Expositor's Bible Commentary
A Psalm of praise. Make a joyful noise unto the LORD, all ye lands.Psalm 100:1-5THE Psalms of the King end with this full-toned call to all the earth to do Him homage. It differs from the others of the group, by making no distinct mention either of Jehovah’s royal title or of the great act of deliverance which was His visible exercise of sovereignty. But it resembles them in its jubilant tone, its urgent invitation to all men to walk in the light which shone on Israel, and its conviction that the mercies shown to the nation bad blessing in them for all the world. The structure is simple. A call to praise Jehovah is twice given, and each is followed by reasons for His praise, which is grounded, in the first instance (Psalm 100:3), on His dealings with Israel. and, in the second, on His character as revealed by all His works.
Psalm 100:1 consists of but a single clause, and, as Delitzsch says, is like the signal blast of a trumpet. It rings out a summons to "all the earth," as in Psalm 98:4, which is expanded in Psalm 100:2. The service there enjoined is that of worship in the Temple, as in Psalm 100:4. Thus, the characteristic tone of this group of psalms echoes here, in its close, and all men are called and welcomed to the Sanctuary. There is no more a Court of the Gentiles. Not less striking than the universality of the psalm is its pulsating gladness. The depths of sorrow, both of that which springs from outward calamities and of that more heart-breaking sort which wells up from dark fountains in the soul, have been sounded in many a psalm. But the Psalter would not reflect all the moods of the devout soul, unless it had some strains of unmingled joy. The Christian Year has perfect days of sunlit splendour, when all the winds are still, and no cloud darkens the unbroken blue. There is no music without passages in minor keys; but joy has its rights and place too, and they know but little of the highest kind of worship who do not sometimes feel their hearts swell with gladness more poignant and exuberant than earth can minister.
The reason for the world’s gladness is given in Psalm 100:3. It is Jehovah’s special relation to Israel. So far as the language of the verse is concerned, it depends on Psalm 95:7. "He hath made us" does not refer to creation, but to the constituting of Israel the people of God. "We are His" is the reading of the Hebrew margin, and is evidently to be preferred to that of the text, "Not we ourselves." The difference in Hebrew is only in one letter, and the pronunciation of both readings would be the same. Jewish text critics count fifteen passages, in which a similar mistake has been made in the text. Here, the comparison of Psalm 95:1-11 and the connection with the next clause of Psalm 100:3 are decidedly in favour of the amended reading. It is to be observed that this is the only and it is natural to lay stress on the opposition between "ye" in Psalm 100:3 a, -and "we" and "us" in b. The collective Israel speaks, and calls all men to rejoice in Jehovah, because of His grace to it. The psalm is, then, not, as Cheyne calls it, "a national song of thanksgiving, with which a universalistic element is not completely fused," but a song which starts from national blessings, and discerns in them a message of hope and joy for all men. Israel was meant to be a sacred hearth on which a fire was kindled, that was to warm all the house. God revealed Himself in Israel, but to the world.
The call to praise is repeated in Psalm 100:4 with more distinct reference to the open Temple gates into which all the nations may now enter. The psalmist sees, in prophetic hope, crowds pouring in with glad alacrity through the portals, and then hears the joyful tumult of their many voices rising in a melodious surge of praise. His eager desire and large-hearted confidence that so it will one day be are vividly expressed by the fourfold call in Psalm 100:4. And the reason which should draw all men to bless God’s revealed character is that His self-revelation, whether to Israel or to others, shows that the basis of that character is goodness-i.e., kindness or love-and that, as older singers have sung, "His lovingkindness endures forever," and, as a thousand generations in Israel and throughout the earth have proved, His faithful adherence to His word. and discharge of all obligations under which He has come to His creatures, give a basis for trust and a perpetual theme for joyful thanksgiving. Therefore, all the world has an interest in Jehovah’s royalty, and should, and one day shall, compass His throne with joyful homage, and obey His behests with willing service.