“Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name”
You might expect the word “enter” to be at the start of a psalm, not in the middle; entering is usually the first thing we do! But, reading this psalm, I get the picture of a procession. The first three verses have us walking the streets singing, shouting, serving and having that revelation of who God is (and who we are in Him) and now we have arrived at the temple, ready for our corporate time of praise.
I wonder how often we turn up at (or log into!!) church on a Sunday morning as if this is the start of our praise, when actually our whole week should be a procession of worship leading up to the moment when we enter the gates!!
The word for thankfulness in Psalm 100:4 is the same word used for the “sacrifices of thanksgiving” which were offered in the outer courts of the tabernacle. Spurgeon wrote, “In all our public services, the rendering of thanks must abound; it is like the incense from the offerings in the temple which filled the whole house with smoke”. How beautiful?! But thankfulness, worship and praise do not start at 10:30am on a Sunday and end at 12noon. We are told to, “give thanks continually, in every circumstance” (1 Thessalonians 5:18) and to continually offer up a “sacrifice of praise” (Hebrews 13:15).
How often do we “enter” church on a Sunday or enter into our quiet times with God each morning, wondering what God will say to us or do for us rather than bringing our offerings of thankfulness and praise; ready to give, rather than receive.
Thankfulness changes our perspective. I remember a few years ago reading that beautiful verse, Philippians 4:6, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God”.
I had read it many times before but this time the position of “with thankfulness” before the “present your requests” really stood out. I realised how often I presented my requests to God without thankfulness. This changed the way I pray. No matter how difficult the circumstance, I always give thanks before I present my request. I choose to thank and praise FIRST and suddenly, when I get to the “presenting of my requests”, my faith has been ignited and my perspective has changed.
The message version paraphrases Psalm 100:4 as, “Enter with the password ‘thank you’”. Let’s come with thanksgiving and praise as our password into His presence today.
• Learn verse four and recite the psalm so far.
• Spend time being thankful! List all the things you have in your life to be thankful for. (You may remember the Anderson’s toilet challenge from the Strong Foundations devotional booklet – to list 100 things to be thankful for every time you sit on the loo!!) Don’t present any requests to God until you have spent time thanking Him!