2015-11-22 Give Thanks to the Lord

Cornerstone EPC                                                                              Sunday morning
Franklin, NC 28734                                                                          November 22, 2015

“Give Thanks to the Lord”
Text: Psalm 105:1-7

We come, once again in our nation, to Thanksgiving week—and we observe the day, God willing, on Thursday.  Consider, if you will, the various forms of fueling that occur at Thanksgiving.  With gasoline prices lower than at any time in recent memory, the American Automobile Association predicts that 46.9 million Americans (about 15 percent of our population) will travel at least fifty one-way miles for Thanksgiving.  Those of us who plan to travel look forward to seeing family, friends, and perhaps a favorite or new destination.  Some of us will put fuel in our cars, and someone else hopefully will put fuel in the jets, and away we shall go.

Think now if you will about the fueling we gain at our respective tables.  Thanksgiving brings a mix of long-time favorite dishes and new dishes alike—and, if we be not careful, we may ingest a bit too much of both.  It may take some time to burn all the fuel we receive this week.  Think also of the welcome re-fueling that should take place this week.  Most of us gain rest from work and other ordinary activities, and we get opportunity to enjoy pastimes, avocations, and the like.  Perhaps our souls could use such re-fueling this week; may you be replenished—and even filled to overflowing—this week.

We also have fuel, so to speak, in God’s Word today.  Our text, the first seven verses of Psalm 105, fuels our thanksgiving.  Sometimes we need such fuel, and perhaps you need some today.  Let us now hear the Word of God written, which testifies on every page to the Word living—the Lord Jesus Christ.

(HERE READ THE TEXT)

I found it remarkable in my study of the Hebrew text of Psalm 105 that God, through His inspired penman, issues His people ten third-person plural masculine commands—the first being give thanks unto the LORD.  This is the first and controlling command, but we shall subsume the other nine under four outstanding commands in this passage—and in so doing, we shall be able to know our happy duty before God more sharply.

First, we are to declare God’s praise.  Our declaration takes two forms in today’s text.  We are to sing His praise—and this certainly is a happy form of praising God even if we think our talent for singing to be suspect.  We are to sing (or otherwise to make music in praise to God, for the second sing in verse two may carry an instrumental connotation) to the Lord in private and public worship.  Singing, playing instruments, and the like is inseparable from our corporate worship.  The same is true when it occurs in a place where no one but you and God can hear.  Make music, then, with voice and other instruments, in praise of God—and your thanksgiving will be fueled.

Also, declare the praises of God in spoken word.  Our praises often will bless our fellow believers in Christ Jesus, and we do well to encourage them by the appropriate expression of our praise.  Also we do well to express our praise to those outside the flock of God in Christ.  True, many will not be as happy to hear God’s praise as we are to declare it, but for some your declaration of God’s praise will be used of Him to draw them to Himself—and then they, like you, shall be eternally glad.  A heart that praises God is a thankful heart before Him—but there is more fuel to be gained in this text.

Second, glory in the Name of the Lord.  That is, rejoice in Him.  Make much of Him.  Let it be evident that you think highly—yea, supremely—of Him.  Find your ultimately joy in the Lord.  Also, otherwise glorify the Lord.  Do everything in your life with a view to the glory of God (cf. 1 Corinthians x.31)—both things evidently Christian and the things in your life that appear most apparently mundane.  After all, this is the end—or the purpose—for which we were made.  We were made to glorify God.  In so doing, our souls will expand God-ward with thanks.

Third, seek the face of God.  The Hebrew word translated presence in the ESV is in most contexts translated face.  When we think of the phrase seek God’s face, our thoughts naturally turn to prayer.  We are to call upon His Name in prayer.  We are to seek Him in this way—for He is the rewarder of those who diligently seek Him (Hebrews 11:6).  Moreover, we are to seek Him continuously.  We are to seek Him at all times in every circumstance.  A close walk with God, especially as evidenced in prayer, will conduce to overflowing with thankfulness—and Scripture elsewhere would have us overflow thus (Colossians 2:7).

Fourth, recall His wondrous works.  Remember His wonderful deeds.  These include His miracles, that is, His extraordinary works outside the usual course of things and outside the usual workings of God’s created order.  These also include His judgments, that is, His decrees—both infinite in scope and infinitesimal in detail.  In particular, think back over those deeds that God has worked in your life especially—if not solely—for your benefit.  These are wondrous, and so undeserved, that a decent reflection upon these will fill the bucket within us called thankfulness to overflowing.  Remember the works of God—specially those in your life—and be thankful.

The words we read today came to be three thousand years ago.  David—Israel’s sweet singer of songs and shepherd of the sheep—wrote this Scripture portion by the Spirit’s leading and committed it to Asaph, a leading musician in Levitical worship, and his associates.  David wrote the words we examine on the occasion of the return of the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem after an absence of as much as sixty years.  The return of the Ark to Jerusalem symbolized both the presence of God and the favor of God.  For a long time the absence of the Ark from its rightful place conveyed a certain distance and displeasure of God with His people.  Yet at just the right time, God moved in human events and the Ark returned to Jerusalem—and that evoked exuberant joy.  There are few scenes in Scripture as exultant as King David leading the Ark back into Jerusalem—leaping and dancing with all his might (2 Samuel 6:16, 1 Chronicles 15:28-29) for joy before the Lord.

Not only does this text rise from David’s overflowing joy and thanks, but it also is powerful fuel for our thanksgiving—for us, the people of God in Christ Jesus.  It also provided fuel for the Old Testament saints and church as from David’s time forward they recalled God’s hand in their providential history, and it also fuels our thanksgiving—for we are the spiritual offspring of the Old Testament heroes here invoked in verse seven (cf. John 8:56, Romans 4:16-18, Galatians 3:9).  Therefore, give thanks unto the Lord in this week of national thanks—especially on Thursday, our nation’s Thanksgiving Day.  Do this fueled by declaring God’s praise—with music and with speech, in public and in private.  Do this glorying in, and glorifying, the Name of the Lord.  Do this seeking God’s face continually.  Do this, moreover, recalling God’s wonderful works in Jesus Christ—especially His works toward you.  May the Lord bless you and everyone dear to you this Thanksgiving.

AMEN.

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