Sermon Follow Up- Week 47, 2021
This psalm was written to be sung during the sabbath when the people of Israel gathered for worship. And through this psalm, God reorients the hearts and minds of his people to see purpose of thanksgiving and how it is possible to give thanks to God in a world marred by sin and death.
Psalm 92:title–15 (ESV)
A Psalm. A Song for the Sabbath.
1It is good to give thanks to the Lord, to sing praises to your name, O Most High;
2to declare your steadfast love in the morning, and your faithfulness by night,
3to the music of the lute and the harp, to the melody of the lyre.
4For you, O Lord, have made me glad by your work; at the works of your hands I sing for joy.
5How great are your works, O Lord! Your thoughts are very deep!
6The stupid man cannot know; the fool cannot understand this:
7that though the wicked sprout like grass and all evildoers flourish, they are doomed to destruction forever;
8but you, O Lord, are on high forever.
9For behold, your enemies, O Lord, for behold, your enemies shall perish; all evildoers shall be scattered.
10But you have exalted my horn like that of the wild ox; you have poured over me fresh oil.
11My eyes have seen the downfall of my enemies; my ears have heard the doom of my evil assailants.
12The righteous flourish like the palm tree and grow like a cedar in Lebanon.
13They are planted in the house of the Lord; they flourish in the courts of our God.
14They still bear fruit in old age; they are ever full of sap and green,
15to declare that the Lord is upright; he is my rock, and there is no unrighteousness in him.
We were created to recognize and give thanks to God for his steadfast love in the morning and his faithfulness by night.
The Nature & Content of Giving Thanks
- To whom should we give thanks? We must ultimately give thanks to God who is the source of all that is good. (Psalm 92:1)
“There are many things and people in our lives we can be thankful for, but thanksgiving must ultimately be directed to the source of all that is good – to the LORD.”
- How should we give thanks to God? We should joyfully give thanks with our words in public. (Psalm 92:1, Psalm 92:2)
“Thanksgiving is more than gratitude; it requires us to speak, to declare, and sing to God!”
“The superscript of this psalm indicates that this was a psalm for the sabbath as the people of Israel gathered for worship – emphasizing the importance of the corporate and public nature of thanksgiving.”
“It is not only our mind that is at work in thinking right things about God, it is not only our mouths at work in declaring his praises, but our affections must also ignited when we give thanks to God.”
- What should we give thanks for? We must give thanks to God for who he is (Psalm 92:2), and all his works (Psalm 92:4-5) in creation, redemption, and providence.
The works of God have been described in three distinct categories – his works in creation, his works in redemption, and his works providence.
Creation – The works of God seen in the blessings of life, health, food, clothing, jobs, government, marriage, family. These are examples of his common grace to humanity that even most non-Christians are thankful for, even if they do not give thanks to God for them.
Redemption – The works of God specifically to his people whom he redeems through the person and work of Jesus Christ as well as his works in reversing the curse on creation. His works of election, justification, adoption, and final glorification, as well as restoring all of creation examples of his redeeming works.
Providence – The works of God by which he preserves and governs all that comes to pass. This includes how he is sovereign over all the events in history, from the rise and fall of nations all the way down to how he purposes all the good and difficult circumstances in your lives.
The Difficulties in Giving Thanks
- What about the enemies that plague my life? We will not be overcome by our enemies since they received a crushing blow at the death and resurrection of Jesus.
The psalmist would be aware that this is a normal question that a faithful Israelite would be struggling with. Why are the enemies of Israel always surrounding us? Ready to overcome us? (Psalm 92:6-7) If you look at Israel’s history since Abraham, Israel has always been afflicted by her enemies – the Canaanites in the land of Israel, constant clashed with the Philistine, Edom, Moab, Ammon, and later conquered by superpowers like Assyria and Babylon.
If we are honest, we often think our enemies will have the final word on us. We think our struggle against sin is pointless and the sin will ultimately have victory over us. We sense that the disease that afflicts our body will overtake us and finally destroy us. We often wonder if devil will continue his damage and the kingdom of darkness will win in our world. When it feels like these enemies are going to win, it is extremely hard to be thankful.
But, if you belong to God, he has chosen a different outcome for his people. One that results in our exaltation, and the certain defeat of our enemies. (Psalm 92:10-11) By doing this, the psalmist is helping the congregation rehearse the ultimate story of the downfall of God’s enemies and the conquering of all evil. If you are like me, it is hard to picture that final reality though our clouded eyes, and our dull imaginations.
While the psalmist only saw a taste of God’s redemption of Israel in the past, we have the privilege of looking back and seeing and hearing the doom of God’s enemies at the cross of Jesus Christ. It was on that cross where it seemed like the enemies of God had won. Instead, it was the very place where sin lost its power over us. It was in the grave when it seemed that death had the final word. Instead through the resurrection we see that death received a deathly blow and the all the evil powers in the unseen realms, including the devil were brought to their knees. Do you see that this morning? Do you see the downfall of our enemies at the cross? Do you hear the whimpers of the devil when Jesus rose from the dead?
- What about my uncertain future? If you belong to Christ, your future is certain. You will bear fruit even in this broken world and are destined to enjoy peace and joy in the presence of God forever
You might say, yes, I see and believe that sin, death, and the devil were dealt a deathly blow in the death and resurrection of Jesus, but sin still exists in my life, and death and disease are still powerful, and the devil still is at work in the world. Yes, these remain the realities of our fallen world. Yet, it is the sure promises in the gospel tell us clearly that we have a very bright and hopeful future in the presence of God. (Psalm 92:12-14) Through Christ, we experience some of that reality in this life, but we will experience it in full measure when we experience unhindered communion with God in his presence when Jesus returns. Until then, we wait in hope, but while we wait, we still have the promise of flourishing in this life in the midst of suffering. (Psalm 92:14-15)
There is purpose in your trial and suffering today – you will not be consumed by your circumstances. As the psalmist says, God’s goal for your life, through the pain and suffering is to cause you to declare that God is upright, he is your rock, and there is no unrighteousness in him.
Consider how to give thanks in all circumstances, (1 Thessalonians 5:18, ESV)
There are many walking through bitter providences in your life today. Giving thanks might seem like an extremely hard thing to do, if not impossible. Let me encourage you, God is not angry or frustrated with you, he is not like us. He is patient and understanding. There is space for lament and complaint toward God in the Christian life.
However, in the midst of grief and sorrow, consider this psalm as an invitation to see that God’s faithfulness has not abandoned you in the night. (Psalm 92:2) He has promised to be with you, strengthen you, and sustain you. And for that alone you can give thanks today.
Consider how to turn your grumbling into thanksgiving, (Philippians 2:13-14)
It is easy to grumble about covid, gripe about our boss at work, easy to be frustrated with your spouse, easy to complain about our children, kids do you grumble about your parents? We all are guilty of this. But grumbling is not a small sin. Remember the grumbling generation that Moses and Aaron led in the wilderness? They were kept from entering the promised land. We must beg and plead for the Holy Spirit to replace our grumbling with thanksgiving.
Consider how you can expand and deepen the content of your thanksgiving
Consider how you can broaden and deepen your thanksgiving to God by growing in giving thanks to God for who he is – his character, his attributes, and let that be the primary content of your thanksgiving. And then give thanks for his many great works in creation, redemption, and his providence.
Which of these areas can you grow in your thanksgiving to God?
- God’s Nature – his character and attributes
- God’s Works
- Creation – his common grace to all mankind
- Redemption – his redeeming grace to his children and in all creation
- Providence – his preserving and governing grace in your circumstances
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