Global Gladness

Psalm 100:1-5

Dr. S. Lewis Johnson expounds Psalm 100 and what it gives as evidence of the healthy Christian.

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[Prayer] Father, we turn to the word of God with anticipation and praise and thanksgiving. We give Thee a special thanks for the portions of the word of God that are so familiar to us and often are so familiar that we overlook the importance of them. And we give Thee thanks for these portions and for the way in which they’ve ministered to so many people and we pray Lord that they may minister to us, even though they are so familiar to us that we often pass by them without thinking about them. We ask tonight as we study in this hour and the hour that follows that our thoughts may be directed toward the worship and praise and thanksgiving for our great God in heaven. We give Thee a special thanks for the Lord Jesus who lives to perfect us. And according to his covenant, which he has accomplished, finishes his saving work and ultimately brings us into the presence of the Lord God. Be with us Lord as we study in this hour, we pray. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

[Message] Tonight I’d like to ask you turn to one of the most familiar of our Psalms, Psalm 100. Psalm 100 as you know has some interesting names and some rather interesting hymns have been written in connection with it. Probably it’s most familiar title is “Ole 100th” because it is so common, so familiar that it came to be known as “Ole 100th.” It also has been the subject of a number of hymns and perhaps the most famous is the one that was composed by William Kethe, who was a Scottish man who was in 16th century exiled from Scotland because of his faith. And you may remember one of the lines in the hymn that he wrote basing it upon Psalm 100, “All people that on earth do dwell.” And Isaac Watts also wrote a hymn and it was entitled something like “Before Yahweh’s Awful Throne.” So this is a very familiar hymn. It has been called Jubilate, because of the fact that it begins with “Make a joyful noise unto the Lord all ye lands.”

When you read Psalm 100 you must, of course, pay attention to the context. And one of the things that impresses you as you study this section of the Psalms is that it really is something like a climax of a series of Psalms that begin with the 93rd. And the 93rd through the 99th Psalm are Psalms in which the celebration of the kingdom of God is particularly mentioned and brought to the attention of the reader by the Psalmist. And that’s why I’ve called the subject or the message tonight, “Global Gladness” because this is really the climax of a series of Psalms about the kingdom of God.

Notice for example in Psalm 93 in verse 1, the clause the Lord reigneth. And then turn over to Psalm 96 and verse 10. “Say among the nations or the heathen that the Lord reigneth.” In chapter 97 in verse 1, “The Lord reigneth.” In chapter 99 in verse 1, ‘The Lord reigneth.” So here is a series of Psalms beginning with Psalm 93 through Psalm 99 that have to do with the enthronement of the Lord God. And if you were to read all of these Psalms you would notice that the enthronement is the enthronement of the Lord God not only over the land of Israel but over all the lands of the earth. So in Psalm 100 when we have the theme of gladness we put this in the context of the preceding Psalms and it’s the context of a global gladness because of the worldwide reign of the Lord God. So I tend to think then, as many others, that this is the climax of a series of Psalms that are prophetical of the establishment of the kingdom of God upon the earth.

The expression, incidentally, “the Lord reigneth” was one that was often used in the coronation of certain earthly kings. For example, when Jehu was crowned as king in Israel it was said, Jehu reigneth.” And the same form of the Hebrew verb is used in all of these cases, so it has a meaning like Jehu has begun to reign. So all of those passages that I read to you say in effect, “The Lord has begun to reign.”

