Vasanthi Isaiah

The Word of God’s Exhortation to Give Thanks to the Lord

I’ve often been amazed at the myopic memory of many Christians with regards to rendering thanksgiving to our Lord. The Word of God often exhorts us to give thanks to God for all His goodness at all times and in all situations, but we either neglect to do it or forget the goodness of God.

The Core Message of Thanksgiving from Psalm 116

I’d like to draw the core message on thanksgiving from Psalm 116. In order to do this, we have consider the cluster of Psalms 113-118.

The celebrants of the Passover today as in that day either read or sang the Psalms 113-118, as part of the hagadah, which is the liturgical retelling of the story of God’s deliverance of Israel from Egypt. As part of the commensuration of God’s saving acts during Exodus, these psalms led the celebrants through a cycle of praise to their God and Savior before the actual Passover feast. Celebrating Jews would read or sing Psalms 113 and 114 when t hey recalled God’s saving works at the time of Exodus.

Drawing the Attention of Worshippers – Psalms 113-118

While Psalm 113 specifically focused the worshippers’ attention on the condescending grace of God, the merciful Redeemer who bends down from Heaven to meet the needs of His people, in Psalm 114, the Jews recalled Israel’s deliverance from Egypt.

After the Passover meal the Psalms 115-118 were read or sung. Psalm 115 is very interesting, in that it is similar to a responsive reading in which the redeemed community of God’s people expressed and affirmed their trust in the Lord, and in turn the priest responded with his blessing. After declaring their confidence in God, the celebrants praised God for saving them with the words as recorded in Psalm 116.

The interesting and insightful development of thanksgiving continues into Psalm 117, which actually builds on Psalm 116 by exhorting all the nations to praise the Lord for His love and faithfulness. Finally, Psalm 118 then continues the emphasis on God’s faithfulness by celebrating the Lord’s enduring love. The heart of these Psalms is messianic in nature as it prophetically describes God’s deliverance of a ‘rejected’ person, which is Christ Himself.

A Messianic Psalm

And now we move on to the Psalm of our discussion. We are given to understand from the history of God’s people that Psalm 116, a messianic Psalm, is one of the Passover Psalms, which was most likely recited by Jesus on the night of his anguish and betrayal, thenight He ate the Passover with His disciples (Luke 22:15). This Psalm is basically a Psalm of thanksgiving for His deliverance.

An Overview of Psalm 116 reveals the following for us:

  1. The Psalmist declares his love for the Lord. (verses 1,2)
  2. Crucial moments of the Psalmist when on the brink of death (verses 3,4)
  3. Praise for God (verses 5-7)
  4. Psalmist’s deliverance (verses 8-11)
  5. Vow of praise to the Lord (verses 12-14)
  6. Reflection on the psalmist’s deliverance (verses 15-17)
  7. Payment of his vow to the Lord (verses 18-19)

Central to this Psalm is a very profound question, ‘What can I render to the Lord?’ He is obviously so thankful to the Lord that he cannot but help desiring to render to the Lord something. As we echo the same question with the Psalmist for ourselves, let us also make an attempt to identify the things for which we need to be thankful to the Lord as our offering unto Him, which we see him do in Psalm 103:1-5 in very specific ways. Therefore, I would encourage ourselves to identify the things we need to be thankful to the Lord for today.

How Can We and How Often Can We Be Thankful to the Lord?

It may surprise us to know that our human nature is also, in many ways, like the nine lepers whom our Lord Jesus singled out for their unthankful spirit. Therefore it is important for us to come up with practical ways to render our thankfulness to the Lord. From the time we wake up until we go to bed, from t he rising of the sun to its setting, His name shall be praised. Let me encourage ourselves to list 10 most important things that we can be thankful to God for on a daily basis, so that we can thank the Lord at all times and His praise be continually be in our mouths.

Thirdly, the Psalmist points out to us the importance of offering to the Lord that which ‘costs something.’ In his words ‘I will not offer unto the Lord that which costs me nothing’ has a lot tell us today.

Finally, the best offering we can render to the Lord is by lifting the cup of salvation and making it available to the world. What exactly is this ‘lifting up the cup of salvation?’ Since this is a messianic Psalm what else could it mean, but to bring the Good News of the gospel to every unreached and least evangelized peoples on this planet earth?

There are millions waiting to be reached with the love of God. What does your heart beat for?

Vasanthi Isaiah
Bethany International University

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