Eight Themes in Thanksgiving
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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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!
- 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.