In ancient Israel, when the people of God gathered at the temple to worship the Lord, they began by chanting this psalm: “Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, and into His courts with praise. Be thankful to Him, and bless His name” (Psalm 100:4, NKJV). The psalmist opened his chorus inviting fellow worshipers to share in his excitement and joyful exhilaration: “Make a joyful noise to the LORD, all the earth! Serve the LORD with gladness! Come into his presence with singing!” (verses 1–2, ESV).
As a whole, the psalms focus on God much more than on human experiences. Perhaps better than any other portion of Scripture, Psalms guides us into worship and teaches us how to praise the Lord. Through the psalms, believers can come and meet the Lord in an extraordinary way.
“Enter into His gates” is synonymous with coming into the Lord’s presence. As one commentator notes, moving into God’s presence is, in itself, “the first and fundamental human act that constitutes worship. . . . Psalm 100 initiates worship and sets forth a theology of worship” (Mays, J. L., Psalms, John Knox Press, 1994, p. 317).
Famously known as “The Old One-Hundredth,” Psalm 100 teaches us to begin our encounters with God by giving sincere thanks and enthusiastic praise. It calls us to delight ourselves in God’s presence, to celebrate, shout, worship with gladness, and sing for joy.
Why? Because the Lord is God! The undeniable answer appears in Psalm 100:3: “Know that the LORD, he is God! It is he who made us, and we are his” (ESV). We enter His gates—we come into His presence—by recognizing that He alone is God. Our thanksgiving finds its foundation and source in our intimate and personal relationship with the God of the universe. He is the source of our lives and the core of our being. He made us, and we belong to Him: “We are his people, the sheep of his pasture” (Psalm 100:3, NLT). As our Good Shepherd, He guides us, cares for us individually, tends to our needs, and protects us.
“For the LORD is good,” continues the psalmist, “His steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations” (Psalm 100:5, ESV). Thanksgiving that finds its source in a deep, personal conviction of God’s exceeding goodness, enduring love, and timeless faithfulness will take us straight into His throne room.
Our abiding, intimate knowledge of God enables us to “be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will” for those who belong to Christ Jesus (1 Thessalonians 5:18, NLT). Along with knowing Him, realizing who we are in Him—the children of God (1 John 3:1), the sheep of His flock (John 10:14), members of His family (John 1:12–13), and heirs of His kingdom (Romans 8:17)—ushers us directly into His gates with thanksgiving.
According to the psalmist, we can enter into His gates with thanksgiving by “serving the Lord with gladness” (Psalm 100:2; see also 1 Peter 4:8–11). The apostle Paul expressed his gratitude in service: “I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength to do his work. He considered me trustworthy and appointed me to serve him” (1 Timothy 1:12, NLT).
How else can we enter into His gates with thanksgiving? We can think about all the ways God has blessed us, saved us, transformed us, and answered our prayers! We can thank Him in our own words. According to the psalmist, we can even shout our thanks if we want.
We can enter His gates with thanksgiving by singing joyful worship songs like “Freedom Song” and “Blessed Be Your Name,” or hymns such as “To God Be the Glory” and “How Great Thou Art.” We can enter into His gates with thanksgiving by calling to mind Bible verses like Psalm 106:1: “Praise the LORD. Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever.” We can lift aloud our voices and cry, “Bless the LORD, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name!” (Psalm 103:1, ESV). We don’t have to wait. We can bless the Lord any time and at all times. His praise can continually be in our mouths (Psalm 34:1).