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Thanksgiving Thoughts

The Double “T Formation

The advent of autumn not only produces many changes in the natural world, but is an important time for sports lovers. For the arrival of fall signals the beginning of the football season, the playoffs and the World Series in baseball, and in basketball preseason followed by seasonal games. In thinking of football one is reminded of the importance of the famous “T” formation. Although it has been said that it was invented in the late nineteenth century, its revival and revitalization in the mid-twentieth century made it an extremely valuable offensive weapon with college and professional teams alike. For example, the Chicago Bears and their hall of fame quarterback Sid Luckman won four professional championships. The “T” formation as used in that era is now virtually obsolete, but many, if not most, offensive setups are still variations of it.

When we think of the fall season, however, another “T” comes into even more significant focus—Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving is admittedly an important American tradition. Still more important, however, is the fact that the giving of thanks is a key biblical theme. In addition, thankfulness and the giving of thanks are linked with the need of teaching others the crucial nature of the Word of God and the gospel message. In what follows we shall explore these two “T”s with the goal of learning something of what the Scriptures reveal concerning these two truths, and then suggest some applications of them to our lives.

The Giving of Thanks

Many Psalms record a statement of the psalmist’s thankfulness to the Lord (e.g., Pss. 9:1; 92:1). Several psalms contain so clear a message of thanks that scholars have classified them as thanksgiving psalms (e.g., Pss. 105-107; 118; 138), the most familiar of these being Psalm 136. In such psalms one typically finds statements of thanksgiving and/or praise to the Lord, a testimony to God’s gracious acts toward the psalmist and/or his people, and a declaration of commitment/dedication to the Lord. Often there is an invitation to hear God’s goodness and join the psalmist in thanking and praising the Lord.

Thanksgiving psalms may emphasize individual or corporate giving of thanks. Psalm 66 is an example of a psalm in which both are present. The author and precise occasion of the psalm are uncertain. Many believe that the setting of the psalm is best understood to be shortly after Israel’s deliverance from the Assyrian invasion and siege of Jerusalem during the reign of Hezekiah (cf. 2 Kings 18-20). The psalm is composed of two distinct sections. The first section lays emphasis on the Lord’s awesome power and great deeds, for which God’s people should be thankful (vv. 1-12). The second stresses the psalmist’s thankfulness and commitment to the Lord for what he has done for him (vv. 13-20). Each section of these major sections is closed with a subsection in which there is an invitation by the psalmist to join him in considering the Lord’s gracious acts. In the first section it is an invitation to join him in praising God’s activities on behalf of his people (vv. 5-12). In the second, it is an invitation to hear the psalmist’s praise as to God’s dealings with him (vv. 16-20).

The psalm begins with an opening call to praise the God who rules over all and controls everything on earth (vv. 1-4). All the earth is instructed to shout in joyful, triumphant praise to the Lord (v. 1) and sing praise concerning the great glory of God’s name (v.2, MT). The term “name” name came to be associated with all that God has done and represents (see NET text note).1 It is of interest to note that the term “name” is also used at times by the Hebrew authors to refer to the Lord himself:

He builds the upper rooms of his palace in heaven
and sets its foundation supports on the earth.
He summons the water of the sea
and pours it out on the earth’s surface.
The LORD is his name (Amos 9:6).

Simultaneously, it may involve his holy reputation (Amos 2:7) or that which belongs to him, whether God’s people or the city of Jerusalem (Dan 9:18-19). In time “the name” (i.e., Heb. haššēm) came to be one of the two pronunciations of the otherwise unpronounced Hebrew Tetragram (YHWH), which is usually rendered in capital letters in English translations of the Bible (LORD). In sum, the Hebrew noun translated “name” when used of God could be taken, “to respect the holy name and all it represented”—the very nature of the Lord, so that “to pray ‘in the name of the LORD’ could mean to pray with confidence in the nature and ability of God.”2

It is of course of special interest to note that the promised coming Messiah was characterized by such names as:

“Wonderful Counselor,
Mighty God,
Eternal Father,
Prince of Peace” (Isa. 9:6, HCSB).

