(This devotion is day one of a 30-Day Thanksgiving Challenge. Each day includes a daily reading that will be accompanied by a post on this blog.)
Read Psalm 100
What’s the proper reaction of creation to its Creator? If God is God, and we live and breathe in His world, provided for and blessed in countless ways, what is a fitting response? And if we were under God’s righteous judgment because of our sin against Him, and yet He graciously redeemed us at the cost of His Son, what should be our posture before Him?
Humility. Awe. Gratitude. Surrender. Worship. To name a few things that come to mind.
God’s glory, goodness, and grace should stir our hearts. And yet, I’m guilty of approaching God with apathy, yawning in boredom or distracted by the smallest thing. When I do this, it’s because I’m not considering the majesty, might, and mercy of God. Ritual drives me, or maybe fear or unbelief loom in my mind, but there’s a disconnect between who God is and how I relate to Him when entering His presence does nothing to me or for me.
Psalm 100 celebrates the Kingship of God. God’s rule, domain, protection, benevolence, and care for all under His rule cause the people to rejoice in Him.
A Royal Celebration
I watch a lot of Disney movies with my daughter, and many of them use imagery of kings, queens, kingdoms, and (of course) princesses. A common scene in these films includes a king or royal family member entering a town where the people feel overwhelmed with the honor of their visit. They line their streets in celebration and fill the air with cheers. Colorful banners wave and trumpets blow. They rejoice in their king and in being citizens of his kingdoms. There’s a shared honor experienced through a connection to such regal royalty.
Through these images, we can feel the joyful celebration described in Psalm 100. Listen to how the Psalmist talks about approaching God.
Rejoice in Him
Verses 1–2 suggest the royal celebration of cheering and singing. Make a joyful noise to the Lord. Serve the Lord with gladness. Come into His presence with singing.
Verse three hits the pause button to offer perspective. The Lord is God (and we are not). Nothing should be more obvious than this, and yet, we often try to take over for Him. But He made you, and you are His. We are the sheep of His pasture. Recalling creation incites awe of Him and assures us of His care for us. He is the almighty Maker of Heaven and Earth. He flexes His muscles by speaking a word and the wonders of the universe come into being.
Let the beauty of His glory and power stun you. Praise Him for it.
Draw Near to Him
But He’s not just above and beyond us as God; He’s also near to us and with us as our God. We belong to Him. We are His. You are His. Like a good shepherd (Is. 40:10–11; Ps. 23; John 10:1–18), He watches over you, protects you, and provides for you.
Like sheep, look to Him. Let His nearness and care humble you. Thank Him.
We enter the prestigious, royal gates of the King’s palace humbly, but not bashfully. With confidence, based on the King’s mercy and grace rather than our worth or esteem, we boldly come into His courts. As we do so, we give thanks and bless His name (100:4).
It astounds me that peasants can approach the King of Kings, and that we can do so like welcomed and wanted children. He invites us to draw near. The proper posture from grateful citizens—even sons and daughters—is joy and thankfulness. He is at once the King we bow before, but also the loving Father who runs to meet us (Luke 15:20).
Rest in Him
In our final verse (5), the Psalmist summarizes who God is. What kind of King is He? Why are humility, adoration, trust, and thankfulness fitting responses before Him?
The Lord is good (100:5). This Psalm condenses God’s many admirable attributes down to one description of our King: goodness. It reminds me of the famous line from C. S. Lewis’s The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe when Mr. Beaver describes Aslan—the great Lion—by saying, “Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.”
The Psalm adds two descriptions of God’s goodness: steadfast love and faithfulness.
His steadfast love endures forever. His unchanging, unceasing love demonstrates His goodness. He’s also faithful. He can be trusted and is true. You can rely on God, knowing He always keeps His Word and promises. He will be faithful forever. It’s part of His goodness.
For all these things, the Psalmist rejoices in God and gives thanks to Him.
From Grace to Gratitude
When we remember our guilt before God, and yet His grace in forgiving, reconciling, and adopting us, guilt gives way to gratitude. If we think about how God should have treated us as sinners who rebelled against His authority and kingdom, and yet how He does treat us with steadfast love, perfect faithfulness, and overwhelming goodness, our hearts fill with gratitude. Psalm 100 offers us refreshment as we rejoice in our King.
Read through this Psalm again. Respond in thanksgiving for who God is and what He’s done for you. Reflect on who God is as God, and what it means to be His people and sheep. Record specific examples to crank the gears of gratitude.
 C. S. Lewis, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 1950), 80.
To go deeper in biblical thanksgiving and understand how it leads us to know and enjoy God, check out my book The Grumbler’s Guide to Giving Thanks: Reclaiming the Gifts of A Lost Spiritual Discipline.