Special Note: This article is included in Jim’s book “An Attitude of Thankfulness” along with 19 other articles and is available for purchase in Paperback and eBook formats at this link: Jim’s Books
I was having trouble falling asleep recently and in my uncomfortable state a verse of scripture came to my mind like a bolt of lightning … “O give thanks unto the Lord, for He is good; His mercy endureth forever.” I lay there repeating the verse to myself several times. I was gradually convicted that all of my recent focus on the USA Presidential election had blinded me to what is really important in my life right now. I have so much for which to be thankful: my personal faith in the one and only triumvirate Almighty God, my wife, my children and grandchildren, and in May 2013 my great-grandchild, my extended family, my church, a happy life in a free country full of opportunity, my health, my material blessings, even my trials and temptations … an endless list!
Rather than be elated or disappointed with the results of the election, I realized that my heart, mind and actions should be bathed with An Attitude of Thankfulness for Almighty God … especially for His merciful, enduring, and steadfast love and protection for me and my family. I knew the verse was located in Psalms, but I could not remember which Psalm. So, I got out of bed and spent about thirty minutes finding and reading the scripture, Psalm 136, that had jolted me back to reality. Since I was wide awake by then, I decided to record some of my thoughts for later review and contemplation.
Since the Thanksgiving season is approaching I decided to expand on those thoughts and share them through this article trusting it will encourage you as much as it has me.
Psalm 136: 1-26 (KJV) – According to Wikipedia this Psalm is very important to the Jews. It is often called “The Great Hallel” and recited at the Passover meal after the “The Lesser Hallel” (Psalm 113-118). “It is punctuated by the refrain (for His mercy endureth for ever) that emphasizes God’s loving-kindness is everlasting. There is mention in some references that this Psalm may also be used antiphonally (answering responsively) in Temple worship.” For the purpose of this article lets break down Psalm 136 into three parts and look at it from the viewpoint of a Christian.
I. Verses 1-9: Be thankful and offer praise to God as Creator – As Creator God fashioned out of nothing the heavens and earth and stretched out His hand over the water and separated the dry lands from the water. He created the sun, the moon and the stars and all else in our Universe and beyond. Genesis 1:31 records “And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good. And the evening and the morning were the sixth day.” God’s creation is good … just as He is good. Lest we forget to be thankful and praise Him as Creator, the Psalmist reminds us in each verse of the Psalm that “His mercy (loving-kindness, love, charity) endureth for ever.” God will extend His mercy to all who seek Him. I am thankful to God and offer my Praise to Him as Creator.O give thanks unto the Lord; for He is good: for His mercy endureth for ever. O give thanks unto the God of gods: for His mercy endureth for ever. O give thanks to the Lord of lords: for His mercy endureth for ever. To Him who alone doeth great wonders: for His mercy endureth for ever. To Him that by wisdom made the heavens: for His mercy endureth for ever. To Him that stretched out the earth above the waters: for His mercy endureth for ever. To Him that made great lights: for His mercy endureth for ever: The sun to rule by day: for His mercy endureth for ever: The moon and stars to rule by night: for His mercy endureth for ever.
II. Verses 10-22: Be thankful and offer praise to God as Israel’s (and our) God and Savior. God demonstrated His mercy to us by delivering Israel from Egypt to the Promised Land. He was long-suffering and His mercy endured as Israel wavered back and forth in serving Him. God delivers us from the penalty of sin to redemption by accepting Jesus Christ to be our Savior. “His mercy endureth for ever” for all who accept Him. I am thankful to God and offer my Praise to Him because He is my God and Savior.To Him that smote Egypt in their firstborn: for His mercy endureth for ever: And brought out Israel from among them: for His mercy endureth for ever: With a strong hand, and with a stretched out arm: for His mercy endureth for ever. To Him which divided the Red sea into parts: for His mercy endureth for ever: And made Israel to pass through the midst of it: for His mercy endureth for ever: But overthrew Pharaoh and his host in the Red sea: for His mercy endureth for ever. To him which led His people through the wilderness: for His mercy endureth for ever. To Him which smote great kings: for His mercy endureth for ever: And slew famous kings: for His mercy endureth for ever: Sihon king of the Amorites: for His mercy endureth for ever: And Og the king of Bashan: for His mercy endureth for ever: And gave their land for an heritage: for His mercy endureth for ever: Even an heritage unto Israel his servant: for His mercy endureth for ever.
