How do you view God? Think carefully about how you answer that question because your answer determines your response. There are many people in the world who have a distorted view of God and therefore respond to Him in a completely unacceptable fashion. For example, there are some who live lives of complete, open, and unmistakable rebellion against the Lord, yet when they die their friends and loved ones adamantly declare that they have “gone to a better place.” The obvious implication is that a person can dishonor Jehovah by the way that they live and still go to Heaven in spite of it. What does that say about their view of God? Is He really a God that would look so carelessly upon how we live that He would reward unrighteousness? Indeed not. Psalm 100 is just one of many passages that tell us something about the character of God, and how we should respond to Him.
The Psalmist tells us three things about God in verse 5: (1) He is good, (2) He is merciful, and (3) He is true.
His goodness refers to His graciousness and benevolence. To be sure, God is a good God, and we are all beneficiaries of that goodness. He has provided us with more than we need both spiritually and physically. Therefore the Psalmist wrote, “Oh that men would give thanks to the Lord for His goodness, and for His wonderful works to the children of men” (Ps. 107:8).
God’s mercy has to do with His compassion for the miserable and steadfast love for His creation. “The mercy of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear Him…” (Ps. 103:17). Jeremiah said, “Through the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not” (Lam. 3:22). How great is the mercy of our God? Surely it is beyond the scope of our comprehension.
That God is true speaks to His firmness, steadfastness, and faithfulness. Moses said, “Therefore know that the Lord your God, he is God, the faithful God, who keeps covenant and mercy for a thousand generations with those who love him and keep his commandments” (Deut. 7:9). Our God is true and faithful. His word is absolutely true (John 17:17) and we may confidently depend on Him (Titus 1:2; Heb. 10:23).
How should we respond to a God who is good, merciful, and true? The first four verses of the psalm describe four proper reactions.
- Worship with joy (verse 1). When we worship we give honor and homage to God because He is worthy. We should long for that opportunity (Ps. 84:1-3) and be glad for it (Ps. 122:1). The great God that we serve deserves to be exalted with hearts full of joy!
- Serve with gladness (verse 2). Because of all that our God has done for us we should desire to do all that we can for Him (Ps. 128:4). The Psalmist calls for us not only to serve the Lord but also to do it with gladness. Israel was warned that serving the Lord without gladness would result in punishment (Deut. 28:47). Surely the God who has willingly given us everything is worthy of our giving Him everything.
- Know the Lord (verse 3). So many people claim to “know the Lord,” but how many really understand what it means? To know the Lord in the way that the Psalmist suggests is much more than just knowing facts about Him, it is an intimate knowledge of who He is. That can only come through gaining knowledge of His will. Paul said the more we know about God’s will, the more we know about Him (Col. 1:9-11). The more time we spend getting to know God the closer we will be to Him. In this, we should glory (Jer. 9:23-24).
- Be thankful (verse 4). Paul said, “In everything give thanks for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you” (1 Thess. 5:18). This fact should be a given, but unfortunately for many it is not. Why is it that so often it is easy for us to ask for something but so difficult for us to be thankful when we receive it? God not only wants us to be thankful, He deserves it. The ultimate expression of thanksgiving is a life lived to His glory in accordance with His will.
How do you view God? This is one of the most important questions that we could ever ask, because our view of Him in this life will determine where we spend the next.