Thanksgiving as a Public Act

Stefan Nitzschke October 16, 2022 Psalm 116
Outline

3 reasons to give thanks in the presence of all of God’s people

I. Give Thanks that He Hears – vv. 1-7

A. Love will motivate you to call out to Him – vv. 1-2

“At the very commencement of this psalm David avows that he was attracted with the sweetness of God’s goodness, to place his hope and confidence in him alone. This abrupt mode of speaking, I have loved, is the more emphatic, intimating that he could receive joy and repose nowhere but in God. We know that our hearts will be always wandering after fruitless pleasures, and harassed with care, until God knit them to himself.” (Calvin, John, Commentary on the Book of Psalms, 360)

Deuteronomy 6:4-5 - Hear, O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord is one! You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.

Matthew 22:37-39 - And He said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.” This is the great and foremost commandment. The second is like it, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

Psalm 116:1-2 - I love the Lord, because He hears My voice and my supplications. Because He has inclined His ear to me, therefore I shall call upon Him as long as I live.

John 10:27 - My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me…

Psalm 116:2 - …Because He has inclined His ear to me…

B. Call out to Him in troubling times – vv. 3-4

Psalm 116:3-4 - The cords of death encompassed me and the terrors of Sheol came upon me; I found distress and sorrow. Then I called upon the name of the Lord: “O Lord, I beseech You, save my life!”

Matthew 11:28-29 - Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.

C. Trust in His character – vv. 5-7

1. Remember who He is…

Psalm 116:5 - Gracious is the Lord, and righteous; yes, our God is compassionate.

a. He is gracious

b. He is righteous

c. He is compassionate

2. Remember what He has done

Psalm 116:6 - The Lord preserves the simple; I was brought low, and He saved me.

3. Counsel your heart with this truth

Psalm 116:7 - Return to your rest, O my soul, for the Lord has dealt bountifully with you.

II. Give Thanks Because He Rescues – vv. 8-14

A. He preserves us to walk with Him

Psalm 116:8 - For You have rescued my soul from death, my eyes from tears, my feet from stumbling.

Psalm 40:1-3 - I waited patiently for the Lord; and He inclined to me and heard my cry. He brought me up out of the pit of destruction, out of the miry clay, and He set my feet upon a rock making my footsteps firm. He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God; Many will see and fear and will trust in the Lord.

Psalm 116:9 - I shall walk before the Lord in the land of the living.

Genesis 5:24 - Enoch walked with God; and he was not, for God took him.

“To walk in the presence of God is, in my opinion, equivalent to living under his charge. And thus David expects to enjoy his safety continually. For nothing is more desirable than that God should be upon the watch for us, that our life may be surrounded by his protecting care.” (Calvin, John, Commentary on the Book of Psalms, 364)

B. Ultimate rescue can come from no other

Psalm 116:10-11 - I believed when I said, “I am greatly afflicted.” I said in my alarm, “All men are liars.”

“There is no such thing as epistemological neutrality.” (Theologian Cornelius VanTil)

“…all facts are interpreted facts.” (Theologian Cornelius VanTil)

Acts 20:29-32 - I know that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves men will arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them. Therefore be on the alert, remembering that night and day for a period of three years I did not cease to admonish each one with tears. And now I commend you to God and to the word of His grace, which is able to build you up and to give you the inheritance among all those who are sanctified.

John 1:14 - And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.

John 1:17 - For the Law was given through Moses; grace and truth were realized through Jesus Christ.

Psalm 116:5 - Gracious is the Lord, and righteous; Yes, our God is compassionate.

III. Give Thanks that He Overcomes – vv. 15-19

A. His victory frees us to look at death differently

B. Publicly thank Him for His victory

Psalm 116:17-19 - To You I shall offer a sacrifice of thanksgiving, and call upon the name of the Lord. I shall pay my vows to the Lord, oh may it be in the presence of all His people, In the courts of the Lord’s house, In the midst of you, O Jerusalem. Praise the Lord!