III. Verses 23-26: Be thankful and offer praise to God for His blessings. God is THE source for ALL of our blessings. He has delivered us from our enemies and Satan. He “remembered us in our low estate” of sin and blessed us with the coming and saving power of Jesus. He has put us in a position of stewardship over His possessions. He is THE provider for all of our needs giving us food, water, shelter, work, protection and everything else that is required. He owns it ALL and promises to provide for us both here on earth and for ever with Him in Heaven. I am thankful to God and offer my Praise to Him because of His blessings.Who remembered us in our low estate: for His mercy endureth for ever: And hath redeemed us from our enemies: for His mercy endureth for ever. Who giveth food to all flesh: for His mercy endureth for ever. O give thanks unto the God of heaven: for His mercy endureth for ever.
Without a doubt the repetition of the phrase “for his mercy endureth for ever” by the writer (likely King David) of Psalm 136 was so thankful for God’s mercy and the promise that it would endure for ever! What An Attitude of Thankfulness!
I learned in one of our Wednesday night Bible studies taught by my Pastor, Dr. Keith Pisani, more than three years ago that the Hebrew word translated as “mercy” in the English language versions of the Old Testament such as the King James Version (KJV) is “chesed” (חסד). Chesed is also translated as “loving-kindness,” “love,” and “compassion.” In the New Testament translations, chesed is understood to be linked with the Greek word “agape,” usually translated as “love” and “charity.” The English Standard Version (ESV) of the Bible translates chesed as “steadfast love” in Psalm 136. The New International Version simply uses “love” to translate chesed. God’s love for us endures for ever. I am still studying on this and will write an article later … perhaps more than one.
I can’t get any deeper than that on chesed as I am neither a Hebrew nor Greek scholar. For that matter, I am not an English scholar or a Bible scholar either. So let’s settle on “mercy” as our translation for the purpose of this article.
Reverend Dean Doster served as regional coordinator for Home Mission Board (now North American Mission Board) centered in Atlanta, Georgia for thirteen years during the 1980’s and 1990’s. Later Dean served as the Executive Director of the Louisiana Baptist Convention for eight years from 1998 – 2005. Previously Dean served as a regional coordinator for the Home Mission Board (now North American Mission Board) and as an associate executive director of the Tennessee Baptist Children’s Home. He served as Pastor of several churches in Tennessee and Kentucky after being ordained to the ministry in 1973. He earned degrees from Bethel College in McKenzie, Tennessee, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky, and Trinity Theological Seminary in Newburg, Indiana. Dean’s degree was in expository preaching and there is no question that he is a soul winner and a great communicator both from the pulpit and one-on-one.
While serving as Interim Pastor at Pine Lake Baptist Church in Stone Mountain, Georgia, I was privileged to hear Dean preach an extended series of sermons on “attitude.” That series had such an impact on my life. My wife will attest to that today as she questions my attitude by reminding me of Dean’s teaching. Dean’s personal attitude was such a tremendous asset to his ministry. He always had a smile and a word of encouragement. Dean helped me to realize that attitude is like an infectious disease. If you have a lousy or negative attitude all of the time, then those around you seem to catch the “virus” and also have lousy attitudes. If you have a thankful and joyful attitude, the same holds true. Christians have no reason to possess a negative attitude. After all, Jesus Christ paid the price for our sinfulness and we are guaranteed to spend an eternity with Him in Heaven. Christians should exhibit the attitude of a servant (a good topic for later). The life of Jesus provides us the model for the Christian’s “servanthood.”
As I grow older and reflect back on my life as a Christian, I can surely say that going about my daily life with in An Attitude of Thankfulness boosts my morale and better allows me to accomplish God’s purpose for my life. It makes me happy and keeps me focused on the right things.
What about you? How is your attitude? Is it one of thankfulness? If not, will you change? God’s “chesed” (loving-kindness, steadfast love, compassion) is Boundless Love!
Links for additional study and reflection:
Related Articles by Jim Davenport
- Thank You Lord for Saving My Soul
- Thank You Lord for Saving My Soul – Update
- Blessings in Disguise – a Thanksgiving Devotional
- How to Become a Christian
- An Anchor in the Time of the Storm
- A Summary of All of Jim Davenport’s Articles
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