Friday, October 10, 2008

Selected Psalms: Psalm 100

(Read Psalm 100 here.)

From the moment we are born, we move toward a state of independence. It is in our human nature to long to throw off the shackles of what we perceive to be holding us back. The crawling baby wants to walk. The adolescent wants to leave home. The employee wants to be his own boss. At every stage of life, our flesh desires to be free of that which holds us down.

We don’t want to be told what to do. We want to be subject to no one. We want to be our own person. We want independence, breathing room, freedom. And we believe that if we could only get to that place, we would enjoy life fully.

How interesting, then, that the Psalmist would find reason for joyful thanksgiving in a state of complete dependence and servitude, subjection and need.

Psalm 100 is a psalm of thanksgiving, a call to worship. Vv1-2 are just what you would expect: Make a joyful noise to the LORD, all the earth! Serve the LORD with gladness! Come into his presence with singing!

But v3 is striking. It falls right in the middle of the psalm and serves as the central idea of the poem. In the center of this call to worship there is the imperative to know God’s rightful place of authority over us: Know 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.

In one verse, there are five allusions to the authority of God: God, Creator, Master, King, and Shepherd. Conversely then, these imply five pictures of our dependence and obligation to Him: worshiper, creation, servant, subject, and sheep.

Know that the LORD, he is God! He is our God – He has sovereignty over us.

It is he who made us... He is our Creator – He has a purpose for us.

...and we are His. He is our Master – He has all rights over us.

We are His people… He is our King – He has dominion over us.

…and the sheep of His pasture. He is our Shepherd – He has love, patience, and care for us.

The Psalmist cites this reality as a cause for celebration. He revels in his low position and in the LORD’s exaltation above him. How far removed that is from the world’s perspective. How far removed that is from the perspective of many of us.

Many confessing Christians spend their days straining against the authority of God in their lives. They want the benefits, but none of the obligation. They want the reward, but none of the sacrifice. They want a Savior, but not a Lord.

But the mark of a true believer is the ever-present awareness that he is not his own. He has a Master, an Owner. He understands that every decision he makes and every deed he does should be undertaken for the service of his King, for the glory of his Creator. He knows that every step he takes and every provision that he enjoys have been provided by his Shepherd. His is a life of obligation, servitude, subjection, and joy.

Why joy? Look at v5: For the LORD is good; his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations.

Our God is good. Our Master is loving. Our Shepherd is faithful. Our Creator is eternal. True freedom can only be found in total dependence upon and slavery to Him.

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