able to bear our burdens and our faith. God reigns, and because God is good, there is a benevolent rule over all creation. God cares.
It is this theological view of God as a good, caring, and benevolent ruler which elicits joy from worshipers. Exuberance and enthusiasm organically rise from a heart that knows God experientially.
Lord God Almighty, I praise your glorious Name! You are always good, and your love endures forever! May my character and my life reflect your grace operating within me. Help me to have an attitude of thanksgiving in all circumstances. To the glory of Jesus, I pray. Amen.