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Psalm 100 Lesson Set, FUMC Ann Arbor, MI

Psalm 100

Lesson Set

Summary of Workshops:

  • Games: Use remote control cars to run a relay to help learn Psalm 100.
  • Photography: Discuss and take photos to ultimately create a photo collage of the seven imperatives in this Psalm.
  • Missions: Learn that the word worship isn’t just what happens once a week. This word worship includes what we may do at any time – experience joy in serving the Lord.
  • Audio-Visual (Movement): Watch a clip from "Sister Act".  Explore how worship can take many different forms by learning sign language, watching how song and dance affects worship & creating a dance of their own with Body Sox(TM).

Notes: These workshops were written for 1st through 6th graders though not all grades visit all workshops.

We also did a cooking workshop with the focus on "Know that the Lord is our God (we are the sheep of his pasture)" and we created sheep sugar cookies. Unfortunately, there was not a lesson for it, but have left the idea here in case it inspires you to write your own.

Scripture Reference:

Psalm 100

 Key Verse:

Psalm 100

Rotation Objectives--at the end of the Rotation, kids should be able to:

  • Find Psalm 100 in the Old Testament of the Bible (3rd grade and up)
  • Memorize all or a portion of Psalm 100
  • Explore why we worship God – to respond to God’s goodness
  • Learn that worship is celebrating God’s greatness and expressing excitement about the Lord
  • Recognize that “worship” can take place at any time (that worship isn’t just a “worship service")

Bible Background for Teachers

(Written by Carol Hulbert)

What are Psalms?
The Old Testament book of Psalms is a collection of poems, prayers, and hymns used in the worship services of the ancient Israelites. The Psalms (also called the “Psalter") were written over a long period of time, perhaps as much as a thousand years. The New Testament writers quoted the Book of Psalms more frequently than any other Old Testament book (Constable, 6). Psalms are still used today in prayer and worship.

What is the appeal of the book of Psalms? Over the centuries, Psalms have given us a language with which to communicate with God. Various psalmists were honestly sharing their feelings with God; they knew that God was involved in their lives. Many of us receive comfort in reading the Psalms because we find words that echo our particular circumstances – from despair (Ps 42), to praise (Psalm 100), from guilt (Ps 51) to forgiveness (Ps 32) and comfort (Ps 23). These are words that are alive.

Psalm 100
While the writer is not known, Psalm 100 is the only psalm in a collection of 150 that receives the title “a psalm of thanksgiving.” It is a song of thanks! Not listing anything for which we typically give thanks, this psalmist was simply thankful for the knowledge that God is in fact good. This psalm is telling us “why” we worship God. In addition the psalm teaches us “how” to worship God. We are commanded to worship God with loud, vocal praise.

Psalm 100 is in fact a collection of commands –

Shout for joy
Worship the Lord
Come before him
Know that the LORD is God
Enter his gates
Give thanks
Praise his name

These are best thought of in a pattern of concentric circles, a bull’s-eye target of sorts. “At the center of the Psalm is the invitation in verse 3 to KNOW God.” (Austell) This answers the question as to why we worship God – because God is God! Surrounding that is the summons to COME before God, and to ENTER his gates. The next circle includes the instructions to WORSHIP and GIVE Thanks. And finally, we find the commands to SHOUT and joyfully PRAISE God. These tell the “how” of worshipping God. After these imperatives, we are left with a statement of why we should obey these commands – the last verse in the Psalm. Let’s explore the circles of Psalm 100.

Know that the LORD is God …
Starting at the center of our psalm we have the proclamation to know that the LORD is God. What does it mean to “know” that the Lord is God? Know in this case means to become aware. The rest of Psalm 100 doesn’t make much sense unless we know or are aware of God. Why would we worship unless we know God?

Who is our God that we worship? The psalmist refers to God by the name that was revealed to Moses at the burning bush, Yahweh. Yahweh is usually rendered in English as LORD (with capital letters). This Yahweh is the “God who is and always will be,” the “unchanging God” and the “holy one.”

