Serve the LORD with gladness! Come into his presence with singing! Psalm 100:2 (ESV)
In order to pay off a debt or to make restitution for a theft, the Hebrew people would often sell themselves into slavery to other Hebrews. In the law, God gave Moses specific instructions concerning Hebrew slaves serving Hebrew masters.
In summary, a Hebrew slave was to serve his master for six years and the seventh year was to be set free. However, if the servant loved his master and wanted to continue with him, the master would take him to the judges, then take him to the door or doorpost and pierce his ear with an awl. This opening in the ear would signify that the slave or servant chose for love’s sake to stay with his master and serve him forever (Exodus 21:1-6). This type of service is what the Psalmist had in mind when he penned the words to Psalm 100:2.
The Hebrew word used for serve in Psalm 100:2 means to work, be enslaved or to be in bond-service. Since the first converts to Christ were Jewish, this idea of bond service carried on into the New Testament. Paul, Peter, James and Jude all considered themselves to be bondservants of Christ (Titus 1:1; 2 Peter 1:1; James 1:1; Jude 1:1). Paul attributed the title of bondservant to Jesus. He wrote, Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. (Philippians 2:5-7 ESV) Because of the injustices of the past and even the present, the idea of bond service might seem morally and ethically unacceptable. And it would be if it were not speaking of our service to God.
The Psalmist qualifies how this service to God is to be performed; “with gladness.” The Hebrew word for gladness means blithesomeness or glee, exceedingly glad, joy, or pleasure or rejoicing. So in essence, our bond-service to God is fulfilled, not by coercion, but from our deep love for him and our desire to serve him forever. It is willingly giving of our bodies as living sacrifices, which is our reasonable service or worship (Romans 12:1). This service is to be done with exceeding gladness, joy and pleasure. The Psalmist accentuates this point by following with “come before his presence with singing.”
The Hebrew word for singing in Psalm 100:2 should actually translate “a shout for joy.” Coming into God’s presence with a shout of joy is an outward expression of the gladness and joy with which we have bonded ourselves to him for life. And why should we express our joy to the one we joyfully serve? He has provided for us all the things that pertain to life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3). King David knew this well when he wrote, You will show me the path of life; In Your presence (the same word as presence in Psalm 100:2) is fullness of joy (the same word as gladness in Psalm 100:2); At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore. (Psalm 16:11)
Do you serve the Lord with gladness? Do you take pleasure in doing his will?
Scriptures for meditation: