Shout for joy to Yahweh, all you lands!
2 Serve Yahweh with gladness.
Come before his presence with singing.
3 Know that Yahweh, he is God.
It is he who has made us, and we are his.
We are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.
4 Enter into his gates with thanksgiving,
and into his courts with praise.
Give thanks to him, and bless his name.
5 For Yahweh is good.
His loving kindness endures forever,
his faithfulness to all generations.Psalm 100:1-5 (WEB)
This wonderful psalm came up as part of the Course in Christian Studies I have been following recently. It is a clear song of praise to our God, and so I thought I would focus at least one blog post on it… perhaps more!
Shouting is not generally considered a good thing. If I asked you to picture someone shouting, you might imagine a stressed school teacher yelling at their class or an angry driver hollering out of their window at a passer-by for not paying more attention. In London last weekend, it was reported that a group of individuals were driving around the city shouting antisemitic abuse, supposedly fuelled by the escalating conflict in Israel and Gaza. Such shouting is indeed a very bad thing and totally unacceptable.
The dictionary definition of shouting is somewhat less negative however – “To call or cry out loudly and vigorously.” While this can certainly be in a negative manner, it does not always have to be.
Psalm 100 opens with a call to shout. Not to abuse or to yell at anyone, but instead to shout for joy!
Shouting for joy is clearly a way of expressing great delight in the Lord. Joy goes far beyond mere happiness, which comes and goes with circumstances. Instead, joy is a Fruit of the Spirit (see Galatians 5:22-23) and is rooted in us when the Holy Spirit comes to dwell in us. Joy is also a spectrum ranging from a calm, peacefulness to an overflowing, exhuberant delight!
This is also not some general shout, but it is directed to Someone very specific. In the WEB translation above, it names God as Yahweh. Other translations, such as the NIV, will simply render the name as “LORD”. This is the God of the Bible; Father, Son and Holy Spirit – One God in Three Persons.
We might shout when our favourite team scores a goal, or when our child wins the race on sports day, but would we really shout for joy to the Lord? I find myself a little humbled on this point. I suppose I’m rather British (he says with a smile) and so I am not known for my vocal outbursts or dancing before the altar… I imagine my children would pray for the earth to open up and swallow them if I did!
What greater reason is there to shout for joy? If I am not self-conscious at a concert or sporting event, why would I be in church? Calling out in praise is the most natural thing a believer can do, and if we spent our time really focussed on what God has done for us, then I suppose we would have little trouble in stirring ourselves up in that way.
Now please do not misunderstand me here. It is biblical to act in an orderly manner in church. Please do not “shout for joy because Andy said so” during your pastor’s next sermon (live or livestream!) In times of worship however, it may be appropriate to call out to God, praising Him for who He is and what He has done for you.
To complete verse one, and perhaps this post as well, the direction to shout to the Lord is given to “all you lands!” Maybe the writer here was thinking of all the lands of Israel, or even the entirety of the earth. Either way, this is a direction to shout and praise for all peoples. God is the God of all, not just those who choose to follow Him. A day will come when all, willingly or unwillingly, will bow their knee before Him and confess His Lordship.
The shout of the Christian church is meant to carry throughout the world. We are to raise Christ as a Banner, proclaiming His Name wherever we go. As we go out, the world ought to hear us coming a mile off as they hear our shout from afar.
When he had taken counsel with the people, he appointed those who were to sing to Yahweh, and give praise in holy array, as they go out before the army, and say, “Give thanks to Yahweh; for his loving kindness endures forever.”2 Chronicles 20:21 (WEB)
Let our shouts of joy go before us. Let us be known as a people of praise! Let each of us show a bit of enthusiasm for our God who has rescued us from the power of sin and death. He is worthy! His love endures forever! God be praised in the highest heavens! Let “all you lands” worship Him!
Keep on shouting and we will pick up the rest of this psalm another day.