Psalm 50 has some very helpful insights for pilgrims who are hungry to pursue the journey of thanksgiving. God says that, although He doesn’t need sacrifices of bulls and goats because all the world is His and He has all he needs, He doesn’t rebuke them for their sacrifices and burnt offerings that are ever before Him (verses 7 -13). However God does go on to invite them to “sacrifice thank offerings to God.” (verse 14) It seems to me that the Lord is reminding His people that, although He owns the world, and has everything He needs, He loves to receive the sacrifice of thanksgiving.
The Lord is delighted every time one of His children thanks Him for something. It is just so important for us not to downplay how much our thanks means to the Lord. Has saying ‘grace’ before a meal become routine? Well a good antidote to that is to cultivate the attitude of gratitude in ourselves, and to practice not taking things for granted and, importantly, also to remember how thrilled the Lord is when we thank Him for every gift He gives us, including the Lasagne we had for tea today.
More than that, these verses (14-15)also tell us that the Lord recognises that thanksgiving in challenging circumstances costs us something. He both understands that it is not always easy to say ‘thank you’, and it thrills Him when we decide to do so. In 1 Chronicles 21:24 David says “I will not…sacrifice a burnt offering that costs me nothing”. I think that that heart attitude is something that delights the Lord, just as it would in our human relationships.
Furthermore – we said this was a little goldmine for thanksgiving pilgrims like us – verse 15 says, (continuing the sentence started in verse 14) “and call upon me in the day of trouble, I will deliver you and you will honour me”. This sounds like a cycle of blessing: as we offer a sacrifice of thanksgiving in today’s challenging circumstance and we call for His help, the Lord says He will respond and come to deliver us. This then gives rise to more thanksgiving, “you will honour me.” It reminds us of the New Testament mix in Philippians 4:7 “In everything by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God”.
And just in case we haven’t got the message yet, the psalmist and the Holy Spirit come back to remind us in the last verse (23) of Psalm 50 “He who sacrifices thank offerings honours me, and he prepares the way so that I may show him the salvation of God” (NIV). What a beautiful thought that we can honour God, the almighty, awesome, all sufficient one, who needs nothing, with our ‘simple’ sacrifices of praise. Let’s ask the Holy Spirit, our God given helper alongside, to help us to do that in the midst of our challenges.
If you prefer the AV translation of Psalm 50 verse 23 it says, ‘Whoso offereth praise glorifieth Me, and to him that ordereth his conversation aright will I show the salvation of God.’ What comes out of my mouth in praise and thanksgiving is so important, in addition to what I do and how I live: ‘And to him who orders his conduct aright, I will show the salvation of God’ (NKJV)
As well as honouring the Lord in how we live, offering our thanksgiving does something in us, it’s a way of preparing ourselves to see more of the salvation and deliverances that are our super generous, loving , kind, giving God (“you can’t out give God”) has brought, and wants to go on bringing, into our hearts, lives, experience and circumstances.