The Rhythm of Thanks
This devotional is meant as a companion to Psalm 136. We recommend having your Bible open on Psalm 136 as you read today’s post.
I remember the first time I read Psalm 136 in a congregational setting, I was a teenager. The pastor asked everybody to open their Bibles, to follow along and to recite in unison every other line. It was the same line over and over, “His love endures forever.” It wasn’t the first time I had seen a call and response, though normally call and response time included a lot more shouting, screaming and demonstrative actions. What I experienced that day was more methodical. I thought it was pretty interesting, definitely out of the ordinary for our normal service practices. There was a pattern, it had a rhythm to it.
The Rhythm of Thanks
Psalm 136 is congregational in nature. It’s believed that a leader, most likely a priest, would recite the first part, and the congregation would follow with the response, “His love endures forever.” There are certain translations that use the phrase “His faithful love endures forever” because the root the of word “love” in this passage, implies loyalty – faithfulness. In that context, it reminds us of the covenantal nature of God with his people – us, under the covenant that we have established with God through Jesus.
Psalm 136 is divided in five sections that walk you through a rhythm of thanks. These five sections make a great guide, one that you can use every time you’re giving thanks to God. I hope this rhythm of thanks will be present in your prayers today.
Give Thanks Because He Is Superior In Nature (vs. 1-3)
Rest assured, God is bigger than any god; our Lord is bigger than any lord. You can give Him thanks because His greatness is evident and sufficient.
Maybe in our society people aren’t bowing down to hand-made idols, but there are all sorts of gods that have penetrated the culture. Money, power and sex are three of the most common gods that people bow to. The illusion that having those three in great measure will fulfill all your needs has been bought by far too many.
When we’re in a covenantal relationship with God though, we must declare His superiority over any other god; recognizing that we shall only bow before the one and only Lord of all, and not before empty man-made illusions.
Give Thanks Because He Is The creator (vs. 4-9)
The second part of Psalm 136 reminds us of the greatness of God’s work. Give thanks for the earth, of which He laid the foundation. Give thanks for the skies, of which He painted. Give thanks because He alone does mighty miracles. Praise Him because only He is capable of such beauty and magnificent work.
God made man according to His image. If this is true, then we also have to give Him thanks for putting in us the ability to be creative; the ability to pursue new things. Give Him thanks for the drive that He has put in you to discover new horizons.
Give Thanks Because He Cares (vs. 10-16)
The third section of this psalm would remind the Jewish people of their past deliverances. Here we see a recollection of the big events from which God delivered Israel. He delivered them time after time because He cared for them.
When we live in a covenant relationship with God, we see that he is faithful and looks to be even in the smallest of our endeavors. As the old hymn goes, “His eye is on the sparrow, He watches over me.” Give thanks to God because He cares about you; because His eye is on you.
Give Thanks Because He Conquers (vs. 17-22)
He doesn’t just care for your well-being, He conquers for you. In the same way that we see him going before the people of Israel in this section, He is warring before you. He is constantly fighting for you.
His word says that we are more than conquerors, but we can only be more than conquerors through Him. So, give thanks to God, that through Jesus we can achieve victory; only in His name!
Give Thanks Because He Provides (vs. 23-26)
The translation of verse 23 says, “He remembered,” but there’s more to it in context. He didn’t just do a mental recall of His people; remembering implies that God acted and provided supernatural strength for His people. The same strength that when we call out to Him, He is willing and able to give us.
Be confident that He can supply your every need. Give him thanks for that.
What If I Don’t Feel Like Giving Thanks?
There will be times when you don’t feel like giving thanks. There will be times when circumstances have run the course of your patience and you feel as though you are asphyxiating. May I remind you that it is when we go through the valley of the shadow of death, when we need to give him thanks the most. Maybe we don’t have to give him thanks for the valley, but we can give him thanks that He’s still there with us. God is willing to step into our mess and not leave us, even when others have.
I encourage you to call out His name with thanksgiving today; both for who He is and for what He’s done. Give thanks, because you can be confident that He is superior to all. Give thanks for the things He has created. Give thanks, because He’s willing to have a proximate covenant with you; He cares for you. Give thanks because He goes before you, conquering what you cannot conquer on your own. Give thanks because there’s no provision outside His. And when you need him, He is active to supply your need.
Enter his gates with thanksgiving;
go into his courts with praise.
Give thanks to him and praise his name. Psalm 100:4 (NLT)
Danny De los Reyes
Pastor - Communications