4. Enter his gates. The conclusion of the psalm is almost the same as the beginning of it, excepting that he adopts a mode of speech which relates to the worship of God which obtained under the law; in which, however, he merely reminds us that believers, in rendering thanks to God, do not discharge their duty aright, unless they also continue in the practice of a steady profession of piety. Meanwhile, under the name of the temple, he signifies that God cannot be otherwise worshipped than in strict accordance with the manner prescribed in his law. And, besides, he adds, that God’s mercy endureth for ever, and that his truth also is everlasting, to point out to us that we can never be at a loss for constant cause of praising him. If, then, God never ceases to deal with us in this manner, it would argue the basest ingratitude on our part, if we wearied in rendering to Him the tribute of praise to which he is entitled. We have elsewhere taken notice of the reason why truth is connected with mercy. For so foolish are we, that we scarcely feel the mercy of God while he openly manifests it, not even in the most palpable displays of it, until he open his holy lips to declare his paternal regard for us.
Call to Give Thanks (100:4)
4 The communal confession arouses another invocation to give thanks to the Lord. The worshiping community entered the temple courts (cf. 96:8) through the gates. The verb “enter” (bōʾû), identical to the verb in v. 2 translated “come,” resumes the invocation to praise. In fact, when vv. 1, 2, and 4 are read as a unit, the imperatival parallelism is clearer:
- 1–2: “Shout for joy … Worship … come”
- 4: “Enter [‘come’ in v. 2] … give thanks … praise”
Verses 1–2 bring out the joyful acclamation of God’s kingship, whereas v. 4 stresses the communal act of worship. They come “with thanksgiving” and “with praise.” These are the appropriate sacrifices of “thanks” to his name for all the benefits. Thanksgiving and praise go together, because the Lord reveals himself both in his perfections and acts (cf. 139:1; cf. Jer 33:11).
100:4 / In Israelite religion “entering [Hb. bōʾû] the temple gates and courts” was tantamount to “coming [Hb. bōʾû] before him” (v. 2). The temple was not a building conveniently constructed for congregational worship—it was Yahweh’s dwelling. We should not attempt to see a progression in entering his gates with thanksgiving (Hb. tôdâ) and then into his courts with praise (Hb. tehillâ), as though praise were a higher form of worship. Following and balancing this imperative to enter are two more imperatives, the first of which is give thanks (from Hb. hôdâ). This offering of thanksgiving (Hb. tôdâ), noted both in this verse and the superscription, could refer either to a thanksgiving sacrifice (116:17; Lev. 7:12–15) or to a thanksgiving psalm.
Ver. 4.—Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise. The mention of “gates” and “courts” points primarily to the temple-worship, but the reference may be, as Professor Alexander suggests, “typical or metaphorical” rather than literal, and may extend to all the faithful and to all places of worship. Be thankful unto him; or, give thanks unto him (Revised Version). And bless his Name (comp. Pss. 96:2; 145:21).
4. “Enter into his gates with thanksgiving.” To the occurrence of the word thanksgiving in this place the Psalm probably owes its title. In all our public service the rendering of thanks must abound; it is like the incense of the temple, which filled the whole house with smoke. Expiatory sacrifices are ended, but those of gratitude will never be out of date. So long as we are receivers of mercy we must be givers of thanks. Mercy permits us to enter his gates; let us praise that mercy. What better subject for our thoughts in God’s own house than the Lord of the house. “And into his courts with praise.” Into whatever court of the Lord you may enter, let your admission be the subject of praise: thanks be to God, the innermost court is now open to believers, and we enter into that which is within the veil; it is incumbent upon us that we acknowledge the high privilege by our songs. “Be thankful unto him.” Let the praise be in your heart as well as on your tongue, and let it all be for him to whom it all belongs. “And bless his name.” He blessed you, bless him in return; bless his name, his character, his person. Whatever he does, be sure that you bless him for it: bless him when he takes away as well as when he gives; bless him as long as you live, under all circumstances; bless him in all his attributes, from whatever point of view you consider him.