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Summary: It is fitting to give thanks for: 1) God Himself (Psalm 103:1), 2) God’s Benefits (Psalm 103:2), 3) God’s Forgiveness and Healing (Psalm 103:3), 4) God’s Redemption, love & Mercy (Psalm 103:4), and 5) God’s Satisfaction & Renewal (Psalm 103:5)

"5 Reasons to Give Thanks": Psalm 103:1-5

Thanksgiving. October 9, 2011. Everton Community Church.

This week the world mourned the death of Apple founder Steve Jobs. At 56 – he was considered the World’s Leading Technology Innovator. Millions of people around the globe are thankful to Steve Jobs in changing the way they think about their lives and the world around them. As an atheist however, the "progress" that Steve Jobs sought was based on human imagination and human achievement. Apple’s logo, the very archetype of human corruption and failure—the bitten fruit—was presented as a sign of promise and progress. Human imagination may build products and solve technological problems, but it can never overcome the problem of human corruption with the root of sin.

Psalm 103 is designed to promote the blessing and exaltation of God, (while acknowledging the problem of pain, suffering, sin and death). This psalm represents a soliloquy in which David surveys God’s goodness and encourages the angels and the works of God’s creation to join him in divine praise (MacArthur, J. J. (1997). The MacArthur Study Bible (electronic ed.) (Ps 103:1). Nashville: Word Pub.).

The only answer to the problem of pain, suffering, sin and death, is the life and work of Christ. Instead of a prideful self-satisfaction, faith in God realizes God as the source of all blessing and thankfulness is an expression of faith that appropriately responds to this realization. In our individual lives and corporate praise, it is fitting to give thanks for: 1) God Himself (Psalm 103:1), 2) God’s Benefits (Psalm 103:2), 3) God’s Forgiveness and Healing (Psalm 103:3), 4) God’s Redemption, love & Mercy (Psalm 103:4), and 5) God’s Satisfaction & Renewal (Psalm 103:5)

We can give thanks for:

1) Give thanks for God Himself (Psalm 103:1)

Psalm 103:1 [103:1]Bless the LORD, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name!

What does it mean to bless God? Scharbert answers that the Hebrew verb (in the piel) “always means to express solemn words that show the appreciation, gratitude, respect, joint relationship, or good will of the speaker, thus promoting respect for the one being blessed…. When God is the object, brk … (it is) rendered “praise” (Williams, D., & Ogilvie, L. J. (1989). Vol. 14: The Preacher’s Commentary Series, Volume 14 : Psalms 73-150. The Preacher’s Commentary series (225–226). Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson Inc.).

• When the Lord ‘blesses’ us, he reviews our needs and responds to them; when we ‘bless’ the Lord, we review his excellencies and respond to them (Carson, D. A. (1994). New Bible commentary : 21st century edition (4th ed.) (Ps 103:1–5). Leicester, England; Downers Grove, Ill., USA: Inter-Varsity Press)

Praise requires preparation. Our hearts, ever inclined to deadness and coldness, must be stirred to properly take up praise. If he was anything, David was a student of his heart. We all should be! So before he offers one word of praise, he stokes his heart. He preaches to himself (Ellsworth, R. (2006). Opening up Psalms (132). Leominster: Day One Publications.)

Please turn to Jeremiah 33

In verse one of Psalm 103, we find a singer who gives voice to the sentiments of the many gathered at the temple for a service of thanksgiving and thank offering in response to Yahweh’s benefits to them as individuals. It is a solo contribution to communal worship rather than an individual testimony. According to Jer 33:11 the theological backbone of the thanksgiving service was provided by the communal hymn:

Jeremiah 33:11 [11]the voice of mirth and the voice of gladness, the voice of the bridegroom and the voice of the bride, the voices of those who sing, as they bring thank offerings to the house of the LORD: "’Give thanks to the LORD of hosts, for the LORD is good, for his steadfast love endures forever!’ For I will restore the fortunes of the land as at first, says the LORD. (ESV)

The singer’s self-exhortation is a message to each worshiper to lift up his or her own heart in earnest praise. Yahweh is worthy of a total response of grateful worship for the totality of divine blessing. On the congregation’s behalf the soloist enthusiastically counts the personal blessings of all those present. For some the crippling handicap of sin had earlier manifested itself in illness. Now, thank God, it had been removed by healing, which was the outward sign of gracious forgiveness. ...Yahweh had proved their champion, rescuing them from Sheol’s clutches, ... God had lavished upon the worshipers gifts fit for a king, blessings grounded in loyal, pardoning love. Their lives had been enriched and revitalized (Allen, L. C. (2002). Vol. 21: Word Biblical Commentary : Psalms 101-150 (Revised). Word Biblical Commentary (30). Dallas: Word, Incorporated.).

David’s praise is given to “the Lord,” that is to Yahweh (God as personal) and to “His holy name” (God as transcendent presence and authority). We ‘bless’ the Lord himself before we recount his blessings. All God does stems from who he is (name) and what he is (holy): he never acts outside what he has revealed and what he is (Carson, D. A. (1994). New Bible commentary : 21st century edition (4th ed.) (Ps 103:1–5). Leicester, England; Downers Grove, Ill., USA: Inter-Varsity Press.).

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