Summary: In this sermon the emphasis is on God’s goodness and mercy as key reasons for thankfulness.
In the year 588 BC the Babylonians (today called the Iraqis) invaded Jerusalem, destroyed the walls of the city and the temple king Solomon had built, killed thousands of Jews and captured many thousands more and took them to Babylon to be slaves. One hundred and thirty years later the Lord made a way for the descendants of these captives to be freed so that they could return to Jerusalem. To fulfill this task, God raised up a man named Ezra to lead them back to Jerusalem. The main responsibility of Ezra was to rebuild the temple of God that had been demolished. The walls were broken down, the altar was smashed, the holiest place where the high priest met once yearly with God and made sacrifices to the Lord on the behalf of the Jewish nation was desecrated and torn up.
Now after 130 years the Jewish nation was getting another chance from the Lord to return to their homeland and restore the worship of God in the holy city of Jerusalem. So it was with joy and great expectation that they returned to their beloved Jerusalem and ran to the temple mount to lay the foundation of temple of God. I could just imagine how they felt, how they thought about their years of captivity, their pain and suffering under the Babylonians, then the Persians and the Medes. Yes those were times of torture and trials, problems and pain, but the Lord had preserved them, He had kept them, the Lord had secured their lives, He had watched over them then He released them. Their hearts were excited. Their souls were filled with rejoicing and on the first day of work when they went to lay the foundation they began work with a song that said “O give thanks unto the LORD; for he is good: because his mercy endureth for ever.” (Ps 118:1)
Martin Luther the great German Reformer, said “This is my Psalm, my chosen Psalm … It has saved me from many a pressing danger, from which neither emperor, nor kings, nor sages, nor saints could have saved me. It is my friend; dearer to me than all the honors and power of the earth…” This Psalm brings praise to the hearts of all who read it.
Many of us could say that this Psalm has been a source of strength and consolation in times of trials and tribulations. When you are down and discouraged and you read this Psalm you are reminded that the Lord is good, His mercy is unending and in spite of what you are going through you need to give thanks to the Lord. It is in thanking the Lord that you will overcome in your trials. It is while thanking God that we realize how blessed we are. It is in thanking God that we can take time to count our blessings. Psalm 118:1. O give thanks unto the LORD. for he is good, because his mercy endureth for ever,
The word in this text for thanks is the Hebrew word that means reverence or to worship with extended hands and to make confession of who God is. Thanksgiving refers to showing gratitude, being appreciative, giving recognition, acknowledging, giving credit and praising. Our text reads “O give thanks unto the LORD. for he is good, because his mercy endureth for ever.”