Psalm 100 is one of a few psalms that poses a great mystery about the faith of the Hebrew scriptures (Psalm 117 is another). The mystery is two-fold. Part one, what was the relationship between the worship and behavior of the Israelites and the heathen nations around them? Part two, what is the implication of that for Christianity. Let us at least explore the implications from Psalm 100.
We Are His People And The Sheep Of His Pasture
Psalm 100, which is a short psalm, reads as follows: “Make a joyful shout to the Lord, all you lands! Serve the Lord with gladness; come before His presence with singing. Know that the Lord, He is God; it is He who made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people and the sheep of His pasture. Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, and into His courts with praise. Be thankful to Him, and bless his name. For the Lord is good; His mercy is everlasting, and His truth endures to all generations.”
The implications of this short psalm (only five verses) are very large for understanding the original purpose of the biblical faith and how it is to be practiced by Christians. For one, Psalm 100 is a call to all nations of the world to worship God. Like Psalm 117 and Zechariah 14, the assumption of Psalm 100 is a world where the biblical worship system is in place over the entire world. For one, this means that all of the world is welcome to worship in His temple–there is to be no more segregation between Jew and Gentile. God is recognized as the Father and the Creator of all human beings, not just the Jews or Israelites, and all are his children. Therefore, as a part of the family of God all nations are to thank God for His blessings, sing to God with praise and gladness, and remember His mercy that is on the entire earth and its inhabitants.
Let us therefore, having examined what the psalm says about the universality of the biblical religion (and it not being a special faith for Israelites or Jews alone). There are two principle implications here. The first is about the universal nature of biblical religion from the very start. The second is about the implications of that on our own conduct and behavior.
Psalm 100 makes very plain that all of the earth is to worship God and be welcome to worship God in thanksgiving. There is no room for segregation, no room for racism or ethnic pride. All human beings are created in the image and likeness of God and all are to worship Him as their Creator. There is to be one worship system, one law, one standard for all. There is no place for a permanent system of inequality of any kind between believers–no wall of separation, no separate but equal. All are called to serve and obey Him, for He is the Father of all mankind.
The second implication comes in the fact that the world is not going to come to God unless they have someone to teach and show them the right way. Ancient Israel was called to be a kingdom of priests and a holy nation (Exodus 19:5-6), the same calling given to spiritual Israel, the Church of God (1 Peter 2:9-10). In order to be a lighthouse calling the dwellers of darkness into the light one must model godly behavior. It is not possible to be a guide to salvation unless one knows the path of obedience. Ancient Israel had the same responsibility to provide a model of obedience to the world as the Church of God has today. Israel failed in its mission, and it doesn’t look as if the Church of God has done a much better job.
Psalm 100 is one of those places in scripture where it becomes clear that God always desired for all nations to be called to worship Him. In order to do so God had to start small, with one faithful individual, one faithful family, one faithful kingdom of priests. So far neither physical Israel nor spiritual Israel has set a very good example of obedience to His ways, or served as a very fitting model of what God’s way of life looks like. There must be fit teachers so that the world can learn–we have a lot of work to do. Let us get to business, seeing what happened when Israel failed to show themselves worthy to be a model people for the world to follow.