Still Thankful - Psalms 30:1-12
Key Verse: Psalm 30:5 For his anger endureth but a moment; in his favour is life: weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.
I think that through this past year and as I prepared this sermon, this is the thought, the truth I want to share with you this morning. “Thankfulness is most powerful when it is given in the midst of thankless times.”
Matthew Henry, the famous scholar, was once accosted by
thieves and robbed of his purse. He wrote these words in his diary:
"Let me be thankful first, because I was never robbed before; second, because, although they took my purse, they did not take my life; third, because, although they took my all, it was not much; and fourth, because it was I who was robbed, not I who robbed." - Church of Ireland
A very poor man looked through his pantry and could only find a single solitary beet to make for his dinner. He cooked it put it on a plate and set down to say grace. As he looked at the sparse meal of only one beet, he bowed his head and prayed, “Thank You Lord. That beet’s all. Amen”
This year marks the 400th year since the Pilgrims landed and formed the Mayflower compact. That compact forms one of the historical foundations to our republic form of Government. A government where our leaders are elected by the people they govern.
The Pilgrims were a subset of the Puritans who thought that each Christian congregation should govern itself. Does that sound familiar all you independent Baptists? They were know as “Separatists” because of their desire to separate from any state church. Not all Separatist were Baptist but all Baptists were Separatists and still are. The Pilgrims, under threat of persecution and even jail, first fled to Holland in 1608, and then to America aboard the Mayflower in 1620.
Before the Pilgrims disembarked from the Mayflower, they formed the Mayflower compact, a solemn agreement styled like a biblical covenant. The compact committed the people and their rulers to pursue “the Glory of God, and the Advancement of the Christian Faith, and the Honor of our King and Country.”
Three years after the compact the Pilgrims celebrated the first thanksgiving. Governor Bradford of Massachusetts made the first Thanksgiving Proclamation:
"Inasmuch as the great Father has given us this year an abundant harvest of Indian corn, wheat, peas, beans, squashes, and garden vegetables, and has made the forests to abound with game and the sea with fish and clams, and inasmuch as He has protected us from the ravages of the savages, has spared us from pestilence and disease, has granted us freedom to worship God according to the dictates of our own conscience.
Now I, your magistrate, do proclaim that all ye Pilgrims, with your wives and ye little ones, do gather at ye meeting house, on ye hill, between the hours of 9 and 12 in the day time, on Thursday, November 29th, of the year of our Lord one thousand six hundred and twenty-three and the third year since ye Pilgrims landed on ye Pilgrim Rock, there to listen to ye pastor and render thanksgiving to ye Almighty God for all His blessings." - Encyclopedia of 15,000 Illustrations: Signs of the Times.
Now, that first thanksgiving did not come about because the Pilgrims had been wildly successful and prosperous after landing on Plymouth Rock. In fact, the first thanksgiving was celebrated after terrible hardship and suffer.
When the Mayflower arrived on 16 December 1620, there were 99 people aboard (four had died earlier at Cape Cod and one was born there). In a little more than three months, until the end of March 1621, William Bradford recorded the deaths of 44 of them. The Plymouth colony lost almost half its population over the first winter the pilgrims spent in America.
The Pilgrims has arrived at the beginning of a bitter Winter which meant both severe cold (and the risk of disease, especially pneumonia. There were no fresh fruits or vegetables which meant that many also came down with scurvy form the lack of vitamin C. Scurvy would cause old wounds to reopen, gums to bleed, teeth to fall out and then finally death. The shortage of food grew more serious as the winter progressed, and Bradford records that 30 of the 44 deaths occurred in February or March. Many of the mothers on the ship saved their food and gave it to their children instead of eating it themselves. A larger percentage of the children survived because of this; however, fourteen out of the eighteen adult women died during the first winter
Not only did the first Thanksgiving Day came about after hardship and suffering, the establishment of the national holiday also followed terrible time and conflict for us as a nation.
History of the National Holiday
When it was first
inaugurated, only a few eastern states from the original colonies participated.