And so now Psalm 100 is follows just after that. This particular Psalm would be unmeaning apart from this kingdom truth. It would be difficult to find any point in “Make a joyful noise unto the LORD, all ye earth. Serve the LORD with gladness: come before his presence with singing.” What would be the point of saying, “Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, Yahweh, all the earth,” unless the Lord is reigning over all the earth? So what we have then in Psalm 100 I think is very plainly a Psalm that is prophetic of the establishment and the beginning of the kingdom of God upon the earth, and it is a call on the part of the Psalmist for the proper response to the reigning of the king. In it we will see as we go through it that there are many ways in which we apply eternal principles but that’s its context so far as the historical situation lying in the back of it is concerned. Now, it’s a simple Psalm. It’s not only a short one of five verses, but it’s very simple, because there are principally two requests. There’s a request for praise in verse 1 and verse 2. And then reasons for praise are given in verse 3. And then in verse 4 there is a request that one enter into thanksgiving. And then in verse 5 the reasons for that are given. So it’s very simple then, a request for praise, a request for thanksgiving with reasons given for each.

Well let me read through the whole of the Psalm now, and we’ll come back and take a look at the request for praise.

“Make a joyful noise unto the LORD, all ye lands. (Now in the Hebrew text lands is not in the plural. All the Hebrew text says is all the earth. So we’ll think of it in that way.) Serve the LORD with gladness: come before his presence with singing. Know ye that the LORD he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; (Now, that particular clause is a clause that may be rendered also, “and his we are.” The reasons is something that would be a little bit too technical for me, perhaps, to explain. There are two different ways in which we can take this particular clause. It can be “Lo” in Hebrew which means “not,” in that case it would be, “It is who hath made us and not we ourselves.” Or it could be lo, spelled with one different character, which means “to him” in a possessive sense, and “we to him” that is we belong to him. And the Hebrews had a text that was written in a certain way, but they often read it in a different way, which suggested that there was certain tradition in which text should be taken even though they were so anxious to preserve the text as written. But they wouldn’t think of changing the written text, but they would read it differently. And so what was written was, “It is he who hath made us and not we ourselves, but the way they normally read it and the way the Massorites who have given us the Hebrew text with its pointing or punctuations, they read it, it is he who hath made us, and we are his. Now, we’re going to take it that way, because that seems to fit the sense perhaps a bit better. The other is, of course, possible.) It is he that hath made us, and his we are, we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture. Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name. For the LORD is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations.”

Now following the message tonight we’ll pass out paper, and I’ll give you, you’ll have to pull out a pencil and I’ll give you the question which you are to answer on paper, and it is, explain the difference between lo and lo. [Laughter]

Now, let’s look at the first verse, request for praise, and the Psalmist says, “Make a joyful noise unto the LORD, all ye lands.” Now this, of course, is simply a call upon those who are the ones for whom the Psalm is written to break out in special praise and thanksgiving for the Lord God. It was a kind of a loud shout, expressive of unusual joy, the kind of joy that you would find in the kingdom of God and the king upon the earth. We often hear people say, particularly song leaders, if you cannot sing at least make a joyful noise unto the Lord. And they frequently refer to this, but this is not the special contribution of those who are tone death. He’s not saying, “I know you cannot sing too well, but at least make a joyful noise.” No, he’s really calling upon us to praise the Lord in an unusual way.

Now, if you were thinking about the application of this to you today what kind of praise would you think about? How would you think of it in relation to the truth of the New Testament? Well let me suggest some things for you, because ultimately you will, in the kingdom of God, praise him as this particular Psalm sets forth. But since it expresses a principle, that principle is something that should have its effect upon our lived today.

Now, if you turn to passages in the New Testament, because we live in New Testament times, you’ll find for example, the Apostle Peter saying in 1 Peter chapter 2, in verse 9, “But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people,” that’s a special reference to Believers Chapel of course, “that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.” Now notice what Peter has said, he said we are these wonderful things, a chosen generation, an elect generation, even apostles talk about divine election, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a peculiar people that you should, this is a word that could be rendered advertise, that you might advertise the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. So while in the future we will make a joyful noise unto the Lord, and all of the lands will, we should anticipate that by giving joyful noise, unusual praise for the Lord God today.

