My two oldest children are involved in an intensive writing course with our Homeschool Group called “Essentials of the English Language.” Each week, they learn new grammar rules and go through the process of composing a paper. Part of their grammar exercise is breaking apart sentences, analyzing their composition, and arranging them into diagrams.
As you can imagine, this breakdown of English has been running around in my head for nearly 12 weeks.
As I was writing out Psalm 100 yesterday, I noticed that the first four sentences are imperatives:
Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth!
Serve the Lord with gladness!
Come into his presence with singing!
Know that the Lord, he is God!
~ Psalm 100.1-3, ESV
Verse four contains two more imperative sentences:
Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise!
Give thanks to him; bless his name!
~ Psalm 100.4, ESV
There are four purposes of sentences: declarative (making a statement), exclamatory (a statement with excitement or emotion), interrogative (asking a question), and imperative (giving a command).
What is interesting is that each of these imperatives also ends with an exclamation mark, implying emotion or excitement. There a seven imperatives and six exclamation marks. While I recognize that the punctuation was added in translation, I believe the translators made an excellent choice, particularly considering the nature of the emotive words like, joyful, gladness, singing, thanksgiving, praise, and thanks. This whole chapter explodes with emotions. If we were to express it (as people often do these days) by using emoticons/emojis, it would be twenty different happy faces followed by an exclamation point.
The punctuation, the imperative purposes, and the strong emotive words all throw their emphasis that our heart should overflow with praise so that we express it with joy and gladness.
Do I give the Lord perfunctory thanks and praise because I know it is expected? Am I in awe of His precious blessings, thanking Him like my kids thank me on Christmas when they receive a long-awaited gift?
The only two sentences that are not imperative, are declarative. They give us a very good “why” for this thanksgiving and praise:
Know that the Lord, he is God!
It is he who made us, and we are his;
we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture. (verse 4)
For the Lord is good;
his steadfast love endures forever,
and his faithfulness to all generations. (verse 6)
Look at all the reasons we have to be full of joy:
- the Lord is God
- we belong to Him
- He cares for us like a shepherd
- He is good
- His steadfast (unfailing) love endures forever
- he is faithful throughout all generations
When the world seems topsy-turvy, isn’t it a comfort to know that God is still on His throne and has preserved our soul for eternity?
When we are rejected by friends or loved ones, isn’t it a lovely reassurance that God has accepted us?
When we are disappointed by fickleness or betrayal, isn’t it wonderful that our Lord’s love and faithfulness never vanish?
Today will bring it’s own share of troubles. Today we will have ample opportunities to complain about the weather, the traffic, lazy coworkers, careless drivers, and more. Instead of grumbling, make a joyful noise. When work is a drudgery, remember who you really serve, and do it with gladness. Even if it seems like the bills are flying in faster than the income, give thanks to Him who provides enough to cover your head, your body, and most importantly, your eternal soul.
Give thanks with gladness!