November 20, 2022

A Pattern for Thanksgiving

Passage: Ps 105:1-7

Note: We had technical difficulties in recording this message. The audio is a computer conversion of the notes into an audio format.


The first Thanksgiving proclamation issued for the new nation of the USA came in 1789. Congress had approved the Bill of Rights as amendments to the Constitution, and it then recommended a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to render thanks to God for blessing the new nation. President Washington declared Nov 26, 1789, as the first national day of prayer and thanksgiving to the Lord.

Seventy-five years later, after the Civil War ended, President Abraham Lincoln established the last Thursday in November as a day to acknowledge “the gracious gifts of the Most High God” bestowed upon America. Every president did the same until 1941 when Congress officially made Thanksgiving a national holiday.[1] Presidents since then have continued to make Thanksgiving proclamations virtually every year.

Long before America became a nation, the people of Israel were celebrating God’s goodness to them.

Ps 105 is a long Hebrew hymn celebrating Israel’s history, from the sojourn in Egypt to the Conquest of the Promised Land.[2] The main point of the psalm is that God has been faithful to his promises. God takes care of his people.

The first seven verses of this psalm serve as an introduction and invitation to render praise and thanksgiving to God for his faithfulness.

We should note for whom this psalm is written—vs. 6: O seed of Abraham His servant, ye children of Jacob, His chosen. This expression of thanksgiving is appropriate for the Jews, the children of Israel, God’s chosen people.

Of course, we are not the nation of Israel, but we acknowledge that God has “shed his grace” on our nation. America, like Israel, was established on God’s promises. The first Europeans settled here so they could enjoy religious freedom. For many decades, America prospered because it respected Christian principles. America became a great nation, largely because it affirmed biblical values.

Like Israel of old, it is fitting for us to render thanks and praise to God. The first seven verses of Ps 105 highlight several things that would be appropriate for us to do as we consider God’s faithfulness to us.

What are some things that would be appropriate for us to do as we approach Thanksgiving Day?

[1] Legal E-Alert: The True Origin of Thanksgiving. Christian Law Association.

[2] Willem A. VanGemeren, “Psalms,” in The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs, ed. Frank E. Gaebelein, vol. 5 (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1991), 664. Some of the material in this message comes from this commentary.

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