The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: a good understanding have all they that do his commandments: his praise endureth for ever. (Psalms 111:10)
Today we are happy to have the privilege of celebrating Thanksgiving. This is one of my favorite Sundays of the year as we have the opportunity to think on God’s bountiful blessings and to enjoy the fellowship of God’s people as we gather around a wonderful Thanksgiving dinner.
I have chosen Psalm 111 for our scripture reading which reminds us of God’s great works. Verse 2 says, “The works of the Lord are great, sought out of all them that have pleasure therein.” Verse 4 says that God has made His wonderful works to be remembered. This is what we do when we set aside a day like today. It is the recognition that everything we have comes from God. He deserves our praise and adoration for His salvation and daily provision.
Charles Spurgeon, the great English pastor of the late 19th century wrote a commentary on Psalms entitled, The Treasury of David. He makes the following comment on verse 1: “Holy reverence of God leads us to praise him, and this is the point which the psalm drives at, for it is a wise act on the part of a creature towards his Creator.” Thankfulness and praise is more than just prayers and singing songs and saying that we thank God. Real thankfulness is shown by responding to God’s goodness in obedience.
Spurgeon makes this clear in his comments on verse 10: “Obedience to God proves that our judgment is sound. Why should he not be obeyed? Does not reason itself claim obedience for the Lord of all? Only a man void of understanding will ever justify rebellion against the holy God. Practical godliness is the test of wisdom. Men may know and be very orthodox, they may talk and be very eloquent, they may speculate and be very profound; but the best proof of their intelligence must be found in their actually doing the will of the Lord. The former part of the psalm taught us the doctrine of God’s nature and character, by describing his works: the second part supplies the practical lesson by drawing the inference that to worship and obey him is the dictate of true wisdom. We joyfully own that it is so.”
Spurgeon’s words cause us to reflect on the rejection of God’s principles by our American society. This week the nation will pause for a holiday which we call Thanksgiving, but very few have shown any thankfulness at all by being obedient to God’s call for holiness. The scriptures tell us to trust in the Lord and not lean on our own understanding (Prov. 3:5). We think we are wise and know what is best for our country when God says, ”a good understanding have all they that do his commandments.”
As you celebrate Thanksgiving this week, take time to be thankful and to praise God for His bounty, but also remember to take account of your life. Have you shown God how thankful you are by your obedience? We often speak of how we can trust God. A good question for each of us is, “Does God trust our praise when we say we are thankful?” The proof is not what you say with your mouth. The proof is what you do with your life.
Pastor V. Mark Smith