Enter His gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. Psalm 100: 4
I remember as a child learning this verse, and trying to visually imagine “entering His gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise”. I had no understanding of what the verse might mean, nor did I have any idea of the real significance of being truly thankful. I could have never imagined all the many reasons I would someday have for giving God much praise and glory.
Now I realize there aren’t even words to give justice to its meaning. I am so in awe of God’s goodness and love to us, His blessings in the form of family, friends, His beautiful creation, His Son, the promise of eternal life, and the gift of His presence with us.
How many times I have thought of this verse as I have gone before God in prayer. With what ease and confidence we can do so as we simply lift our prayers to the heavens. I always think of the story of the tabernacle in the Old Testament and of all that was expected of His people upon entering, and how unworthy they were considered to be to go before His throne of grace. Jesus Christ changed all those requirements for us when He died on the cross. He became our sacrifice, our High Priest, and our “gate” to enter God’s presence.
It is the story from Exodus of how God desired to dwell among His people and He gave Moses the plans for building a tabernacle, a tent, that would be taken down and carried from place to place in the wilderness. It was a sacred place where God chose to meet the Israelites during the 40 years they wandered in the desert and where the leaders and their people could come to worship and offer animal sacrifices to Him. God desired to be in the midst of His people but they were sinful, so through this sanctuary, He made it possible for them to enter the courtyard to worship and to go through the gate to atone for their sins on the altar.
Even after doing so, they were not permitted to go any further or nearer to the veil behind which was found the Holy of Holies, where God ‘s true presence and the ark of covenant were located. Only the High Priest could do so once a year on their behalf. Yet, His presence was made known through the pillars of fire by night and by clouds during the day that settled over the tabernacle, and the people knew that God was with them. With this knowledge, they entered His courts with thanksgiving.
As we enter our own places of worship, we, too, should come before Him with joyful thanksgiving in our hearts for what He has done for us and praise for who He is. Doing so opens our hearts to worship Him as the God of the Universe and Savior of the world. May we go before Him in reverence and love and give Him all honor and praise.
Dear God, it gives us great honor and joy to come before you – to enter your gates with thanksgiving and your courts with praise. Thank you for all the blessings of life, your Word, the gift of your Son, and the hope we have in you for eternal life. Amen