This morning, we’ll be looking at Thanksgiving as a Public Act

It’s part of a larger series seeking to develop The Heart of Thanksgiving

We’re taking a specific look at a number of Psalms in order to continue Growing in Gospel Gratitude

Please follow along as we read our passage…

**Read Psalm 116:1-19

By way of reminder, we’re going to be discussing Thanksgiving as a Public Act, and based out of our passage, we’ll look at 3 reasons to give thanks in the presence of all God’s people

From the start, we’re to…

I. Give Thanks that He Hears – (vv. 1-7)

This is absolutely incredible, if you think about it…

*who He is (no beginning or end | Commanding all things | Holy)

*crowded room praying to Him – He hears each

And while it’s incredible that He hears each one of us when we call out to Him, it’s necessary to take a step back and note two things about this Psalm:

1) It’s written in the context of troublesome times

And when we find ourselves in a bind, we always cling to the thing we believe will provide relief or deliverance

This Psalmist correctly chose the Lord

2) it’s also important to note that the very first word in this Psalm is the word “love”

While it’s true that we cling to what we’re convinced will help us in times of trouble…

A. Love will motivate you to call out to Him – vv. 1-2

- John Calvin wrote – “At the very commencement of this psalm David avows that he was attracted with the sweetness of God’s goodness, to place his hope and confidence in him alone. This abrupt mode of speaking, I have loved, is the more emphatic, intimating that he could receive joy and repose nowhere but in God. We know that our hearts will be always wandering after fruitless pleasures, and harassed with care, until God knit them to himself.” – Calvin, John, Commentary on the Book of Psalms, 360.

There’s no greater motivator than love—that’s why it serves as the verb in the greatest commandment…

Deuteronomy 6:4–5 - Hear, O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord is one! You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.

Or as Jesus summarizes it:

Matthew 22:37–39 - And He said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.” This is the great and foremost commandment. The second is like it, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

Similarly, the Psalmist is crying out to God in times of distress because He loves the Lord

And the fact that Almighty God hears his prayers only serves to increase this love and build his confidence that the Lord will continue to hear him as long as he’s alive…

Psalm 116:1–2 - I love the Lord, because He hears My voice and my supplications. Because He has inclined His ear to me, Therefore I shall call upon Him as long as I live.

Again, it’s incredible that the Lord hears each one of us

And as sheep of His fold, our love for Him compels us to follow Him…

John 10:27 - My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me;

We won’t want to follow another voice that may promise respite or release—those who are of His fold will know that He alone is able to lead us by still waters

Whether you’re currently in a season of chaos or peace—let your love for Him motivate you to turn to Him…

Psalm 116:2 - …Because He has inclined His ear to me…

Don’t you love that imagery?

Picture the loving parent stooping down to her child’s level, eager to hear the supplications of the one she loves

It’s important to ask my Christian brothers and sisters—is this how you view God?

Do you see Him as inclining his ear to you, ready to hear your requests?

There are several inhibiters that will keep you from talking to Him—while each have to do with an absence of love, they carry their own nuance

Perhaps you feel like the pest or the troubled child (*imagining He says, “here he is again…”)

Maybe you think you have it all covered

Or possibly you don’t think He can help

That’s one of the reasons why we need one another

Looking at the wider lens of this whole Psalm—thanksgiving as a public act—I need the body of Christ when my love for Him is wavering and I’ve convinced myself He doesn’t want to hear from me

Additionally, we don’t want to just pray for one another from our cars and houses—we want to come together and lift each other up to the Lord’s inclined ear

We want to get together to publicly thank Him for hearing us and encourage others to…

B. Call out to Him in troubling times – vv. 3-4

this is the first of three ties that death is mentioned…

Psalm 116:3–4 - The cords of death encompassed me and the terrors of Sheol came upon me; I found distress and sorrow. Then I called upon the name of the Lord: “O Lord, I beseech You, save my life!”

