Sacrifice thank offerings to God. . . . I will deliver you, and you will honor me. (Ps. 50:14–15)
Today is halfway between Thanksgiving Day in Canada (Oct. 12) and the US (Nov. 26). These are official holidays by force of law. Imagine, then, that on Thanksgiving Day you’re arrested by a Mountie or US marshal and hauled into court. What’s the charge? Thanks evasion—you owe a massive debt of unpaid gratitude!
That’s the scenario Psalm 50 describes. God summons to trial all who call themselves his people. They fall into two categories: the outwardly righteous (vv. 7–15) and the wicked (vv. 16–23). The first group is keeping up religious appearances just fine. In Christian terms, they’re at church every Sunday and pay their tithe. But they think of it as a trade-off: If they meet God’s needs, he’ll meet theirs. God has to remind them he’s not the needy kind! He owns everything and owes nothing to anyone, yet he delights to provide for us. The proper response to God’s sheer graciousness is our sheer gratefulness.
The second group claims God’s name but ignores his rules. This motley crew, too, God puts on a parole of gratitude. If you’re thankful for what and whom you have, you won’t commit theft or adultery (v. 18). When your tongue is thanking God, it’s not slandering others (vv. 19–20). As David discovers in the very next psalm (see Ps. 51), the sound of repentance is gratitude.
Replace empty religious rule-keeping or rule-breaking with thanksgiving.
Jerome Van Kuiken is a missionary kid, a pastor’s kid, and dean of the school of ministry and Christian thought at Oklahoma Wesleyan University.
© 2020 Wesleyan Publishing House. Reprinted from Light from the Word. Used by permission. Scriptures taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®.