The term “name” was also used of Jesus Christ. Thus when the early apostles were persecuted for their witnessing concerning Christ, “They left the council rejoicing because they had been considered worthy to suffer dishonor for the sake of the name” (Acts 5:41; cf. Acts 4:12).3 In contemplating this, one is reminded of David’s words of praise with regard to the Lord’s name. Here David acknowledges and praises the majesty and glory of the Lord: “LORD, our Lord, how magnificent is your name throughout the earth” (Ps. 8:1, HCSB).4 Elsewhere David reminded his hearers that God’s glory is resplendent and echoed throughout the universe (Ps. 19:1-4).

Returning to Psalm 66, we note that the psalmist’s focus is primarily on the world of mankind. All people are to give the Lord, “the honor he deserves.” He reflects this thought in verse four, which serves to enclose the opening portion of the first section even as the use of the words earth, praise, and name indicate. Verse four also carries on the thought of verse three concerning God’s awesome deeds, which bring fearful reverence by “all the earth,” including those who oppose him (cf. Ps. 65:5).

The following subsection (vv. 5-12) begins with an invitation for God’s people to recall his acts of power in their behalf (v. 5). The psalmist calls attention to the Lord’s deliverance of his people during the days of the Exodus and especially the times when Israel faced deep waters: “He turned the sea into dry land; they passed through the river on foot” (v. 5). Not only did God provide safety for his people at the Red Sea but also at the Jordan River during the closing days of their wilderness trek (cf. Exod. 14:26-30; 15:8-12, 18-19, 21; Josh. 3:1-4:18). So significant was Israel’s redemptive experience during the days of the Exodus from Egypt until their approach to the promised land, that an Exodus epic motif can be found interlaced into many biblical texts (e.g., Deut. 33:2; Judg. 5:4-5; 2 Sam. 22:8-16; Pss. 18:7-15; 68:7-8; 77:13-15; 144:5-6).5

During the Exodus the Lord also delivered his people from many hostile nations. All nations should realize that not only at the time of the Exodus but many times in Israel’s subsequent history God’s delivering power has been on display. Indeed, it is certain that God sees the actions of all nations and people. Thus the psalmist in Psalm 66 declares.

“He rules by his power forever;
he watches the nations.
Stubborn rebels should not exalt themselves” (v. 7; cf. Pss. 11:4-5; 33:13-17; 68:20-21; 89:5-13).

As Leupold remarks, “He ‘watches the nations’ continually so that they cannot attempt to do any harm to His people without His detecting what they have in mind; and thus He is always ready to check them in their endeavors.”6 Therefore, the psalmist issues strong advice to all peoples to praise Israel’s God (Ps.66:8) and reminds his fellow Israelites of many ways the Lord’s delivering and preserving power was exercised on their behalf (vv. 9-12; cf. Ps. 18:17-19). As Futato concludes, “At times being in God’s hands means we are tested and purified like silver in a crucible, experiencing deep affliction and misery in the process. But it is just like God to bring us through trials of fire and flood to a place of great abundance.”7

The second section begins with the psalmist’s resolve to keep the vows that he had previously made to the Lord. Having rehearsed some of corporate Israel’s problems, in effect he appears to be personalizing them while turning to his own experiences. Like Israel, he had been in deep trouble. During such a time he had made solemn vows unto the Lord and they must surely be kept:

I will enter your temple with sacrifices;
I will fulfill the vows I made to you,
which my lips uttered
and my mouth spoke when I was in trouble
I will offer up to you fatted animals as burnt sacrifices,
along with the smell of sacrificial rams.
I will offer cattle and goats (vv. 13-15; cf. Ps. 65:1-2).

