Speaking of Life 5053│The Why of Praise
Many people are familiar with Psalm 100. It’s called a “psalm of thanksgiving,” and it encourages the entire earth to “make a joyful noise.” That sounds like a good time to me! But what I want to focus on today is the why – why should we “make a joyful noise?”
Let’s set the stage by reading what we should be doing:
Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth.
Serve the Lord with gladness; come into his presence with singing.
Know that the Lord is God. It is he who made us, and we are his;
we are his people and the sheep of his pasture.
Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise.
Give thanks to him; bless his name.
Psalm 100:1-4 (NRSVUE)
Notice all the things we “should” be doing – making a joyful noise, serving with gladness, singing, knowing that God is our Creator, and giving thanks and blessings to the Divine. While these verses can be instructional, if you’re like me, you often want to know “why” you need to do something. And by knowing why, it connects the head with the heart. Our actions become linked to heartfelt emotion, and what might have been routine, mindless acts suddenly become infused with meaning.
Let’s look at the last verse of Psalm 100 to understand why we would even consider making a joyful noise, serving with gladness, or any of the other actions the first four verses tell us we should do:
For the Lord is good; his steadfast love endures forever and his faithfulness to all generations.
Psalm 100: 5 (NRSVUE)
The reason we respond with a joyful noise and thanksgiving is because God is good, but verse 5 does more than leave the definition of “good” up to our human imaginations. It defines God’s goodness as “steadfast love” and “faithfulness.”
The phrase “steadfast love,” can be more expansively defined as “kindness or love between people” or the idea of giving yourself fully to another. God gives steadfast love fully to each one of us, and we know this by Jesus’ crucifixion, where God’s Son endured the hatred and mistreatment of humankind so that we could be brought into the triune relationship. We also have evidence of the fullness of God’s steadfast love through the gift of the Holy Spirit, our Helper and Comforter, who lives in us.
The word “faithfulness,” refers to trustworthiness in relationships. God’s way of moving in the world reflects his loyalty and commitment to humanity. This trustworthiness in relationships was demonstrated by Jesus’ commitment to people who were often marginalized in his culture, like women, children, and Gentiles. Jesus went out of his way to encourage, hang out with, and even heal those who had no power or money to offer him. This is God’s way of showing his trustworthy commitment to people while pointing out the problems with man-made systems and cultures.
God’s complete commitment and loyalty to all of humanity is what inspires our praise. When we make that “joyful noise,” it’s because we understand the goodness of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
May we make a joyful noise, knowing the fullness of our triune God’s steadfast love and faithfulness.
I’m Jeff Broadnax, Speaking of Life.