In Hebrew chapter 13 and verse 14 the writer of this anonymous epistle also comments upon the significance of praise. It’s part of the daily life of every believer. So the writer says in verse 15 of Hebrews 13, “By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name.” And no one has to turn to Philippians 3 and verse 1 and then verse 3 to be reminded of the fact that one of the characteristic imperatives that the Apostle Paul lays upon the Philippians is the imperative of rejoicing. So the shout of joy is part of the request of the praise that the Psalmist makes here.

Then he says secondly in the 2nd verse, “Serve the LORD with gladness.” You can think of different ways in which to serve the Lord but the way in which we should serve the Lord is to serve the Lord with gladness. That means, to be specific, that some of you should volunteer to take care of the nursery, serve the Lord with gladness. Don’t just suffer through a Sunday, but serve the Lord with gladness and take care of those little demons for a while. And perhaps one of these days one of them will come up to you and say, “I remember you, you took care of me in the nursery and I’m appreciative of it.” That will be a rare thing, of course, but nevertheless that’s what they ought to do.

And the Psalmist goes on to say in verse 2, the latter part of the verse, ” Serve the LORD with gladness: come before his presence with singing.” This is the singing of divine fellowship. One of the most interesting things that I’ve ever read, and I think I’ve mentioned this to you, is something that C.S. Lewis said with regard to praise. I must say he really helped me to understand something about praise. Mr. Lewis was a very thoughtful man, and a very, very intelligent man as you know if you’ve ever read anything that C.S. Lewis has written. He was a scholar and then ultimately converted and gave himself to a great deal of Christian testimony. He never was a great theologian like a Benjamin Breckinridge Warfield or a Charles Hodge or someone like that. But he was a very thoughtful Christian man, and he had a remarkable insight into many things, simply because he was a very intelligent man.

He said one of the things that puzzled him about the Bible was the emphasis on praise. And he said, as he thought about it the thing about praise that especially impressed itself upon him was that with all of the stress upon praise and the fact that we ought to praise God, that praise generally consisted in calling upon other people to praise God. In other words, we are told over and over again to praise God. And various people just call upon us to praise God. And he thought that that seemed to be a rather strange thing until he began to think about it in the light of ordinary life. And he talked, for example, about the things that we tend to praise. For example, if we love music, and we hear something that is very beautiful what do we do? Well, we praise, we express our praise and thanksgiving for what we have heard. And we often praise the author or we praise those who have played the music. Or if we are lovers of sports or lovers of football we praise outstanding accomplishments in sports. And in fact, you will hear people say things like, have you ever seen Brickfield run like that? That was marvelous. And individuals who have entered into the experience of these things can appreciate them.

Now tonight I came in and Bob Ryan, who goes out on the golf course and wastes time from time to time hitting a little ball around, examining real estate, said to me tonight, did you watch Jack Nicklaus make that $240,000 putt? Now I thought Bob was going to talk about what a magnificent stroke Nicklaus managed to get off and how it was a tremendous exhibition of golf skill. But he went right to the point of it, he said, finally greed took over. And Jack, who is a very wealthy man, a multi-millionaire, ran around the green jumping up in the air and throwing his hands up in the air because he sank an eight foot put. But you know, a lot of golfers probably admired that tremendously, and they praised him because they appreciated it as being an unusual accomplishment.

So Mr. Lewis pointed out that if a person, and he said also another thing, he said another thing. He said, “You know, I discovered this, that people who are feeling bad or who are sick rarely ever praise. It’s those who are felling well.” And in fact praise seemed to accompany good health. And then he went on to say that praise is the natural completion of appreciation. And he even likened it to marriage, that people who come to know each other and come to love each other, and then ultimately marry, that’s the climax, the ultimate enjoyment of the appreciation. And after he had pointed out that it’s the healthy thing to praise, and it’s the natural conclusion of appreciation, he then went on to say, you know down here we’re like an orchestra that is getting ready to play and you hear all of the various instruments trying to make their little sounds, and it sounds as if it just a cacophony of noise, but when we get to heaven, then of course everything will be in beautiful harmony. So when the Bible calls upon us to praise God, it calls upon us to appreciate what he has done, to appreciate it, to come to know him in such a way that we appreciate the greatness of his work and his person.