In keeping those vows he will offer the appropriate animals befitting burnt offerings of thanksgiving (Lev. 22:18-21; Deut. 12:17-19; cf. Ps. 22:22-26; Isa. 1:11). The large number of sacrificial animals to be offered certainly indicates that the offerer was a man of means and may point to the possibility that his offerings were intended for corporate as well as individual thanks. Kidner may well be correct in saying, “The more usual thank-offerings, which formed the basis of a feast, emphasized the joy of fellowship; these burnt-offerings spoke of total dedication.”8

Yet, if as many suggest, Psalm 66 is to be linked with the eighth century B.C. deliverance of Jerusalem from the Assyrians, both personal dedication and corporate thanksgiving may be the case. In either case, “The lavishness of the gifts in these verses underlines the point, saying in poetic fashion, that the whole gamut of sacrificial beasts would scarcely do the occasion justice.”9

The Psalm concludes with the psalmist’s closing ascription of praise to his delivering God (vv.16-20). The psalm ends as it began with joyful praise of the Lord. The psalmist invites others to hear his thanksgiving for who God is and what he has done for the psalmist. He declares that the Lord had neither turned aside from the psalmist’s prayer request nor failed to exercise his faithful covenant love toward him. Indeed,

God deserves praise,
for he did not reject my prayer
or abandon his love for me (v. 20).

May we as faithful believers likewise live holy lives before the Lord, entrust ourselves to him in a full commitment, to the Lord and his revealed standards in the Scriptures, and with thankful hearts praise him both for who he is and for his daily provision in our lives.

David, the author of many biblical psalms, was an example of a faithful believer. Many of the psalms attributed to David are interlaced with notes of sincere thankfulness. Some are of a more general nature. Thus Psalm 145, a psalm of thankfulness and praise, speaks of the greatness, goodness, grace, and glory of God.10 While thanking the Lord at times, David also reminds his listeners that the Lord is a God of justice and righteousness. Thus in Psalm 7 David says,

I will thank the LORD for his justice;
I will sing praises to the sovereign LORD! (v. 17; cf. Ps. 52:9).11

As noted in the previous footnote, like Psalm 66 some Davidic psalms speak confidently of God’s delivering power, whether past or future, and often note the importance of God’s “name” (Pss. 18:46-50; 33:18-22; 142:7). A corporate deliverance/rescue also appears in Davidic psalms (e.g., Ps. 44:8). As in Psalm 66 David speaks of sacrifice and thanks in connection with his assurance of divine deliverance:

With a freewill offering I will sacrifice to you!
I will give thanks to your name, O LORD for it is good!
Surely he rescues me from all trouble,
and I triumph over my enemies (Ps. 54:6-7).

Not only in his psalms but elsewhere David is an example of a thankful believer. Thus on the occasion of bringing the ark of the LORD to Jerusalem David, “appointed some of the Levites to serve before the ark of the LORD, to offer prayers, songs of thanks, and hymns to the LORD God of Israel” (1 Chron. 16:4). Toward the end of his life, while handing over the kingship of Israel to his son Solomon, he assigned specific tasks to the Levites, which included standing every morning and offering “thanks and praise to the LORD. They also did this in the evening” (1 Chron. 23:30). At the occasion of gathering contributions for the building of the Temple, David led in prayerful praise to the Lord. Having extolled God’s greatness, goodness, grace, and glory (1 Chron. 29:10-12), David praised the Lord saying, “Now, our God, we give thanks to you and praise your majestic name” (v. 13).

