“Give thanks to the LORD, for He is good;
His love endures for ever.” (verse 1)
This psalm gives many examples of God’s intervention, some dramatic, others more ordinary; but in every case we are encouraged first to ask for God’s help –
“Then they cried out to the LORD in their trouble,
and He delivered them from their distress.” (verses 6,13,19,28)
– and then to thank Him for what He has done for us.
“Let them give thanks to the LORD for His unfailing love
and his wonderful deeds for men.” (verses 8,15,21,31)
I Thessalonians 5:18
To be honest, nobody feels grateful to God all the time – not when things are going badly for one reason or another! But if we cannot always thank Him for what we are going through, we can still thank Him for being with us and for being available to help us. (We are to give thanks in all circumstances, not for all circumstances!)
Thankfulness is an attitude that can and should be cultivated – whether we feel like it or not. It was apparently Daniel’s habit – even though he and his people were in exile – to give thanks to God three times a day! And he still continued to thank God even when he knew that he was likely to be arrested and put to death.
This is one of those healing miracles that Jesus performed ‘at a distance’. Ten men suffering from a disfiguring skin disease that cut them off from all normal society. Ten men told to act as if they had been healed – ten men who found, when they obeyed Christ’s word, that they were healed. But only one of them turned back immediately to thank his Healer.
It seems a bit strange; but maybe we can become so accustomed to thinking of Jesus as our Healer and Saviour that we begin to take Him for granted. Perhaps this is why Psalm 107 repeatedly urges, “let them give thanks” – because it is something so easily forgotten.
Gratitude should be something spontaneous – if it is genuine. Yet the Law laid down a special sacrifice to be offered “as an expression of thankfulness.” (verse 12) All societies have little rituals by which gratitude is expressed appropriately (the writing of “thankyou letters” after Christmas, for example – a task hated by all children!), and here the Israelites were encouraged to celebrate any occasion of God’s goodness to them with a feast. Some of the food was given to the priest who offered the sacrifice (thus symbolically ‘sharing’ the meal with God); but the rest had to be eaten on the same day. Since even a small lamb or goat would feed a large number of people at a single meal, it would have to be quite a party.
David is responding in this psalm to the resolution of a crisis. It could have been a severe illness, or possibly the plague that swept through his country following his ill-advised census (II Samuel 24). Whatever it was, God had rescued him from the consequences of his own folly and complacency. And he poured his heart out in gratitude and praise – not just on this one occasion but for the rest of his life (verse 12).