And the healthy Christian is the praising Christian, and he’s praising not other people, but he’s praising the Lord God. And he praises the Lord, because he sees the magnificence of the accomplishment of the Lord God. Therefore, the person who understands the atoning work of the Lord Jesus, or understands the future of the Lord Jesus or knows his present work as a high priest and comes to appreciate it through the Scriptures. He’s the one who will speak about magnificent the person and work of our Lord is. It’s a sign of spiritual health. And so that’s why in the Bible you have people calling upon other people to praise the Lord. They’ve come to appreciate him, and the way you to appreciate him, too just as, since I love gold, I like to see a person hit a golf shot. And I will say to a fellow golfer, “That is a magnificent control of that club and a magnificent shot.” The person who doesn’t understand anything about golf, he cannot appreciate that very much, but those who can. In divine things it’s those who appreciate the work of our God who are best able to praise him. So the request for praise, “Make a joyful noise unto the Lord. Serve the Lord with gladness; come before his presence with singing.”

One might ask, why should I do it? What is it that would give me the incentive to make a joyful noise unto the Lord? Well, look at the 3rd verse. It’s full of reasons why you ought to be praising. “Know ye,” now that word in the Hebrew text yahveh is the word that means to know in an experiential way. “Know ye that Yahweh is God,” that’s the first thing, that Yahweh is God. Now, you can see from this that there is a very strong Israelitish tone to this for Yahweh was the God of Israel. This was hundreds of years before the coming of our Lord. And the Psalmist is saying Yahweh is God. The Lord God made himself known to Israel as Yahweh. He was the covenant making and covenant keeping God. So in the days of the kingdom of God upon the earth, he is Yahweh, and he is God of the whole earth. That’s why, throughout the ages of the eternal kingdom of the Lord, Israel shall have its special place. “Know ye that Yahweh, he is God.”

I know that it might be intolerant for a person to insist that the God of Israel is the God of the whole earth. But that is what Scriptures teach. In the final analysis, two plus two equals four. That’s truth. Now somebody might not like that. They might say, “I don’t like two plus two equaling four. I think it ought to equal five.” But we would say, “It’s truth.” Now, when we read in the Scriptures that Yahweh is God, that’s truth. We might not like. A Muslim would not like that. Others would not like that, but that’s truth. That’s what the Scriptures say. So the first reason that we should praise God is that Yahweh is God. It’s intolerant to force our opinions upon others, but it’s not intolerant to proclaim the Godhood of Yahweh in Christian love. And so that’s what we do, we proclaim the Godhood of Yahweh, and we do it in Christian love. But we do it in the sense and conviction that it true. And when Jesus says “I am the way, the truth, and the life, no man cometh unto the Father but by me,” he’s saying the same kind of truth. It’s truth; it may be exclusive truth, it may be something that some don’t like, but it’s truth. He is the Good Shepherd, and the “There is no other name under heaven given among men whereby we must be saved.” Yahweh is God, that’s good reason to praise, because we know Yahweh don’t we? Do we? Some of you do, surely.

All right now, the second reason he says in the third verse, “It is he that hath made us, and we are his.” In other words, he’s the creator and we should praise God that he has created us. The gospel of our creation, could you really say something like that? I think we can, because you see the fact that he created man indicated that he had a great purpose for man. He would not do this if he didn’t have a great purpose. Now, we know as we study the Scriptures what that great purpose is it’s the purpose of the ages. It’s the purpose of creating men. It’s the purpose of permitting a fall. It’s the purpose of determining the redemption of the people of God and of the bringing through the redemption ultimately into the presence of the Lord that we may serve him, as he says, with gladness throughout the ages of eternity. So Yahweh is creator and if you look around in the creation you’ll find many, many wonderful reasons for giving thanks to the Lord God. Just think of the regularity of the creation. Think of the beauty of the Creation. All of these things are reflections of a faithful, sovereign creator. It’s great to have a creator God.

