Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name. For the Lord is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations.”
Be thankful unto the Lord!
Bless His name!
Most worthy object of praise and thanksgiving!
Not only is He almighty God, creator of all things, and our creator. O, indeed, He is that too; for it is He that hath made us, and not we ourselves. And we acknowledge that because He is the creator He is also almighty, supreme in being, and the governor of the universe; an acknowledgment that is not forced out of our lips as it apparently is out of the lips of the children of this world at thanksgiving time. They, too, will speak of the almighty, the supreme being, whom, somehow they recognize as creator of all whose existence they cannot deny, for He has revealed Himself to them in the things He has made, so that in their inexcusable consciences they are fully aware that He is. They also speak of God as blind force and beneficent Father. Though they also express many eulogies In praise to themselves for their manifold accomplishments, how they have preserved the peace, how they harvested a great crop which will supply not only the needs of our country but also the needy in the world, and how they made the wheels of industry to turn, they feel that after all they should call on kind providence to express their elation over the abundance they enjoy. They appear as the heathen who need a god before whom they can dance and sing, and they seem not to dare exclude him from their feastings.
Not so does the poet, and not so does the child of God.
Though the object of thanksgiving is the almighty God, supreme ruler of the universe, who is at the same time beneficent Father, always giving, and to whom nothing can be given that He does not already possess, the object of our thanksgiving is more than a vague reminiscence of some super being whom we are forced to acknowledge. His object is to be feared, not with the fear of dread, but of love; and the thanksgiving is not mixed with expression to the divine and the human, but one of filial devotion.
Moreover, that object of thanksgiving is more particularly defined in the text.
He is Jehovah!
The I AM THAT I AM!
That is, the perfectly sufficient one in Himself! This is most important to a correct understanding of thanksgiving. Nothing can be given to Him, not even thanksgiving as a payment for value received. For He is in being and works the eternally independent God.
That He is Jehovah also points Him out as the all-wise God; Who eternally has ordained all things according to His predetermined plan, and who ably reaches His purpose by the very best means.
That He is Jehovah also indicates that He Is the unchangeable one. He is that in Himself, eternally set as He is in the meridian of His own glory, so that there is no shadow that is cast by turning. And He is that also in respect to His covenant people whom He has chosen in Christ from everlasting, whom He loves with eternal, immutable love. All that He has spoken and promised concerning that people, shall be realized absolutely,
Jehovah! That is His name!
He is His name. His name is not a mere abstraction, but a tangible reality. When you touch His name you touch Him. When you bless His name, you bless Him. “That His name is near, His wondrous works declare.” It is written on all the creatures of His hand. It is written on all that takes place, on our prosperity and adversity, on our riches and poverty, on our health and sickness, on rain and drought, on peace and war.
Sole object of our thanksgiving!
Thanksgiving is not a rejoicing in things! It is the rejoicing in gratitude to Jehovah, and the blessing of His name!
Be thankful unto Him!
Most beautiful grace!
For it means literally, to point out with the hand, away from ourselves, to the object of our thanksgiving. It implies that the one who thanks knows his dependence on Jehovah alone, that what he is and has he has only Jehovah to thank. It implies, too, that he knows that he has forfeited the least of Jehovah’s bounties, and deserved nothing but the curse of death because of his sins and his guilt.
Bless His name!
That is the manner in which the thanksgiving must be given. The term “bless” comes from a word, the root meaning of which is: to bend the knees, to kneel down. Hence, when one blesses he humbly adores with bended knee. Bowing the knee before another is the sign of humility, obeisance. And humbling self, one exalts the other. This implies that only one who has the grace of humility can really bless, bless Jehovah. Sacrifices of bulls and goats without humility is an abomination. Jehovah delights in a broken and contrite heart. And having been humbled, the child of God kneels before His God. It implies, too, that God, Jehovah, and His name, are to the child of God exceeding great, and worthy of all adoration. He loses himself in his God, and bowing before Him points his hand away from himself to Jehovah’s name which he sees engraven on all he has received.