We are also told that he is our creator and our shepherd. Why do we worship our creator/shepherd? “He made us; we didn't make him” says the line in Psalm 100 in Eugene Peterson’s The Message. This is an important distinction. We belong to God; we are not our own! There is no such thing, in spite of what our culture teaches us, as a self-made person. Another way to look at this is to ask what does your life revolve around? Work? Friends? Money? Is God the center of your life? If not, then perhaps you need to know that the Lord is God!

The psalm also makes reference to us as the “sheep of his pasture.” We are sheep-like in nature because sheep are animals that tend to easily go astray. Sheep will flounder, get into trouble, and be of poor health without their shepherd. Admitting that God is our shepherd means acknowledging our weaknesses. He is God and he wants us to know him.

Come … Enter his gates …
The next circle outward is our invitation to come into the Lord’s presence. “The Good News in the Bible is that God doesn’t leave us on our own to find and know him. Rather, he invites us to come to him and meet him face to face.” (Austell) Think of these gates as an opening, normally closed to intruders. Not only are we allowed to enter the gates we are directed into his courts! The Message quotes this passage as: “Enter with the password: ‘Thank you!’ Make yourselves at home.” What a wonderful vision this creates, our meeting with God.

Worship the LORD… Give thanks…
In the next layer of our rings of verses, we are called to worship the Lord with gladness and to give him thanks. The Hebrew word used for “worship” means to work or to serve, to be a servant. We might think of the word worship as what happens for an hour once a week, but in reality this word worship includes what we may do at any time – experience joy in serving the Lord. According to the Psalmist this joy is to be expressed with gladness and thanksgiving.

Shout for joy to the LORD, all the earth … Praise his name
The final circle in our bull’s eye target encompasses the “how” of worship. All the earth, everyone, needs to shout praises to the Lord. The word translated “shout” from Hebrew means “to split the ears.” Does this seem to be how we worship God? When we declare our praises for God, it brings glory to his name and brings us into his presence.

Remember with praise that it is not the volume that counts, but the attitude. “The psalmist calls us to come together with an attitude of praise, to make a joyful noise, to worship the Lord with gladness, and to come into his presence with singing.” (Cartledge) An enthusiastic outlook shows we celebrate God’s greatness.

For the LORD is good
Why should we obey these rings of commands? We are left with verse 5, a final verse stating three reasons as to why we would sing Psalm 100.

For the LORD is good,
his love endures forever, and
his faithfulness continues throughout all generations.

Take aim at our bull’s eye target. When we figure out that God is our creator and our shepherd, then we are invited to step into his presence. We do so, entering our worship with praise and gladness, our joy bubbling out of us in shouts. For we recognize that we serve a God who is good, shows us enduring love and is perpetually faithful.


  • Austell, Robert. “Give Thanks.” 2002, blog post in "The Good Shepherd Presbyterian Church, 3307 Rea Road, Charlotte, NC 28226.
  • Cartledge, Tony W. “A Joyful Thanksgiving?” 2003, blog post in "Biblical Recorder".
  • Constable, Thomas L. “Notes on Psalms.” 2004.
  • Hulbert, Carol. “Psalm 8 Bible - Background 1.” 2005.
  • Schultz, John. “Commentary to Psalms 90 thru 106.” 2002.
  • Wezeman, Phyllis and Anna Liechty. “Teaching the Psalms: Psalm 100.” 2005.
  • Except as noted, Scripture quoted is taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. Copyright © 1984 International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.
  • Scripture taken from The Message. Copyright 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002. Used by permission of NavPress Publishing Group.


A Lesson Set written by various folks from: First United Methodist Church
Ann Arbor, MI 

Copyright 2006 First United Methodist Church, Ann Arbor, MI.
Permission to copy materials granted for non-commercial use provided credit is given and all cited references remain with this material

If you use this material, even in a modified form, please include the following reference:
Hulbert,Carol. “Psalm 100: Bible background." August 2006. Place URL where lesson found inside angle brackets<>.

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Last edited by Luanne Payne
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