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HOW DO WE SAY “THANKS”?

HOW DO WE SAY “THANKS”?

“What shall I return to the LORD for all his bounty to me? I will lift
up the cup of salvation and call on the name of the LORD,
I will pay my vows to the LORD in the presence of all his people.
Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his faithful ones.
O LORD, I am your servant; I am your servant, the child of your
serving-maid. You have loosed my bonds. I will offer to you a
thanksgiving sacrifice and call on the name of the LORD.
I will pay my vows to the LORD in the presence of all his people,
in the courts of the house of the LORD, in your midst, O Jerusalem.
Praise the LORD!

Psalm 116:12-19

How can I best say “Thank You” to God this Thanksgiving?  What can I do to put “giving” into “Thanksgiving”?   What can I possibly give to the God who has everything?  That’s the question the psalmist ponders in today’s text.  It’s a great question to take with us into this Thanksgiving week: “What shall I return to the LORD for all his bounty to me?”

In wondering how to best say “Thank You” to God I am often reminded of a story my Hebrew professor, Ron Allen, told about a friend who was a medical missionary in India.   His friend served as an ophthalmologist where blindness was endemic to a particular area of the country.  As thousands were losing their eyesight, the doctor developed a procedure to cure their blindness. 

People with restored eyesight would leave the doctor’s clinic exuberant and thankful because they were suddenly able to see.  But the words for saying “Thank you” were not in their dialect.  Rather, they would joyfully say to the doctor, “I will tell of your name!” 

That story means a lot to me this week; it goes straight to the heart of Biblical thanksgiving.  We best say “Thank You” to God by telling others of His name, or what He has done for us!  Just like the people in that part of India, the ancient Hebrews did not have “Thank you” in their lexicon.  They also expressed their thanks by saying, “I will tell of your name!”

In today’s Scripture the “thanksgiving sacrifice” (Hebrew: todah) is literally an “acknowledgement sacrifice”.   This means that the worshipper would “acknowledge” to others what God had done.   Others would be told the good news!  So the psalmist acknowledges, “You have loosed my bonds. I will offer to you a thanksgiving sacrifice and call on the name of the LORD.”

The psalmist began today’s text wondering what he can possibly give to God in thanksgiving; quick comes his answer: “I will lift the cup of salvation and call on the name of the LORD.  The cup lifted refers to the libation raised at the acknowledgement sacrifice and the meal consumed from it (Exodus 29:40; Numbers 28:7).  He will lift the cup to God and tell of His name!

Whether it was the Thanksgiving celebrated at St. Augustine in 1565, Jamestown in 1610, or the Plymouth Plantation in 1621, people have felt compelled to throw a feast and tell others of His name!  So whether we feast on a turkey, ham, prime rib, or tofurkey, let’s eat, drink, be merry, and tell others what God has done!  Let’s put the thanks with the giving!

Happy Thanksgiving!
Tim

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