The Declarative Psalms or Psalms of Thanksgiving speak to the gifts the Lord has given his people. There is an equal distinction between the self, a gift and the Giver. They declare God’s gifts to the world, to those who do not know the character of God. It is worth noting that the linguistic origin of the words “think” and “thank” are closely related. Thinking on God’s gifts leads to a thankful spirit.

“Praising God is work which the greatest of men need not be ashamed of; it is the work of angels,
the work of heaven.”
– Matthew Henry

My father-in-law is the size of a grizzly bear. He towers above most. One thing I love and am always moved by is when I see him in church during worship. He’s the guy towards the back with the really nice suit & tie, hands stretched towards heaven, and, if you look close, I bet you’ll see tears on his cheeks, tracing the outlines of his huge smile.

I’m moved by his worship and humility because this vulnerability is a part of true gratitude. Since we had the words “You will be like God” whispered into our hearts in the Garden, we struggle with elevating ourselves to the level of God, or trying to pull Him down to our level, so we can deal with Him as equals. So often we say either, “I’ve got it” or “I can take it from here.”

Notice how David starts though, “I will give You thanks with all my heart…” He starts with humility and gratitude. But, he doesn’t just put his pen down and close the book there, “Done. Grateful. Check.” Fueled by gratitude, David sings praises to God, he physically bows and humbles himself in worship declaring God’s magnificence. True gratitude is displayed in humility and produces worship.

As Tim Keller puts it, “The gospel is this: we are more sinful and flawed in ourselves than we ever dared believe, yet at the very same time we are more loved and accepted in Jesus Christ than we ever dared hope.” My father-in-law gets it. A heart filled with this truth can’t merely stand there in indifference; hands-in-pocket. It gives itself fully, deeply. It sings. It surrenders. It humbles itself. It displays. It declares.

This is contagious! All the declaring David is doing will one day spread, “all the kings of the earth will rise to give you thanks… they too will sing (vs. 4 & 5 TPT).” Notice it isn’t immediate, “One day all…”. How does this effect us when we worship? What are we declaring to those around us? Are they hearing the living words that God has spoken to you so that “one day” they too will sing those living words?

David calls out to God and is answered the very moment he calls. God’s response isn’t always what we would expect.

We’re used to saying something to someone and they respond in turn by saying something back, “Marco”…“Polo.” We think because God doesn’t say, “Polo” back to us, that He isn’t there or He’s ignoring us. Here we see in vs. 3 & 4 that God answers with exactly what David needed. David didn’t need God to speak. What he really needed was something spiritual. “You strengthened me deep within my soul and breathed fresh courage into me.” God gives us either what we prayed for or what we would’ve prayed for if we knew what He knew.

David ends this Psalm with just as much humility as he started with. He writes, “You keep every promise you’ve ever made to me! Since Your love for me is constant and endless, I ask You, Lord, to finish every good thing that you’ve begun in me! (TPT)”. In other words, “not my will, but Yours be done in my life.”

Discussion Questions

  • When did you feel like God gave you what you needed and not what you prayed for? How did that shape the way you pray?
  • What is something you need the Lord to touch, to heal, to fix that you are not praying over? Offer that up to your Missional Community.

Pray the Psalms
Read and pray through the Psalms this week. As you pray, reflect on the refrain for each Psalm written below. Conclude each Psalm with “Glory to the Father, to the Son and to the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, is now and will be forever. Amen.”

  • Psalm 138 – Your lovingkindness, O Lord, endures forever.
  • Psalm 77 – In the day of my trouble, I have sought the
  • Psalm 78 – O Lord, how glorious are your works.
  • Psalm 119: 97-120 – Give me life according to your word, O Lord.
  • Psalm 34 – O taste and see that the Lord is gracious.
  • Psalm 91 – Keep me as the apple of your eye.
  • Psalm 136 – God’s mercy endures forever.