Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth.
Worship the Lord with gladness;
Come into his presence with singing.
I have found a lovely new favorite song on a CD that I’ve had for years but never played. The song’s chorus sings, “How much more we are to You.” The song is a celebration of God’s creative work of the beautiful flower and its aroma, the birds and their lovely and varied songs, the day and the night, and more.
To see God’s unique and detailed creation is to stand in awe and to give thanks. But each mention of bird or flower or sun and moon ends with “How much more we are to You!” Truly believing that God sees me, knows me, desires intimate relationship with me, loves me, somehow requires more faith than believing that God loves his creation.
So, with the psalmist and the songwriter,
I join the bird song, the babbling brook, and the wind in the trees.
I, too, will make a joyful noise – I will worship Him with glad song as I enter into His presence without fear.
For, He loves me!
Know that the Lord is God.
It is he that made us, and we are his;
We are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.
To “know that the Lord is God” is to know that God is God and I am not God.
The psalmist guides us here into a right posture. The need for this guidance is universal and it has life and death implications for us.
In the Genesis garden, our first parents wanted to be like God knowing good and evil. Today we want to be like God by seeking to control our lives, manage our wants and pleasures, and avoid our suffering. Rebellious and resistant, we give no nod to the truth that the psalmist declares:
It is he that made us,
And we are his;
We are his people,
And the sheep of his pasture.
He made us. We did not make ourselves.
We are his. We do not belong to ourselves, but to him.
We are his people.
We are the sheep of his pasture. Like sheep to the Shepherd, we are utterly and completely dependent upon the One who has given us life.
But, is this wrong posture really a life and death danger? I say, "Yes, indeed." When the sheep leaves the care and protection of the Shepherd, danger stalks the sheep and the human soul invites the devouring presence of its greatest enemy.
In this one verse, our attitude, our perspective, and our posture toward our Creator/Shepherd is aligned aright.
And we respond:
O God, you are God and I am not God.
Forgive my arrogance and presumption. Guide me into right relationship with you my Creator, my Shepherd, my Savior, my Redeemer.
Protect me from the enemy of my soul.
Thank you always and forever for your love and care.
How much more we are to You!
Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise.
Give thanks to him, bless his name.
Once the Creator re-aligns the attitude and posture of the sheep to the Shepherd, a hard-to-be-believed, urgent invitation is extended:
“Come! Come in!
Be with me. Enjoy my presence.
In your re-newed and new-found humility, don’t stay outside my holy gates; don’t remain on the safe side of the inner courts.
Come deeper in! For I am your Maker, the Lover of your soul.
Thanksgiving, worship and praise are the heart’s response to such a Good Shepherd. Come! Come in!”
For the Lord is good;
his steadfast love endures forever,
and his faithfulness to all generations.
If the sheep still hesitate to “Come! Come in!,” the psalmist definitively assuages the lingering fear. He says, “For the Lord is good.”
If the Lord is not good, if the Shepherd is cruel or neglectful of his sheep, if the soul’s danger is equal within the fold as it is outside the Shepherd’s care, then it is wisdom that keeps us at a distance.
This wisdom, however, has come to us through our lives’ experiences of suffering and disappointment. The source of this suffering, these disappointments, is often ascribed to the same One who made us, the same One whose “steadfast love endures forever” and whose “faithfulness” continues “to all generations.”
This resistance to entering into his presence cannot be wisdom then. For, one and the same cannot be both cruel, neglectful, and dangerous and loving, good, and faithful.
The One who made us and to whom we belong understands the lingering fears resulting from the wounds of our suffering. He knows our souls’ longings and deprivations. Yet, his goodness can be trusted by even the most frightened wounded soul.
And so we respond:
Lord, I am afraid.
The wounds of my past and present continue to define me to myself. I have blamed you for these wounds, believing that you are not good or loving or faithful to me.
I have only a little faith and only a modicum of trust in the Good Shepherd.
But Lord, if you are truly good; if you are trustworthy, and if you indeed love me – even me, then I confess that I want to Come! I long to Come in, come deeply in.
Lord, I believe, help my unbelief.
I trust you are good, but only a little.
Inspite of my fear, I will venture in a just little further.
Meet me at the gate of your presence. For my soul needs to receive your steadfast love and my heart longs for your faithful care.
So, Lord, I come. With fear, and hope, and joy, and thanks, I come.