However, through the effort of Sarah Hale a change was effected. She was fired
with the determination of having the whole nation join together in setting
apart a national day for giving thanks "unto Him from who all blessings
flow." To this end, she resolutely engaged the press with an endless flow
of letters and articles to the various newspapers and journals of her time. In
addition, she pleaded long and earnestly with three Presidents: Fillmore,
Pierce and Buchanan during the period of 1852, when her campaign succeeded in
uniting 29 states in marking the last Thursday of November as "Thanksgiving Day."
Then came the dark days of the Civil War. Who would listen to a lone woman with her persistent plea for "just one day of peace amidst the blood and the strife"? One man did; her entreaty won the ear of a great American, and in 1863 President Abraham Lincoln officially proclaimed the last Thursday of November as a day set apart for the national giving of thanks unto Almighty God. Lincoln lived to see only two such occasions, but Sarah Hale lived well on into her late 90's, content that her long-cherished hope had at last become a reality.
We are going to look at Psalm 30 this morning. It also is a giving of thanks and just as the national holiday, this thanksgiving to God follows harsh, difficulties times experienced by the Psalmist.
Background of the 30th Palms
We are not told exactly when this Psalm was written but it would seem to fit the dedication of the grounds for the temple when purchased the threshing floor of Araunah. This happened after David sinned by counting the people of Israel. The event is recorded in 1 Chonricles 21:1 and 2 Samuel 24:1. It is interesting to see that in 2 Samuel 24:1 the Bible says, And again the anger of the LORD was kindled against Israel, and he moved David against them to say, Go, number Israel and Judah.” Then in 1 Chronicles 21:1 we read, “And Satan stood up against Israel, and provoked David to number Israel.” Some say well there it is a direct contradiction right in the scriptures, but of course you know that these two verses are not contradictions but in fact give us more insight. God withdrew his protection from David and allowed Satan then to provoke David to sin. This is exactly the same as what we read happening in the life of Job. Satan was the direct agent of Job’s misfortune, but God first had to remove His protection. In the case of David that protection was removed because of God’s anger toward David in Job’s case it was to reveal the answer the question, “Why do good people suffer?” One of the most important questions that any human being must face.
Why was it sinful to count the people of God? We are not given the reason it was sinful in this case when at other times God himself commanded it, but we can give some Bible educated guesses. First it was wrong because of who inspired it, David was driven by Satan not commanded by God. Secondly, it may have been to inflated David’s pride about his kingdom and move him further away from the humility he should have had, because it was God who had made him king. Thirdly, it may have been so David could tax the people and raise an army. Doing these things because he did not fully trust God to provide the money he needed to run the kingdom, nor an army when he it was needed to fight an invading enemy.
Whatever the exact reason, God punished David in 1 Chronicles 21:7-12 7 And God was displeased with this thing; therefore he smote Israel. 8 And David said unto God, I have sinned greatly, because I have done this thing: but now, I beseech thee, do away the iniquity of thy servant; for I have done very foolishly. 9 And the LORD spake unto Gad, David's seer, saying, 10 Go and tell David, saying, Thus saith the LORD, I offer thee three things: choose thee one of them, that I may do it unto thee. 11 So Gad came to David, and said unto him, Thus saith the LORD, Choose thee 12 Either three years' famine; or three months to be destroyed before thy foes, while that the sword of thine enemies overtaketh thee; or else three days the sword of the LORD, even the pestilence, in the land, and the angel of the LORD destroying throughout all the coasts of Israel. Now therefore advise thyself what word I shall bring again to him that sent me.
David chose the three days of plague, a pestilence, because as he said in 1 Chronicles 21:13-14 13 And David said unto Gad, I am in a great strait: let me fall now into the hand of the LORD; for very great are his mercies: but let me not fall into the hand of man. 14 So the LORD sent pestilence (plague) upon Israel: and there fell of Israel seventy thousand men.
Seventy thousand men died from this plague sent as punishment from God to correct a wayward king who had forgotten his place in relationship to the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
1 Chronicles 21:15-16 15 And God sent an angel unto Jerusalem to destroy it: and as he was destroying, the LORD beheld, and he repented him of the evil, and said to the angel that destroyed, It is enough, stay now thine hand. And the angel of the LORD stood by the threshingfloor of Ornan the Jebusite. 16 And David lifted up his eyes, and saw the angel of the LORD stand between the earth and the heaven, having a drawn sword in his hand stretched out over Jerusalem. Then David and the elders of Israel, who were clothed in sackcloth, fell upon their faces.
