Christian Worship Is a Witness and Invitation to the World

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Psalm 100 (ESV)
Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth! 2Serve the Lord with gladness! Come into his presence with singing!
3Know that the Lord, he is God! It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.
4Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! Give thanks to him; bless his name!
5For the Lord is good; his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations.

Key Observation

Worship is the central act of the people of God in response to his majestic and loving rule. It serves as a witness and invitation to the nations.

Understanding the Word

This week we will study four psalms from Book IV (100, 103, 105, and 106). Psalm 100 concludes the series of psalms that celebrate the Lord as King (93–100) by affirming key theological truths about the Lord and calling his people to worship. Psalm 103 praises the wonders of the Lord and testifies to his great love. Psalms 105 and 106 bring Book IV to a conclusion by reviewing Israel’s history and envisioning a pathway forward to a future of abundance for a wayward people.

Psalm 100 is a stirring reminder of God’s mission. We are worshippers who testify to the nations in word and deed about the power and love of the Lord. In Psalms 93–99 the focus was on God’s kingship over his people and all creation. In Psalm 100, God’s people take up the missional implications of these truths. The psalm unfolds in two sections (vv. 1–3 and 4–5). Each part is similar in structure. There are a series of verbs that invite the nations to praise and worship: “Make a joyful noise,” “Serve,” “Come,” and “Know” (vv. 1–3a), and “Enter,” “Give thanks,” and “bless” (v. 4). Verses 3b and 5 conclude each section respectively by providing a rationale for praise grounded in the testimony of God’s people of what the Lord has done.

Verses 1–2 open with a series of invitations to worship the Lord. The emphasis is on joy and gladness. True praise of the Lord flows out of a deep relationship rooted in who God is and what God has done. Whenever praise is severed from relationship, it becomes hollow and will feel forced. As God’s people, we have the privilege of praising him for the sake of the nations. Our worship tells the gospel story and calls the world to join us. Psalm 100 imagines the nations joining God’s people with exuberant praise and thanksgiving and with service. The word translated “serve” (v. 2) can mean “worship.” It reminds us that at the heart of worship is a holistic response of committed service. It is a call to turn away from all other competing powers and gods in recognition of the true God and King, the Lord (cf. Deuteronomy 6:1–4).

Verse 3 invites the nations to know the Lord. This is not a call to intellectual understanding or familiarity. It is call to allegiance. The Lord is God in the sense that Isaiah 45:22 suggests: “I am God and there is no other.” The demonstration of this truth is the existence of God’s people and his ongoing care for them. God is the creator and sustainer of his people. We are not self-made. We are recipients of grace and, as such, we testify to the world.

Verses 4–5 restate these basic truths. Verse 4 envisions the nations coming to the temple in Jerusalem for worship and discovering God’s people singing unto him. These songs testify to God’s goodness through the years. It is a witness of God’s faithful and committed love that knows no bounds.

  1. Reflect on times when you felt despair in your faith. How did you find your way back?
  2. How does Psalm 90 challenge us to pray in times of unceasing hardship?

Are you interested in studying and living with the Psalms in a deeper way? In Part 3 of his OneBook Daily-Weekly journey through the Psalms, Dr. Brian Russell introduces readers to Books Four and Five of the Psalms (Psalms 90-150). Psalms 90-150 serve to rebuild faith and hope by reorienting God’s people with the themes of God’s kingship, steadfast love, and guidance through history. These psalms teach God’s people to worship, to live faithfully, and to prepare for His good future wherein all creation will join God’s people in praising the Lord for who He is and what He has done. By studying the Psalms, participants will be equipped and inspired to live out a moment-by-moment walk with God through the world as His witnesses. Get the study in our store here.

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Dr. Brian Russell is Dean of the School of Urban Ministries and Professor of Biblical Studies at Asbury Theological Seminary. He is also a consultant and speaker on the missional interpretation of Scripture and creating a missional ethos in communities of faith.

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