Much has been expounded upon concerning the topic of thankfulness in secular and religious writings and literature. It is a general, cultural norm to be thankful to others. As children, we are frequently reminded to say “thank you” when appropriate. The idea is that someone has done a gesture or said a kind thing that we perceive as a benefit, so we honor that person’s gift with a “thank you”. As a child, we do not understand the heart behind being thankful. A child says “thank you” only because she is reminded to be polite. As we mature, we begin to understand the sacrifice that is behind the gift or kind word. We will not go through looking at secular thankfulness but instead look at what the Author of thankfulness teaches from His Scriptures.
King David’s writings in the Psalms are filled with sections that joyously express thanksgiving to Yahweh. He dances, sings, and plays his harp in glorious thankfulness for all of Yahweh’s protection and lovingkindness. To narrow down a volume of information on thankfulness, especially in the Psalms, let us look at Psalm 50. In Psalm 50, Yahweh begins by setting the stage for our need to be thankful by telling some about the end times when He will judge the righteous and unrighteous.
Psalm 50: 1-6. The Mighty One, God, the Lord,
And summoned the earth from the rising of the sun to
Out of Zion, the perfection of beauty,
God has shone forth.
May our God come and not keep silence;
Fire devours before Him,
And it is very tempestuous around Him.
He summons the heavens above,
And the earth, to judge His people:
“Gather My godly ones to Me,
Those who have made a covenant with Me by sacrifice.”
And the heavens declare His righteousness,
For God Himself is judge. Selah.
The ones who will be gathered to Yahweh are those who have made a covenant with Him by sacrifice. Today in the household of God, we do not follow the commandments of the Old Testament Law by offering animal or food sacrifices. There is no need because Jesus Christ gave us the gift of holy spirit that connects us with Yahweh anytime and anyplace. Jesus was the sacrifice for all humankind. How do we “sacrifice” today? Paul tells us this in Romans:
Romans 12:1-2. Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.
Our sacrifice is not the blood of bulls, lambs, and goats. Our sacrifice is to offer ourselves as those who do the will of God by following our Master Jesus. We also offer ourselves by not being of this world but rather being of our spiritual nature of Yahweh and Jesus Christ. We have been taken out of the muck and mire of this age and given the ability to lovingly worship our Heavenly Father. Our daily struggle is to not let the affairs of the day become overwhelming but to allow our thoughts to stay on our
Psalm 50:7-13. “Hear, O My people, and I will speak;
O Israel, I will testify against you;
I am God, your God.
“I do not reprove you for your sacrifices,
And your burnt offerings are continually before Me.
“I shall take no young bull out of your house
Nor male goats out of your folds.
“For every beast of the forest is Mine,
The cattle on a thousand hills.
“I know every bird of the mountains,
And everything that moves in the field is Mine.
“If I were hungry I would not tell you,
For the world is Mine, and all it contains.
“Shall I eat the flesh of bulls
Or drink the blood of male goats?
Yahweh does not need our sacrifices of animals or grain offerings. He owns it all. He even knows each bird. He made it all. He can do anything with all creation He wants to do. Thinking that Yahweh needs sacrifices is not what He requires of us. We understand from verses 1 through 13 that Yahweh is over all and He does not need our sacrifices under the Law. In the last verses of Psalm 50, we learn what it is that Yahweh desires from us.
Psalm 50:14-15. “Offer to God a sacrifice of thanksgiving
And pay your vows to the Most High;
Call upon Me in the day of trouble;
I shall rescue you, and you will honor Me.”
Our offering actually is thankfulness. Our sacrifice is not so much what we sacrifice or do, but how we have a thankful heart toward Yahweh in everything we do. Yahweh reproved Israel many times concerning their offer of sacrifices without they themselves being thankful to or honoring of Yahweh. They sacrificed to idols which was a very high degree of ingratitude to Yahweh (2 Chronicles 28:19; Psalm 54:6).
There was a sacrifice specifically called a thank offering. Even being required to bring a thank offering, Israel continued to be robotic in how they viewed and participated in the sacrifice. It relates a bit, as stated before, like children being taught to say “thank you” and really not understanding what it means to feel gratitude for someone’s sacrificial gift to them. In contrast, when we begin to understand what Yahweh through the sacrifice of Jesus accomplished, we begin to feel thankful, so very thankful. This gratitude comes to us only by way of the holy spirit that works in us to experience godly thankfulness.
Yahweh says we are to “pay our vows” to Him. We commit to being followers of our Lord Jesus the Messiah. Do we honestly and with a whole heart follow him? Do we stop doing the sinful behaviors and cling to doing good? These are the everyday sacrifices to Yahweh. Do we perform a good deed of speaking the gospel because we are thankful to Yahweh for His provision for us so that we can give to others, or do we grumble because we are inconvenienced? Thankfulness comes from a heart that acknowledges our debt for the sacrifice given by Yahweh and Christ for our eternal life. Keeping that in mind helps us to exude thankfulness in everything we say and do. “The day of trouble” is at hand. We are exhorted to call upon Yahweh, and He rescues us. We will honor Yahweh by praising Him with thankful praise for His grace and mercy.
When we pray to Yahweh, it can become a sacrifice, but possibly not be an acceptable one because our heart is not thankful. Remember all the blessings Yahweh has given you – or as many as you can remember – and your heart will fill up with joy and thankfulness. Even in the worst of times, we trust and know that Yahweh is taking care of us. We are to honor Yahweh by our sacrifice of thankfulness from a heart filled
We are warned by the Apostle Paul not to have a foolish heart that is unthankful and dishonors Yahweh.
Romans 1:21. For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart
Yahweh set up Levites specifically to celebrate, praise, and thank Yahweh, God of Israel.
1 Chronicles 16:4. He appointed some of the Levites as ministers before the ark of the Lord, even to celebrate and to thank and praise the LORD God of Israel:
Yahweh abundantly provides for us, and, with a song in our hearts, we are to be thankful to Him.
Psalm 28:7. The LORD is my strength and my shield; My heart trusts in Him, and I am helped; Therefore my heart exults, And with my song I shall thank Him.
We are to be thankful with our whole heart.
Psalm 86:12. I will give thanks to You, O Lord my God, with all my heart, and will glorify Your name forever.
If you truly desire to honor Yahweh and have a heart of thankfulness, you will receive
Psalm 50:23. “He who offers a sacrifice of thanksgiving honors Me; And to him who orders his way aright I shall show the salvation of God.”
The sacrifice of thanksgiving gives honor to Yahweh, while living a thankful life can help bring salvation to us. When the world says, “Hey, thanks for the apple pie”, we as Christians are thankful to the One who provided the apples, flour, sugar, ability to make the pie, and most importantly the love that went into making it. When we do any deed, we are instructed to be thankful to Yahweh. Acknowledge Him and the gift of His Son, Jesus, with joyful thankfulness for salvation. Now that is something to be thankful for!