Now thirdly, he says, “We are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.” Now, what does that tell you? Well anybody reading this surely would come to the conviction that what this means is that Yahweh is our shepherd. We are the sheep of his pasture. He’s the shepherd. Now notice who this shepherd is. He is Yahweh. Who is Yahweh? Well, he is the omnipotent God. He can fulfill all of promises. He doesn’t have to rely on Washington. He doesn’t have to rely on London. He doesn’t even have to rely on Moscow. He can fulfill his own promises. He is omnipotent. Further, he’s omniscient. He knows the end from the beginning. He knows all the things that lie in front of us as well as all the things that lie behind us. He knows what lies ahead of us tonight and tomorrow, and so on down through the end of our lives and own into the ages of eternity. He’s an omniscient God, knows the end from the beginning. What a wonderful thing it is to have a God like that, omniscient and also an omnipresent God. That is, he is actually everywhere in this universe. There is not a single place in this universe to which we can point and say God is not there. He is there. Now, he may not be in hell in the same sense in which he’s heaven. He’s in heaven to exercise his mercy and his marvelous grace that we may enjoy communion with him. And he’s in hell to execute judgment and justice upon those who have refused him. But he is everywhere, and when the Lord Jesus said, “Lo I am with you always, even until the end of the earth,” he was talking in the language of Yahweh who is our shepherd, omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent, immutable, does not change, makes promises, keeps them all.

Now notice, also, what he has done. He is the shepherd, we’re his sheep, he has made us his own. So it is he that hath made us, and we are is. Now, of course, the Psalmist doesn’t tell us all that that means but we are his. We would think that all this means in this context is we are his creatures. We know, of course, the Bible says more. It says that the Lord Jesus is the Good Shepherd who gave his life for the sheep. And so we are his by creation. And we are his by virtue of redemption, and we celebrate him for both of these things. We give praise that he is the creator. We give praise that he is the Redeemer. And notice why he is what he is, “It is he that hath made us, and we are his. We are his people and the sheep of his pasture.” Do you notice that stress upon his? It is not we that have not made us, it is he that hath made us, and we’re his, we are his people, we are the sheep of his pasture. Now, that’s a tremendous stress upon the fact that we belong to him. And we belong to him by virtue of the fact of what he has done for us ultimately.

Many years ago I read a story of King Cyrus of Persia and whether it’s true or not I do not know, but it’s a lovely story. It’s a story of a man who really a prince of a particular kingdom, and he and his family were captured by Cyrus in one of Cyrus’ wars. And Cyrus, after he’d taken them captive, brought the prince and his wife and children and set them before him, and he asked the prince a question. He said, “What will you give me if I release you?” “The half of my kingdom.” “And if I release your children,” Cyrus said. He said, “I’ll give you the whole of my kingdom.” “And if I release your wife?” And the prince replied, “I’ll give you myself.” And Cyrus was so pleased with the devotion of the prince to his wife and to his family that he released them gratuitously, and allowed him to leave. And after they got back to their own country it is said that the prince said to his wife, “Wasn’t Cyrus a handsome man?” And she replied, “I didn’t notice, I had only eyes for him who was willing to give himself for me.”

Well, we praise our Lord similarly. It is not we that hath made us, ourselves, it is he who has made us and we are his. We are his people. We are the sheep of his pasture. I can understand why the Psalmist says, “Make a joyful noise unto the Lord all ye lands.” He is calling out for those who truly appreciate to express their appreciation for what he has done.

