The Giving of Thanks

“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.” Psalm 100:4-5

While it is not the only time of year that we should give thanks unto the Lord; we are entering the season of the year that an emphasis is placed upon vocalizing our appreciation unto God for His abundant blessings. It is the time of year that we are reminded of “His Bounty” and “His Birth.” Within verses 4&5, there are three thoughts that revolve around thanksgiving.

The first thing that the psalmist does is to encourage the act of thankfulness, “Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise.” The psalmist encourages movement, “Enter into his gates . . . and into his courts.” The phrase “Enter into” means to go forth or to come into. While there are attempts to identify the physical location of “his gates” and “his courts”; I believe the real emphasis is movement toward a person. The act of thanksgiving causes the individual to move toward the object to which they desire to express their thanks. In this case object of thanks is none other than the Lord, himself! The psalmist encourages melody, “with thanksgiving and . . . with praise.” Both “thanksgiving” and “praise” carry the idea of singing or making melody. The first has the idea of a choir of worshippers and the second is praise by means of a hymn. When Paul made reference to the believer being filled with the Holy Spirit, he said, “Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord; Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Ephesians 5:19-20). The grateful heart of God’s child is drawn into the presence of God where it sings melodious songs of adoration and praise!

Secondly the psalmist exemplifies the art of thankfulness, “be thankful unto him, and bless his name.” Meditating upon the example that is set forth by the psalmist, I take notice to two things about the activities of thanksgiving! Thanksgiving is a humbling practice. This can be seen when one studies the words; “thankful” and “bless.” The word “thankful” means to hold out the hand, especially to revere or worship with extended hands. The word “bless” means to kneel or bow the knee as an act of adoration. The true act of thanksgiving humiliates the flesh, and magnifies the faithfulness of the Sovereign. True thanksgiving acknowledges the fact that all that has been receive from God is not merited, but is the gracious act of God toward undeserving creatures. Thanksgiving has a hallowed purpose. The two words, “thankful” and “bless” reveal that true thanksgiving generate worship and adoration! True thanksgiving magnifies man’s bankruptcy and the Master’s benevolence; thus causing the heart of the creature to exalt and magnify the Lord, his God! May thanksgiving be more than words on the lips, but the expression of our lives!

Lastly, the psalmist emphasizes the areas of thankfulness, “For the Lord is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations.” While the psalmist in no way covers all the areas for which we are to be thankful; the psalmist magnifies three areas with respect to the LORD that are worthy of noticing. We are to be thankful for God’s character, “For the Lord is good.” The word “good” means to be good in a broad sense. When speaking of our Heavenly Father, James said, “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning” (James 1:17). Having been tried and examined by the depraved minds of humanity, Pilate said to the chief priests and to the people, “Behold, I bring him forth to you, that ye may know that I find no fault in him” (John 19:4). God is forever good; he is faultless in His character. We can be thankful for God’s compassion, “his mercy is everlasting.” The word “mercy” means kindness and comes from a word meaning to show self merciful. Who among us is not totally deserving of the complete and consuming wrath of God? But, as the songwriter said, “When justice called, mercy answered.” Thank God, we have not been given what we deserved, but in mercy God has stooped to meet our need. Lastly, we can be thankful for God’s consistency, “is everlasting; and . . . endureth to all generations.” God’s mercy and truth are not temporal, but they are as eternal and timeless as God Himself. Speaking to the children of Israel, God said, “For I am the Lord, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed” (Malachi 3:6). When it comes to the areas of thankfulness, we can be extremely grateful for God’s character, compassion, and consistency; an eternal truth for which we can be thankful.

May the activities of thanksgiving not be limited to this particular time of year, but may each of us find ourselves humbly drawn into His presence here we with a melodious melody magnifies His character, His compassion, and His consistency. May the practice of thanksgiving be daily and deliberate in each of us!