Summary: This is a message for the observance of Thanksgiving.
Thanksgiving and Praise
“ Everyone is familiar with Sherlock Holmes, his faithful companion Dr. Watson, and Holmes’s keen power of observation that solved countless crimes. Yet few of us know that Holmes thought deduction and observation were even more necessary to religion. Tucked away in "The Adventure of the Naval Treaty," Holmes is found studying a rose. Watson narrates: "He walked past the couch to an open window and held up the drooping stalk of a moss rose, looking down at the dainty blend of crimson and green. It was a new phase of his character to me, for I had never before seen him show an interest in natural objects.
" ’There is nothing in which deduction is so necessary as in religion,’ said he, leaning with his back against the shutters. ... ’Our highest assurance of the goodness of Providence seems to me to rest in the flowers. All other things, our powers, our desires, our food, are really necessary for our existence in the first instance. But this rose is an extra. Its smell and its color are an embellishment of life, not a condition of it. It is only goodness which gives extras, and so I say again that we have much to hope from the flowers.’"
“What other "extras" should we be observing and thanking God for this year?”
[SOURCE: Chris T. Zwingelberg. Elgin, Illinois. Leadership, Vol. 6, no. 3.]
The Jewish Feast of Tabernacles, Booths, or Sukkot, is a Harvest Celebration similar in nature to our American Thanksgiving. 2006 is the year 5767 in the Jewish calendar, and Sukkot this year was observed between October 6th and 13th. It celebrates both God’s protection over the Israelites as they wondered through the Wilderness for 40 years and the end of the long harvest season when the farmers harvested their cereal crops and grapes. Jews were to come to the Temple in Jerusalem with their offerings from the harvest and joyfully worship God in giving Him thanks and praise. Perhaps Psalm 100 was written for this glad Day of Thanksgiving Worship in the Temple. Therefore, Psalm 100 is a most appropriate text for our observance of our own Thanksgiving this year.
The Temple of Jesus’ Day was surrounded by four courtyards, each enclosed by walls on each side. Each courtyard in turn was entered through various gates, or doorways in the surrounding wall enclosures. The Outer Courtyard was the Court of the Gentiles into which people of all nationalities had access. The second court was the Court of the Women, and all Jews whether they be men, women, or children could enter. Next came the Court of Israel into which only Jewish men could come and worship. The inner court that surrounded the Holy Place and the Holy of Holies was the Court of the Priests, and only the priests could enter this courtyard for the purpose of ministry.
The Day of Sukkot or Thanksgiving would find God’s people processing to the Temple for joyful worship, and so the Psalmist calls upon them to come into the presence of God by “entering His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise.”
I love Hebrew poetry. It usually consists of two line couplets that repeat a similar idea. This is a literary devise called parallelism. In verse three we have the example of what is called synonymous parallelism:
Enter His gates with thanksgiving
And His courts with praise.
The second line simply repeats the same thought as the first line by simply using different words.
Thanksgiving and praise are synonyms; they have similar meanings. However, in the Great Thanksgiving in our communion liturgy we always declare, “It is right to give God thanks and praise.” It may be splitting hairs, but we can see a subtle difference between thanksgiving and praise in Scripture. We thank God for the things He has done for us while we praise God for Who He is. It is no only “right to give God thanks and praise” when we participate in Holy Communion or this coming Thursday as we celebrate our American Thanksgiving Traditions ; we should give God thanks and praise in all times and in all places.
Andrae Crouch expresses the true spirit of thanksgiving for what Jesus has done for him, for you, and for me so well in his great contemporary classic “My Tribute”:
How can I say thanks for the things You have done for me,
Things so undeserved,
Yet You give to prove Your love for me,
The voices of a million angels,
Could not express my gratitude,
All that I am, and ever hope to be,
I owe it all to Thee.
To God be the glory,
To God be the glory,
To God be the glory,
For the things He has done,