David then was told by the prophet Gad, to purchase the field of Ornan to construct an altar there, to remember the plague, why it came and that God had stopped it.
1 Chronicles 21:18-22 18 Then the angel of the LORD commanded Gad to say to David, that David should go up, and set up an altar unto the LORD in the threshingfloor of Ornan the Jebusite. 19 And David went up at the saying of Gad, which he spake in the name of the LORD. 20 And Ornan turned back, and saw the angel; and his four sons with him hid themselves. Now Ornan was threshing wheat. 21 And as David came to Ornan (Araunah), Ornan looked and saw David, and went out of the threshingfloor, and bowed himself to David with his face to the ground. 22 Then David said to Ornan, Grant me the place of this threshingfloor, that I may build an altar therein unto the LORD: thou shalt grant it me for the full price: that the plague may be stayed from the people.
In the next chapter 1 Chronicles 22:1-2 we read that David then dedicated this site as the ground upon which God’s Temple would be built by his son Solomon, and he began collecting the materials, “1 Then David said, This is the house of the LORD God, and this is the altar of the burnt offering for Israel. 2 And David commanded to gather together the strangers that were in the land of Israel; and he set masons to hew wrought stones to build the house of God.”
Throughout Israel’s history this Psalms was used in association with the Temple and with overcoming by the power of God. It was used in the Hanukkah celebrations to give thanks for the cleansing of the second temple by Judas Maccabeus (164 B.C.) after Antiochus Epiphanes had desecrated it (1 Maccabees 4:42-60).
The psalm opens and closes on a note of thanksgiving (vv. 1, 12; and see vv. 4 and 11). David thanks and praises God, for delivering him from a dangerous and difficult times, of sickness (v. 2), being near death (vv. 3, 9), God's anger (v. 5), weeping (vv. 5, 11), and emotional turmoil (v. 7). The trial also involved the nation, as David includes them in his thanksgiving and praise.
Hmm, let me see if we can find an application. Plague, check. Nation in turmoil, check. Personal illness, check. Need for thanksgiving. Check. I think we better spend s little time in Psalms 30. It begins with a New Victory Ps. 30:1-3
New Life - Psalms 30:1-3
I will extol thee, O LORD; for thou hast lifted me up, and hast not made my foes to rejoice over me. O LORD my God, I cried unto thee, and thou hast healed me. O LORD, thou hast brought up my soul from the grave: thou hast kept me alive, that I should not go down to the pit.
From Extinguished To Exalting 1-3
David says I will extol thee, from the Hebrew word ramam, pronounced room. It means to lift high, to raise up, to be exalted.
It was not enough for David to just say I will praise the Lord. In this case following the time of great suffering for him and for his nation. He needs a word that elevates his praise in direct proportion to how low his nation had been plunged.
David is saying to God, “I will extol thee, I will exalt thee. I will raise up your name in praise.”
He had been close to the pit, his soul was in the grave, but God kept him alive and now his praise is raised in thanksgiving for what God has done.
From Eternal Death to Eternal Life
If David was driven to high praise because God had given him life instead of letting the grave claim him, how much more should be praise and thank God because he has given us eternal life and no grave will ever claim us for long.
We often read 1 Corinthians 15 at the graveside of our friends and loved ones. It is appropriate there because it reminds us, that the grave cannot hold us. All the evil and pain that is in this world limited by the power of God and stopped at eternity.
1 Corinthians 15:51-55 51 Behold, (Paul writes) I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, 52 In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. 53 For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. 54 So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. 55 O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? … 57 But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
Won’t we be thankful when we stand in heaven our bodies delivered from sin and the grave and for eternity we will give thanks to God who gives us the victory through the Lord Jesus Christ.
Nor should we wait to give thanks and praise him because as Paul says that victory is in the present tense, God gives us the victory. Right here, right now.
I haven’t said this from the pulpit yet, I’ve tried to hold back, hoping that things would get better, trying not to sound to pessimistic but after a never ending pandemic, after riots in our major cities, after corruption that strikes at the very heart of our freedom and after the possible leadership of a immoral man and an godless woman, I’m going to say it, “2020 stinks!” There I feel better now. And here is the point, just like David, just like Pual when things are bad, that’s when you really need to praise God and pour forth the sacrifice of your lips in thanksgiving.