Psalm 116 is a notoriously difficult Psalm to follow in terms of its flow of thought—you may have picked up on that as well when we were reading it

As I was studying for this passage, each commentator had a different recommendation on how to break up the chapter

But as we’ll see, the theme of death is brough up three times in the passage, and each section seems to interact with this reality differently

In this first portion, our Psalmist is crying out to God in the midst of a deadly situation, expressing thanksgiving that there’s someone who can help in such a time

I can’t say what the Psalmist was going through when he penned this chapter—but I can say with confidence that the God he’s crying out to is the exact same as the One we petition in our distress and sorrow…

So how does this help us Growing in Gospel Gratitude?...

Because that same God persists in having His ear inclined to us…

Matthew 11:28–29 - Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.

*gospel invitation (*never called out to Him)

so where does loving Him, and calling out to Him lead?...

C. Trust in His character – vv. 5-7

- by…

1. Remember who He is…

Our passage helpfully describes the Lord in ways that remind us of His character…

Psalm 116:5 - Gracious is the Lord, and righteous; Yes, our God is compassionate.

We see that…

a) He is gracious – Have you ever gone to someone for help who wasn’t? (*we’re not a pest to Him)

b) He is righteous - Have you ever gone to someone for help who wasn’t? (*He loves justice)

But please especially remember that one, because the opposite of that characteristic is going to come up in a very important way just a few more verses from now…

c) He is compassionate - Have you ever gone to someone for help who wasn’t?

- By the way, here’s a convicting way to think about this:

when someone comes to you for help, is it handles graciously, righteously, and compassionately?

As we grow in our love for God and as we continue to follow the voice of our Good Shepherd, this is one of the changes that ought to see: growth in these three areas

So our passage encourages us to remember who He is, then…

2. Remember what He has done

Psalm 116:6 - The Lord preserves the simple; I was brought low, and He saved me.

This is one of my favorite aspects of church family night—hearing the testimonies of God’s faithfulness as men and women share God’s saving work in their own lives

It’s a beautiful example of giving thanks in the presence of all God’s people

And if you have a testimony of God’s salvific work in your own life, I hope you have a similar response of public thanksgiving

It’s good for you also to…

3. Counsel your heart with this truth

Part of the sporadic nature of this Psalm is where the writer is throwing his voice

He’s talked to us, he’s talked to God, now he talks to himself…

Psalm 116:7 - Return to your rest, O my soul, for the Lord has dealt bountifully with you.

I hope this makes you think of what Pastor Greiner talked about last week out of Ps 131

Because of who God is, we can rest in Him and not seek to clamor after things that are too great or difficult for us

The fact that He was able to save you should provide the thanksgiving and trust necessary in your own distress and sorrow

Moreover, the fact that He is able to keep you should provide the security needed in tumultuous times

- This might be a good time for all of us to pause and thank the Lord that He hears us…

that He actually inclines His ear to us…

and that He deals with us in ways that are gracious, and righteous, and compassionate…

So now what?

It’s not enough to simply agree with the fact that He hears us and that knowledge should lead us to public thanksgiving

The Psalmist continues, compelling us to…

II. Give Thanks Because He Rescues – vv. 8-14

See, again, hearing alone isn’t enough…

A. He preserves us to walk with Him

- this is the second time the word death is mentioned…

- isn’t the progression in verse 8 amazing?

Not only does He rescue—He overwhelmingly rescues…

- Psalm 116:8 - For You have rescued my soul from death, My eyes from tears, My feet from stumbling.

