As Thanksgiving approaches, we all have different ways of reflecting on what we’re thankful for. Whether it’s cutting out turkey-hands and writing what your thankful for on each finger, or going one-by-one around the Thanksgiving dinner table, it’s good to take some time to reflect on and rejoice in the Lord’s provision in our lives. What are you thankful for? A good way to not forget about all that God has done in your life is to write down a list or to say it to yourself!
We see a great example of this in the Bible. King David didn’t celebrate Thanksgiving as we do, but he showed his thankfulness by blessing God and remembering all of His benefits:
“Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless His holy name! Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits, who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy, who satisfies you with good so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s” (Psalm 103:1-5).
Soul, Bless the Lord!
As Christians, it’s almost second nature for us to say “God bless you.” But David takes the idea of “blessing” to the next level—he blesses God. In order to bless God, David stirs himself up by speaking to his own soul. He calls upon everything that is within him to bless the holy name of God. He doesn’t just think about doing it, he audibly orders his entire being to bless God as an act of thanksgiving and worship.
It was very common for David to talk to himself (without being crazy!). David did this because he knew that it is spiritually-stimulating—it is an effective way to stir up within yourself an attitude of praise. Whether or not you use an audible voice, one thing is definitely true: you constantly listen to yourself and act according to your feelings, emotions, or attitude. Because of your sinful flesh, you often tell yourself to do things that you aren’t supposed to do. Therefore, it is essential that, like David, you tell yourself to do what is right—bless the name of the Lord.
Don’t Forget All His Benefits
David tells himself to not forget all of God’s benefits. He audibly orders himself to remember God’s benefits: His forgiveness, healing, redemption, love and mercy, and satisfaction. Why does David order himself to not forget God’s benefits? Because he was prone to forget them! David had to remind himself of God’s benefits so he could bless God through praise and thanksgiving.
Like David, you must tell yourself to not forget about God’s benefits. You don’t forget God’s works because they are insignificant and forgetful; you forget them when you put your focus on things other than God. The best way to not forget about God’s benefits is to preach the gospel to yourself on a daily basis. Remind yourself of what Jesus did on the cross for you and how it has changed your life. This will cause you to bless the Lord with all that is within you, for you’ll have a heart of gratitude.
He Forgives All Your Iniquity
The first benefit that David lists is about how God forgives all of your iniquity. The reason why David lists forgiveness first is because without the forgiveness of sin, all of the other benefits are not possible. Because of God’s gracious forgiveness, “He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities,” for “as far as the east is from the west, so far does He remove our transgressions from us” (vv.10,12).
David was well acquainted with both his sin and God’s forgiveness. David knew that he was a great sinner who needed an ever greater Savior (see Psalm 51). He trusted in God’s forgiveness, believing that God had forgiven all of his sin—not just some of it! Do you believe that God has forgiven all of your sin? Or do you feel that you have to still pay for some of it? You can believe in God’s total forgiveness because He took your debt and nailed it to the cross (Col. 2:14). Remember, you’re fully forgiven! Be thankful that every speck, spot, and stain of sin is cleansed by Christ’s blood (1 John 1:7)!
He Heals All Your Diseases
The second benefit that David lists refers to God’s healing touch—He heals all your diseases. Now, you may object to this benefit because surely there are many Christians who suffer from various diseases. Since God doesn’t heal all physical diseases, this benefit is often interpreted as referring to spiritual diseases—the sickness of the soul. This deadly disease is due to sin, but it’s cured by the cross. You were once sick, but Christ has made you whole. He has healed you of all your diseases!
Imagine if you had a physical disease and you were miraculously healed. You wouldn’t be questioning whether or not you have been made well, for you would know that you were healed. Likewise, you should know that you have been healed of all your spiritual diseases. You can be confident of your healing because Christ’s work on the cross is your assurance. Just look at Christ’s wounds, for they are the remedy for your disease; they provide absolute assurance for your healing and guarantee that you are spiritually whole and healthy. This should cause you to bless God!
He Redeems Your Life from the Pit
The third benefit that David lists refers to God’s redemption from the pit, where God delivers your life from spiritual death, and ultimately, eternal death. Throughout his entire life David continually experienced the redeeming hand of God, for God always delivered him from both physical and spiritual destruction.
By definition, redemption requires a payment. Some type of transaction must occur for it to be granted. So how exactly were you redeemed from the pit? It was through Christ’s ransom payment—His own blood (Eph. 1:7)! In Hebrew, the word “pit” is often used as a title for Sheol (Psalm 16:10), which is the world of death. God has redeemed you from spiritual death by making you alive with Christ (Eph. 2:5)!
He Crowns You with Steadfast Love and Mercy
The fourth benefit that David lists pictures God’s great gift to you—He crowns you with steadfast love and tender mercy. The literal meaning of the word “crown” is to encircle and to compass, which means that God’s steadfast love and mercy move, extend, and stretch around your life. God’s immeasurable love and mercy constantly surround you (v.11, 14)!
Picture a prince being crowned. His crown is made out of expensive material and it symbolizes honor, power, and prestige. But ultimately, his crown is temporary and can be removed. Now picture God crowning you; but the crown He places on you is much different—it is irreplaceable and eternal for it is woven together with His steadfast love and mercy. God placed His crown of love and mercy on you, transforming you from a sinner to a saint!
He Satisfies You with Good
The final benefit that David lists describes how God satisfies you with that which is good. Because God satisfied David with things that were good, he wanted to bless the Lord with all that was within him. Likewise, you should be so thankful for God’s satisfying goodness that you take time to bless Him. Only God can provide complete satisfaction in your life. Sin can gratify the flesh, but only Christ can satisfy the soul. We receive good gifts in this life (Luke 11:13), but God’s gifts are perfect and come from above (James 1:17).
The result of these five benefits—forgiveness, healing, redemption, love and mercy, and satisfaction—is that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s. As Isaiah 40:31 describes, your spiritual strength will be renewed and will become like that of your youth, causing you to run and not be weary, to walk and not faint. God has done all this so you can be spiritually strengthened.
Memorize Psalm 103:1-5 and meditate on it. Reflect on God’s benefits in your own life and make a list of all that you’re thankful for. Rejoice in His presence and tell yourself, “Soul, bless the Lord!” Bless the Lord and don’t forget His benefits this Thanksgiving!