It should be noted also that thankfulness to the Lord is not limited to the Old Testament. Indeed, it is a recurrent theme in the New Testament as well. Jesus is a prime example of one who gives thanks to the Father. At the feeding of the 5,000 he gave thanks before giving the food to the disciples, who then distributed it to the assembled crowd (Matt. 15:36; cf. John 6:11). When Jesus stood before Lazarus’ tomb and the stone had been taken away from the entrance, Jesus prayed, “Father, I thank you that you have listened to me. I knew that you always listened to me, but I said this for the sake of the crowd standing around here, that they may believe that you sent me” (John 11:41-42). During what is known as the Lord’s Supper Jesus prayed and gave thanks, leaving an example for believers to follow (Luke 22:19). As an interesting aside, it is of further interest to note that at the time of little Jesus being presented in the Temple, after the righteous man Simon had delivered a prophecy concerning Jesus, the faithful old prophetess Anna delivered thankful praise to the Lord and before Jesus’ parents spoke about this Jesus “to all who were waiting for the redemption of Jerusalem” (Luke 2:38). It was indeed a moment of spiritual significance, which was indicative of the spiritual ministry that lay ahead for Jesus. Marshall is therefore correct in observing that the concept of redemption, “Conveys the idea of divine deliverance which is to be brought about by Jesus, and is thus a messianic concept.”12 Already after his parents took him back to Nazareth in Galilee, “The child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom, and the favor God was upon him” (Luke 2:40). From the very first, then, Jesus’ life was ever to be one of service to the Father and of thankful praise and appreciation to him whom he always glorified (cf. John 17).

Another grand example of a life of thankful dependency on the Lord can be seen in the Apostle Paul. For Paul expresses the thought of thankfulness many times in his epistles. For example, in a distinctive manner Paul applies the principles in Hosea 13:14 (q.v.,) to the fact and benefits of Christ’s resurrection, “The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ!” (1 Cor. 15:56-57).13 It is a message of assured hope because as united to the resurrected Christ believers can live a life of victory over sin. It is the capstone of the gospel message. As Paul testifies to the Corinthian believers, “Thanks be to God who always leads us in triumphal procession in Christ and who makes known through us the fragrance that consists of the knowledge of him in every place” (2 Cor. 2:14). For Paul to be used was his great desire and a source of constant joy to Paul. “That Christ should be known was the great end of Paul’s mission, and is of all things the most acceptable to God.”14 Likewise, Paul expresses his praise and thankfulness to the Lord that he had used Paul to deliver the message of salvation to the Thessalonian Christians and that they had responded to the gospel (1 Thess. 2:13-14).

Paul’s desire to be used of God should be the desire of all believers. As Audrey Mieir wrote,

To be used of God, to sing, to speak, to pray;
To be used of God, to show someone the way.
I long so much to feel the touch of His consuming fire;
To be used of God, is my desire.15

Not only was Paul eternally grateful to God for the opportunities to spread the gospel message, but he was thankful that many had joined in that privilege by supporting Paul’s ministry. For example, he tells the Philippian Christians, “I thank my God every time I remember you. I always pray with joy for you in my every prayer for all of you because of your participation in the gospel from the first day until now” (Phil. 1:3-5). It was fitting for Paul to express his thankfulness (which he does nearly four dozen times in his epistles) because, “By mentioning what God has graciously done in his Son other Christians are encouraged to praise him also. . . . And as thanksgivings abound God is glorified (2 Cor. 4:15; cf. 1:11).”16

Paul’s message was ever one of assured hope that in Christ believers may live constructive, dedicated lives undergirded with a settled, thankful confidence in God. For those who have faith in Christ not only have peace with God, but they can with heartfelt thanksgiving experience a life of service to the Lord and to one another. Thus individually and corporately believers should “let the peace of Christ be in control in your heart (for you were in fact called as one body to this peace), and be thankful” (Col. 3:15). As Dunn points out, Paul’s admonition was surely important advice for the Colossian believers; “But the same applies to the church now seen as the universal body of Christ (1:18a; 2:19), a oneness which is itself an effect of the peace of Christ and which can only be sustained by that peace.”17 Paul goes on to instruct the Colossian Christians that they should teach and encourage one another in the activities of the Christian community and especially in their corporate worship, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and exhorting one another with all wisdom…all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him” (Col. 3:16-17).

