Being Thankful

(Life stuff keeps going on, but hopefully things can start up again soon. For now, here’s something from the first iteration which fits the current time and season. As one may gather, the last iteration was more preaching-involved than commenting on the culture of the church today.)

We see much in Scripture, the phrase “Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever.” As with much of Scripture, there are many reasons that we’re given to give thanks to the Lord. Since this phrase appears so much in Scripture in various ways, it definitely says that part of what we offer towards God needs to be thanksgiving and praise. This is part of loving God, and much of the Scripture teaches us what to do. One of those sections is I Chronicles 16:7-36.

What is the difference between praise and thanksgiving for the Lord? Praise is the appreciation of the qualities of the Lord, while thanksgiving is appreciation for the things that He has done. So we are to give thanks to the Lord, because of his goodness and love, and how it is expressed. To look at I Chronicles, David is bringing the ark of the covenant to The City of David (Jerusalem), and this is a great day of thanksgiving upon the people of Israel. We look at verse 7, and see that David commits a psalm that he wrote to the appointed Levites in charge of the praise and worship around the temple to be sung upon this occasion (and many others?):

Then on that day David delivered first this psalm to thank the Lord into the hand of Asaph and his brethren. (1 Chronicles 16:7)

If we remember, David was the leader of the Israelites at this time. He was a musician and had the urge to praise and give thanks – David was a man after God’s own heart. Asaph was the chief appointed to perform worship. It is thought to be common for the Israelites to combine parts of the Psalms together for songs. This section of Scripture is Psalm 105:1-15, Psalm 96:2-13, Psalm 136:1, and then Psalm 106:47-48.

As a pattern, we see instruction given as a process of thanks, as well as a item of thanks. We should be doing all we can to give glory to the Lord by praising Him and giving thanks for all the things that He has done for us. Let us start by looking at verses 8-13.

Give thanks unto the Lord, call upon his name, make known his deeds among the people. Sing unto him, sing psalms unto him, talk ye of all his wondrous works. Glory ye in his holy name: let the heart of them rejoice that seek the Lord. Seek the Lord and his strength, seek his face continually. Remember his marvellous works that he hath done, his wonders, and the judgments of his mouth; O ye seed of Israel his servant, ye children of Jacob, his chosen ones. (1 Chronicles 16:8-13)

While these were admonitions to the sons of Israel, we would do well to learn from them, since the God of Israel is also the Father of Jesus Christ. We’re told to do glory onto the Lord by worshiping Him (v10) – and in fact, we can glory in the process of worshiping Him. In the process of doing this, we give thanks to the Lord, pray to Him, and proclaim to others what He has done, and sing praises to Him (v8-9). We are then told to look to the LORD, seek him always (v11), and remember what he has done (v12).

He is the Lord our God; his judgments are in all the earth. Be ye mindful always of his covenant; the word which he commanded to a thousand generations; Even of the covenant which he made with Abraham, and of his oath unto Isaac; And hath confirmed the same to Jacob for a law, and to Israel for an everlasting covenant, Saying, Unto thee will I give the land of Canaan, the lot of your inheritance; When ye were but few, even a few, and strangers in it. And when they went from nation to nation, and from one kingdom to another people; He suffered no man to do them wrong: yea, he reproved kings for their sakes, Saying, Touch not mine anointed, and do my prophets no harm. (I Chronicles 16:14-22)

We see a reminder (v14) of the LORD as Creator and therefore the holder of all dominion on earth. In verse 15, we see that our God is one that does not forget the covenants He has made and holds them true for a thousand generations. Our God is not a God that makes promises and then backs out of them. He is also a God that is fully able to keep promises always.

The specific covenant is the covenant of Abraham, which was reaffirmed to Abraham’s descendants (v15-18) – we are reminded that we need to remember what the Lord has promised us. For Abraham, He promised his descendants the inheritance of the land of Canaan. Furthermore, the descendants of Israel were few, but were kept well and not under oppression. He even took dominion over kings to protect those that were
anointed by Him, His prophets. (v19-22) It’s always important to remember the grace and mercy that the Lord has shown each of us, and give Him glory for them.

For today, we have the covenant of Christ, which we take hope in – He will not back out of this promise, either, and will keep us until that day that He can redeem what was promised in this covenant. How wonderful is it that we serve a living God that has the ability to keep His promises, as well as the pure honesty to never renege on them? What greater thing to give thanks to all for than for His salvation?

Sing unto the Lord, all the earth; shew forth from day to day his salvation. Declare his glory among the heathen; his marvellous works among all nations. For great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised: he also is to be feared above all gods. For all the gods of the people are idols: but the Lord made the heavens. Glory and honour are in his presence; strength and gladness are in his place. Give unto the Lord, ye kindreds of the people, give unto the Lord glory and strength. Give unto the Lord the glory due unto his name: bring an offering, and come before him: worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness. (I Chronicles 16:23-29)

We see the admonition to proclaim His salvation, and we should proclaim the salvation of Christ each and every day (v23). Repeated is declaring His glory and His deeds, for everyone (v24). Then we see that the LORD is fully worthy of all honor and praise, for He is the real God and above all other gods (v25-26), which are only idols. Finally, we must remember to honor Him in a holy way when we do all of these things (v29):

By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name. (Hebrews 13:15)

Both then and today, people have the temptation to worship the things of the world, be it statues of wood, stone, silver, and gold, or other things like jobs, family, relationships, money or numerous other things. None of those other gods created the heavens and the earth, or has the power, majesty and dominion over the earth(v27-28). Therefore we need to give Him all the glory and honor for entirely what He is in every day of our lives. He is a worthy God that is full of glory, strength, and holiness. We need to praise Him for all His wonderful qualities.

Fear before him, all the earth: the world also shall be stable, that it be not moved. Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice: and let men say among the nations, The Lord reigneth. Let the sea roar, and the fulness thereof: let the fields rejoice, and all that is therein. Then shall the trees of the wood sing out at the presence of the Lord, because he cometh to judge the earth. O give thanks unto the Lord; for he is good; for his mercy endureth for ever. (I Chronicles 16:30-34)

We must remember in praising Him that His rule over heaven and earth is firmly established (v30). We can take joy in this as believers, since this will mark the coming of Christ and the fulfillment of His covenant. All the things of the earth take joy in it (v32-33), even though there is a coming judgment (v33) where they will all be consumed. The coming judgment gives us much reason to fear in reverence of it, too.

And say ye, Save us, O God of our salvation, and gather us together, and deliver us from the heathen, that we may give thanks to thy holy name, and glory in thy praise. Blessed be the Lord God of Israel for ever and ever. And all the people said, Amen, and praised the Lord. (I Chronicles 16:35-36)

As a final part of this prayer or psalm, the admonition is given to cry out to the Lord to save us. We might have the tendency to think we can only pray for others, but we can pray for ourselves as well (“save us”, versus “save them”). The prayer is to deliver the Israelites from the hands of the heathen nations that would oppress them or come against them. In making this prayer, we can apply it to those of us that are going through trying times to serve Him, and especially those who need to be delivered from the world into the dominion of Christ as Lord and Savior.

David finishes out this psalm with the statement of praise. I definitely believe that when we look at what we have instead of what we don’t have, that we have reason to be thankful for what we have and in turn we can have praise-filled hearts for the qualities of our Lord and Savior that have made those things possible.

Finally, we see that all the people said “Amen” and “Praise the Lord”. If we look at some of the other Psalms, like Psalm 106:48, where it says “Let all the people say, “Amen!” “Praise the Lord”. We don’t see that in the psalm, but we see it done by the people. This is where we get the custom of saying “Amen” after our prayers, which means a consent.