Psalm 92 - It is good to give thanks
A Psalm. A Song for the Sabbath Day.
1) It is good to give thanks to the Lord,
to sing praises to your name, O Most High;
2) to declare your steadfast love in the morning,
and your faithfulness by night,
3) to the music of the lute and the harp,
to the melody of the lyre.
4) For you, O Lord, have made me glad by your work;
at the works of your hands I sing for joy.
5) How great are your works, O Lord!
Your thoughts are very deep!
6) The dullard cannot know,
the stupid cannot understand this:
7) though the wicked sprout like grass
and all evildoers flourish,
they are doomed to destruction forever,
8) but you, O Lord, are on high forever.
9) For your enemies, O Lord,
for your enemies shall perish;
all evildoers shall be scattered.
10) But you have exalted my horn like that of the wild ox;
you have poured over me fresh oil.
11) My eyes have seen the downfall of my enemies;
my ears have heard the doom of my evil assailants.
12) The righteous flourish like the palm tree,
and grow like a cedar in Lebanon.
13) They are planted in the house of the Lord;
they flourish in the courts of our God.
14) In old age they still produce fruit;
they are always green and full of sap,
15) showing that the Lord is upright;
he is my rock, and there is no unrighteousness in him.
Psalm 97 (NRSV*)
7th Sunday of Easter, Year C
Transfiguration, August 6 (Old observance)
It is good to give thanks.
Giving thanks implies there is something to be thankful for, and that is good. And the act of giving thanks, and the attitude of thanksgiving are also good. The make us feel good. And there is ample evidence that we receive some tangible benefits just from being thankful.
This psalm presents specific things that anyone should be thankful for if they came to pass. Their enemies have been routed. I think it is safe to assume that the flourishing of the righteous is a personal reference. We hope to flourish, and to produce abundantly. No doubt one planted in the house of the Lord is well-nourished, and well-tended.
Of course, the psalm is not talking about thankfulness generally, but giving thanks to the Lord. This is an extraordinary relationship and a different quality of thanks. "You, O Lord, have made me glad by your work." With God, we can recognize thankfulness for our very life. For the goodness of the earth. For the blessings of others in our life. For God's actions in the world, and for the love and rock-solid faithfulness which in God's very being. Thank you, Lord!
The Apostle Paul, of a life rooted in faith in the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, advises his brothers and sisters in Thessalonika to "give thanks in all circumstances," saying further that this is the will of God (1 Thessalonians 5:18). I am thankful to a Church of the Brethren preacher in Western Pennsylvania, whose name I have forgotten if I ever learned it, who pointed out that this counsel is not to be thankful for everything. We needn't be grateful for persecution or cancer or any of the many things which afflict us and we might justly see as evil.
Rather, in any circumstance, we might find something to be thankful for. And this ability, this spiritual gift to be thankful, is something that can sustain and strengthen us.
"You, O Lord, have made me glad by your work; at the works of your hands I sing for joy!" The psalmist here has many reasons to sing thanks. Not the least of which is that he or she is able to behold the glory of God moving throughout the world.
The psalm's superscription commends this as "a song for the Sabbath Day." It may be that we can hear an echo of this prayer in that common workplace expression, "Thank God, it's Friday." We give thanks for the Sabbaths in our life, for rest and re-creation, for time to simply be and not to do. And in these moments, it is especially appropriate to walk with a thankful heart. The peace of Sabbath to you - Shabbat shalom. It is good to give thanks to the Lord, to sing praises to God's holy name.
Author unknown, Grateful for Being. Public domain (CC BY 1.0).
* New Revised Standard Version Bible (NRSV), copyright © 1989 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.