Part 1 of 2: Biblical Study of Giving Thanks
I did an in-depth study of the topic of thankfulness as it is presented in the Bible. To begin, I will highlight my findings in the Old Testament.
1. Thankfulness is directed to God. God is addressed in various ways. Some of His names are “Most High,” “LORD,” “God of gods,” “God of heaven,” “Rock of our salvation,” “the LORD our Maker,” and “God of our salvation.” Have you noticed the trend to avoid addressing gratefulness to God? There is a movement to have moments of contemplation–for lessening stress and bringing about peace–but NO RECEIVER of the thanks is mentioned. It’s just plain weird! Doesn’t make any sense. When we GIVE THANKS, we give them to SOMEONE! I suggest that God is the One who deserves our thanks.
2. Thanks are given for a variey of things. I here list twenty of them: for God’s wonders; because He is a great God; because He made us; for His goodness, lovingkindness and faithfulness to all generations; because His lovingkindness is everlasting; for satisfying the thirsty and hungry soul with what is good; because He is good; because He alone does great wonders; for giving wisdom and power; for His works; because His lovingkindness is on Israel forever; because He has brought up a life from the pit; because gifts were given by the people for use in making the new Temple; because He provides rain; because He will make the wilderness of Zion like Eden; because the LORD reigns; because righteousness and justice are the foundations of His throne; because His anger is but for a moment but His favor is for a lifetime; for all His deeds in the history of Israel; and because the LORD is gracious and compassionate. So, we see that thanks are given for God’s character qualities and for His work among men.
3. Thanks are expressed in many ways. We can express our thanks to God in song, with singing and shouting, with hymns, and along with sound of a melody. We can use instruments: harps, lyres, cymbals, trumpets, and lutes are mentioned. I don’t know anything about music but I did notice that this listing includes string instruments, wind instruments and percussions! Are there any other kinds? The expression of gratitude should be accompanied by “clean hands,” i.e., a clear conscience before God. It can be expressed by kneeling before God. It can be a way to celebrate and can be offered with joy and gladness. Or, we can simply lift our voice up to God. Thus, we see from these Old Testament examples that the giving of thanks to God is an active and energetic offering.
4. When was the right time to offer thanks? There are examples indicating such times as morning and night. Some of the Levites were assigned to give thanks morning and evening, too. Another reference speaks of rising at midnight for this purpose. Also, an example is given of taking the time to offer thanks to God even when the government decrees against it! While we are yet alive is the best time, too!
5. Who gave thanks? In the Old Testament, we find these persons giving thanks: certain Levites; King David; all the earth; God’s people; those entering His gates (at the Temple in Jerusalem); the redeemed of the LORD; the redeemed Israelites that He has gathered from the lands; the rebellious who cried to the LORD in their trouble and were rescued by Him; the rebellious fools at death’s door who were saved and healed by God; those who have been aboard ships during storms at sea and who God delivered; the righteous; the godly ones; an unnamed psalmist; Daniel, upon being shown what King Nebuchadnexxar had dreamed and what it meant; and all the people at the celebration when the foundation of the Temple was laid. What a list! I guess that would include EVERYONE, as it mentions rebellious fools and the godly, both. All of us can give God thanks!
6. Where were thanks given? Thanks were offered from a house, from within the stomach of a great fish, in His gates (of the Temple), in His courts (of the Temple), at a dedication celebration for the walls of Jerusalem, in Jerusalem, and in the great congregation, among a might throng. In other words, WHEREVER!
“Dear Father, I offer You my thanks. I thank You for being Good and Holy and Unchanging. I thank You for being Love and Light. I thank You for your longsuffering with me. I thank You for your forgiveness to me. I thank You for your Son Jesus. I thank You for my salvation. I thank You for this, the best gift You have ever, and could ever, give me: eternal life with Jesus, my Lord and Friend. I thank You for your work among men and for your work in my heart. You are the Awesome One. Indeed. Amen.”