Thanksgiving

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Psalm 106 is one of the great thanksgiving Psalms. I will not endeavor to look at the entire psalm, but just comment on how the theme of thanksgiving, gratitude, and praise is so prominent, and how it frames the content of the entire psalm.

Verse one thunders out its note of gratitude:  “Praise the Lord! Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! For his mercy endures forever.” An exhortation to praise Him, to give Him thanks, because He is good, and His mercy endures forever; it’s impossible to miss the message.

In fact, I love the way the New Living Translation states the theme of thanksgiving in the first five verses:

Praise the Lord!  Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good! His faithful love endures forever.
Who can list the glorious miracles of the LORD? Who can ever praise him half enough?
Happy are those who deal justly with others and always do what is right.
Remember me, too, LORD, when you show favor to your people; come to me with your
salvation.
Let me share in the prosperity of your chosen ones. Let me rejoice in the joy of your people;
let me praise you with those who are your heritage.

Verse 48 concludes the Psalm by again extolling our God. “Blessed be the LORD God of Israel from everlasting to everlasting!  And let the people say, ‘Amen.’ Praise the LORD!” We can’t miss the message:  God’s people are to thank Him, to praise Him. And it’s to be heartfelt and based on an understanding, a realization of what He has done.

In between is primarily a historical review of the nation of Israel, its failures, its rebellion and sinfulness, and, as much as anything, its ingratitude (See verses 7,13, 21.) It is a powerful reminder to us to never forget what our Lord has done for us. While they forgot Him, verse 45 reminds us that He, for their sakes, remembered His covenant, and again intervened, this time to bring them back from their captivity. Romans 1 reminds us that mankind began its plunge into spiritual darkness and idolatry when the human race failed to be thankful (Verse 21). A failure to be thankful has devastating consequences.

We frequently tend to not be as thankful as we should be. May the Lord help us to be truly thankful for all He is and all He has done, certainly at this season, but all the time as well. Someone stated very memorably that we all need an “attitude of gratitude.”

Pastor and author Rob Morgan shares the following story about a Lutheran pastor during the 30-Years War.

It told the story of Martin Rinkart, a German pastor in the early 1600s. It was his misfortune to minister in the worst of times. He lived in a walled town into which hordes of refugees poured during the Thirty Years’ War. Great armies crossed the land, pillaging shops and farms, leaving ruin and desolation behind. Farming activities were so interrupted by the war that famine ensued throughout Saxony. Then the plague broke out. The other two ministers in town died, leaving Martin to care for the multitudes alone. All day he went from bed to bed, nursing the sick and comforting the dying. He conducted thousands of funerals, sometimes reading the funeral service over forty or fifty bodies at once. Among the eight thousand who perished in one particular year was his own wife. A year after the war ended, Martin himself died. But he left behind a remarkable hymn—one of my favorites, but one I hadn’t sung or thought about for awhile.

It’s one of our greatest hymns of – thanksgiving!

The writing of this hymn must have provided therapy and vigor for Martin’s own spirit. I especially like the prayer in the middle of verse 2: “And guide us when perplexed….”

The first verse is a declaration of praise:

Now thank we all our God,
With hearts and hands and voices;
Who wondrous things hath done,
In whom His world rejoices;
Who, from our mother’s arms,
Hath blessed us on our way
With countless gifts of love,
And still is ours today.

The second verse becomes a prayer:

O may this bounteous God
Through all our life be near us,
With ever-joyful hearts
And blessed peace to cheer us,
And keep us in His grace,
And guide us when perplexed,
And free us from all ills
In this world and the next.

The last verse is devoted to Trinitarian praise:

All praise and thanks to God
The Father now be given,
The Son, and Him who reigns
With Them in highest heaven:
The one eternal God,
Whom heaven and earth adore;
For thus is was, is now,
And shall be evermore.1

Let’s remember to give thanks in everything (I Thessalonians 5:18), because that’s God’s will for us. Gratitude and thankfulness are attitudes that reveal a redeemed heart, and are essential to a happy and successful life.

The 19th century British preacher, Charles Spurgeon, said: “There should be a parallel between our supplications and our thanksgivings. We ought not to leap in prayer, and limp in praise.”

Psalm 100 reminds us to  “be thankful unto him, and bless his name.”

Give thanks with a grateful heart, give thanks to the Holy One
Give thanks because He’s given Jesus Christ His Son.
Give thanks with a grateful heart, give thanks to the Holy One
Give thanks because He’s given Jesus Christ His Son.

And now let the weak say I am strong
Let the poor say I am rich
Because of what the Lord has done.

Thank you, Lord!

  1. Rob Morgan, “Then Sings My Soul”

4 thoughts on “Thanksgiving

  • November 24, 2016 at 12:43 pm
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    Thanks for this great reminder.

    Reply
  • November 24, 2016 at 12:54 pm
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    Thanks! I’ve often been convicted about my lack of gratitude when studying the Old Testament; it seems to be one of the initial steps to idolatry, so I should be careful to avoid that path by remaining thankful.

    Reply
  • November 24, 2016 at 9:23 pm
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    I appreciate the specifics in giving thanks. Biblically specific. Giving thanks is autopilot for me and I don’t think through how to biblically pray or give thanks nearly enough.

    Reply
  • November 25, 2016 at 12:48 am
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    This inspired me to read Psalm 106 today. The mention of Phinehas took me to Numbers 25 and the mention of “credited as righteousness” took me to Genesis 15:6. Such a rich personal study today, all thanks to this article and this Psalm. Thankful for you, Steve.

    Reply

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