Butterfly on Yellow Flower
Sunday School Lessons

Actions and Attitude

In Matthew 5-7, Jesus Christ taught that our actions aren’t all that matters when it comes to practicing the righteousness of God (for which we were created).  He explains that our hearts must also be right, not just what others see from our behavior.

Despite Psalm 100 only having a few verses, it contains a number of instructions.  (For those who already worship God regularly, these are more like reminders or exhortations, I guess.  However, I’m not sure how many times most of us use the word “exhortations” in daily conversation.)

Let’s consider the first three verses from that psalm, and a couple of categories into which their commands can be grouped:

Shout for joy to the LORD, all the earth.
Worship the LORD with gladness;
come before him with joyful songs.
Know that the LORD is God.
It is he who made us, and we are his;
we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.
Psalms 100:1‭-‬3 NIV


One of the questions that these verses answer (at least in part, although there are plenty of other Psalms in the Bible to further expand this answer) is, How do we praise and worship God?

  • We should shout.  Now, shouting is not common in Western church services (at least, where I live), but it is definitely Biblical.  As the Lookout (cited below) says, “The psalmists responsible for these two psalms had no problem with laryngitis. The decibel level of these psalms is off the charts.”  However, the Lookout also tells us that this wasn’t just undirected yelling.  According to it, “The word shout was a military term calling soldiers to battle.”  As a result, I think of this as more of a call to worship, but not worship as a passive activity where we listen or sing along.  Instead, we should be called to worship (and call others to do the same) like a call to battle!  Some describe a church service as a “pre-game huddle”, where we get together to prepare ourselves to do our best on the “playing field” of life (although it’s no game), living for our Lord and Savior.  In that sense, a worship service could look more like a team of Christ-followers celebrating that they get a chance to go out and fight for the greatest stakes in the world (the souls of our fellow human beings), cheering and calling others to do their best as they leave the service.
  • We should sing.  Now, I understand that not all of us can sing every song, whether due to its range or complexity, or just because our voice ran out while shouting (see above).  However, I think that God can be glorified with just humming along, or by speaking the words from a song in our hearts, as long as it’s directed to Him.  An acquaintance from my college days said that he didn’t like singing from a hymnal, because “the notes got in the way”.  Of course, it’s beautiful to hear the body of Christ praising Him in harmony, but when we become so focused on hitting the right notes that our attention is pulled away from the One who the music is about (and for), we’ve gotten off-track.
  • We should worship.  Just shouting and singing probably aren’t meaningful if we are not doing so with a heart that honors God.  In the context of worship including a choice of who to serve, a commentary [Zorn, p.237] says, “Worship is work!”  As mentioned in the previous article, there is an element of sacrifice when we worship.  We give up our time, our pride, and other things that we could keep for ourselves, and instead give those things for the glory of God.
  • We should know who God is.  Praising some “generalized god” might be more culturally neutral, but not knowing who we are praising is spiritually pointless.  The psalmist calls hearers to know a specific God (Yahweh).  He is the shepherd over His people.

A second question that is addressed in these verses is, What should our attitude be when we praise God?

  • We should have gladness.  There is a time for lament, weeping, and mourning (see Romans 12:14-16, for instance), but our worship, praise, and thankfulness to God can – and should –  be glad.  This doesn’t preclude weeping, since even Jesus showed that emotion (see John 11:17-35).  However, when we appreciate who God is, His very being and His nature bring us gladness.  Because of His faithfulness, we have confidence – certainty – that all that brings us sorrow will come to an end (see Revelation 21:1-4), if we have accepted His reconciliation.
  • We should be joyful.  My understanding of joy versus happiness (based on other teaching that I’ve heard) goes something like this: Happiness is a function of our surroundings and circumstances.  It’s OK to be happy or sad, depending on the situation.  Joy, however, is deeper and should be more persistent.  We should be able to find joy in the Lord even throughout trials and sad times, not because everything is OK or because we are pretending that our problems don’t exist, but because we trust God.  We have confidence both in God’s love and promises for us, and in His power and authority to deliver on those promises.

So, may we not just learn and “mentally understand” these instructions from the psalmist today.  Let us shout, sing, worship, and know the God who created us; and may we do so with gladness and joy.  That might not be exactly the sort of topics that Jesus covered in the “Sermon on the Mount”, but the connection between our actions and our attitude seems to align well with His teachings there.

From Sunday School lesson prepared for November 27, 2022


  • The Lookout, November 27, 2022, © 2022 Christian Standard Media.
  • Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
  • The College Press NIV Commentary, Psalms, Volume 2, Walter D. Zorn, © 2004, College Press Publishing Co., Joplin, MO.

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