The first Thanksgiving in America was celebrated among the Plymouth colonists and the Wampanoag Indians in 1621. Over a century later in 1789, President George Washington proclaimed the 26th of November to be a day of public thanksgiving and prayer. Thanksgiving finally became an official federal holiday during the Civil War in 1863 by proclamation of President Lincoln. Thanksgiving is rich with American history. Thanksgiving is also rich with biblical history. The Israelites celebrated their own “thanksgiving” nearly 3,000 years ago, and it was much more than a holiday—it was an act of worship.
Psalm 100 was written to guide them as they gave thanks. The superscript of the psalm says it is, “A Psalm for giving thanks.” You, too, can use this psalm as a manual to assist you in giving thanks to the Lord. This helpful psalm tells us four things about thanksgiving:
(1) Giving thanks can be done through song. The first two verses read, “Make a joyful noise to the LORD, all the earth! Serve the LORD with gladness! Come into his presence with singing!” (vv. 1-2). Singing is essential to giving thanks (Acts 16:25; Eph. 5:19; Col. 3:16; James 5:13). Sing a song to the Lord as an expression of gratitude for who He is and what He has done.
(2) Giving thanks is personal. The psalm continues, “Know that the LORD, he is God! It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture” (v. 3). In order to give thanks to God, you must have a personal relationship with Him. You must be a sheep in His pasture. You cannot give thanks to a God you do not know.
(3) Giving thanks should be corporate: “Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! Give thanks to him; bless his name!” (v. 4). You cannot fully give thanks to God unless you are in the company of other believers. Thanksgiving happens in His “courts” and “gates,” where His people assemble.
(4) Giving thanks should be done because of God: “For the LORD is good; his steadfast love endures forever; and his faithfulness to all generations” (v. 5). You are to give thanks because of who God is: good, loving, and faithful. Even if you had no blessings, God would still be worthy of thanksgiving because He is God.
Let Psalm 100 guide you on Thanksgiving Day as you honor the Lord with your gratitude.
Bible Gleanings is a weekend devotional column, written for the Murray Ledger & Times in Calloway County, Kentucky. In the event that the column is not posted online, it is be posted for reading here.