The Psalmist’s Guide to Expressing Thanks – Psalm 107 [Totally Hip Gratitude]

Psalm 107 Bible with Endangered Species 72 percent Dark Chocolate with Cacao Nibs
It’s chocolate from Endangered Species. Appropriate Zebra Plate is appropriate.

Today’s Chocolate: Endangered Species 72% Dark Chocolate with Cacao Nibs

Today’s Passage: Psalm 107

It’s another Gratitude Day around here. I chose Psalm 107 for today’s passage because, while most of the psalms that contain some version of the word “thanks” contain it only once, Psalm 107 contains it six: in verses 1, 8, 15, 21, 22, and 31. Let’s type some words about that word and the words around it.

And in each instance, most of the words around it are the same words as in the other instances. The first verse is a common pair of lines in various psalms: “Oh give thanks to the Lord, for He is good, for His lovingkindness is everlasting” (1). It only appears once in this psalm, but if you flip forward about twenty psalms, Psalm 136 is basically full-time, full-tilt, full-stop dedicated to the phrase “For His lovingkindness is everlasting.” That’s probably an indication that I should take this series on a trip into Psalm 136 before I move on from Gratitude in the Psalms. But suffice it to say that this psalm begins in the tradition of thanking God because of his goodness and the everlastingness of his lovingkindness.

The psalm begins by copying a couplet about thanksgiving from other psalms, but as it progresses, it creates its own couplets about thanksgiving–and then copies them. Four times throughout the psalm, we see the verse “Let them give thanks to the Lord for His lovingkindness, and for His wonders to the sons of men!” (8, 15, 21, and 31). As always, when you thank, you thank a person for a thing; here the person is the Lord, and the things are his lovingkindness and his wonders to the sons of men. God performs wonders to the sons of men! He gives us human beings his wonders, and it’s good for us to give him thanks in return. The wonders are a gift; receipt of them is not contingent upon our thankfulness for them. But it’s still good to give thanks.

Verse 21’s instance of this repeated statement has another Thanksgiving Verse accompanying it. The very next verse reads, “Let them also offer sacrifices of thanksgiving, and tell of His works with joyful singing” (22). Sometimes you give thanks with your words. Sometimes you give thanks with sacrifices! Except that “sacrifice” here refers specifically to slaughtering an animal for sacrifice. You, a modern person, probably don’t own any sacrificial animals, and sacrifice means nothing to God anyway unless it’s motivated by fidelity and love, and moreover Jesus Christ eliminated the symbolic need for ritual animal sacrifices. So if you are giving thanks by sacrificing, it probably isn’t animals. It may not even be physical things! Maybe you’re giving up an activity! You know what’s great to sacrifice? Bad habits. When you sacrifice a bad habit to thank God for his goodness to you, you not only show gratitude, you also get rid of a bad habit. And then you can thank God for giving you the strength to get rid of your bad habit. Truly, there is no end to the gratitude.

As the verse notes, sometimes you also give thanks by giving your words notes: musical notes. Sometimes you sing your thanks! For example, if you were an ancient Israelite, you might sing Psalm 107.

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