A Meditation on Giving Thanks

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Thanksgiving occurs every day and has since creation itself. Setting aside one special day as our American Thanksgiving merely formalizes a national observance. Unfortunately, many people merely use the time as a means of feasting and celebrating without giving true thanksgiving and praise to the Creator Himself. In order to expand true thanksgiving within any group (as small as one’s family or as great as one’s community), at least one person of true faith must call others to the highest giving of thanks there can ever be: offering heartfelt praise and worship to the Lord of heaven and earth.

Universal Call to Giving Thanks Based on a Universal Cause

One of the most well known of psalms closes by focusing on the universal cause for giving thanks to the Creator and King of all creation. The third and final stanza of Psalm 103 (vv. 19–22) lists the causes for Israel’s praise—their reasons for worshipping and thanking the Lord. Above all else, they give Him thanks for ruling over all in His sovereign power (v. 19):

                The Lord has established his throne in the heavens,

and his kingdom rules over all.  

From heaven above the Lord exercises His boundless power and authority to bring about His kingdom in His time and in His way. Nothing occurs in history without His allowance and purposeful direction. Ultimately this is the greatest universal cause for offering Him praise—giving Him our thanks. He is in control. The world is not crazily careening out of control. Sometimes we cannot understand nor make sense of what happens in our fallen world. But, the Lord knows what He is doing and we can trust that the outcome will be as good as our Lord Himself—reread verses 1–5 with this concept in mind.

Universal Call to Giving Thanks Includes All Creation

Even the angels of heaven perform the Lord’s sovereign will and offer Him their worship, praise, and thanks (vv. 20–21):

Bless the Lord, O you his angels,

you mighty ones who do his word,

obeying the voice of his word!

Bless the Lord, all his hosts,

his ministers, who do his will!

All creation—all the Lord’s works—likewise praise Him (v. 22a):

Bless the Lord, all his works,

in all places of his dominion.  

Psalm 103 begins with one person (vv. 1–5), expands to the people of Israel (vv. 6–18), then envelopes all creation (vv. 19–22a) before concluding with the solo voice once again (v. 22b):

                Bless the Lord, O my soul! 

The psalmist summons all creation to be part of the choir of praise. One person devoted to God can impact the whole of creation. God’s praiseworthiness is so great that even all of His works are inadequate to proclaim His praise. Think what can be accomplished by a single believer who consistently calls those around him or her to render God the praise, worship, and thanks do Him.

Concluding Thought

Family praise and thanksgiving must begin with at least one person. Church-wide praise and thanksgiving likewise commences with the call and example of one member. No matter how large the community, God asks that one person within that community echo the psalmist’s call for praise. Each of us must be willing to be that person—and it does not wait an official day of Thanksgiving. Universality involves all time as much as all people or all creation.

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William Barrick

About William Barrick

Dr. William D. Barrick served as professor of Old Testament and director of Th.D. studies at The Master’s Seminary from 1997 to 2015. He remains active in ministry as a theologian and a linguistics expert whose service, writings, and translations have spanned numerous nations and languages. From 1981-1996 he served as a Bible translator, teacher, church planter, and administrator in Bangladesh. He is also the Old Testament editor of the Evangelical Exegetical Commentary from Logos Bible Software. He is also involved as a director of Canyon Ministries helping to lead biblical studies trips in the Grand Canyon. For 19 years he has served as a lay elder and Bible teacher at Placerita Bible Church, Newhall, CA. He continues to teach seminars for various training centers with The Master’s Academy International and is secretary/treasurer for Lincoln Global Group (Albania). Bill and Barbara have been married 50 years and have four married children and fourteen grandchildren.