Thursday, November 12, 2009

Thanksgiving Verses - Part 12

We come now to a first discussion of some of the thanks given in the book of Psalms, aka the Psalter. We have already reviewed Psalm 18 (in Part 3 of this series), Psalms 105, 96, and 106 (Part 4), Psalms 39, 62, and 77 (Part 6), Psalms 107, 118, and 136 (Part 8), Psalms 146 and 147 (Part 10), and Psalms 51 and 122 (Part 11). Not all of those Psalms are primarily Psalms of thanksgiving, some only mention thanksgiving in passing - or don't mention thanksgiving directly at all. Nevertheless, since they've already been discussed above, I won't discuss them again here. Instead focus on some other psalms in this post.

Specifically, in this section I'll be addressing those Psalms of Thanksgiving that haven't already been mentioned. The first Psalm I'll mention is Psalm 116 - it is a Psalm of thanksgiving for salvation. One tradition has it that this psalm was commemorative of the time when David hid in a cave and God saved him even though Saul himself entered the cave. In any event, Psalm 116 is an appropriate psalm for any occasion when we recognize that the hand of God has preserved us, but especially when it was a very serious danger. The comfort to be found in the expression, "Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his saints," makes this an especially suitable psalm when one has been given escape from death.

Psalm 95 is a more general psalm of thanksgiving. It mentions the rock (the only one) in which we trust. Psalm 95 is also interesting because it commends the psalms for the purpose of giving thanksgiving, something we've seen repeatedly in the historical narratives as well as in the law. It calls to mind God's deeds of old, but also reminds the singer and the hearer that today is the day of salvation. The author of Hebrew, after all, reminds us that this psalm sets a time limit: "to day." For when we are dead, it will be too late to hear the voice of God and repent. The psalm emphasizes God's right to be worshiped by virtue of being our creator, something that should remind us that the doctrine of Creation is a central Christian doctrine. This psalm may be especially good in the context of praising God with one's young children, both because it is short and because it affords an opportunity to speak of the importance of repenting today. The psalm may also be useful in other evangelical contexts, such as accompanying a wedding. It starts with thanksgiving, but ends on warning.

Psalm 92 is specifically designated as a song for the Sabbath day. For Christians, we observe the Sabbath on the first day of the week in commemoration of the resurrection of Christ who delivered us from the bondage of sin and created us anew. The Sabbath reminds us of our heavenly rest to come: a rest that will be full of songs of thanksgiving and praise to our Almighty God.

Psalm 92, like several of the other psalms we've seen reminds us that our rock is God. It mentions as well the suitability of giving thanks to God in song. Psalm 92 is a more uniformly joyful song than Psalm 95, but it does contain some warning in the center of the psalm - a reminder that those who are enemies of God will perish. Calvinists will be quick to notice that Psalm even explains that this is the reason that the wicked flourish, namely so that they will be cut off.

Psalm 75 is a psalm of Asaph. It has some similar themes to those found in Psalm 92, although it has more of a focus on the judgment of God. It may be a suitable song of thanksgiving to accompany a serious message on sin. It also serves to remind us of our evangelical duty to tell those whom Scripture describes as "fools" not to deal foolishly. Thus, it may be a good psalm to sing either at the opening or closing of an evangelistic outreach.

Psalm 30 was written on the occasion of the dedication of the house of David. It's not clear whether this is a reference to the coronation of his son Solomon, or the building of the temple, or perhaps more literally the completion of David's Jerusalem palace. In the absence of evidence, we're inclined to assume the latter. It is a suitable song of thanksgiving for such an occasion, when we have built or bought a new home.

Psalm 30 in some ways resembles Psalm 116, in that it is an expression of thanksgiving for salvation. One interesting aspect of Psalm 30 is the explanation it provides regarding the purpose of salvation: salvation is not an end in itself but a means to an end. The person is not simply saved from death but saved to rejoice and give praise to God. Thus, this psalm helps to serve as an antidote to man-centered religion that views "getting saved" as the ultimate good, rather than focusing on the worship and praise of our glorious God. Like Psalm 92, this psalm emphasizes that God has a purpose for the wicked.

Psalm 97 has similar themes to Psalm 95. There is an emphasis on thanksgiving, but there is a warning to the sinners. Our Eastern Orthodox and Roman Catholic friends will be unhappy to see that those who worship representations will be confounded, but let them take heart that they are called to worship the true and living God who is not worshiped by the works of men's hands.

Psalm 100 is a short and sweet psalm. It's title, "A Psalm of Praise" accurately describes it. It is suitable for any occasion of joy, and particular for those occasions when we are corporately gathered as a church. We Christians from among the lands can take special joy in this psalm, seeing that by singing it we fulfill its demand.

Psalm 116

I love the LORD, because he hath heard my voice and my supplications. Because he hath inclined his ear unto me, therefore will I call upon him as long as I live. The sorrows of death compassed me, and the pains of hell gat hold upon me: I found trouble and sorrow.

Then called I upon the name of the LORD; O LORD, I beseech thee, deliver my soul.

Gracious is the LORD, and righteous; yea, our God is merciful. The LORD preserveth the simple: I was brought low, and he helped me. Return unto thy rest, O my soul; for the LORD hath dealt bountifully with thee.

For thou hast delivered my soul from death, mine eyes from tears, and my feet from falling. I will walk before the LORD in the land of the living. I believed, therefore have I spoken: I was greatly afflicted: I said in my haste, All men are liars.

