Summary: Real thanksgiving is offered unto the Lord. Every blessing we receive is from His gracious hand. Genuine praise unto the Lord lies at the very heart of thanksgiving.
The Heart of Thanksgiving
Psalm 103: 1-5
This week we will celebrate one of the most beloved of American holidays. Thanksgiving is a time set aside to ponder our blessings and offer gratitude for them. I am thankful for such a holiday in America, but in reality, everyday ought to be Thanksgiving. Webster defines thanksgiving as “1.The act of giving thanks; grateful acknowledgment of benefits or favors, especially to God. 2. A public celebration in acknowledgment of divine favor or kindness.” Surely we all have much to be thankful for; God has blessed us with His divine favor and gracious benefits. If we were to begin to count them, they are more than can be numbered. I will have to publicly admit that I am blessed beyond measure.
Our text today is a psalm of David and considered by many to be his Hallelujah Chorus. Most agree David was overwhelmed with appreciation for God’s abundant mercy and grace in his life. Although he was known as a man after God’s own heart – David had sinned, causing much grief and reproach. As David considered the judgment he deserved, and the pardon he had received, he was compelled to offer praise.
While I can’t identify with some of the particulars of David’s sin, I too realize the mercy and grace I have received. I deserved to suffer the righteous judgment of God for my sin, and yet pardon was extended in grace. Of all that I have received from my Lord, I am most grateful for His mercy and grace. Many of the benefits that we ponder most are temporal, but the gift and blessing of salvation by grace is eternal. If you are saved by grace today, you have more than enough to offer thanksgiving unto the Lord.
As we discuss the opening verses of this great psalm, I want to consider the aspects of praise revealed as we think on: The Heart of Thanksgiving. Genuine thanksgiving is offered unto the Lord. Our praise to Him lies at the heart of thanksgiving. We find that David offered:
I. Consuming Praise (1) – Bless the LORD, O my soul: and all that is within me, bless his holy name. As David pondered the grace and pardon of God, he was moved in the depths of his soul. Such recognition of favor and grace generated consuming praise. David offered praise with every fiber of his being. He was literally overcome with gratitude and praise toward the mercy and grace of God. His praise was not fabricated or insensitive; David praised the Lord with all his being!
There have been a few times in my Christian journey when I was completely overcome with an awareness of God’s mercy and grace in my life. In those precious moments, praise came naturally. It wasn’t done in an effort to appease or impress anyone else; it was directed toward my gracious Lord. He alone was the object of my attention at that moment.
I fear that we fail to offer our Lord the praise He is worthy to receive. There are times when we offer a sincere word of gratitude, but how often do we praise Him will all our being? Has the Lord not blessed each of us more than we deserve? Is He not worthy of our praise? I am convinced that we spend too little time contemplating the grace of our Lord. I can assure you, if you contemplate His goodness and grace for very long, you will be overcome with a desire for praise and worship!
II. Continual Praise (2) – Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits. At this moment in life, David was keenly aware of the Lord’s blessings and extremely grateful for them. He also knew his tendency to become complacent and forget God’s goodness and grace. He never wanted to be guilty of forgetting the gracious provision of God in his life. He challenged himself and all who read these words to offer continual praise unto the Lord. God is always good, and He is always worthy of our praise!
We tend to be forgetful at times too. It seems when life is going great, and we have all we need, we tend to be somewhat forgetful and complacent. The old adage, “you never know what you have until it’s gone” is something we need to consider. Rather than trying to be grateful in the difficult times, we must be willing to offer gratitude at all times. Even when we are unaware, God is good and He is keeping us secure in His hand. There is never a moment when our Lord is not worthy of our praise. I never want to be guilty of taking my blessings for granted or failing to offer praise for all that I have received in Christ!