Now a request for thanksgiving follows in verse 4, “Enter into his gates with thanksgiving.” You know, the simplicity of this might put you off; you may, because it’s so common. It’s something that you read in the Bible, and you’re so familiar with it that you might not catch the wonder of this, because remember those who were not the Lord’s own cannot enter into the holy city. One of the things specifically stated in the Book of Revelation in the description of the new heavens and the new earth is that the unclean and the defiled and the sinners shall not enter. And so the call here to enter into his gates with thanksgiving and into his courts with praise is a marvelous expression of the liberation that we have to enter into the present of the law. You can see why this Psalm is such a magnificent Psalm. You can see why people have celebrated “Ole 100th” because of the greatness of the truth in it. But I would, if I could talk to each one of you, I bet that some of you would say, “You know that Psalm was so familiar to me, I don’t think I’ve ever really paid much attention to it.” I’ve just kind of dreamed by it without paying attention to the things that it really says. So enter into his gates with thanksgiving, this is the ultimate fulfillment of all of the things that have to do with our great God. When we enter into the kingdom of God and we come with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise, and we are thankful to him and we bless his name.

Now, the reasons for thanksgiving are given in verse 5. For, now you know I was reading this in the Hebrew text this afternoon. And I’ll tell you what I’m going to do. I’m going to look at this, because I passed right by that little word ke, which begins the 5th verse. “For,” and I’m reading the Hebrew text now, it says simply “For good is Yahweh.” There’s a good bit of stress upon that adjective. “Good is Yahweh. Forever is his loyal love.” Remember when we were expounding Hosea, and I said this word hessed is a word that means, to use a Scottish term, “le’el love,” “loyal love.” It’s associated with the covenants. And the unconditional covenants, the Abrahamic, the Davidic, the new. And unto generation and generation is his emmuna, his faithfulness.

Now, these are the reasons for thanksgiving, his goodness. Think of all the goodness that the Lord God has manifested to us. He is good. He’s good in the past. He’s good in the present. In fact, Paul says “All things work together for good to those who love him, to those who are the called according to his purpose,” that is, his elect ones. And if you wonder how good he is, think of what he has done, foreknown us, that means to enter into intimate relationship with the intimate relationship of choice, foreknown. “You only have I known of all nations upon the earth,” he said with reference to the Nation Israel. Now, he knew all the nations, but there was the special sense of knowing a person that Amos was talking about. It’s the knowing of intimate, electing choice. So we’re foreknown and those who are foreknown, we are foreordained, that is we have a particular goal which we shall reach by his grace. And then in time we are called, and we are justified, and we are, and Paul doesn’t say to be glorified as you might expect. He says “glorified” and he puts it in a past tense, because it’s so certain to come to pass.

Now, if you think that God is not good, think of foreknown, foreordained, called, justified, declared righteous, and glorified. Can you say in the light of that that God is not good? These people, of course, in their day, they have reason to think of God as good. They thought of the way he had called then out of Egypt. How he had brought then through the Red Sea. How he had given them the Mosaic Covenant to give them guidance, grounded in the ultimate relationship to Abraham and the Abrahamic Covenant. And they thought of the way in which he had delivered them from bondage and redeemed them. So the Lord was good to them, but the ultimate good is what he has done for us.

Now, it’d be nice to talk about all of the other things that could be said about this. But our time is fast slipping by. The second thing he says is, “His mercy, his loving-kindness is everlasting.” Now, when the Apostle Paul is talking about these things he’s talking from the ultimate standpoint, of course. He’s talking from the fullness of the divine work of redemption. So some of his things were no doubt beyond the understanding of those that were dealing with the Lord God in the Old Testament. But we stand in a different relationship and we can look back. And we can look back from the standpoint of the age in which we live. And Paul, in Titus chapter 3, in verse 4, he talks about how we were sometimes foolish. We were disobedient, we were deceived, we served divers lusts and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy. We were hateful. We hated one another. You can put yourself right there, because that’s where you were. Then he says, “But after that the kindness and philanthropy of God our Savior toward man appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us with the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit.” And so we give God thanks for his loving-kindness, his covenant love, the kind of love that is true to all the promises of God. Doesn’t it really thrill you? Doesn’t it thrill you to realize that every promise God has given to you he will fulfill? That’s greatly encouraging to me, tremendously encouraging to know that he is going to do all that he has promised to do for me. And you know, we can often, in the human sense, looking at him from the human standpoint, we can rebel. We can displease him. We can, as we look at it, make it difficult for the Lord. But we cannot frustrate him in his purposes. He may have to discipline. He may have to pass us through some experiences that we would be wise to avoid, but he will fulfill his promises and all of his saints, all of his people will ultimately one day be glorified. That’s something to praise God for. That’s more important than a Cowboy victory on Sunday. How can you compare something like this with that?

