Oxford Dictionary added a new word this year. They called it the word of the year for 2016. Know what it is? “Post-truth.” Definition: “Relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief.” Doesn’t that sum up 2016? Emotions ran high and devalued truth. Therefore, post-truth prevailed.
But Christians do not live a post-truth life. Francis Schaeffer used to say that Christianity is true truth – it is the truth that undergirds every other truth. If you drill all the way down to the bedrock bottom of the universe what you find is the truth of who God is and what he says. The God of the Bible is the God who is there, and he is not silent. He has spoken in the Bible so that we might know him.
Psalm 100 helps us see that feelings don’t surpass truth. Truth informs feelings. Actions in the Christian life are not based on feelings alone, but feelings derived from everlasting truth.
1 Make a joyful noise to the LORD, all the earth!
2 Serve the LORD with gladness!
Come into his presence with singing!
3 Know that the LORD, he is God!
It is he who made us, and we are his;
we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.
4 Enter his gates with thanksgiving,
and his courts with praise!
Give thanks to him; bless his name!
5 For the LORD is good;
his steadfast love endures forever,
and his faithfulness to all generations.
Notice the first word in verse 3, know. That word indicates certainty. If there is a word in this Psalm that supports all the others, it is this word know. We must know something for any of the rest of this Psalm to make any sense at all. Knowing is the prerequisite for everything else in the Psalm. So what should we know?
There are seven things the Psalmist lists. Remember, the way we live as Christians is based on what we know. It all starts with knowing who this God is. So who is he?
1. He is God (v. 3)
This is the main dish – the turkey in the center of the table, if you will. It’s the first thing we must know – that God is God.
In 1 Kings 18, God was put to the test by the prophets of Baal, a pagan god. Elijah, God’s prophet, came to the people of Israel and said, “How long will you go limping between two different opinions? If the LORD is God, follow him; but if Baal, then follow him.”
Elijah and the prophets of Baal then have a showdown. All 450 of the prophets of Baal pray and wait for Baal to send fire down upon the altar. Nothing comes. Then Elijah asks for the altar to be flooded with water. If the fire comes, it’ll have to be a miracle. Elijah prays. “Then the fire of the Lord fell and consumed the burnt offering and the wood and the stones and the dust, and licked up the water that was in the trench. And when all the people saw it, they fell on their faces and said, “The Lord, he is God; the Lord, he is God.”
He’s not one god among many. He’s the only true God. He is infinitely perfect, eternally self-existent, fully self-sufficient, and unconquerably-powerful.
2. He made us (v. 3)
We are not accidents. We have divine intention. We were made by God, in his image. David expresses this in Psalm 139 when he says, “For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother's womb.”
Humanity is not formed by throwing a group of molecules into a stretch of time and a bundle of chance. We are knitted with careful attention to detail. The you that you are is no accident. You were created by God. You were thought of before the foundation of the world. You have significance, even glory, because God made you!
3. We are his people (v. 3)
He not only made us but wants us. We’ve done enough sinning to separate us eternally from God. But he still calls us his. He wants us. He wants you.
How can we know that? Because he came for us. In sin, we turned our back on him, but in grace, he turned his face toward us. Jesus left his home in heaven, pushed out, as it were, by his great love for us. He accomplished the work of salvation because his heart beat for his people. He couldn’t have it any other way. He wouldn’t abandon us. The Bible says His people are the apple of his eye (Ps. 17:8).
4. We are the sheep of his pasture (v. 3)
He’s not a benevolent but distant father. No, he’s in the field with us. He shepherds us. This imagery shows God’s loving care. He leads. He protects. He disciplines. He guides. We’re not left to ourselves. We’re under the kind watch of the Good Shepherd. If we stray, he comes to get us!
Psalm 23 comes to mind. “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name's sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”
5. He is good (v. 5)
For the Lord is good. Who is good but God alone? (Luke 18:19) He is good and does good (Ps. 119:68). The Lord is good to all, and his mercies are over all his works (Ps. 145:9). For you, Lord, are good, and ready to forgive, and abundant in lovingkindness to all who call upon you (Ps. 86:5). But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things that have come, then through the greater and more perfect tent (not made with hands, that is, not of this creation) he entered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption (Hebrews 9:11-12).
Who secures an eternal redemption for his people except for the one who is good? He’s not just good to some; he’s good to you.
6. His steadfast love endures forever (v. 5)
The Hebrew word used for steadfast love is chesed. This is God’s loyal love. It’s the love that he bound himself to in his covenant promises. It’s a never-ending, ever-present, eternally-increasing, constantly-shaping, fiercely protective love. It’s the love that kept a remnant of Israel throughout their sinful life. It’s the love that pushed Jesus down into our world. It’s the love that bound him to human skin. It’s the love that empowered him to fight temptation and remain sinless. It’s the love that compelled him to endure the cross for the joy set before him. (Hebrews 12:2) And we are that joy! If he was willing to endure all of that, how can we doubt his steadfast love now? He won’t give up on you!
7. His faithfulness endures to all generations (v. 5)
When we are unfaithful, he remains faithful (2 Tim. 2:13). He never runs out of faithfulness. He didn’t for Israel and he won’t for you. You fit inside the “all generations” of this verse. Micah 2:5 says, “My Spirit remains in your midst. Fear not.” And one day, Christ will return. “And when the chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory” (1 Peter 5:4).
Knowledge of God drives our emotions toward him which drives our actions. We are not post-truth people. We are true-truth people.
For more on this, read or listen to my sermon on Psalm 100.