Pastor Walther / Thanksgiving / November 23, 2016 / Psalm 145:15-21
Psalm 145 is an important Psalm to remember, even memorize. That’s not just an encouragement from me, but that’s an encouragement from the writer of this psalm, King David. David wrote this psalm with an acrostic form. In other words, as you read down through the verses, the first letter of each verse progress through the alphabet. David used that pattern as a mnemonic device to help the people remember this psalm. In fact, in Jewish practice this psalm was recited twice in the morning and once in the evening service. For many early Christians, this psalm was popular on Pentecost. But for David, this was psalm was personal.
As king, David would have to make decisions that would affect people great and small. People would hate him and love him for his decisions. For the every day people, who lived during David’s time, it would have been difficult to understand the rationale for some of his decisions because they weren’t there to lead the people. They weren’t there to have fought against a giant, and have your best friend’s dad try to kill you. They weren’t there to have a son try to take over the throne or nations constantly attacking. But how would the normal joe schmoes ever get to understand his decision making if they couldn’t get to know him? Would they know that David would do his best to keep his people safe, even if it meant going to war with a neighboring nation or issuing a decree that made the people cringe? Only by getting a chance to get into the king’s presence and having a cup of coffee, would people understand him. But, good luck getting that audience. It’s like trying to get a meeting with the president. King David would do his best to help people find shade in the shelter of his kingdom, but he was only one man. David’s kingdom could only do so much, just like any government. They cannot and will never fully satisfy every desire and every need of every single person. Government was not the savior. Even King David knew that.
When we cannot find any comfort or satisfaction in a government, we often turn inward. How will WE manage? How will WE get what we need? How will WE ever be satisfied? When we try to seek shelter in the shade of our own kingdom, we fall into despair because we quickly see how we don’t know the future, we don’t comprehend all of our weaknesses, and we know that we can never truly be satisfied as we try to fulfill every desire that we have. We can’t fully trust a government to provide every desire, let alone ourselves.
But we often try to bring about those wants and desires within our own kingdom. We become a slave to the question: is this enough? Is this enough jewelry to make me happy? Is this tv big enough to impress my friends? Are these flowers enough to cover up my mistake to my spouse? Our human nature is always pressing its agenda in our face: If only I get more, I will be happier. However, as we look at the Psalm for today, we see that David isn’t talking about the shallow desires of this world, like the desire for a home theater, or a trophy spouse, or fame. These desires that David speaks of are the deepest desires of the heart, like the desire to know that we have significance in this life, the desire to know that my family will be provided for, to know that there’s more to life than gaining pleasure or gaining things, to know what death is like.
We can’t answer these questions on our own, but David has a lead. King David speaks of another king, not the ruler of a worldly government or an individual person who claims that they have the solution to war and worry. David speaks of this king who can actually accomplish great things and do it on the personal level. Unlike kings and rulers that you can’t get a 5 minute meeting with, our king isn’t locked away in some fortress, but this King makes time for you, he comes to you, and he is faithful to all his bold promises. We find our King in the words of this Psalm. Our King gives to us the solution to our problems. Our God is our king.
But so often, we want the answers to our questions now. We want our desires filled now. We want satisfaction in life now. We want, we want, we want, we want. Here, God teaches us patience. David reminds us that God always provides. Our king comes to us personally. He provides the means, he’s the one who gives to us the abilities to provide for our families, he is the one who satisfies our deepest desires. The things of this world will never satisfy or quench our thirst for more. The people of this world and the satisfaction that they promise will also fail to satisfy.
More specifically, He always provides at the proper time, in his ultimate loving knowledge, not our time. Our time is stuck in the present. Our time is filtered with our selfish lenses, like a child who wants a cookie before dinner. The parent may give the cookie to the child, but only at an appropriate time, such as after dinner.
We are much like that selfish child, failing to listen to our God and King who loves us and wants what’s best for us. That’s why he gave to us his commandments. His commandments remind us of the love that he deserves and the love that the people he created deserves. Unfortunately, we don’t always love God. We don’t always follow his commandments, which demonstrate our lovelessness. I am part of the wicked that God in his justice should destroy.
And so we ask, how can God promise us such great things? How can he come to us so personally? How can he open his hand and give us full satisfaction in our lives? David gives us a picture. In order for his hand to open for us, his hand had to open in a different manner. His hand had to first open on the cross. In order for you to receive all the blessings in your life, a nail had to be driven through his hand. In order for you to have peace in this life, his open hand lay motionless in the grave. In order for you have to have peace in the next life, his resurrected and open hand was touched by Thomas. Our King doesn’t come to us with force and a clenched fist. Our king comes to us in love. He points us our eyes to his hand, the same hand that gives to us the promise of earthly satisfaction, is the same hand that brought to us eternal satisfaction. With pierced hands, God gives to us lowly insignificant sinners significance. We are dearly loved children. We find shelter in the kingdom of God and peace in the cross. That is where we find satisfaction!
David was a king, who could have had any pleasure he wanted. He could have money, fame, women, power. Yet, even he saw the emptiness of all those desires. Even he knew that he as a king couldn’t provide the simplest of needs without God’s help. King David reminds us to see what’s really important in life, not just the physical blessings and the daily bread he has given to us, but the blessing of his love for us. No one has ever loved me that much. No one has given me so much. No one has ever given to me such great significance.
Do you see why this Psalm is such an important psalm? We see that God isn’t a benevolent King, or a harsh dictator, or a lame duck leader. Our God is the king who comes to us in person to remind us just how much he’s willing to give up for you. He gave his life, that you might have your daily bread. He gave his life, that you might have eternal life.
Thanksgiving is a natural day to ask the questions, what are we thankful for and who should we thank? King David gives us the answer and points us to the cross. This answer was so ingrained into David’s being that it oozed out of him in his every day language. Thanksgiving doesn’t have to be a once a year activity, but it can be every day, and in our every day language. When people ask you how you’re doing, instead of responding, “good” or “weather’s bad again,” try responding with one word, “thankful!” Immediately, people will ask why you’re thankful and what you’re thankful for. Point them to the cross and David did. As David said, “My mouth will speak in praise of the Lord. Let every creature praise his holy name for ever and ever.”