Offering gratitude seems to be inherent in the word “Thanksgiving.” However, the modern American Thanksgiving holiday sometimes causes people to become exhausted and anything but grateful. While America has been participating in this holiday for a couple of hundred years, which focuses on the blessings of the nation, food, football, and family, the Bible has a long history of gratitude toward the Lord.
Numerous books of the Bible include statements about being thankful, but one of the main places that gratitude is highlighted is in the Book of Psalms. In fact, there is an entire category or type of psalm called the thanksgiving psalms, which focus on giving thanks to the Lord.
During the Thanksgiving holiday season, believers can change their perspective from focusing on the preparations, awkward family dynamics, and shopping frenzy to instead focusing on the Lord by studying the Book of Psalms, specifically the ones that focus on giving thanks.
In this way, the emphasis will not be on worrying about conversations with extended family, roasting the turkey, or rushing through the meal to go shopping and snag early Black Friday deals.
Rather, believers can deliberately choose to take advantage of a day that emphasizes gratitude by offering thanks and praise to the Lord for all He has done and all they are blessed to have received.
Give Thanks to the Lord
Scripture encourages believers to give thanks in all circumstances (1 Thessalonians 5:18). This is not because all circumstances in life are easy or enjoyable, but because God is faithful and present in every circumstance.
The Psalms remind believers of the enduring love of the Lord (Psalm 100:5), which should naturally compel His followers to praise Him. As Psalm 118:1 declares, “Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever” (NIV).
As a psalm of thanksgiving, Psalm 118 describes how God rescued the psalmist and his consequent offering of praise. He rejoiced and proclaimed, “You are my God, and I will praise you; you are my God, and I will exalt you” (Psalm 118:28, NIV).
Another psalm that focuses on offering praises of thanksgiving to the Lord is Psalm 9. Written by David, he recognized that God was the ultimate ruler of the world and that the Lord would protect and help him (Psalm 9:7-10).
Even amidst the trouble from his enemies, David still praised God and trusted Him. As is written in Psalm 9:1-2, “I will give thanks to you, Lord, with all my heart; I will tell of all your wonderful deeds. I will be glad and rejoice in you; I will sing the praises of your name, O Most High” (NIV).
Despite the circumstances that surround His followers, God is worthy of thanks and praise because He is the Lord.
During the Thanksgiving season, believers can offer their own praises of thanksgiving to the Lord, echoing the words of the Psalms. Even if certain circumstances in life leave them feeling drained and helpless, Christians can always give thanks because the Lord is their God and Savior.
Like the psalmist, they can declare, “The LORD is my strength and my song, and He has become my salvation” (Psalm 118:14, NIV). Being thankful for knowing God is a wonderful way to refocus one’s perspective during the Thanksgiving season.
His Wonderful Deeds
Another way the Psalms can change a person’s perspective is because these songs often emphasize remembering what God has done in the past. As Psalm 107:31 says, “Let them give thanks to the LORD for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for mankind” (NIV).
When reading through Psalm 107, one will observe that the psalmist repeatedly mentions God’s deeds and wonders that He has done for man (Psalm 107:8, 15). Clearly, not only is God worthy of thanksgiving, but His deeds toward mankind are as well.
Throughout the Old Testament, the Israelites were encouraged to remember what God had done for them. Multiple Psalms reiterate this sentiment recounting what the Lord had accomplished in the past in the lives of the Israelites.
One of the examples of a psalm that recounts God’s working in Israel’s history is Psalm 78. Covering the events of the Exodus to Israel’s wandering in the desert and His establishment of David as king, Asaph poetically depicts how God was working among His chosen people (Psalm 78:12-16, 38-40, 52, 70-72).
Like the Israelites, Christians can also take time to remember what the Lord has done for them. Inspired by Psalm 78, believers can reflect on how Jesus saved them from their former life enslaved to sin and gave them a new life and identity in Him.
Remembering and thanking Christ for what He has done can radically shift a person’s perspective during Thanksgiving and renew hope. After all, God has provided salvation (John 3:16), eternal life (John 10:28), and a close relationship (John 17:3), which is more than enough reason to praise Him.
A Harvest of Blessings
Another way the Book of Psalms can refocus one’s perspective during Thanksgiving is by reminding believers of God’s provision. He has provided sunlight and rain to produce harvests around the world for mankind (Matthew 5:45; Psalm 67:6).
In Psalm 65, this truth is vividly described in poetic language by David. As is included in this psalm, “You care for the land and water it; You enrich it abundantly. The streams of God are filled with water to provide the people with grain, for so you have ordained it” (Psalm 65:9, NIV).
Like a beautiful picture of a bountiful harvest, Psalm 65 can prompt believers to praise God and give thanks for the food they have been given.
In addition to being blessed with food and daily provision, God has also provided believers with rich spiritual blessings. Many psalms discuss the Lord meeting the spiritual needs of people. For instance, God is described as setting the lonely in families and setting prisoners free (Psalm 68:6).
He is said to be near the brokenhearted (Psalm 34:18) and cares for His followers as a Shepherd cares for His sheep (Psalm 23:1-4). Furthermore, the Lord stays even if a person has been forsaken by loved ones (Psalm 27:10; Matthew 10:21-22; 2 Timothy 4:16-17).
Believers can be reminded of the wonderful truth that God is with them and meets their deepest longings when they study the Psalms and use them in praising Him.
Oftentimes, people can take simple provisions for granted, such as daily food, clothing, and shelter. Even the spiritual riches of knowing Christ can be taken for granted and overlooked in the Christian walk.
However, intentionally praising God for what He has provided can cultivate a spirit of gratitude. As 1 Timothy 6:8 says, “So if we have enough food and clothing, let us be content” (NLT).
By reading the Psalms, Christians in America can see how blessed they are and understand that there are many people around the world who do not have the same resources and provision. Many people live in both physical and spiritual poverty, starving and in need of Jesus.
Believers would be wise to remember this truth and consider the poor (Psalm 41:1; 82:3-4). Not only will such reflection shift one’s focus but can also cause them to develop a heart to help others and make Jesus known among those who are lost and suffering.
Focusing on Jesus
Therefore, when the Thanksgiving holiday preparations and activities become stressful and chaotic, believers can refresh their perspective by studying the Psalms. Through reading and even singing these biblical songs that offer gratitude and praise to God, Christians can develop a clearer vision of Jesus and His work in their lives.
The Lord has worked wonders in the past and has provided the gift of salvation for mankind. Not only has He given spiritual riches to those who believe, but He has also given Himself. God deserves praise and thanks, especially on a holiday that is supposed to be centered on gratitude. May He be forever praised.
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Sophia Bricker is a freelance writer who enjoys researching and writing articles on biblical and theological topics. In addition to contributing articles about biblical questions as a contract writer, she has also written for Unlocked devotional. Holding a Bachelor of Arts in Ministry and currently pursuing a Master of Arts in Ministry, she is passionate about the Bible and her faith in Jesus. When she isn’t busy studying or writing, Sophia enjoys spending time with family, reading, drawing, and gardening.