1 It is a good thing to give thanks unto the LORD, and to sing praises unto Thy name, O Most High.
2 To shew forth thy lovingkindness in the morning, and thy faithfulness every night,
3 Upon an instrument of ten strings, and upon the psaltery; upon the harp with a solemn sound.
4 For thou, LORD, hast made me glad through thy work: I will triumph in the works of thy hands.
5 O LORD, how great are thy works! and thy thoughts are very deep.
6 A brutish man knoweth not; neither doth a fool understand this.
7 When the wicked spring as the grass, and when all the workers of iniquity do flourish; it is that they shall be destroyed for ever:
8 But thou, LORD, art most high for evermore.
9 For, lo, thine enemies, O LORD, for, lo, thine enemies shall perish; all the workers of iniquity shall be scattered.
10 But my horn shalt thou exalt like the horn of an unicorn: I shall be anointed with fresh oil.
11 Mine eye also shall see my desire on mine enemies, and mine ears shall hear my desire of the wicked that rise up against me.
12 The righteous shall flourish like the palm tree: he shall grow like a cedar in Lebanon.
13 Those that be planted in the house of the LORD shall flourish in the courts of our God.
14 They shall still bring forth fruit in old age; they shall be fat and flourishing;
15 To shew that the LORD is upright: he is my rock, and there is no unrighteousness in him.
We have seen God’s works, and we rejoice in them.
We are glad. This is a psalm of great rejoicing over the works of God’s hands. It is exactly the sentiment that we ought to feel when we sing hymns like “Great Is Thy Faithfulness.” Feelings of gratitude should warm our hearts in sincere appreciation for every one of God’s spiritual and physical blessings. As we consider how God has blessed us with children or grandchildren, food on our tables, happy, peaceful homes, and a church body that loves one another and feeds the orphans, we ought to look up to heaven with a huge smile upon our faces and say, “Thank you, God!”
This psalm also includes a second form of rejoicing, which we engage in when we see that justice is done and the wicked receive their just deserts. We rest in the fact that things will always work out well for the righteous and for the cause of righteousness. Every evil work will be justly punished because God is sovereign and perfect in all of His works. This is praiseworthy!
Verses 1–5. What better thing is there to do in life than to give thanks? Giving thanks for the gift does more for the soul than receiving the gift. It is our highest delight, and it produces the most joy. Yet how many families fail to apprehend this vision for life, and so remain in a constant state of discontentment, misery, and conflict simply because they refuse to give God thanks? Maybe you have seen the spoiled child with a thousand toys. His fat little face is stuffed with candy, and all he can do is whine and pout over every little inconvenience. His foul ingratitude is torturous to those around him and a curse on his own happiness.
Joyful gratitude is the net sum, bottom line metric of the Christian life. Are you living the life of true faith? Have you received God’s good gifts of salvation? To the extent, and only to the extent, that you have realized the goodness of God in your life, you will respond in warm-hearted, grateful praise.
Gratitude should be a daily expression in the believer’s life (verse 2). If God is an everyday reality to us, and if we are beneficiaries of God’s goodness every day (which we are), then we ought to speak of His faithfulness every morning and evening. Also, God has given us a wonderful form of human expression in music and song. Whether on the Lord’s Day or any other day of the week, we can express our thanksgiving to God with songs played on harps, pianos, and other instruments. God is worthy to be praised! He has been good to us, and we ought to let that be known every day of our lives!
Verses 4 and 5 focus upon the works of God as the great motivation to praise. If you can see that all good things are from God and all bad things work together for good to those who love God, then you will see all things as the work of God’s good hand.
Verses 6–11. Again, the psalmist raises the all-important antithesis between the wicked and the righteous in these verses. Might the works of these evil men contravene the goodness of God and frustrate His purposes? Not at all. The wicked actually fit nicely into the eternal purposes of God. Even their momentary access to power only increases the magnitude of their fall, and in the end God is glorified in it all. While the wicked wilt and die like the grass, God is still in the heavens. The important thing is that nothing will detract from God’s glory, and His praise will resound through the heavens for eternity.
