Thank You Lord

Bible Book: Psalms  95 : 1-11
Subject: Thanksgiving; Gratitude
Series: Psalms - Kirksey

The celebration of Thanksgiving as we know it dates back to the fall of 1621 when the Plymouth colonists and Wampanoag Indians shared a feast. Various colonies set aside special days to express thanks to God in the years that followed. For example, on June 20, 1676, the governing council of Charlestown, Massachusetts, wrote The First Thanksgiving Proclamation. However, it was not until October 3, 1863, that President Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865) proclaimed a yearly national observance of Thanksgiving each November. His proclamation reads in part, “I do, therefore, invite my fellow citizens . . . to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next as a day of Thanksgiving and praise to our Beneficent Father.”[1]

This proclamation came into being due in part to the efforts of Mrs. Sarah Josepha Hale, the author of the children’s poem, “Mary Had a Little Lamb.” For years she campaigned for a national Thanksgiving observance. After writing hundreds of letters to presidents, governors and other officials, she made her point. Secretary of State Seward responded to her letter on September 29, 1863, “I have received your interesting letter . . . and have commended the same to the consideration of the president.” We must also note, as we understand, that President Lincoln made this proclamation soon after coming to a saving faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. Now you know the rest of the story.

Recently, in a message titled “Saved! Saved! Saved!”, I shared the following: “At the request of José Henríquez each of the [33 trapped Chilean] miners received a T-shirt from Christian Maureira, national director of Campus Crusade for Christ in Chile, carrying the following message from which says, “Gracias Señor, Thank you Lord" on the front [photo available: ]. The back of the shirts carried these words (Porque en su mano estan las profundidades de la tierra, y las alturas do los montes son suyas) from Psalm 95:4, “In His hands are the depths of the earth, the heights of the mountains are His also.”[2]

Psalm 95 is an enthronement psalm attributed to David. The writer to the Hebrews citing this psalm states, “Again He designates a certain day, saying in David. . .” (Hebrews 4:7a), thus establishing Davidic penmanship. In his second epistle to Timothy, Paul establishes divine authorship. He writes, “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16-17).

From this psalm we will discover three elements related to worship from a thankful heart.

I. The Recruitment of Worshippers (Psalm 95:1, 2, 6)

David entreats, “Oh come, let us sing to the LORD! Let us shout joyfully to the Rock of our salvation. Let us come before His presence with thanksgiving; / Let us shout joyfully to Him with psalms. . . Oh come, let us worship and bow down; / Let us kneel before the LORD our Maker” (Psalm 95:1, 2, and 6).

Three times we note a word translated “come”. This is the language of invitation. Here I remember the words of the chorus of a hymn by Dr. William Savage Pitts (1830-1918), “Oh, come, come, come, / Come to the church in the wildwood, / Oh, come to the church in the vale; / No spot is so dear to my childhood / As the little brown church in the vale.”

Dr. William S. Pitts recounts when he visited Bradford, Iowa, in June of 1857 and saw the spot that a congregation planned to build a church. He wrote the words to "The Little Brown Church in the Vale." Several years later in 1864, he brought the manuscript of the song with him from his home in Wisconsin at the time of the dedication of the sanctuary. After paying $25, H. M. Higgins of Chicago, Illinois, soon published it and it became endeared to the heart of many far and wide. About the "Little Brown Church", Mr. Pitts confessed, "My hope is that it will stand for a thousand years and call the old man and his descendants to worship."

David, “a man after [God’s] own heart” (Acts 13:22), writes, “Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, / And into His courts with praise. Be thankful to Him, and bless His name” (Psalm 100:4). Here and in Psalm 95, David recruits worshippers. John records a conversation between the woman at the well and Jesus in John chapter 4. We begin reading at verse 20, where the woman said, “‘Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, and you Jews say that in Jerusalem is the place where one ought to worship.’ Jesus said to her, ‘Woman, believe Me, the hour is coming when you will neither on this mountain, nor in Jerusalem, worship the Father. You worship what you do not know; we know what we worship, for salvation is of the Jews. But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth’” (John 4:20-24). We learn from John chapter 4 that God is looking for worshippers.

