Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love [mercy] endures forever (Psalm 118:1)

The ultimate ground of our gratitude is not our circumstances, but God’s character. The ultimate ground of our gratitude is not our mood, but the fact that God is good. You see, it is easy for us to thank the Lord when we are in a good mood, when we feel good. It is easy to thank the Lord when we receive blessings from Him. But, according to our text, thanking God has nothing to do with what we receive from God. Give thanks to God. Why? Because He is good. Period! The fact that God is good is enough for us to thank Him regardless of our circumstances.

The Psalmist is calling us to thank the Lord for the fact that God is good. And, because God is always good, we always have a reason to thank the Lord. Even if the Lord stops pouring out His blessings on you, on your family, still you have a reason to thank Him because He remains good. However, the problem today is that even in our gratitude we tend to be man-centered.

Now, take note that the psalmist does not say, “Thank God for the many good things He has done to you or for you.” So, thanksgiving does not depend on God’s action, but on His attribute.You don’t say, “Lord I am going to thank You if You do this to me; Lord I am going to give You thanks if You answer my prayer; Lord I am going to give You thanks, I am going to praise You if You heal my sickness, if You provide for my needs.” My friend, even if the Lord does not hear you, He deserves your gratitude because He is good. His goodness is enough for us to glorify Him, to praise Him.There is song that says,

Thanks for prayers that Thou hast answered, Thanks for what Thou dost deny! Thanks for storms that I have weathered, thanks for all Thou dost supply! Thanks for pain, and thanks for pleasure, Thanks for comfort in despair! Thanks for grace that none can measure, Thanks for love beyond compare!

God is good. Let us learn this. Let us cultivate this kind of attitude, to thank the Lord. The second ground for thanking God is also found in verse one: “Give thanks [or hallelujah to Jehovah—it is a command, it is plural, everyone is commanded to do this. Why? Why thank God?] for He is good.” And then secondly, and the last, “because His love endures forever,” or, in ESV, “His steadfast love,” or in King James, “His mercy.” I like the word “mercy.” I think that is closest to the original. His mercy is everlasting.

You see, sinners, we need God’s mercy every day, every hour, every minute, every second. Why? Because we sin daily. How good it is to know, how comforting it is to know, that God’s mercy does not stop. God’s mercy is everlasting. It endures forever. God’s throne of mercy is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Any time, even in the middle of the night, you can come directly to God’s throne of grace and mercy and say, “Lord, I need Your mercy; Lord I have sinned against You; Lord please cleanse me from my sin.” We need to thank the Lord for this kind of mercy.


Note: This is a slightly edited excerpt from the Thanksgiving message, “The Ground of Our Gratitude,” delivered on November 22, 2012 at Dutton URC. You can listen to the message here.

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