This is the 3rd of a 3-part series for Thanksgiving, 2011.  

Oh give thanks to the LORD; call upon his name; make known his deeds among the peoples!” (1 Chronicles 16:8). 

From the background of the 2 previous posts we now tackle the psalm of praise that occupies 1 Chronicles 16:8-36. The Ark of the Covenant, and all that it symbolizes, has been brought into Jerusalem and a worshipful frenzy ensues. David has created a song for his musicians to play; a psalm of thanksgiving to communicate the goodness, greatness, and ultimately, the presence of God that should necessarily spark uninhibited gratitude. There is much we can learn from the outpouring of David’s heart, a heart after God’s own heart. 

This thanksgiving hymn (I urge you to read it for yourself) is a cry of remembrance, praise, and victory. It speaks of the adoration of God’s people but it’s also a prompt to the whole world and creation that God is to be (and will be) worshipped. David beckons all people and things to recall God’s wonderful acts. The term used in this song is “judgments.” But judgment here indicates more than displays of wrath or condemnation. The term implies the act of God doing as He pleases. He is acting to fulfill his own purposes and to set things right as He sees them.  “His judgements” refers to God making things the way He wants them to be.  

This psalm is a command to all the world to recognize what God has done – to celebrate that their God is the living God, the creator of all things, and sovereign over all. The earth, and all that is in it, is called ascribe glory to the Lord that He alone is worthy of. The Ark’s coming to Jerusalem is a picture of the Lord enthroned above all peoples, His dominion unhindered. As such it is a foreshadowing of far greater things that God is yet to accomplish. One day He will come again; this time to visibly rule and make all things right. On that day the entire creation will rejoice just as David and the Israelites celebrated on this day as the Ark was brought into Jerusalem. On that day the Lord God will manifest His reign over every known people and thing.  

But today we don’t see things this way. The world in which we live appears to be out of control and in utter chaos. And, in a sense, it is! Often we wonder, “What is God doing?” Even the writer of Hebrews recognizes that Jesus is Lord of all but simultaneously he acknowledges that this is not evident in the current state things. He concludes, “At present we do not see everything subject to him. But we see Jesus … crowned with glory and honor.” (Hebrews 2:8-9).  In other words,  Jesus is Lord, by virtue of his death and resurrection. He is enthroned over all the earth. And one day this will be revealed to all when He comes again in glory and power to set all things right. On that day the entirety of His creation will dance and rejoice at his coming. 

So all of this points us back to Jesus…and the Ark. This thanksgiving psalm express the longing that God would gather His scattered people from all the nations and establish His everlasting kingdom, just like the unification of the nation of Israel culminated with the Ark’s return. Ultimately this cry finds its answer only in David’s greater son, Jesus Christ. It is only by Him that this prayer is fulfilled: “Say also: “Save us, O God of our salvation, and gather and deliver us from among the nations, that we may give thanks to your holy name, and glory in your praise” (v. 35). 

All of this reaches a climax on another day in Jerusalem hundreds of years later. Instead of a wooden chest being carried into that city with psalms of celebration, this is the day when Jesus carried a wooden cross on His back.  On “that day,” instead of joyous songs, there were shouts of murder and mockery, and the sounds of great suffering. Let’s contemplate that day when Jesus was nailed to that cross and then was raised up from the earth. For here, like the Ark’s storied return, is also a day of triumph and of enthronement. Here is the event marking the defeat of all the powers opposed to God’s kingdom. God was putting things right in Jesus. Our Lord, reigns from that tree, for it is by Christ that God is pleased to gather to himself a people from every nation, tribe, and tongue. As Jesus prophesied, “But I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” (John 12:32). 

So what do we learn from this? First, what God has done for us in Christ calls us to jubilant thanksgiving. It beckons us to celebration that is marked by marvel, amazement, and praise! The Creator, the God of the entire universe, has remembered His people and has come to save us through his Son, Jesus. We are invited, even commanded, to join the rejoicing as we recognize that Christ is King, the Lord of all creation. And that, above all, He is our God! 

Second, what God has done for us calls for an announcement. We must let all the world know that He working all things according to His own good pleasure. We are prompted to share with all the earth that God is King over all and has demonstrated this most fully in what He has done in Jesus Christ. We must trumpet to all peoples the invitation to be joined with Christ and join in the celebration.

May our hearts be full of anticipation and thanksgiving as we await the day when God will finally comes to set all things right. When His children, along with all of creation, will sing and worship in His presence. And may the celebration and rejoicing begin today.

Author’s note: I have drawn upon many sources for this 3-part study. As this study has developed over time and my research and writing for this piece has been intermittant, unfortunately, I can’t find the original sources in order to properly cite them. If I have overly borrowed for someone’s work (and I may have), I apologize. I pray, however, that God still uses this series and He alone gets the glory no matter where these thoughts originated. 

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