(watch here: https://youtu.be/rsu4wjzyumc)
1 I waited patiently for the Lord;
he inclined to me and heard my cry.
2 He drew me up from the desolate pit,
out of the miry bog,
and set my feet upon a rock,
making my steps secure.
3 He put a new song in my mouth,
a song of praise to our God.
Many will see and fear,
and put their trust in the Lord.
4 Happy are those who make
the Lord their trust,
who do not turn to the proud,
to those who go astray after false gods.
5 You have multiplied, O Lord my God,
your wondrous deeds and your thoughts towards us;
none can compare with you.
Were I to proclaim and tell of them,
they would be more than can be counted.
6 Sacrifice and offering you do not desire,
but you have given me an open ear.
Burnt-offering and sin-offering
you have not required.
7 Then I said, ‘Here I am;
in the scroll of the book it is written of me.
8 I delight to do your will, O my God;
your law is within my heart.’
9 I have told the glad news of deliverance
in the great congregation;
see, I have not restrained my lips,
as you know, O Lord.
10 I have not hidden your saving help within my heart,
I have spoken of your faithfulness and your salvation;
I have not concealed your steadfast love and your faithfulness
from the great congregation.
This morning we’re closing out our 4-week series exploring the wisdom of the book of Psalms. We’ve looked at a praise psalm, a trust psalm, and we would’ve looked at a psalm asking for God’s help if I hadn’t taken a vacation. We’re ending our series on a high note with a thanksgiving psalm. Similar to praise psalms, psalms of thanksgiving serve to lift up all the magnificent blessings that God bestows on us. A beautiful world, a loving family, an encouraging friend, a challenging job, a restful vacation, a supportive nation…there are a number of ways God has blessed us and continues to bless us. A thanksgiving psalm takes a praise psalm one step further by having us give God thanks for all his many blessings. It’s one thing to simply acknowledge the blessings, it’s another to actually show gratitude for the blessings.
And our thanksgiving psalm for this morning reminds me of the one about a 4-year-old boy who was asked to give thanks before the Thanksgiving dinner. The family members bowed their heads in expectation. He began his prayer, thanking God for all his friends, naming them one by one. Then he thanked God for Mommy, Daddy, brother, sister, Grandma, Grandpa, and all his aunts and uncles. Then he began to thank God for the food. He gave thanks for the turkey, the dressing, the fruit salad, the cranberry sauce, the pies, the cakes, even the Cool Whip. Then he paused, and everyone waited–and waited. After a long silence, the young fellow looked up at his mother and asked, “If I thank God for the broccoli, won’t he know that I’m lying?”
As someone who also doesn’t like broccoli, I can understand that boy’s agony! We want to be thankful for everything God has created but it can sure be hard when we don’t like parts of his creation. So what do we do, feign gratitude? Isn’t that disingenuous and can’t God see right through it? It’s true, God doesn’t want us to lie but that’s more for our sakes than his. We can fool each other but we can’t fool God. God knows everything and He knows the truth about everything. Our lies don’t hurt him, they only hurt ourselves and those around us and that hurt displeases God the most. Sometimes we feign gratitude to avoid hurting those around us, especially those preparing our meals for us. But what 4-year-old understands this?
Even though God can distinguish between genuine gratitude and false gratitude, He still wants us to maintain grateful hearts. Just because I don’t like broccoli doesn’t mean others don’t like. Believe it or not, some people claim to LOVE it! And for that I should be thankful, that God created something that someone loves. Our God is a good and generous God whose blessings are varied to meet the needs and likes of ALL his creation. Besides, I’ve found over the years that a grateful heart invariably generates more blessings. God offers more blessings to those who are thankful. And I haven’t quite figured out why that is. Is God rewarding gratitude? Is God more trusting of the grateful? Does God take more delight in blessing the grateful? One can never fully know the mind of God, I’ve simply noticed that grateful people tend to receive more over the long run than ungrateful people. That being said, we must be careful not to use our gratitude in order to manipulate God into more blessings. God sees through greedy gratitude just as easily as false gratitude and isn’t easily fooled. Just be grateful for and content with all that you receive. Let God choose to offer more blessings if He considers them fitting. God has his reasons for offering blessings in the first place. He most certainly has his reasons for offering more of them!
For whatever reason, God wants us to always have grateful hearts. God wants us to come before him in worship and praise as a way of showing him our gratitude. We gather each week not only to bring our worries and sorrows but also our joys and gladness. Our God is the source of many great and wonderful things in life. No one but God has the power to offer such unimaginable riches. Our God is an awesome and mighty God! In his letter to the Colossians, Paul writes, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly; teach and admonish one another in all wisdom; and with gratitude in your hearts sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. (3:16-17) All that we do ought to reflect the joy in our hearts. God blesses us in so many ways each and every day. Why? Because He loves us so very much! There is no one like our God! There is no one and nothing that can bless us with the same joy as our God. We can’t help singing with David as he invites us to in his 95th psalm, “Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving; let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise! For the Lord is a great God, and a great King above all gods.” (2-3)
In our psalm for today, we hear of how God brought David up from “the desolate pit, out of the miry bog.” Who among us, at one point or another, hasn’t found themselves in some type of despair or sorrow? Life is not without loss—loss of freedom, loss of health, loss of loved ones, loss of income, loss of purpose, to name but a few. But there is one thing that we can never lose—the love of God. And David knew this. In several of his psalms we hear him echo the words of 1 Chronicles, “O give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; for his steadfast loves endures forever.” (16:34) The steadfast love of God endures forever. We give thanks for this, not for his many blessings. The blessings simply reflect his deep and unending love for us.
The psalms help us to praise God, to ask for his help, to trust him, and to give him thanks. We have much to give him thanks for. This week we celebrated the birth of our nation, one of the greatest nations ever to have existed in this world. It is not without it’s faults but compared to the rest of the world it is pretty good. And it is yet another one of God’s many blessings. Let us not forget just how blessed we are and always be thankful. Paul writes in his first letter to the Thessalonians, “Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” (5:18) Let us rejoice—thanks be to God!
In the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.