Good Teaching

Note that Paul’s admonition to be thankful is accompanied by a further encouragement to teach others concerning the truths of God’s grace in Christ Jesus. Therefore, we now turn to a second “T,” which believers are to utilize in their lives and service—that of teaching. There are many examples of teaching in the Bible. For example, young Elihu told Job and his three friends, “Be patient with me a little longer and I will instruct you, for I still have words to speak on God’s behalf” (Job 36:2). Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law, advised Moses to teach the Hebrews concerning God’s standards and to get qualified helpers to share his administrative burden (Exod. 18:19-23). Similarly Paul, himself a great teacher concerning the ways of the Lord (e.g., Acts 15:35; 18:11), instructed Timothy to teach others about proper Christian principles and conduct (1 Tim. 4:6-11; cf. 1 Tim. 6:1-20). Paul’s great advice to Timothy was to “be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. And entrust what you heard me say in the presence of many others as witnesses to faithful people who will be competent to teach others as well (2 Tim. 2:1-2). Following Paul’s teaching would enable Timothy to be a strong and consistent witness for Christ and the gospel (vv. 3-8). Sharing and teaching the gospel, of course, is not always well received by an unbelieving world. Paul was an example of that fact (vv. 9-10) as were the apostles in earlier days (Acts 4:1-2). Yet as Paul taught Timothy,

This saying is trustworthy;
If we died with him, we will also live with him.
If we endure, we will also reign with him.
If we deny him, he will also deny us.
If we are unfaithful, he remains faithful,
since he cannot deny himself. (2 Tim. 2:11-13)18

Paul expresses the goal of his teaching in his instructions to the Colossian Christians concerning the completion of the word of God in Christ Jesus: “God wanted to make known to them the glorious riches of this mystery among the Gentiles, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. We proclaim him by instructing and teaching all people with all wisdom so that we may present every person mature in Christ. Toward this goal I also labor, struggling according to his power that powerfully works in me” (Col. 1:27-29). As Bruce observes, by the believers union with Christ the believer receives “the embodiment of divine wisdom, but the exploration of the wisdom that resides in him is the task of a lifetime, and even so the most enlightened of mortals can only ‘know in part’ (1 Cor.13:9). It is necessary, then, not only to preach the gospel but also, when people have believed the gospel, to ‘instruct everyone and teach everyone in all wisdom.’”19             

The Lord himself is certainly the supreme example of being a good teacher. It was he who taught Moses and Aaron what to say in approaching the Pharaoh of Egypt (Exod. 4:12-15). Before the Israelites entered the promised land, Moses reminded the people of what the Lord had instructed him to deliver to the people (Deut. 4:1-8), and they were to teach them to their children:

Again, however, pay very careful attention lest you forget the things you have seen and disregard them for the rest of your life; instead teach them to your children and grandchildren. You stood before the LORD your God at Horeb and he said to me, “Assemble the people before me so that I can tell them my commands. Then they will learn to revere me all the days they live in the land, and they will instruct their children” (Deut. 4:9-10).

In turn God further informed Moses as to the proper standards of living the people were to follow once they were in the land and Moses then admonished the people, “Be careful, therefore, to do exactly what the LORD your God has commanded you; do not turn right or left! Walk just as he has commanded you so that you may live, that it may go well with you, and that you may live long in the land you are going to possess” (Deut. 5:32-33; cf. 11:1-32).

God is ultimately the one who teaches people as to proper living:
O God, you have taught me since I was young,
and I am still declaring your amazing deeds.
Even when I am old and gray,
O God, do not abandoned me,
until I tell the next generation about your strength,
and those coming after me about your power. (Ps. 71:17-18; cf.119:102).

Unfortunately, even God’s people do not always respond properly to his teaching (cf. Jer. 32:33-35; Hos. 11:1-3). God’s unique Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, was an outstanding example of a great teacher (cf. Matt. 5:2ff.)—so much so that not only was he recognized as such (Matt. 12:38; 19:16; 22:16, 24, 36), but those who heard him, “were amazed by his teaching, because he taught them like one who had authority, not like their experts in the law” (Matt. 7:28-29). It was the manner of Jesus teaching, which the crowds found so unique and so amazing. Turner may possibly be correct in suggesting that this was because of his “daring juxtaposition of his own views with statements from the Torah in the contrasts of 5:21-48. …Jesus did not cite human authorities who might support his views.” 20 Yet elsewhere Jesus clarifies this by declaring,

“My teaching is not from me, but from the one who sent me. If anyone wants to do God’s will, he will know about my teaching, whether it is from God or whether I speak from my own authority” (John 7:16-17).

