2020-11-22 “Thank Ye the Lord, for He Is Good”

Cornerstone EPC                                                                              Sunday morning
Franklin, NC 28734                                                                          November 22, 2020

“Thank Ye the Lord, for He Is Good”
Psalm 107:1-3

We arrive once again at Sunday before Thanksgiving Day—a day, with its attendant act, ingrained in our national ethos.  We recall the first season of giving thanks—in autumn 1621—when our Pilgrim ancestors celebrated God’s goodness with the native Americans that they encountered upon arrival here.  Presidents Washington and Lincoln, among perhaps others, called our nation to days of thanksgiving—with special mention that such thanks ought to be rendered unto the Lord.  Our Seventy-seventh Congress (1941-43) finally codified our providential national bent toward thanksgiving in statute.  They called for a national day of thanks to be fixed as the fourth Thursday in November annually, and President Roosevelt signed Congress’s joint resolution (H. J. Res. 41) into law on December 26, 1941.[1]

Hence, we have a national day of thanks.  Our culture enjoys a number of acts potentially good (or potentially not-so-good, as the case may be): such as rest from ordinary labor, sumptuous dining, enjoyment of family and friends (though we must be more careful this year), and watching sports.  Nowhere amid these acts do I see thanksgiving unto God.  He calls us, by His Holy Spirit, even to higher, more joyous, activities on the day—namely, to worship Him and to thank Him for Who He is and for what He does.  Let today’s text be a guide for your observance of this year’s Thanksgiving Day—and let us give our attention once again to the reading and the preaching of God’s Word in this place.

(HERE READ THE TEXT)

Our text answers three questions for us.  Here is the first question: “What shall we do?”  In light of today’s text, God calls us both to give thanks unto Him and to declare the truths of this text.  The Lord calls us, in His holy Word, to thank Him at all times, as Paul declares to the Thessalonian church and to us, “Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” (1 Thessalonians 5:18).  He calls us also to thank Him in every word and deed, as He leads Paul to write the Colossian church, “And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the Name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him” (Colossians 3:17).  Therefore, at all times and in every word and deed, let us thank Him Who is infinitely worthy of thanks.

Our text next says, “Let the redeemed of the Lord say so.”  God calls us to declare His goodness and His greatness.  Let us declare these first to God; declares His acts in His ears, for this is praise from our lips to His ears.  Next, let us declare these to our own souls, in order that we may have instruction and encouragement from God’s good hand.  Then, and only then, let us declare the goodness and greatness of our God to other Christians—and that for their edification, and possibly our mutual edification.  Then we stand ready to declare our God to non-Christians, in the great hope that they may be drawn to Christ as Savior and Lord.

Now our second question arises, namely, “Who shall give thanks to the Lord?”  The answer, as alluded earlier, is the redeemed of the Lord.  The redeemed of the Lord are the ones He gathers in—from everywhere.  Truly, the Lord drew us who are in Christ from every language and people and tribe (cf. Revelation 7:9).  He also redeemed us from sin—and sins of every kind—by the purchase price of His Son’s lifeblood.  We, whom God passed from death unto life (cf. John 5:24), now have the honor of rendering thanks unto our great God.

Third, we now ask, “Why shall we give thanks?”  Our text gives two reasons.  Here is the first reason: Because God is good.  We see that the Lord is good in the balance of Psalm 107.  Afflicted, redeemed ones in Christ Jesus, under the weight of their afflictions, cry to the Lord in their distress and see His deliverance.  Look at the afflictions described, and the deliverances wrought, in the rest of this Psalm.  Those wandering in desert places—the hungry, thirsting, and fainting—God leads straight to a safe dwelling place.  Those who find themselves incarcerated due to their sins against God also find that He bursts their bonds and leads them out of darkness.  Those who afflict themselves through their foolish, sinful ways, God heals by sending His Word.  Those tossed on the storms of the sea, God brings to their haven after stilling the storm.  These are ample evidences of God’s goodness, and our lives testify to others.  Let us indeed give thanks to the Lord, because He is good.

Now comes our second reason for thanking the Lord: His steadfast love endures forever.  God’s steadfast love (Hebrew chesed) is a stubborn, flinty, will-not-let-me-go kind of love.  The Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon states that we see God’s steadfast love display in His redemption of us from enemies and troubles, in His preservation of our lives from death, in His quickening of our spiritual life, and in His redemption from sin.[2]  Moreover, this steadfast love of God endures forever.  It continues both without end and without interruption.  Let us once again give thanks unto the Lord, for His steadfast love endures forever.

We, as we approach Thanksgiving Day 2020, live in a nation and world beset with problems.  We continue to struggle with the coronavirus pandemic—spiking once again—and its many related ills.  We continue to struggle through our current political uncertainty and upheaval.  We also continue to weather the antipathy—yea, all too often, the hatred—widespread throughout our culture.  For these, and other reasons, we may struggle to give thanks to God.

Yet, God commands it—and, in view of His Being and deeds, we comply with great joy.  We give our highest thanks, and praise, unto to the Lord: both because He is good and because His steadfast love endures forever.  Therefore, we, the redeemed of the Lord, gathered into His covenant family from everywhere, say so.

AMEN.

[1] For the material about H. J. Res (1941), I am indebted to https://www.archives.gov/legislative/features/thanksgiving#:~:text=The%20House%20agreed%20to%20the,the%20Federal%20Thanksgiving%20Day%20holiday.&text=H.J. (accessed November 20, 2020).

[2] Francis Brown, S. R. Driver, and Charles A. Briggs, The Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1906.  Reprint, Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 2001), 339.