Paul the Apostle writes in Romans 1:18-32, “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man—and birds and four-footed animals and creeping things. Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves, who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen. For this reason God gave them up to vile passions. For even their women exchanged the natural use for what is against nature. Likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful, and receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due. And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting; being filled with all unrighteousness, sexual immorality, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, evil-mindedness; they are whisperers, backbiters, haters of God, violent, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, undiscerning, untrustworthy, unloving, unforgiving, unmerciful; who, knowing the righteous judgment of God, that those who practice such things are deserving of death, not only do the same but also approve of those who practice them.”

Solomon exhorts in Ecclesiastes 12:1, “Remember now your Creator in the days of your youth. . .” Again, he writes in verse 6, “Remember your Creator before the silver cord is loosed, / Or the golden bowl is broken, / Or the pitcher shattered at the fountain, / Or the wheel broken at the well.”

President Abraham Lincoln declared, “We have been the recipients of the choicest bounties of Heaven; we have grown in numbers, wealth and power as no other nation has ever grown. But we have forgotten God. We have forgotten the gracious hand which preserved us in peace and multiplied and enriched and strengthened us and we have vainly imagined, in the deceitfulness of our hearts, that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own. Intoxicated with unbroken success, we have become too self-sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving grace, too proud to pray to the God that made us.”

Dr. Henry Allan “Harry” Ironside (1876-1951) was in a crowded restaurant, as Dr. Ray Stedman (1917-1992) shares. Dr. Stedman continues, “Just as Ironside was about to begin his meal, a man approached and asked if he could join him. Ironside invited him to have a seat.

Then, as was his custom, Ironside bowed his head in prayer. When he opened his eyes, the other man asked, ‘Do you have a headache?’ Ironside replied, ‘No, I don't.’ The other man asked, ‘Well, is there something wrong with your food?’ Ironside replied, ‘No, I was simply thanking God as I always do before I eat.’ The man said, ‘Oh, you're one of those, are you? Well, I want you to know I never give thanks. I earn my money by the sweat of my brow and I don't have to give thanks to anybody when I eat. I just start right in!’ Ironside said, ‘Yes, you're just like my dog. That's what he does too!’”

That reminds me of the story of a farmer, who went into a city and stopped at a diner. Some teens made fun of him, how he looked, talked, sat down to eat, and how he prayed before eating. They mockingly asked, “Hey, does everybody out on the farm bow their heads like that before they eat?” He never looked up, just replied, “Nope, the hogs don’t.”

Admittedly, those stories do not present dogs and hogs in a good light. However, they do clearly illustrate the level of those who fail to give thanks to their Creator.

Peter concludes his inspired comments about false teachers when he writes, “But it has happened to them according to the true proverb: ‘A dog returns to his own vomit,’ and, ‘a sow, having washed, to her wallowing in the mire’ (2 Peter 2:22).

British theological writer, William Law (1686-1761), author of several books to include A Serious Call to a Devout and Holy Life and Affectionate Address to the Clergy, asks and answers, “Would you know who is the greatest saint? He is not the man who does the most, or even prays the most. He is the man who is most thankful.”

II. The Reasoning behind Worship (Psalm 95:3-5, 7a)

David explains, “For the LORD is the great God, / And the great King above all gods. In His hand are the deep places of the earth; / The heights of the hills are His also. The sea is His, for He made it; / And His hands formed the dry land. . . For He is our God, / And we are the people of His pasture, / And the sheep of His hand” (Psalm 95:3-5,7a).

We find the word “for” two times in this passage. God is worthy of worship and worthy of praise. God is great! (v. 3) God is good! (v. 5)

Moses writes in Exodus 20:1-6, “And God spoke all these words, saying:
‘I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. You shall have no other gods before Me. You shall not make for yourself a carved image—any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; you shall not bow down to them nor serve them. For I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me, but showing mercy to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments.’”

Plutarch (46-120), author of Plutarch's Lives originally titled Parallel Lives of Famous Greeks and Romans, correctly states, “The worship most acceptable to God, comes from a thankful and cheerful heart.” We must add that according to the Bible, for worship to be acceptable to God, it must be according to His Word. Faith rather than merely having a good attitude is the basis of ultimate acceptance of our worship. For example, we learn from Cain some worship is wholly unacceptable contrasted with Abel whose worship was holy and acceptable. We read in Hebrews 11:4, “By faith Abel offered to God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, through which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts; and through it he being dead still speaks..”

British poet and playwright, William Shakespeare (1564-1616), prayed, “O Lord that lends me life, lend me a heart replete with thankfulness.”