In contrast to the rabbis of his day who commonly referred back to the traditional teaching of earlier rabbis, “Jesus appeals to the Father; claiming direct knowledge from God (8:28).”21 In another setting and for different reasons, however, Jesus rightly accepts the acknowledgement of his disciples that he was both their teacher and Lord, “for that is what I am” (John 13:13). Jesus goes on to drive home his point in order to deliver to his disciples a lesson in humility in a willingness to serve others. In so doing he deliberately reverses “Lord” and “Teacher” (vv. 14-17. If Jesus their Lord and Teacher would wash his disciples’ feet, should they not be willing to do likewise? Jesus affirms that they should.

Several biblical texts remind us of the high value of good, godly teaching. Good teaching is interwoven throughout the book of Proverbs (e.g., 3:1-2; 4:1-2, 10-11; etc.), but this instruction has its foundation in proper reverence for God: “Fearing the LORD is the beginning of moral knowledge” (Prov. 1:7; cf. 9:10-12; 15:33). When such is the case,

The LORD shows his faithful followers the way they should live.
They experience his favor;
their descendants inherit the land.
The LORD’s loyal followers receive his guidance,
and he reveals his covenantal demands to them. (Ps. 25:12-14).

This prayer is reminiscent of that of Solomon at the dedication of the Temple that the Lord might hear the peoples’ pleading and forgive their sins, and then teach them “the right way to live,” especially in difficult times (1 Kings 8:35-36).

Psalm 119 is filled with the psalmist’s desire for the Lord to teach him the standards of life and climaxes with the assurance that the Lord will indeed do so: “May praise flow freely from my lips, for you teach me your standards” (Ps. 119:171). Accordingly, the psalmist pleads for this God-given instruction, “O LORD, teach me how you want me to live! Then I will obey your commands” (Ps. 86:11; cf. 143:10). Indeed, even today the Lord’s instruction is available to the believer. It is found in his revealed word: “Every scripture is inspired by God and useful for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the person dedicated to God may be capable and equipped for every good work” (2 Tim. 3:16-17; cf. 1 Thess. 4:9-12).

The Scriptures, however, repeatedly warn of the coming of those who proclaim false teaching concerning the great issues of life. Jesus warned against such teachers (Matt. 16:5-12). Paul similarly warned Titus of such people (Titus 1:10-11) as did Peter (2 Pet. 2:1-3). In his Apocalypse John records that much false teaching had already affected the churches (Rev. 2:4, 14-15, 20-23) and in his first epistle he cautioned his readers as follows:

Do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to determine if they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses Jesus as the Christ who has come in the flesh is from God, but every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God, and this is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming, and now is already in the world” (1 John 4:1-3).

In light of the above scriptural teaching there should be not only a longing for godly instruction, but a desire to impart such teaching to others. Ezra was one who evidenced this desire for he “had dedicated himself to the study of the law of the LORD, to its observance, and to teaching its statutes and judgments in Israel” (Ezra 7:10). To be sure God has gifted some people to be teachers of God’s Word. This is a special gift of God’s grace (Rom. 12:6-7; Eph. 4:7-13). Paul reminded Timothy that he had been given this gift of teaching and encouraged him to use it. Such would not only be of extreme value to himself but also to many others, “Be conscientious about how you live and what you teach. Persevere in this, because by doing so you will save both yourself and those who listen to you” (1 Tim. 4:16). Although there is this special gift of teaching, nevertheless all believers are to share the Word of God and the gospel message. For Christ so commanded this in his great commission (Matt. 28:19-20).

As we noted in Paul’s admonition to the Colossian Christians, both in our lives and in our corporate worship our second “T” reinforces the first: noted in Paul’s admonition to the Colossian Christians:

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and exhorting one another with all wisdom, singing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, all with grace in your hearts to God. And whatever you do in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him (Col. 3:16-17).