It is also important to remember that God will utterly overwhelm His enemies, and Christ is ruling right now until He brings all His enemies under His footstool. But He will overcome our enemies as well. This is the thrust of verses 10 and 11. You may remember from Psalm 75 that the exaltation of the horn is an age-old military practice in which the conquering army blows a triumphant blast through a horn that echoes down the valleys and over the plains. This signifies to everybody in the vicinity that the conquerors have secured the upper hand in the battle. You will not properly relate to this imagery unless you see the life you live as a great battle and recognize the ever-present reality of enemies in your life.
While it is the business of Christians to “do good to those who despitefully use” them, this does not mean that these enemies are given free license to oppress the people of God indefinitely. One day, God will bring these enemies down and execute His vengeance on them. In doing good to our enemies, we are not justifying their behavior, nor are we minimizing the wickedness of their oppression. Nor are we in any way mitigating any of our desires that they cease and desist from their persecuting ways. Yet we have no business taking revenge on those who do us wrong. We still have great confidence in the absolute sovereignty and justice of God; He will exercise perfect justice, whether at the cross of Christ or in the fires of hell forever.
Verses 12–15. Inexorably, the wicked will make their way to their final ruin. Their empires will crumble and their accomplishments will fade away. But, throughout the generations and into eternity, God will bless the righteous. He will bless their lands with life and peace, freedom and prosperity. He will sanctify their lives by His Spirit. He will bless their families with many godly children and grandchildren. Set a godly people next to an ungodly people, and immediately you will see a vast contrast. While the ungodly are steeped in sin, fornication, illegitimate births, sexually transmitted diseases, conflicts, divorce, pride, massive debt, government tyranny, and the like, the godly are blessed with joyful families, stable communities, freedom, humility, peace, and righteousness. The differences are sharp and marked.
There is nothing more beautiful than finding an elderly man or woman who is still soft to the Word of God and continues to grow in faith, love and joy. These sweet people provide an especially sharp contrast with the more typical elderly folk who just grow more bitter, ungrateful, and hopeless with age. The wicked will approach death with anger and fear, but there are many professing believers as well who in their later years seem to reach a plateau in their Christian walk and cease to grow in love and knowledge of God. They are not willing any more to repent of their sins or humble themselves before God. However, this is not the case with the blessed man of verse 14! This blessed man is one who continues to bear fruit in his old age. This old saint retains a robust health. He is “fat and flourishing” in his soul despite the inevitable process of decay that consumes his body with age. Even as death is attacking his body at the end of his earthly existence, life continues to fill his soul!
The psalm ends with a contemplation of the God Who is behind all of this. He will judge the earth because He is the Judge of perfect justice, and He will save His people because He is the Rock of their salvation.
An “attitude of gratitude” must pervade the Christian life. Our prayers, conversations, and songs should be filled with gratefulness to God for the good things that He has done. If a day goes by in which we have not felt warm sentiments of gratitude, we have failed to catch the vision of this psalm. Moreover, if we fail to see God’s hand working in the minute details of our lives, chances are that we will not be able to lift our voices in praise of God’s works.
Let us be thankful for everything, whether it is large or small, consequential or inconsequential. Praise God for the gift of Christ Who saves us from hell! Give Him thanks for the gift of fingernails that are good for an occasional back scratch. Whether it is the blessing of a juicy strawberry that God appointed for our enjoyment or the challenge of a flat tire on the freeway, let us learn to respond to all things with gratitude. As a family, we must cast the worrisome, discontented, grumbling life aside and embrace this life of gratitude!
Our worship must include thanksgiving for God’s works. Even in our prayers, as we bring our petitions before the Lord, we must not forget to include an offering of thanksgiving (Phil. 4:6).
1. Why is thanksgiving important for the believer?
2. What are the things that warm the heart of the psalmist to gratitude in this psalm?
3. What is one good way to express warm gratitude to God?
4. Why does God empower the wicked?
5. What does it mean to “lift up the horn”?
6. Who must exercise judgment on our enemies?
7. What does it mean for an elderly person to be “fruitful, fat and healthy?”
8. Give another example of a Thanksgiving Psalm.
1. Are we a thankful family? Is thanksgiving a regular practice in our home? How often do we give thanks?
2. Quickly, let us list fifty things for which we are very thankful.
Suggested Activity: Consider having each family member pray a prayer of thanksgiving for at least one of God’s blessings. In these prayers, do not ask God for anything. Simply praise Him for His goodness.