Originally written in 2004…
This week we’re going to look at verse 2…
Make a joyful shout to the LORD, all you lands!
Serve the LORD with gladness;
Come before His presence with singing. (NKJV)
I hope you don’t get tired of my mentioning “The Six Servants” of journalism (who, what, when, where, why, and how), but they are really quite helpful in Bible study. See if you get the same answers I do…
WHO — Who is this verse talking to? “all you lands” (see v. 1)
WHAT — What are we to do?
(1) Serve the LORD with gladness
(2) Come before His presence with singing
WHEN — When should we do this? when we are “before His presence”, when we
are serving the Lord
WHERE — Where will we be? This is similar to the “when” question, isn’t it? I suppose we are in the very presence of God.
WHY — Why should we do these things? These verses don’t really say, but I peeked ahead and saw that we’ll be studying this next week, in verse 3.
HOW — How are we to “serve” and “come”? with gladness and with singing
I’ve learned a lot already, but it’s time to really put on my thinking cap and answer, “What does it mean?” In Kay Arthur’s book, How to Study Your Bible, she suggests following several principles (see ch. 4):
(1) Remember that context rules.
(2) Always seek the full counsel of the Word of God.
(3) Remember that Scripture will never contradict Scripture.
(4) Do not base your doctrine on an obscure passage of Scripture.
(5) Interpret Scripture literally.
(6) Look for the author’s intended meaning of the passage.
(7) Check your conclusions by using reliable commentaries.
Well, last week we looked at the context of Psalm 100. Therefore, we can reasonably assume that we are to “serve the LORD with gladness” and “come before His presence with singing” in the context of corporate worship, in a body of believers who have congregated to reaffirm their commitment to the God of heaven. We’ve all read through our Bibles several times (right? <wink>), so we know that this interpretation doesn’t contradict other Scriptures. We’re interpreting this passage literally.
It seems that David was calling his fellow Israelites, and all others from other lands, to congregate together in God’s temple for the purposes of shouting joyfully to the Lord (verse 1), serving the Lord with glad hearts, and singing songs of praise and thanksgiving. (Other references to coming into God’s temple are made later in verse 4.)
When the Jews entered the temple in Jerusalem, they came not only for sacrifice or to hear the laws of God read, but also to praise and serve God. I think David wanted them to remember that worship should not become boring or ho-hum in their lives. Rather, the thought of praising God beside other believers should make them want to shout! It also seems that when their worship was authentic and heart-felt, they’d also want to SERVE with joy and a song. In other words, worship on the Sabbath day would affect how the Jewish person lived his life on the other six days.
David was also warning the Israelites. King David was familiar with God’s laws (see Psalm 119), so he would have known God’s words in Deuteronomy 28:
“Because you did not serve the LORD your God with joy and gladness of heart, for the abundance of everything, therefore you shall serve your enemies, whom the LORD will send against you, in hunger, in thirst, in nakedness, and in need of everything; and He will put a yoke of iron on your neck until He has destroyed you” (verses 47-48).
Sadly, this prophecy came true for Israel many times!
So how does this apply to us today? Was this Psalm only written for Israelites? I think not, because a simple search of my Bible tells me that believers in the New Testament also praised and served God with singing:
“But at midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them” (Acts 16:25).
“…be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord, giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ…” (Ephesians 5:18-20)
“Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord” (Colossians 3:16).
I also asked the question, “What does it mean to serve the Lord?” I did a word search on “serve” in the New Testament, and I noticed that it wasn’t talking about preaching, or singing in the choir, or witnessing to unbelievers, or any of the other things that I typically associate “service” with.
I noticed two things: (1) serving the Lord means obeying His commands, and (2) serving the Lord means NOT serving myself. It means I put my own desires and wishes aside and instead concentrate on HIS desires and wishes. Of course, Ps. 100:2 says to do this with GLADNESS.
So I have to ask myself:
~ Am I obeying God’s commands? Am I doing it happily?
~ Am I putting my own desires aside?
~ Do I know God (and His Word) well enough to know WHAT His wishes are?
~ Do I regularly come into the presence of God with my fellow believers? Jesus said, “For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them” (Matt. 18:20).
~ Do I sing? Do I give thanks? Do I make a melody in my heart to the Lord?
~ During corporate worship, do I put my whole heart into the effort of singing?
So there we have it — we looked at God’s Word, we interpreted what it meant, and we applied it to our lives. The only step left is to go out and DO it. 🙂