What shall I render unto the LORD for all his benefits toward me? I will take the cup of salvation, and call upon the name of the LORD. I will pay my vows unto the LORD now in the presence of all his people.

Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his saints. O LORD, truly I am thy servant; I am thy servant, and the son of thine handmaid: thou hast loosed my bonds. I will offer to thee the sacrifice of thanksgiving, and will call upon the name of the LORD. I will pay my vows unto the LORD now in the presence of all his people, in the courts of the LORD'S house, in the midst of thee, O Jerusalem. Praise ye the LORD.

Psalm 95

O come, let us sing unto the LORD: let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation. Let us come before his presence with thanksgiving, and make a joyful noise unto him with psalms.

For the LORD is a great God, and a great King above all gods. In his hand are the deep places of the earth: the strength of the hills is his also. The sea is his, and he made it: and his hands formed the dry land.

O come, let us worship and bow down: let us kneel before the LORD our maker. For he is our God; and we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand. To day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your heart, as in the provocation, and as in the day of temptation in the wilderness: when your fathers tempted me, proved me, and saw my work. Forty years long was I grieved with this generation, and said, It is a people that do err in their heart, and they have not known my ways: unto whom I sware in my wrath that they should not enter into my rest.

Psalm 92
< A Psalm or Song for the sabbath day.>

It is a good thing to give thanks unto the LORD, and to sing praises unto thy name, O most High: to shew forth thy lovingkindness in the morning, and thy faithfulness every night, upon an instrument of ten strings, and upon the psaltery; upon the harp with a solemn sound.

For thou, LORD, hast made me glad through thy work: I will triumph in the works of thy hands. O LORD, how great are thy works! and thy thoughts are very deep.

A brutish man knoweth not; neither doth a fool understand this. When the wicked spring as the grass, and when all the workers of iniquity do flourish; it is that they shall be destroyed for ever: but thou, LORD, art most high for evermore. For, lo, thine enemies, O LORD, for, lo, thine enemies shall perish; all the workers of iniquity shall be scattered.

But my horn shalt thou exalt like the horn of an unicorn: I shall be anointed with fresh oil. Mine eye also shall see my desire on mine enemies, and mine ears shall hear my desire of the wicked that rise up against me.

The righteous shall flourish like the palm tree: he shall grow like a cedar in Lebanon. Those that be planted in the house of the LORD shall flourish in the courts of our God. They shall still bring forth fruit in old age; they shall be fat and flourishing; to shew that the LORD is upright: he is my rock, and there is no unrighteousness in him.

Psalm 75

Unto thee, O God, do we give thanks, unto thee do we give thanks: for that thy name is near thy wondrous works declare. When I shall receive the congregation I will judge uprightly. The earth and all the inhabitants thereof are dissolved: I bear up the pillars of it. Selah.

I said unto the fools, Deal not foolishly: and to the wicked, Lift not up the horn: lift not up your horn on high: speak not with a stiff neck. For promotion cometh neither from the east, nor from the west, nor from the south.

But God is the judge: he putteth down one, and setteth up another. For in the hand of the LORD there is a cup, and the wine is red; it is full of mixture; and he poureth out of the same: but the dregs thereof, all the wicked of the earth shall wring them out, and drink them.

But I will declare for ever; I will sing praises to the God of Jacob. All the horns of the wicked also will I cut off; but the horns of the righteous shall be exalted.

Psalm 30

< A Psalm and Song at the dedication of the house of David.>

I will extol thee, O LORD; for thou hast lifted me up, and hast not made my foes to rejoice over me.

O LORD my God, I cried unto thee, and thou hast healed me. O LORD, thou hast brought up my soul from the grave: thou hast kept me alive, that I should not go down to the pit.

Sing unto the LORD, O ye saints of his, and give thanks at the remembrance of his holiness. For his anger endureth but a moment; in his favour is life: weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.

And in my prosperity I said, I shall never be moved. LORD, by thy favour thou hast made my mountain to stand strong: thou didst hide thy face, and I was troubled. I cried to thee, O LORD; and unto the LORD I made supplication. What profit is there in my blood, when I go down to the pit? Shall the dust praise thee? shall it declare thy truth?

Hear, O LORD, and have mercy upon me: LORD, be thou my helper. Thou hast turned for me my mourning into dancing: thou hast put off my sackcloth, and girded me with gladness; to the end that my glory may sing praise to thee, and not be silent. O LORD my God, I will give thanks unto thee for ever.

Psalm 97

The LORD reigneth; let the earth rejoice; let the multitude of isles be glad thereof.

Clouds and darkness are round about him: righteousness and judgment are the habitation of his throne. A fire goeth before him, and burneth up his enemies round about. His lightnings enlightened the world: the earth saw, and trembled. The hills melted like wax at the presence of the LORD, at the presence of the Lord of the whole earth. The heavens declare his righteousness, and all the people see his glory. Confounded be all they that serve graven images, that boast themselves of idols: worship him, all ye gods.

Zion heard, and was glad; and the daughters of Judah rejoiced because of thy judgments, O LORD. For thou, LORD, art high above all the earth: thou art exalted far above all gods.

Ye that love the LORD, hate evil: he preserveth the souls of his saints; he delivereth them out of the hand of the wicked. Light is sown for the righteous, and gladness for the upright in heart. Rejoice in the LORD, ye righteous; and give thanks at the remembrance of his holiness.

Psa 100

< A Psalm of praise.>

Make a joyful noise unto the LORD, all ye lands. Serve the LORD with gladness: come before his presence with singing. Know ye that the LORD he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.

Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name. For the LORD is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations.

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