Bless His name!
This means also that thanksgiving is accompanied by praise. And to praise means to glorify with song.
Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, and into His courts with praise; thank Him, and bless His name!
How beautifully all the actions of the child of God harmonize, how they move forward in ascending scale, until Jehovah is glorified with thanksgiving, blessing, and praise! He begins on bended knee, and most properly with bowed head. He raises his hand and points with the finger to Jehovah and His name. Then he glorifies his God with song and adoration. Thus Jehovah receives thanksgiving.
The most opportune place where this may be done is Jehovah’s house!
Enter into His gates!
And into His courts!
The gates and the courts for the psalmist were those of the temple, the place where Jehovah dwelt in the midst of His people. Through those gates and into those courts God’s people came before His holy presence, to worship and adore Him. There in communion with God’s people the psalmist exhorts the people of God to come with thanksgiving and praise.
O, indeed, thanksgiving is primarily a personal matter! It begins with one’s soul. “Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all within me bless His holy name” (Psalm 103:1). And again, “I will offer to thee the sacrifices of thanksgiving.” (Psalm 116:17). Even in the congregation thanksgiving is a matter of each individual. “I will praise thee with my whole heart in the assembly of the upright and in the congregation.” (Psalm 111:1). And again, “I will pay my vows unto the Lord in the presence of all his people.” (Psalm 116:8).
But the child of God can never really stand alone when he gives thanks, When he points his finger to Jehovah, he at the same time directs the attention of his fellow saints to follow his example.
Hence, the most opportune place for thanksgiving is the Lord’s house, in the company of God’s people. And all together on bended knee they point to the sole object of their praise and thanksgiving, offering praise that glorifies Jehovah’s name!
For Jehovah is good!
His mercy is everlasting!
And His truth endureth to all generations!
Sufficient reason indeed for thanksgiving and praise! When the poet says that Jehovah is good, he implies that Jehovah is good in Himself, first of all. He is purest perfection. With perfect mind and will He lives the life of purest goodness. He is immaculately beautiful. There is no evil, no darkness in Him. He is light and dwells in the unapproachable light. And because this is true, the poet means to imply, in the second place, He is also good to His creatures. He is good when He lavishes profuse abundance on all the wide creation. His goodness adorns the lily of the field. His goodness clothes the cedars of Lebanon with majesty. His goodness causes the eagle to renew his strength and supplies the roaring lion and the chirping sparrow with food. All that the creature receives from the hand of the creator is goodness. Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, from the Father of lights. And in the center of all the goodness is the highest and central good, Christ Jesus, God’s Son in the flesh. It is this goodness which the poet senses most of all.
Jehovah’s goodness is revealed in His eternal mercy!
Mercy, that grace of God’s goodness according to which He bends down in pity and bowels of compassion, with the fervent desire to make the chosen, regenerated and justified sinner blessed as He is blessed. This mercy He revealed in the giving of His Son whom He sent into the state of our guilt and condition of our misery to deliver us and bring us to the Highest Good.
And His truth endureth to all generations!
That is, His faithfulness abides throughout all the generations of the objects of His mercy. His faithfulness consists in His firm resolve to realize His covenant promises to them. Hence, His truth. From generation to generation He utters His truth that He will continue in faithfulness to realize His mercy to His covenant people.
God’s covenant faithfulness and the blessings of that covenant are the chief goodnesses of Jehovah. All other gifts are revelations of goodness only when they are related to His mercy. Though material things are good in themselves, they are not good for us unless they are related to the Good, Christ Jesus. Therefore when the child of God sees Jehovah’s goodness and thanks Him for His mercy and faithfulness, he does so in the light of the cross.
Seen in this light, it is only the redeemed child of God who can properly thank and bless Jehovah’s name.
With this in mind, let us this Thanksgiving Day, enter into His house in the company of His saints to thank and praise Jehovah, and to bless His Holy Name!
For Jehovah is good!