by Rev. Dr. Andrew Steinmann
It is not unusual for November’s television shows to include Thanksgiving holiday scenes as part of their story lines. Usually a family and friends are around a table with turkey and other popular fall festival foods.
At one point, the diners start speaking about things in their lives for which they are thankful. It is good that we are thankful for the things with which we have been blessed. We ought to acknowledge what we have and express our thanks for it. However, it is unusual for the characters on television to say to whom they are thankful.
That is not the Christian’s way of being thankful. Thanksgiving is not simply acknowledging the blessings in our lives; it is especially about acknowledging the One who has given the blessings. Thanksgiving flows from our relationship with God who loved us in Christ. When we know God’s love in the Gospel, we automatically respond with thanksgiving to God.
Read Ps. 118:14. What prompts the praise in this psalm? Why do you suppose the psalmist calls on three classes of people to praise God?
The psalmist speaks for all of God’s people about the help that God gave them. Read Ps. 118:5-13 and consider what enables the psalmist to remain calm despite overwhelming opposition.
Read Ps. 118:14-16. What event from Israel’s past brings to mind Gods salvation? What greater salvation does this event foreshadow (see Jer. 31:31-34; Heb. 8:6-13)?
Read Ps. 118:17-18. Why was God’s discipline (Ps. 118:18) a reason for praise?
What day prompts God’s people to rejoice (Ps. 118:24)?
What events in Jesus’ ministry show His coming to save His people as they say the words of Ps. 118:25-26? What is the light that God made shine on His people (Ps. 118:27; John 1:5; 2 Cor. 4:6)?
The psalm ends with words that foreshadow the coming of Jesus the Messiah, the one who comes in the name of the Lord. While we have many reasons to thank Godour lives, our family, our friends and all of our material blessingsthe ultimate reason is that God saved us in Christ Jesus and brought us into a loving relationship with Him. We may count our blessings on Thanksgiving, but we will also remember to whom we give thanks: our heavenly Father, who did not spare His own Son but sent Him to be the despised and rejected stone that became the cornerstone of His temple, the redeemed people of God (Eph. 2:19-21).
About the Author: The Rev. Dr. Andrew Steinmann is sprofessor of theology and Hebrew at Concordia University Chicago.