If you are a Christian, praise is not optional. The spirit of thanksgiving and the habit of thankfulness are to be part of what set you apart from the unbelieving world. For the believer in Jesus Christ, thanksgiving is not merely the focus of one day—as it is here in the United States—but it is to be a continual habit. In Psalm 30, David, the songwriter and king of Israel, resolves to thank God forever. The book of Psalms is the Hebrew hymn book, which was inspired by the Holy Spirit—as is all of Scripture.
Open your Bible to Psalm 30. Take a few minutes to read it and then walk through it with me.
Psalm 30 is one of the Thanksgiving Psalms which was sung at the dedication of the temple built by his son, Solomon. Here, David lifts up the Lord as the one who is worthy of praise. He resolves to give thanks to God forever, and his example encourages us to determine in our hearts to be people who are always thankful. He gives us four reasons.
Give thanks to God because He gives help when you are in danger (vv. 1-3).
“I will extol” the Lord, David says. The word extol is from the word meaning “to be high, exalted.” David is lifting God up in praise because it was God who lifted him out of all his trouble. “You have drawn me up and have not let my foes rejoice over me.” The Lord had drawn up David, as one is drawn from a well. He drew me up from the pit of destruction, out of the miry bog, and set my feet upon a rock, making my steps secure (Ps 40:2).
As the chosen leader of Israel, David encountered many trials and tribulations. At times, his enemies overtook him, overwhelmed him, and appeared to have destroyed him for good. But God was with David. God had a plan. David was a great sinner like you and I, but in the end, David was vindicated as a man after God’s own heart. In the end, his foes were not able to rejoice over his destruction.
Why? Because God lifted him up.
The inner pain of his suffering is honestly revealed in verse 2. “I cried to you for help…and you have healed me.” It’s interesting to me that when most Christians speak of healing their minds are solely fixed upon the human body—as if the focus and attention of our lives is on this temporary dwelling place. As if we are promised good health in this fallen world. As if that is to be our utmost concern. However, there are other kinds of healing. There is a healing of spirit and soul which usually takes much longer than any of us realize. If you have ever been through a time of severe conflict, or have been personally attacked by hateful people—especially other Christians—you may find that the inner wounds take longer to heal than you had expected.
And yet, David speaks of God’s faithfulness even in this realm, too. Look at verse 3. It speaks volumes. Healing and restoration after a period of severe attack can only be fully brought about by the Lord, who is our healer. In times of danger, know this: God is your protector. Therefore, we must give thanks to God because He gives help when we are in danger.
Give thanks to God because He gives you a lifetime of favor, not anger (vv. 4-7).
“Sing praises,” David says, “O you his saints.” David calls those who trust in God to verbalize their thanksgiving. Saints are true believers, those who have been plucked from the pit of sin and given new life by the grace of God. The New Testament often designates believers as saints. The word is from hagios, meaning holy. Believers are those whom God has drawn up from the well of sin, and set apart for Himself. We are called to be holy since we are already holy (set apart) in position.
As saints, we must “give thanks to his holy name.” One significant reason God deserves our constant praise is found in verse 5. God’s anger is only for a moment and his favor is for a lifetime. You see, God’s anger is unlike ours. He is not quick-tempered, and His anger does not linger (Exodus 34:6).
God’s favor is for a lifetime. His goodwill and acceptance of us—in Christ—is forever. Ephesians 1:6 teaches us that God has accepted us in the beloved One, Christ. And Hebrews 2:11 encourages us by telling us that Jesus is not ashamed to call us his brothers and sisters. Why? Because, in Him, we are declared righteous.
Again, the psalmist’s honesty is clear: “Weeping may tarry for the night.” Strong weeping and bitter crying are part of extreme trials and tribulations. But…“Joy comes in the morning.” The more you live a life dedicated to the Lord, the more you will realize that this life is not the source of your joy. The book of Job reminds us that “man is born to trouble as the sparks fly upward.” Life in this fallen world will be filled with disappointments, even deep hurts—inner pain beyond description. But never forget this: When you know the Lord then joy will come. After your long walk through your God-appointed dark, foggy valley—when night never seems to end—there is a joy that will come in the morning.
O, suffering saint, know this. Believe this. Cling to this. One day, your sadness will turn to singing. This was a lesson David needed to learn. Previously, as verse 6 indicates, he trusted in himself, in his self-sufficiency. But God had to teach him that He alone is his mountain, his strong rock and, therefore, is worthy of praise.
Give thanks to God because He gives mercy when you are in despair (vv. 8-10).
Take a moment to read verses 8-10 again. In his moment of despair, David admitted that he needed a fresh supply of God’s mercy. When David sinned by counting the people it revealed that his faith was in his military strength, not in God. Therefore, Gad, the prophet, announced God’s judgment. In response, David said to Gad,
“I am in great distress. Let us now fall into the hand of the LORD for His mercies are great, but do not let me fall into the hand of man” (2 Sam. 24:14). David knew that mercy only comes from God, ultimately. If you are in despair, don’t look to men for mercy. They will always disappoint you. Look to Jesus who is abundant in mercy. Remember the promise of Hebrews 4:15-16.
Give thanks to God because He gives you joy that surpasses grief (vv. 11-12).
Read (slowly) verses 11-12. It is God, and God alone, who is able to remove your garments of grief and sorrow and give you gladness in exchange. For a similar assurance, read Psalm 69:10-13.
Why has God done this for David? Why did God give him joy that surpassed his grief? So that, David said, “my glory (my soul) may sing praise your praise and not be silent.” God delights in our praise, and to generate that praise He walks with us through long, dark valleys of suffering in order to produce the kind of thankful hearts that bring Him pleasure. In Christ, there is a joy that surpasses all the griefs we have to endure in this life (Romans 8:18).
Look at the final sentence of Psalm 30. O Lord my God, I will give thanks to you forever! Is this the resolution of your heart? Praise is not an option for the Christian. The spirit of thanksgiving and the habit of thankfulness are to be habitual in our lives.
This post is adapted from last Sunday’s sermon, Give Thanks to God Forever.