Now finally, he says his truth, his faithfulness endures to generation and generation. In other words, no matter how far in the future we look we will say God is faithful to his promises. John McNeal was an evangelist for the Church of Scotland. He came to the United States, carried on a ministry here. A very unusual man, a great evangelist, not a great Bible teacher. In fact, he only stayed in places a short time, like most evangelists do. They have a little barrel of sermons; they have to move around, because they reach the end of the barrel. And so they have a little series of messages and they preach them, and they get another series of messages and they preach them all around. And Mr. McNeal was like that, but he had a tremendous gift for evangelism, as some evangelists do. We’re appreciative and thankful for them. Evangelists like to attack Bible teachers, and Bible teachers like to attack evangelists. And you understand it’s all done in fun.

But he was a great evangelist, and he tells the story in one of his sermons. I have a life of Mr. McNeal in the library. And he tells the story of a little village in which there lived a very poor young boy. And he was an afflicted, handicapped child. In fact, he describes him as a natural, harmless, idiot boy. He said he rambled through day school and Sunday School and had a vacant smile and stare on his face most of the time, never showed any sign of learning anything, but he was always there. Finally the time came when as a relatively young person he was about ready to die. And a friend of Mr. McNeal heard about it, had missed him, went to see him, and found him in a very, very poor physical condition and evidently he was just on his last legs physically speaking. He was lying down on a bed, and Mr. McNeal’s friend was a woman and she felt that she had a hard case to handle. But almost unconsciously she started repeating the 23rd Psalm. And being a good Scottish lady she repeated it in the Scottish version, the metrical version which is so common in Scotland. And the last verse, the sixth verse of Psalm 23 in the Scottish metrical version is “Goodness and mercy all my life shall surely follow me, and in God’s house forevermore my dwelling place shall be.” And so she started repeating the Psalm. And she got to this particular Psalm and she said, “Goodness and mercy all my life shall surely follow me.” And her voice faltered, there came a lump in her throat and tears began to come in her eyes. And she couldn’t talk for just a moment, and then she said to her intense surprise the boy lying on the bed got up and leaned on his elbow, this vacant idiot boy, and repeated, “In God’s house forevermore, my dwelling place shall be.” Even in his idiocy the Holy Spirit had penetrated and had managed to get home to him the truth of the Lord as his shepherd and into whose hands he could commit himself.

When we think of that and we think of ourselves living in Dallas, Texas of the United States of America with all of the things that God has given to us and the sound mind most of us have, the sound mind that we have, and then for us who have sound minds and the great privileges we have to pay no attention to the redemption we have in the Lord Jesus Christ and never really make a joyful noise unto the Lord in the midst of our friends. You have to say, it’s amazing that the Lord’s loving-kindness encompasses us. Here is an individual with no intelligence and he enters into the truth of God and expresses. One would think that if a person with a wreck of an intellect can still praise the Lord, then of what sore a punishment shall we be counted worthy, if with all the blessings we have we do not respond to the gospel of Christ.

If you’re here tonight and you have never believed in our Lord Jesus Christ, we call upon you to put your faith by the grace of God in him who is the Shepherd of the sheep, Creator, Redeemer, Lord, and ultimately King over all the earth. May God, in his grace, cause you to rest upon him for time and for eternity. Let’s bow in a word of prayer.

[Prayer] Father, we thank Thee for the marvelous testimony of the Psalmist to the greatness of our God.