This week, we continued our study of the Book of Psalms by examining Psalms of Thaskgiving.
When I told my wife we were studying Thanksgiving, she wanted to know if there was going to be turkey and stuffing – mostly because she loves my stuffing. As much as I’d love to have an open faced turkey sandwich right now, I assured her that we were studying the model of how we give thanks to God.
However, thanksgiving isn’t just about saying “thanks.” It’s not a momentary dialogue for an instance. Instead, thanksgiving is a perpetual state of mind, and acceptance of His holy grace. It’s a posture of humility, knowing that we have recipived of a gift we didn’t deserve, and were spared from the judgement we did.
“God is sometimes the strength of his people, when he is not their song; they have spiritual supports, though they want spiritual delights,” notes Matthew Henry. “Whether the believer traces back his comfort to the everlasting goodness and mercy of God, or whether he looks forward to the blessing secured to him, he will find abundant cause for joy and praise. Every answer to our prayers is an evidence that the Lord is on our side; and then we need not fear what man can do unto us; we should conscientiously do our duty to all, and trust in him alone to accept and bless us.”
This week, we opened our Psalms of Thanksgiving to chapters 30, 32 and 118. Here are two things that hit home for me:
PS 118 The First Pentecostal Preacher
At least, in my head the author was a Pentecostal. I can almost imagine the author trying to get the crowd amped up by thanking God. Whenever I read it, I hear a preacher from a historically black First Baptist congregation beating his bible, pounding his fits and the entire chorus behind him shouting “His love endures forever!”
The heart of thanksgiving is contagious and can’t help but get us charged up. The people he’s talking to have faced trouble head-on and were delivered. They knew what it was to be an occupied people and be rescued and every person could knowingly shout that his love did endure and would continue to do so – without reservation.
Opening with Thanks is a Priority
Starting our prayers and talk to God with thankfulness, changes the lens by which we view things, and by doing so, we’re able to have clarity of His hand in our lives. Even starting our day with thanking God allows us to enjoy grace throughout the day.
At my daughter’s preschool, they teachthe kids to begin every day with a prayer of thanksgiving. Sure it’s the song from Johnny Appleseed, but right away, they’re preparing her to thank God for His goodness and provision.
PS 30 and 118 open with a direct call to give thanks to God. Literally the psalmist wants us to lift our voices to God. If we were to remove the first few verses of each chapter, it would skew our perspective on the rest of the text. However, by starting with thanks, our understanding of the psalmist’s heart and circumstances changes.
If not literally opening with “thanks” do so with a heart of thanksgiving. PS 32 opens with an outpouring of all the ways David was saved. If I were to read those words today, or interpret his words, how could not be anything but thankful for what he pens.
In all things, give thanks
We’ve likely heard the phrase before, but the fact is that in each of these psalms, there are circumstances detailed that show our need for God’s hand to rescue, restore, comfort and forgive us. Corrie Ten Boom even talks about how while in the camps, gave thanks for the lice – for without the lice they wouldn’t have been able to minister to one another.
David knew much about the down times and falling short of God’s glory. In Psalm 32, he’s amazed how God continues to forgive him. Moreover, he recognizes how much time he wasted meandering away from God, when he could have been spending more time in His presence.
Thanksgiving is about much more than just delivernce, but also God’s goodness. He’s not just “good” like Castor Oil. He’s completely good – filling us, sustaining us and providing with more than we could ever want or need. He’s our provider, our savior, our heavenly king.
As we did with our last session, we came together to write our own psalm of thanksgiving. Here’s what we wrote
MPVCC’s Psalm of Thanksgiving
1Give thanks to God who is kind and merciful, great and wonderful, and He endures forever.
2Take trust in Him, for He has done mighty things and will show you His grace.
3Lord, you are so good to us. You make it simple to stand in your gracious presence. Fear melts and it’s replaced with singing your praises and endless dancing as we stand with you
4Give thanks to God who restores my soul when I have nothing left.
5Father, you are mighty and just, yet your love fills this broken vessel. You answer my prayers. You take away my anguish. You calm my soul.
6Like a tireless crane you carry me to safety, knowing what is best. How lonely I am when I fly by myself, yet how complete I am when I release all wrongdoings and receive your forgiveness.
7Your lovingkindness surpasses anything I can imagine. We are fortunate to be loved by you, Lord. Continue to bless us until the day we go home to you.
8Sing praises for He lifts us up! Sing praises for He provides! Sing praises for He alone is worthy!
9Nobody can doubt Your lovingkindness, as we have tasted its goodness. Nobody can hide from Your grace, as it surrounds us. Nobody who turns to You can be denied Your holy love.
10Lord, help me to be constantly reminded of your grace. Teach me and guide me and steer me back on the righteous path. Thank you for not leaving me alone to die in my sins.
11Give thanks to God for His Love endures forever. Praise the Lord for He is completely good!