III. The Results after Worshipping (Psalm 95:7b-11)

David enjoins, “Today, if you will hear His voice: ‘Do not harden your hearts, as in the rebellion, / As in the day of trial in the wilderness, / When your fathers tested Me; / They tried Me, though they saw My work. For forty years I was grieved with that generation, / And said, ‘It is a people who go astray in their hearts, / And they do not know My ways.’ So I swore in My wrath, / ‘They shall not enter My rest’” (Psalm 95:7b-11).

In essence, God through David asks, “Which will it be, ‘My wrath’ or ‘My rest’?”

We either hearken unto the voice of the Lord or we harden our hearts to His voice. Are you obediently hearkening God’s Word or obstinately hardening your heart?


British author, Izaak Walton (1593-1683), known most for his book titled, The Compleat Angler, writes, “God has two dwellings: one in heaven, and the other in a meek and thankful heart.”

Paul reminds us in Ephesians 2:8-10, “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.”

Dr. Carl C. Williams shares, “A strange thing happened on the Brown farm in central Missouri where Mrs. Brown raises Rhode Island Red chickens and Bronze turkeys. Whether turkeys or chickens, Mrs. Brown always used chicken hens to mother the young broods. A chicken hen is used to set on the eggs during incubation and then to look after the young until they are old enough to scratch for themselves. Herein lies the mystery. One day a strange looking baby bird appeared under a setting hen. From the very beginning it was obviously different.

Mr. Brown told his wife that the odd bird was a turken, a supposed hybrid, half turkey and half chicken. This turken grew along with the chicks being mothered by the Rhode Island Red. While this mongrel was much like the chicks, it was always different, an odd and lonely looking specimen.

From the very beginning the mother hen seemed to pay special attention to her odd charge. She scratched up special worms for him and saw to it that he got the choice eating place at feeding time. The other chicks learned to respect the turken, too. They did not protest the mother hen’s giving him special attention. As they all grew together, the chicks showed respect for the stranger that was so much bigger than they were.

At first the leaders of the flock—roosters and larger, more aggressive hens—paid special attention to this odd big fellow, and now and then they found occasion to get in a few pecks at him. This eventually developed into downright hatred and led to open warfare. However, there was always a certain respect and fear for the big fellow. This opposition gained momentum and increased in severity. Finally, most of the chicks that had hatched out with the turken turned against him and would on occasion peck at him. All this created an unbearable situation, and the turken, fearing for his very life, had to seclude himself.

The Browns were aware of what was going on in the barnyard and wondered how it would all come out. Their worst fears came to pass. One day they found the turken dead, literally pecked to death by his adversaries.

Often people are just may respect and fear someone they do not understand. But in a group they attack and destroy the stranger.

That is what happened to Jesus. Singly His enemies feared Him. But together they drove Him to His death. But unlike the turken, Jesus could have protected Himself from His enemies if He wished (Matt. 26:53).”[3] Here we read, “Or do you think that I cannot now pray to My Father, and He will provide Me with more than twelve legions of angels?”

Jesus was and still is a mysterious figure. The Bible clearly teaches Jesus is fully God and fully man, not part God and part man. We read about Jesus in John 1:10-13, “He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him. But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.”

The T-shirts Campus Crusade for Christ gave to the 33 rescued Chilean miners in mid October 2010, has the name JESUS prominently featured. As Dr. Adrian Rogers (1931-2005) frequently said, “Come to Jesus.” In our passage David, the psalmist, says in essence, “Come to Jesus.” Come to Jesus on His terms and in His time and you too will say, “Thank You Lord.”

[1]President Abraham Lincoln’s national Thanksgiving Day Proclamation, Issued October 3, 1863, Available from: Accessed: 11/ 21/10

[2]Dr. Franklin L. Kirksey “Saved! Saved! Saved!” excerpt from a sermon based on Ephesians 2:8-10 (10/24/10)

[3]Carl C. Williams, D. D., “Palm Sunday Stranger”

By Dr. Franklin L. Kirksey, pastor First Baptist Church of Spanish Fort 30775 Jay Drive Spanish Fort, Alabama 36527
Author of Sound Biblical Preaching: Giving the Bible a Voice Available on and / /
About the Author / (251) 626-6210
© November 21, 2010 All Rights Reserved