Application

We have seen that the biblical psalms are especially replete with examples of thanksgiving—so much so that several have been classified as thanksgiving psalms. Some psalms stress the psalmist’s resolve to praise and thank God and to encourage others to do likewise:

It is fitting to thank the LORD,
and to sing praises to your name, O sovereign One!
It is fitting to proclaim your loyal love in the morning,
and your faithfulness during the night (Ps. 92:1-2).

The giving of praise and thanks to the Lord is also found in many other places in the Bible. We have noted particularly examples from the lives of David in the Old Testament and Paul in the New Testament. David’s determination to be thankful to the Lord and to share this with others is well summarized in Psalm 9:1-2:

I will thank the LORD with all my heart!
I will tell all about your amazing deeds!
I will be happy and rejoice in you!
I will sing praises to you, O sovereign One!

Paul was thankful not only for his salvation but for the high privilege of ministering for the Lord; as well, he expressed his thanks to others for their support in this ministry (e.g., Phil. 1:3-5).

We have noted especially in accordance with our study of Psalm 66 the importance of the term “name” in connection with God’s demonstrated character and reputation. In that regard we called attention to Isaiah’s prophecy concerning the coming Messiah in Isaiah 9:6. There he foresaw that this one would be a wonderful counselor—one who will always make wise decisions with regard to the kingdom of God on earth. He will also be a mighty God—one who is virtually heroic in carrying out his designs (cf. Ps. 89:13-14 [MT, 89:14-15]). He will also be known as the “Everlasting Father”—one who will continuously carry out his care and concern for others (cf. 2 Sam. 7:16). Because of all of this he will be seen to be the “Prince of Peace”—one who will both bring peace in accordance with his sovereign and just rule, and bring in prosperity, safety, health, and perfect conditions. At last the world will know genuine peace because it is at rest and in full commitment to the Lord, which is to experience God’s best for all mankind.22

Jesus reminded his followers that he was indeed that promised peace maker, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you; I do not give it to you as the world does. Do not let your hearts be distressed or lacking in courage” (John 14:27; cf. 16:33). As believers we await Christ’s second coming and the resultant world of peace under our sovereign Lord (Isa. 11:1-9; Rev. 21:1-22:7). May we trust in his wisdom even now by being in personal dedication and communion with the Lord. May we be those who not only study the Word of God in order to master it, but more importantly be those who have allowed the Scriptures to master us. May we commit ourselves to rely on God’s strength and guidance and therefore experience peace—what God truly desires us to enjoy. And as we do, may we be in such vital fellowship with God in our lives and worship experience that we give him thanks in everything: “Always rejoice, constantly pray, in everything give thanks. For this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

May we also have the urgent desire to be constantly taught by God and to learn to see matters from his point of view (cf. Prov. 2:1-9). Indeed, if human fathers can give sound and good instruction (cf. Prov. 4:1-5), how much more our Heavenly Father! May we have a strong desire to encourage and teach others concerning the truths of the gospel (John 20:21; Acts 1:8), and while helping, encouraging, and teaching one another, may we be faithful followers of the Lord. Rather than seeking personal glory, may we always do everything “in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him” (Col. 3:17).23 May we be joyful Christians who reflect the psalmist’s admonition:

Come! Let us sing for joy to the LORD!
Let’s shout out praises to our protector who delivers us!
Let us enter his presence with thanksgiving!
Let us shout out to him in celebration (Ps. 95:1-2; cf. Pss. 57:7-11; 100:1-2; 147:7).

The hymn writer expresses it so well:

Thanks to God for my Redeemer,
Thanks for all Thou dost provide!
Thanks for times now but a memory,
Thanks for Jesus by my side!
Thanks for pleasant, balmy springtime,
Thanks for dark and dreary fall!
Thanks for tears by now forgotten,
Thanks for peace within my soul.24


1 Unless otherwise stipulated all citations in this study are taken from the NET.

2 Allen P. Ross “šēm, name,” in New International Dictionary of Old Testament Theology & Exegesis,” Willem A. VanGemeren, ed., 5vols. (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1997), 4:148.

