Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth.
Worship the Lord with gladness;
come before him with joyful songs.
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.
Enter his gates with thanksgiving
and his courts with praise;
give thanks to him and praise his name.
For the Lord is good and his love endures forever;
his faithfulness continues through all generations. (New International Version)
The worship of God cannot be contained with one dimension of a person – their spirit. Worshiping God requires the body, mind, and emotions, as well. Anything less, is withholding praise. We are to worship with our entire being.
The original use of today’s psalm was for the ancient Israelites approaching the temple to worship God. Before worshipers ever came into the presence of the Lord, they were preparing themselves to encounter God through giving thanks, using this very psalm.
When King David and other Hebrew writers penned their poetic songs, they centered what they most wanted to draw attention to in the middle, so that what came before it and after it pointed to that central message. The center of the psalm is:
Know that the Lord is God. Knowing God is to experience the divine through a close relationship. It means we have a place and a purpose. It is a knowing and belonging which exists deep down in our gut.
We get to know God by how he has worked in people’s lives, as well as our own. So, gatherings of believers (whether physical or virtual) are an opportunity to reinforce collective values, strengthen faith, and encourage the discouraged.
Faithful worshipers deeply desire to focus on who God is and what God has done, remembering and rehearsing divine qualities and deeds. Through this activity, we help one another know the Lord. And knowing God is what real life is all about. The Lord is worthy of all the praise, adoration, and worship we can give.
There are three imperatives (commands) that come before the middle phrase to know that the Lord is God; and three imperatives coming after it. All six imperatives are meant to help us know God better, to give our proper praise to the Lord.
Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth. Declaring loudly of God’s gracious and loving character, expressed through right, just, and fair actions.
Worship the Lord with gladness. Kneeling and prostrating before God in humble reverence, awe, and adoration.
Come before the Lord with joyful songs. Approaching God’s throne with confidence and boldness.
Those are the three imperatives which lead us to know the Lord.
The following three imperatives point back to know that the Lord is God:
Enter the Lord’s gates with thanksgiving. Immersing oneself in the presence of God.
Give thanks to the Lord. Giving voice in gratitude to God
Praise the name of the Lord. Declaring God’s holy name with heartfelt expression.
We belong to God. God’s people celebrate this tremendous experience of belonging with deliberate actions that put us in a position to know God better.
I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. (Ephesians 1:17, NIV)
One of my all-time favorite verses in the Bible has to do with knowing God:
Everything in our lives, whether good or bad, is designed to help us know God better. Shared experiences with each other encourage Christians to keep living for Jesus. All of life, from a Christian perspective, points us to the mid-point of history, Jesus Christ, and him crucified, risen, and coming again.
And this is eternal life, that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. (John 17:3, NRSV)
So, let us express gratitude today for all the gracious ways of God’s self-revealing and reaching out to save such ones as us.
I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.
Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen. (Ephesians 3:16-21, NIV)
Gracious and almighty God, the One who works on my behalf, give me grace to put away the rootless existence of someone who has no place; and help me to experientially know your radical acceptance and inclusion into the dance of the Trinity – Father, Son, and Spirit – one God, now and forever. Amen.
Grace and peace be yours in abundance through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord. (2 Peter 1:2, NIV)
Amen. Soli Deo Gloria.