Summary: Psalm 116 points very eloquently to the fact that thanksgiving to God is a concern of every Christian. Day by day, may we remember how richly God has blessed each of us, may we daily express our thanks to him for his goodness, and may we in response dedi
I recently read a list of seven things that mothers should be thankful for. It said you should be thankful for…
• automatic dishwashers. They make it possible to get out of the kitchen before the family comes in for their after-dinner snacks.
• husbands who attack small repair jobs around the house. They usually make them big enough to call in professionals.
• the bathtub -- the one place the family allows Mom some time to herself.
• children who put away their things and clean up after themselves. They’re such a joy you hate to see them go home to their own parents.
• gardening. It’s a relief to deal with dirt outside the house for a change.
• teenagers. They give parents an opportunity to learn a second language.
• smoke alarms. They let you know when the turkey’s done.
We’re well aware of how important the attitude of thanksgiving should be in our lives. In the prayers we have recorded in the New Testament, thanksgiving to God is an important part of each and every one of them. In I Thessalonians 5:18, Paul sums up the New Testament teaching by saying, “In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”
But I wonder if perhaps Christians are tempted to see thanking God as some sort of business investment. What I mean by that is that we enjoy all the good things God has been blessing us with, and we want those gifts to continue. So, to insure that those bless¬ings will continue, we pause every now and then to thank God.
It’s like what I experienced this past semester at Lipscomb. I took a graduate class and received a significant credit due to a scholarship that was provided on my behalf. Toward the end of the semester, I received a letter from Lipscomb that said, “Here are the people responsible for your scholarship. You might want to take a few moments to write them a letter of appreciation.” Then it added one line which provided some added incentive: “Writing these letters will keep you eligible for future scholarships.” Now, let me ask you a question. Do you think I wrote those letters? You better believe I did!
And that was the attitude of the ancient pagan practice of appeasement. Pagans were concerned only with keeping the gods happy; keeping them appeased. So, from time to time, the pagans would make some kind of offer¬ing. But the whole idea behind their worship was insuring future blessings; it was a “what’s in it for me” religion.
But, Christianity is not a “what’s in it for me” religion. The Bible views thanksgiving as the sincere overflow of gratitude we have for all that God has given to us. Thanksgiving is not at all self-centered; it’s intended to be God-centered.
As we look through the Bible, it’s in the book of Psalms that thanksgiving is really stressed. There are at least 16 of the psalms that were specifically written for the purpose of giving thanks to God, and many more than that which include words of thanksgiving.
Of those 16 psalms, about half of them are considered psalms of communi¬ty thanksgiving. Those psalms give thanks for the kinds of things that everyone is able to enjoy by the good hand of God —- things like the rain that makes the crops grow.
The other half of the thanksgiving psalms are considered to be psalms of individual thanksgiving. Through them, we get a glimpse of David and other men giving thanks to God for things that have happened to them in their own personal lives.
Now, in our growth groups tonight, we’re going to be studying from two psalms – one of each category. We’ll be looking at Psalm 100, which is a psalm of community thanksgiving, and then we’ll look at Psalm 145, which is a psalm of individual thanksgiving.
But, this morning, I want us to focus on one of the other thanksgiving psalms -- Psalm 116. This is also a psalm of individ¬ual thanksgiving. We don’t know who the author of this particular psalm is. It could have been David. But, whoever it was, it was a man whom God had taken care of through some difficult times. And as he reflected on what God had done for him, he poured out his heart in thanksgiving.
Psalm 116 was one of six psalms that the Jews sang every year at the Passover meal. And, in fact, they still do. First they sing Psalms 113, 114, and 115. Then they eat! Then they lean back in their chairs, and relax, and talk about the good old days when God delivered them out of slavery in Egypt. Then they sing Psalm 116: "I love the Lord.”