3 For Christian believers the name of Jesus Christ is especially significant for successful Christian living (cf. John 14:12-18).

4 David’s words are nicely encapsulated in the words of Ron Hamilton’s hymn, “ How Majestic is Thy Name”:

“O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is Thy name.
Mountains, valleys, all creation tells Thy fame.
Heavens declare it, all the wondrous works proclaim,
O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is Thy name.” 

5 See further, Richard D. Patterson, “The Song of Redemption,” Westminster Theological Journal, 57 (1995): 453-61; “Victory at Sea: Moses the Historian as Narrator and Poet,” Bibliotheca Sacra, 161 (2004): 42-54; and Richard D. Patterson and Michael E. Travers, “Contours of the Exodus Motif in Jesus’ Earthly Ministry,” Westminster Theological Journal, 66 (2004): 25-47.

6 H. C. Leupold, Exposition of the Psalms (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1969), 481.

7 Mark D. Futato, “The Book of Psalms,” in Cornerstone Biblical Commentary, eds., Philip W. Comfort and Tremper Longman III (Carol Stream, Il.: Tyndale House, 2009), 222.

8 Derek Kidner, Psalms 1-72,  Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries, ed. D. J. Wiseman ( Downers Grove: Intervarsity, 1973), 235.

9  Kidner, Psalms 1-72, 235.

10 For the further application of Psalm 145 for believers, see Richard D. Patterson, “Psalm 145: A Psalm in ‘G’ Major, Biblical Studies Press, 2009.

11 See especially the NET text note on Psalm 7:17 for another instance of the use of the term “name” with regard to the Lord.

12 I Howard Marshall, The Gospel of Luke, The New International Greek New Testament Commentary (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1978), 124. 

13 For possible understandings of the meaning of Hosea 13:14, see my remarks in Hosea ,an Exegetical Commentary  (Biblical Studies Press, 2009), 130-31, 134.

14 Charles Hodge, An Exposition of the Second Epistle to the Corinthians (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, [n.d.]), 44-45.

15 Audrey Mieir, “To Be used of God.”

16 Peter T. O’Brien, The Epistle to the Philippians, The New International Greek Testament Commentary (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1991), 56.

17 James D. G. Dunn, The Epistles to the Colossians and to Philemon, The New International Greek Testament Commentary (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1996), 235.

18 For other “faithful sayings” see 1 Tim. 1:15;  3:1;  4:9; Tit. 3:8.

19 F. F.  Bruce, The Epistles to the Colossians, to Philemon, and to the Ephesians, The New International Commentary on the New Testament (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1984), 86-87.

20 David L. Turner, The Gospel of Matthew, in Cornerstone Biblical Commentary, ed. Philip W. Comfort (Carol Stream, Illinois: Tyndale House, 2005), 121. See also D. A. Carson, “ Matthew, in Matthew-Mark, The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, eds., Tremper Longman III and David E. Garland 13 vols. (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, rev. ed., 2010) 9:232. 

21 Andreas J. Kӧstenberger, John (Grand rapids: Baker, 2004), 233.

22 The Lord’s “omni” attributes of omniscience, omnipotence, and omnipresence can also be seen in connection with these four names.

23 Robert C. Lintner makes the wise observation that, “thanksgiving was never meant to be shut-up in a single day”;  cited by Lloyd Cory, Quotable Quotations (Wheaton: Scripture Press, 1989), 395. In this regard the remarks of Thomas Durley Landels, “At Eighty-Three,” are rather appropriate:

Thank God for life, with all its endless store of great experiences, . . .
and so looking back at eighty-three
my final word to you, my friends shall be:
thank God for life; and when the gift’s withdrawn,
thank God for twilight bell and coming dawn.

24 August Ludwig Storm, “Thanks to God for My Redeemer,” trans. Carl E. Backstrom in Hymns for the Family of God (Nashville: Paragon Associates, 1976), 386.

Related Topics: Thanksgiving