Summary: Can we refuse to ’Thank God’ by worshiping and bowing down when we clearly see that this God is our God forever and ever, and will be our guide, even unto death? There is a warning which follows ~ The favored nation grew deaf to their Lord’s command.
Opening illustration: As President Washington proclaimed the 26th of November 1789 to be a day of thanksgiving. The last paragraph reads as follows: "And also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech Him to pardon our national and other transgressions; to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually; to render our National Government a blessing to all the people by constantly being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed; to protect and guide all sovereigns and nations (especially such as have shown kindness to us), and to bless them with good governments, peace, and concord; to promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the increase of science among them and us; and, generally to grant unto all mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as He alone knows to be best.”
President Washington gave our nation a purpose and reason to celebrate ‘Thanksgiving’ with underlying Biblical interjections. Today our nation may not even hold on to the same values but let us check out from God’s Word and see the ‘Thanksgiving’ values held by the Israelites as articulated by the Psalmist in chapter 95.
Introduction: Whenever we come into God’s presence, we must come with thanksgiving. The Lord is to be praised; we do not want matter, it were well if we did not want a heart. How great is that God, whose the whole earth is, and the fullness thereof; who directs and disposes of all! The Lord Jesus, whom we are here taught to praise, is a great God; the mighty God is one of his titles, and God over all, blessed for evermore. To him all power is given, both in heaven and earth. He is our God, and we should praise him. He is our Savior, and the Author of our blessedness. The gospel church is his flock, Christ is the great and good Shepherd of believers; he sought them when lost, and brought them to his fold.
What is ‘Thanksgiving’ all about?
1. The ‘HOW’ of Thanksgiving (vs. 1 – 2)
(a) Singing praises ~ We love him, we admire him, we reverence him, let us express our feelings with the choicest sounds, using our noblest faculty for its noblest end. It is well thus to urge others to magnify the Lord, but we must be careful to set a worthy example ourselves, so that we may be able not only to cry “Come,” but also to add “let us sing,” because we are singing ourselves.
(b) Shout joyfully ~ With holy enthusiasm let us sing, making a sound which shall indicate our earnestness; with abounding joy let us lift up our voices, actuated by that happy and peaceful spirit which trustful love is sure to foster. As the children of Israel sang for joy when the smitten rock poured forth its cooling streams, so let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation. The author of this song had in his mind’s eye the rock, the tabernacle, the Red Sea, and the mountains of Sinai, and he alludes to them all in this first part of his hymn. God is our abiding, immutable, and mighty rock, and in him we find deliverance and safety, therefore it becomes us to praise him with heart and with voice from day to day; and especially should we delight to do this when we assemble as his people for public worship. It is especially used ~
• of warlike shouts, Jos_6:16; 1Sa_17:20;
• of the shout of triumph, Jdg_15:14;
• of the sound or clangor of a trumpet, Num_10:9; Joe_2:1.
© Entering into God’s presence ~ Here is probably a reference to the peculiar presence of God in the Holy of Holies above the mercy-seat, and also to the glory which shone forth out of the cloud which rested above the tabernacle. Everywhere God is present, but there is a peculiar presence of grace and glory into which men should never come without the profoundest reverence. We may make bold to come before the immediate presence of the Lord - for the voice of the Holy Ghost in this Psalm invites us, and when we do draw near to him we should remember his great goodness to us and cheerfully confess it. Our worship should have reference to the past as well as to the future; if we do not bless the Lord for what we have already received, how can we reasonably look for more.
2. The ‘WHY’ of Thanksgiving (vs. 3 – 5)
(a) God is Great ~ No doubt the surrounding nations imagined Jehovah to be a merely local deity, the god of a small nation, and therefore one of the inferior deities; the Psalmist utterly repudiates such an idea.