As our nation reflects more on the nature of gratitude at this November, here are eight themes in thankfulness from the Psalms that guide us to a more God-glorifying gratitude:
(1) We give thanks for who the Lord is. We give thanks “due to his righteousness”(7:17), “to his holy name” (30:4), “for your name is near” (75:1), “for he is good” (118:1), and “to the God of gods” (136:2). Do we know God’s name and his attributes? Grateful hearts do.
(2) We give thanks for what the Lord does. We give thanks saying “I will recount all of your wonderful deeds”(9:1), “thank the LORD for his steadfast love, for his wondrous works to the children of men!”(107:31), and “I thank you that you have answered me and have become my salvation”(118:21). Do we know God’s works – what he has done? Thankful hearts are remembering hearts.
(3) We give thanks vocally. We raise our voices “proclaiming thanksgiving aloud”(26:7), saying “I will praise the name of God with a song; I will magnify him with thanksgiving”(69:30), and “Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving; let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise!” (95:2). Can anyone else hear your thanks? They should.
(4) We give thanks wholeheartedly. Our voices only reflect our hearts as we say “my heart exults, and with my song I give thanks to him”(28:7), “I will give thanks to the LORD with my whole heart”(111:1), and “I give you thanks, O LORD, with my whole heart”(138:1). Does our gratitude flow from our inward being? A Spirit-filled heart overflows with thanks.
(5) We give thanks corporately. Individuals say “I will thank you in the great congregation; in the mighty throng I will praise you” (35:18), “With my mouth I will give great thanks to the LORD; I will praise him in the midst of the throng.”(109:30), and “the tribes go up, the tribes of the LORD, as was decreed for Israel, to give thanks to the name of the LORD.”(122:4). Do we gather with the saints to thank him corporately? God delights in his people singing thanks together, and we sound a whole lot better together.
(6) We give thanks evangelistically. We proclaim “I will give thanks to you, O LORD, among the peoples; I will sing praises to you among the nations” (57:9, 108:3). Do we express our thanks to God before those who do not believe in him? When they hear, they just might give thanks, too.
(7) We give thanks eternally. Our heart cries out “O LORD my God, I will give thanks to you forever!”(30:12), “we will give thanks to your name forever”(44:8), and “But we your people, the sheep of your pasture, will give thanks to you forever; from generation to generation we will recount your praise”(79:13). Are we consciously warming up to give thanks eternally? We might as well get started now!
(8) We give thanks actively. Words lead to action: “Offer to God a sacrifice of thanksgiving, and perform your vows to the Most High”(50:14), and “I must perform my vows to you, O God; I will render thank offerings to you”(56:12). Are our sacrifices merely with the lips, or are our sacrifices of thanks living sacrifices? A thankful heart always leads to a changed life.