Not so fast!
I understand the Thanksgiving holiday is now over and next up is Christmas. However, maybe this year we should slow down. Giving thanks is simply not another item on the to-do list. For God’s people, giving thanks is a way of life.
Outcome #1: Giving thanks sparks joyful memories.
First, the author begins the Psalm with “Give thanks to the LORD...” (1) He begins this way because giving thanks to God sparks joyful memories.
Throughout the entire Psalm, the author records great memories of God. He remembered God’s Majestic Sovereignty (2-3); His astonishing Creation (4-9); God’s Miraculous deliverance from bondage (10-16); and God’s mighty victories (17-22). He also reflected on God’s remembrance by writing, “It is He who remembered us in our low estate…” (23). By giving thanks to God, joyful memories of all that God had done overflowed in the author’s mind.
Likewise, when you give thanks to the Lord, joyful memories of all that He has done will overflow your mind. You will be reminded that you are His creation. He has provided deliverance from the captivity of sin. Death is defeated because of the resurrection of Jesus. Psalm 136 is full of joyful memories because God did not forget His people! God has not forgotten you, give Him thanks and the joyful memories of the Gospel will abound!
Outcome #2: Giving thanks produces proper recognition.
Giving thanks has many benefits. A few of the benefits that it produces are happiness and less stress. However, the second outcome we see in Psalm 136:1 is that giving thanks produces proper recognition.
The author instructs us to, “Give thanks to the LORD…” Most Bible translations will translate this name for God with all capital letters. Throughout the Old Testament, God’s people would take special care in how they would communicate the name of God. When LORD is in all caps, it is a translation for YHWH. The people of God considered God to be so Holy, Righteous, and Perfect, they would not consider even speaking the name of God out loud.
When Thanksgiving becomes just another holiday to survive, we miss the point of giving thanks. Giving thanks to the LORD recognizes His place over your life. He is Holy, Righteous, and Perfect. He is worthy of all thanks we can give, not just one day.
Outcome #3: Giving thanks encourages right repetition.
Finally, the author has just spent time remembering the works of God. He has given proper recognition to the One who deserves all praise. What remains is to simply declare over and over the enduring love of God. The English Standard Version translation shows us that twenty-six times the author ends with the words “for His steadfast love endures forever.”
When you remember all that God has done for you through Jesus, and you recognize who He is, repetition of praise is expected. Revelation 4:8 shows more repetition of praise. Day and night, the living creature before the throne of God never cease to say, “Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come!” Throughout Scripture we see that repetition does not lead to empty praise, rather it leads to heightened praise. Giving thanks replaces vain repetition with right repetition.
So as the Christmas season rapidly approaches, slow down. Instead of hurriedly moving to the next holiday on the calendar, repeat your thanks to God today. Continual thanks to the LORD reminds us that His steadfast love endures forever. And we will soon joyfully celebrate the glorious truth that His steadfast love was revealed in a baby, laying in a manger.