Psalm 100 is brief but clear and direct in how we are to be in relationship with God. The psalmist calls to us to “know that the Lord is God” and assures us that we are “the sheep of God’s flock.” We are instructed to sing joyfully, serving the Lord, giving praise and thanksgiving to the One who is good, kind and faithful to all generations. Very succinct and all-encompassing advice, we might say.
One phrase deserves special notice, I think, for our everyday lives. It not only says “Give thanks to God” but follows that clause with “bless God’s name.” Having just come from a retreat where we were introduced to the Sufi practice of chanting the 99 names of God, I was reminded of my effort to learn the names of all those on retreat. There were only 16 of us so it was obviously much easier than learning all the names of God, and since we were in silence throughout the retreat one could argue that it wasn’t as essential as in most other situations. For me, however, knowing someone’s name implies at least a beginning of relationship and is important, no matter the situation. How might this also be true with regard to our relationship with God? In his commentary on Psalm 100, Lynn Bauman seems to agree as he writes the following:
If you do not know someone’s name, what is your relationship like? When you both know the name and the person behind the name in a personal way, how does the relationship change? Pause and reflect on your own knowledge of the name of God. (Ancient Songs Sung Anew, p. 252)