A Labor of Gladness

Over the decades I have probably read the 100th almost a hundred times. Certainly, in the day, I must have sung the 100th at least a hundred times. Probably the first psalm I memorized because it was one of the first I learned as scripture lyrics put to what was then a modern melody. But something stood out this morning as I read through this “old time favorite.” Maybe I’ve noticed it before . . . but maybe not. Seems that worship is not just an offering of praise, as I most commonly think of it, but it is also a labor of gladness.

Make a joyful noise to the LORD, all the earth!
Serve the LORD with gladness!
Come into His presence with singing!
(Psalm 100:1-2 ESV)

Like I said, over the years I have read, said, or sung these words dozens if not hundreds of times. But I think that, most often, I may have disassociated “serve the LORD” from “make a joyful noise to the LORD” and “come into His presence with singing.” But this morning it hits me between the eyes that these are parallel thoughts. That making a joyful noise is the same as coming into His presence with singing and, in this context, is the same as serving the LORD with gladness. The NIV doesn’t force me to make this connection for, though not literal, it translates the right thought, “Worship the Lord with gladness.”

But I think there’s some value for allowing the reader to connect the dots. Or, rather, having the reader experience the Spirit’s illumination as the Holy Spirit connects the dots for them.

How often do I view my singing to the LORD as service to the LORD? When was the last time I considered my wonder and worship before the God in our midst as a work done in subjection to Him. When was the last time I thought of the lyrics I sing before Him to be a labor of gladness?

We serve the LORD when we make a joyful noise to Him. That service is to be one presented with joy, mirth, and happiness of heart. And that service is available to every child of God . . . no matter one’s spiritual gifting, all God’s people can make a joyful noise and humbly offer this joy-filled labor.

Kind of puts a new perspective on something which for many seems to be a tiresome activity. How many view the opening song service as the “prelims” . . . an optional part of the Sunday service. To them I say, “Serve the LORD with gladness” . . . sing the songs . . . do so with hearts of joyful gratitude . . . come into His presence with singing.

And then for those who I get to observe, week after week, who are lifting their voices . . . and lifting their faces . . . and some even lifting their hands . . . for those whose countenance offered to heaven indicates they get this work of worship . . . to them I say, “Well done good and faithful servant.” Your labor of gladness is heard in heaven. Your service of song stirs the One to whom you sing.

What privilege to serve the One who redeemed us for Himself. What joy to work for Him who has made us His own for “we are His people and the sheep of His pasture” (v.3). We get to enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise (v.4) because access has been made into the very holy of holies by the blood of His blessed Son. We are compelled to give thanks . . . for He is good . . . and His steadfast love endures forever . . . and His faithfulness extend to all generations (v. 5).

If we don’t sing . . . the rocks will (Luke 19:37-40).

Might God’s people embrace the wonder of being servants in song. O blessed labor of gladness!

By His grace . . . for His glory . . .

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