Very often, that’s what you’ll hear during church family night as brothers and sisters are publicly thanking the Lord for His recue

He not only saved them, but began turning their life around by the power of His Spirit

Those recued by Christ don’t need to fear eternity: He’s rescued my soul from death

- there are 2 questions that flow logically out of that:

1. Do you have a rescue story?...[develop the gospel…especially because we have so many people attending these days who are new…]

2. Are you learning to tell your rescue story and looking for opportunities to do so?...

*Judah’s “go-story”

As a reminder of how wonderfully connected God’s Word proves to be, his verse sounds a lot like another Psalm…

Psalm 40:1–3 - I waited patiently for the Lord; and He inclined to me and heard my cry. He brought me up out of the pit of destruction, out of the miry clay, and He set my feet upon a rock making my footsteps firm. He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God; Many will see and fear and will trust in the Lord.

I hope this exemplifies your own heart this morning

And by way of reminder, this isn’t a passive process—look at the next verse:

Psalm 116:9 - I shall walk before the Lord in the land of the living.

- do you remember the OT saint named Enoch?...what was so noteworthy about him?...

Apart from being crazy-old…

Genesis 5:24 - Enoch walked with God; and he was not, for God took him.

We are to be in fellowship with the Lord…

“To walk in the presence of God is, in my opinion, equivalent to living under his charge. And thus David expects to enjoy his safety continually. For nothing is more desirable than that God should be upon the watch for us, that our life may be surrounded by his protecting care.” – Calvin, John, Commentary on the Book of Psalms, 364.

Again—see God as the loving and caring Father who has His ear inclined towards you, ready to hear your supplications, ready to rescue, ready to fellowship with you

- now, the next 2 verses explain why all of this is so important, an why our thanksgiving for God hearing us should even increase…

B. Ultimate rescue can come from no other

- verses 10-11 contain a shocking affirmation…Psalm 116:10–11 - I believed when I said, “I am greatly afflicted.” I said in my alarm, “All men are liars.”

- what does that mean?...anytime we go to human beings for help, even in the best of circumstances, the interaction will be imperfect…

- please connect these concepts together in your mind…[Kari, please make a slide of the entire Psalm, with the word “righteous” in verse 5, circled and connected to the word “liars” in verse 11]

- Theologian Cornelius VanTil – There is no such thing as epistemological neutrality.

- the word epistemology means source of truth

The fact is, each of us have a fallible understanding, and none of us have access to all pertinent information at any given point in time

This obviously severely diminishes our ability to help others—and that’s the optimistic way of saying it…

Sometimes, our “help” is insufficient

Other times, our “help” has the opposite effect—no matter how well-intended we may be

- that’s why Theologian Cornelius VanTil – all facts are interpreted facts.

- and what did the Psalmist say – “all men are liars…”

and that includes who?...you…and me…

This ought to infuse all our opinions and conclusions with a heavy dose of humility, understanding that God alone has a corner on truth with a capital T

I’d asked you to keep one of God’s attributes in mind—His righteousness

Men will never be able to rescue in a way that is fully righteous and compassionate because… all men a liars

And let me push it a little further—since you and I are include under the “mankind” heading, we’ll never perfectly interpret God’s responses to our petitions

Where does that leave us?

In the fortunate position of having a perfectly righteous and wholly gracious, all-powerful God that readily inclines His ear to us

It also leaves us in a position of humility, understanding our own fallen interpretation of truth

Yet, our default inclination is towards pride rather than humility, leaving us with several implications for todays day-and-age

But for the sake of time, I’ll just mention 2…

1. The first being, that a current emphasis in our culture is that perception equals reality….

Professor Carl Trueman has written extensively on the matter—I’d highly encourage you to pick up one or both of his works if you haven’t done so…

Though he traces many of the origins back to more modern philosophers and thought leaders like Nietzsche, Freud, Marx, and Darwin, our Psalmist understood that the underlying issue is this: when mankind is inventing their own truths and rescues, devoid of God, the sentiment “all men are liars” rings true

For instance, when perception equals reality, then what you feel about a matter most important: it’s what determines truth

- so it no longer matters what happened…it’s your perception of what happens…

Back in my day (am I allowed to say that?), a doc or sonographer would simply look at a baby and gather all the data they needed to confidently and correctly conclude whether they were looking at a boy or a girl

*gender reveal?

