Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise.” Psalm 100:4
As the only psalm that was written specifically as a thanksgiving song, Psalm 100 is unique among the 150 spiritual hymns recorded in the psalter. It is not the only psalm God’s people have ever used in a thanksgiving celebration. But Psalm 100 is the only one called “A Psalm for Thanksgiving.”
The “gates” and the “courts” in verse 4 speak of how we enter into the presence of God in corporate worship and thanksgiving. We do this thanksgiving thing together, in community with others.
You and I can certainly give thanks to God in the privacy of our own homes. But something powerful takes place when we bring our praise and thanksgiving to the church and express it in community with other God-followers. Of course, this plea in Psalm 100 to “enter his gates” is not simply an encouragement to boost church attendance. On the contrary, one Bible scholar named Boice writes, “It teaches that there is a special aspect of thanksgiving that involves the whole people of God together and not just the private prayers of individuals.”
In his book titled Thanks! Robert Emmons mentions the work of a Princeton University theologian who “documented the communal character of praise and thanksgiving in Biblical theology.” He goes on to say, “When an individual corporately testifies to God’s gracious beneficence, the faith community becomes a ‘circle of thanksgiving to God’ and the resultant effect is the enhancing and strengthening of communal ties and a powerful reminder to the individual that he or she is not autonomous and self-sufficient.”
In simpler terms, when you and I gather together with God’s people, expressing thanks to our Creator as part of a faith community, we’re reminded of an important life principle: It’s not about me! Yes, thanks be to God it’s not about me!