The lifted eyes of genuine thanksgiving begin with gratitude for much more than the generous and gracious provision of God. Counting our blessings and naming them one by one is certainly an element of thanksgiving mentioned in the Psalms. Over and over the Psalmists acknowledged God's deeds and blessings throughout his historical guidance of Israel. Note the frequent mentions of God's work in the Psalms of thanks----
I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart; I will recount all of your wonderful
Psalm 9:1, ESV
...proclaiming thanksgiving aloud, and telling all your wondrous deeds.
Psalm 26:7, ESV
We give thanks to you, O God; we give thanks, for your name is near; we recount your
Psalm 75: 1, ESV
Oh give thanks to the Lord; call upon his name; make known his deeds among the
Psalm 105:1, ESV
And let them offer sacrifices of thanksgiving, and tell of his deeds in songs of joy!
Psalm 107:22, ESV
All your works shall give thanks to you, O Lord, and all your saints shall bless you!
Psalm 145:10, ESV
Surely thanksgiving involves some serious life assessment and acknowledgement of his many blessings. As noted, his works and deeds are wondrous and should always be remembered with gratitude.
Even more, the Psalms resonate with thanksgiving for God's character. By character I mean the attributes of God, his essential nature, the traits by which he is known. The Bible reveals his character from Genesis 1:1 to Revelation 22:21. For centuries scholars and theologians have written volumes of systematic theology exploring the deeper truths of God's nature. The Psalms identifies several of them many of them as elements of thanksgiving. Being thankful involves more than our list of blessings. Thankful for what he does, yes. Thankful for who he is, yes, indeed.
I will give thanks to the Lord the thanks due to his righteousness...
Psalm 7:17, ESV
I will give thanks to your name, O Lord, for it is good.
Psalm 54:6, ESV
Praise the Lord! O give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures
Psalm 106:1, ESV
O Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever. Psalm 107: 1; 118:29; 136:1, ESV
Give thanks to the God of gods, for his steadfast love endures forever. Psalm 136:2; 136:3; 136: 26, ESV
Notable in these verses is the Psalmists gratitude for God's goodness. Looking back over a lifetime of learning his goodness was perhaps the substance of the first prayer I ever learned, a blessing my parents taught me before meals----"God is great, God is good, let us thank him for our food. By his hands we all are fed, Give us Lord our daily bread". Then it was a simple child's prayer. Today, as clarified in the article "The Goodness of God" by Bob Diffinbaugh (https://bible.org/seriespage/goodness-god), his goodness is "...a foundational truth every Christian should embrace." Click here to read the entire article.
Of course goodness is not the only attribute of God. They are many, including holiness, righteousness, immutability, self-sufficiency, all-powerful, ever present, all knowing, faithful, wise, just, merciful, gracious, loving, glorious, eternal and others beyond our grasp and definition. The point is that our thanksgiving to God must acknowledge his character, the God we worship because he is God. We are the recipients of his works and deeds because of who he is, generous and gracious, and all the others.
In preparation for Thanksgiving I read many passages about giving God our expressions of gratitude. The one that struck me most deeply this week was another from the pen of the Apostle Paul. To the Thessalonians he wrote---
Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will
of God in Christ Jesus for you.
1 Thessalonians 5: 16-18, ESV
Several words from this passage impressed me significantly this week---always, without ceasing, in all circumstances. They are descriptive of the spirit that should define our rejoicing, prayer, and thanksgiving. In this verse these spiritual disciplines are not dependent on the conditions of our lives, whether good or bad. They should define us at all times as "...the will of God in Christ Jesus for you". In my heart they are our response to God in recognition of his character, which never changes.
It's thanksgiving week. Perhaps we will pause in all of our marry-making, family joys, seasonal blessings, and other activities so give thanks to our God because of his glorious character.
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