A Sacrifice of Thanksgiving
I will offer you a sacrifice of thanksgiving and call on the name of the LORD.
Psalm 116 celebrates God’s goodness. The psalmist has experienced God’s grace in manifold expressions. God has heard his prayers (116:1). God delivered him from death (116:3-6), guided his steps (116:8-9), and freed him from chains (116:16). Therefore, the psalmist loves the Lord and offers him praise (116:1,19). Moreover, he proclaims to God: “I will offer you a sacrifice of thanksgiving and call on the name of the Lord” (116:17).
Among the sacrifices of the Old Testament were offerings that were given when people wanted to thank God in a special way. These “thank offerings” were among the “peace offerings” that were presented to the Lord and then eaten by the people in celebration (Lev. 7:15). The writer of Psalm 116 may very well have had such an offering in mind when he spoke of offering “a sacrifice of thanksgiving” to the Lord (116:17).
Today, we don’t offer the kind of thank offerings specified in the Old Testament law. Sometimes we do make special gifts to our church or a Christian ministry as a way of saying “thank you” to God. But our “sacrifice of thanksgiving” tends to be more in words and songs as we lift up our voices to express our gratitude to God.
Yet, the more we grow in our experience of God’s grace, the more we discover that thanksgiving isn’t simply something we say to God, but a way of living each day. Our “thank offerings” take the form of faithfulness as we seek to honor the Lord in all that we do. We learn to savor the goodness of each day, offering ourselves as living sacrifices, living “thank offerings” to our gracious God.
QUESTIONS FOR FURTHER REFLECTION: How do you offer thanks to God? What might it mean for you to live thankfully each day?
PRAYER: O Lord, you have been so good to me. Too often I take your grace for granted. But today I’m reminded by Psalm 116 of the manifold ways you have blessed me. Indeed, you have heard my prayers. You have delivered me from “deathly” living, guided my steps, and freed me from the chains of my sin. Therefore, today I offer you a “sacrifice of thanksgiving” as I call upon your name. Thank you, dear Lord, for all the ways you have blessed me.
May I live today with a persistent sense of gratitude. May I be open to your gifts, your presence. May I see your goodness and give you the credit you deserve. May I thank you, not only in words, but in how I live all day long.
All praise and thanks be to you, O God. Hallelujah! Amen.
What does it mean to pursue God in all aspects of life? How do we live in such a way that every area of our lives and every facet of ourselves is available to the pursuit of God? Are we living fragmented, viewing parts of our lives as sacred and other parts as secular? What would happen if we let the different parts of our lives exist together in an integrated life, pursuing God in every aspect of who we are at work, at home, and at church? Dictionary.com offers a few definitions of the word pursue, one of which includes the idea of following in order to overtake or capture, but who can capture God? Instead, let's consider an alternate definition that lifts up the idea of following close upon or going with. In the series, Pursue God, we'll consider how to go with God in every aspect of our lives—inviting him to integrate each part of our lives and to be Lord over all.