Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise... – Psalm 100:4
Each year around the Thanksgiving season, a small group of friends on social media repeat a tradition to share each day, over 30 days, something they're thankful for. I've joined in some years, and it's a wonderful practice! One of the things I love about seeing all of my friends posting what they're thankful for is that I know some of these people are facing hard things.
So behind the smiles and thanks are also tears and heartache.
The Bible has a lot to say about “giving thanks.” A common phrase in the book of Psalms is “enter His gates with thanksgiving.” (Psalm 100:4) As we dive deeper into this idea of “entering His gates…” let’s remember one truth: We can give thanks in any circumstance.
No matter our season of life, there can always be a reason to enter God’s gates and give thanks. How? I think Psalm 100:4 tells us exactly why we are always welcome to enter with praise.
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The Meaning of 'Enter His Gates with Thanksgiving'
In our psalm today, the word “enter” means to come, bring in, gather, or lead in. God is the one inviting us to enter His gates. These are are His gates, God’s gates. The person who owns the gates gets to open them. From other passages, we know God welcomes all to enter His gates. All may come and find salvation in Him! In Psalm 100:1 it says, “all the earth.” It is a call for worship to every person, not just the Jewish people.
The term “gates” is a Hebrew word “shah’ar” which means gate, especially to a city or town. Each time this word is used in the Old Testament it refers to the physical gates of a city. God’s city is available to all who would come. So when we enter and come into this door of the Lord’s, what will we do?
We give thanks! The Hebrew word in Psalm 100:4 is “towdah” and it means to give praise or sing hymns of worship to God. Many times we want to come to God with our own agenda. We want to speak to Him with the words of pleading or asking. Sometimes even demanding, we enter His gates.
Instead, the psalmist is inviting us into a deeper intimacy and a more meaningful way to connect with God. With praise, we find our troubles tend to slide away. As we give thanks to God, our hearts are lifted in joy. It can be hard, but giving praise to God is the best way to knit our hearts closer to Him.
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Where Is This Phrase in the Bible?
The phrase “enter His gates” is found in Psalm 100:4. This is a song of praise to God and a call for worship for the people, both Israelites and foreigners. We see a similar calling for all Christians in Revelation 22:14. It says, “Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may have the right to the tree of life and may go through the gates into the city.”
At the end of this world, if we have washed our “robes” or accepted Christ as our Savior, we will have the right to enter through the gates of the great city of the New Jerusalem. It is for all who would be washed in the blood of Christ.
When the author of Psalm 100 wrote his praise song he envisioned his own Jerusalem. It was a place for all people to come and worship the one true God, offer the sacrifices, and feel His presence. In contrast, this New Jerusalem will be an eternal city where worship will take place day and night. We will rest on the one true sacrifice of Jesus our Lord and God’s presence will never leave this city.
Spurgeon said, “Expiatory sacrifices are ended, but those of gratitude will never be out of date.” (The Treasury of David, Vo. 2, page 234.) Gratitude need never end. Where there is mercy there is praise. Where God’s goodness remains we have reason to give thanks.
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Context around 'Enter His Gates'
Psalm 100 is a call to worship. No one knows the author of this Psalm, but it is called a “Psalm of Praise.” There are lots of amazing truths compacted into this five-verse song. In verse one, we see God’s call to all nations to come to Him. Yes, He called the Israelites to be His special people, but God’s intention has always been to invite all nations into His love.
Furthermore, we come to God in gladness, not in fear. We respect our God, but we come to Him with joy because there is happiness in salvation. We have the joy of the Lord before us and we can serve Him with our lives in gladness. Why? In Psalm 100:3 it says we can know God because we belong to Him. We are not “self-made” we are created by a loving, good Creator.
There is joy and contentment in knowing God and being known by God. We are His sheep...meaning we are His possession and so deeply loved.
Will God not care for us? Will God not show His goodness to us, whom He saved and loved? Is this reason enough to enter His gates with thanksgiving? The author of Psalm 100 seems to think so, and I believe we can too.
Come to Jesus
In Matthew 11:28, we read how Jesus repeated a similar phrase. He said, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” In John 11, Jesus refers to Himself as the “gate” as well. Do you want to find God? Seek Jesus. If you are struggling with how to come to God in all of your pain, come to Jesus.
Jesus bore our sorrows, not just on the cross, but in His life. He was thirsty, hungry, rejected, lonely, and tired. God has given us His Son to show us we can come to Him with praise because there is rest in the praising. In Jesus, we come to worship the Father—and in the worshiping, we find true rest.
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Why We Can Always ‘Enter His Gates with Thanksgiving’
When all is stripped away, how do we enter God’s house with thanksgiving? What if our hands are empty? I believe we can give thanks because of who God is, not just what He has done.
Thanksgiving is not only about what God does for us but all God is for us. Friend, there are lots of things God does for us for which we can give thanks. So much! We have God’s salvation for our sins. He listens to our prayers and provides for our needs. We can give God thanks for all of these things, but I believe there is more. I believe God’s character is enough to enter His gates with thanksgiving.
As I reflect back on this year, I want to remember all God is instead of thinking about what He’s done. Yes, I am thankful for all God has given me and done for me, but I want to be thankful for just simply who He is! Will you join me?
For the next 14 days let’s read verses in the Bible that remind us of God’s character and spend some time rejoicing in our God who is beyond compare. There is truly no one like our God and we can give thanks for this! His characteristics give us hope and joy.
You can download a beautiful Thanksgiving Bible Reading Plan here.
A Prayer of Thanksgiving
Dear LORD, let me shout with the earth your praise. I am filled with joy because you are good. I worship you with gladness and come before you with a joyful song. A song that was born with tears is now bursting forth in joy. For you have made me glad in the joy found in you. I know that you are God. And you are the one who has made me, and I am yours. I belong to You and you love me. I am your beloved and you are mine. Let me enter your gates with thanksgiving and your courts with praise. I will give thanks to you and praise your name. For you are indeed god and your love endures forever. Your faithfulness continues throughout my entire life. In Your name, amen.
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