You know what never entered their minds at that time?

Maybe we should ask the baby what he thinks, rather than “assigning” his gender

But that’s where we are!

- and the culture even justifies the butchering and mutilation of children under the guise of forcing reality to match one’s feelings…

- we’ve lost the sense of objective truth…instead of believing that all men are liars, and we must go to the God of heaven and earth to determine true righteousness…

culture suggests that truth is determined by your perception, or your feelings…

And we, as the church, need to give careful consideration into these matters

- that’s why Paul warned the Ephesian elders - Acts 20:29–32 - I know that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves men will arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them. Therefore be on the alert, remembering that night and day for a period of three years I did not cease to admonish each one with tears. And now I commend you to God and to the word of His grace, which is able to build you up and to give you the inheritance among all those who are sanctified.

That was certainly true in Paul’s day—it’s no less true today as well

2. The second implication is – thank the Lord Jesus Christ that He’s the way, and the truth…

- we need a Savior who doesn’t judge us imperfectly on the basis of lies or the flawed perceptions of human beings…He’s the way and the truth…

But there’s two sides to that coin…

Jesus knows all truth—including every aspect of each one of us

That’s why He needed to go to the cross, to pay for our past, present, and future sin

But as our passage says, He wasn’t just a righteous judge, He was also a gracious servant—Romans 3 calls Him both the just and the justifier

John 1 points out the multifaceted nature of our Redeemer as well:

John 1:14 - And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.

John 1:17 - For the Law was given through Moses; grace and truth were realized through Jesus Christ.

- all men are liars—that’s why we can’t turn inward or horizontally for rescue—but we have an inclined ear ready to listen, and He’s… Psalm 116:5 - Gracious is the Lord, and righteous; Yes, our God is compassionate.

Thank the Lord for His attentive ear, thank Him for His righteous rescue, and…

III. Give Thanks that He Overcomes – vv. 15-19

He hears, He rescues, and He overcomes—even defeating our greatest enemy…

A. His victory frees us to look at death differently

- this final section reveals the third use of the word “death” in our passage…

Death is no friend—our passage has not treated it as such so far

But verse 15 provides a beautiful hope: “Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His godly ones”

How is it that this enemy can be described in terms of “precious” in the sight of the Lord?

Because for those who are a part of His flock, described here as “His godly ones,” passages like 2 Corinthians 5:8 ring true, understanding that absence from the body means presence with the Lord

This is the ultimate fulfillment of the Psalmist’s desire to walk in fellowship with God

And the reason the death of His godly ones is precious in His sight is because He has overcome death

For all of these reasons, we are to…

B. Publicly thank Him for His victory

Our Psalm has a chorus that’s repeated twice, respectively

Once in vv13-14 and once in 17-18

In both, it calls us to bring our offering of thanksgiving in the presence of all God’s people…

Psalm 116:17–19 - To You I shall offer a sacrifice of thanksgiving, and call upon the name of the Lord. I shall pay my vows to the Lord, Oh may it be in the presence of all His people, In the courts of the Lord’s house, In the midst of you, O Jerusalem. Praise the Lord!

We hope you continue to join us in bringing your thanksgiving in the presence of God’s people—exemplified through your love for God, worship of Him, and proclamation of the salvation He’s won through His righteousness

*Conclude into + thank Him that He hears, He rescues, & He overcomes

Authors

Stefan Nitzschke

Roles

Pastor of College Ministries - Faith Church

Director of Faith West Community Center - Community Ministries West

Bio

B.S. - Management Information Systems, Iowa State University
M.Div. - Faith Bible Seminary

Stefan has been serving on the pastoral team at Faith Church since 2016. He and his wife have a passion for discipleship and evangelism and are the blessed parents of four carefree boys and one sweet girl. Stefan is certified as a biblical counselor through the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors (ACBC) and is pursuing a Ph.D. in Christian Preaching at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.