All those terrible, painful, sinful things reek of the grave, but God has delivered me from the grave!
Illustration: Pastor Martin Rinckart during the Thirty Year War
Martin Rinkart was a German pastor who served in the walled town of Eilenburg during the horrors of the Thirty Years War of 1618-1648. Eilenburg became an overcrowded refuge for the surrounding countryside. The people who fled there for safety instead found epidemic and famine. 1637 was the year of the Great Pestilence, which always follows war. At that point, there were four ministers in Eilenburg, one fled because of the dangers and disease. The other two died in their service to others and Pastor Rinckart officiated at the funerals of his fellow pastors. Now as the only pastor left, he often conducted services for as many as 40 to 50 persons a day, it is thought that in total he buried over 4,400 people. In May 1637, his wife died and he carried on utterly alone. By the end of the year, the refugees had to be buried in trenches, no individual graves and no individual services.
Makes 2020 look pretty good doesn’t it. Do you know why Martin Rinckart is remembered? Yes he deserves to be remembered like so many others who have pastored and served during times like this but something else set the pastor apart. In 1638, Pastor Rinckart wrote the following prayer for his children to offer to the Lord, it was later turned into a hymn of praise. A song of thanksgiving after so much loss.
Now thank we all our God With hearts and hands and voices;
Who wondrous things hath done, In whom this world rejoices.
Who, from our mother's arms, Hath led us on our way,
With countless gifts of love, And still is ours today.
-- Harry Genet, quoted in Men of Integrity , Vol. 3, no. 2.
Can you imagine writing that hymn after all that you had gone through and all that you were yet to endure for the war and all its evils were not finished. After burying so many, he still wrote, “Now thank we all our God, with hearts and hands an voices”
Where did he found the power, the ability to do this? What
reason could he possible have for giving thanks? He found it in the same place that
David found it and for the same reasons as all of God’s children throughout the
ages have for thanking God. Go back now
to Psalm 30 and down to vss. 4-6 as David thanks his God for a new day.
New Day – Psalms 30:4-5
Sing unto the LORD, O ye saints of his, and give thanks at the remembrance of his holiness. For his anger endureth but a moment; in his favour is life: weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.
From Dark To Dawn 4-5
“Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning” Isn’t that one of the most hopeful verse in all the Bible.
David had fallen prostrate in sackcloth and ashes as he heard the reports of the plague spreading over his nation. 70,000 of his people were killed. His heart was broken, his sin had brought this upon the innocent and he could do nothing but weep and cry out to God for deliverance.
The weeping went through the night, but then David saw the Angel of the Lord standing in the field with a sword stretched out over Israel. The sword was stayed, it was not longer slaying, it was held out as a gesture of ceasing the deaths. That morning when David saw it and understood, it signaled the end of the death, his weeping stopped and his joy began.
From Brokenness to Blessedness
“Weeping may endure for the night but joy cometh in the morning.” I can’t tell you how many times my sweet wife, LeeOra has shared that verse with friends, family and church members who are going through pain and sorrow that we can’t alleviate. She tells them personally, she, unlike me, is very good at writing letter and send cards and when someone was hurting, this is one of the promises she shares with them.
And it deserves to be shared because one of the greatest strengths of character that the Christian has and the world cannot even imagine much lest grasp, is the strength of our hope. The hope that is found in Psalms 30:5. For us, God’s children, the Lord’s church, the people of God, for us night may be long and it may be filled with pain, sorrow and brokenness, it may seem that the night we are going through has no end that we can see, but still we know that there is an end because God has promised it.
“Weeping may endure for a night, but when that night ends and it will end, then joy comes to God’s own.” The followers of God always go from brokenness to blessedness. I believe it is true for every earthly sorrow we go through now, but even if I can’t see the end of this present night, I know that one day eternity itself will dawn and all the broken hearted nights of this world will be replaced by a joy that will never end.
Once again listen to Paul in 2 Corinthians 4:8-17 8 We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; 9 Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed; 10 Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body. 11 For we which live are alway delivered unto death for Jesus' sake, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh. 12 So then death worketh in us, but life in you. 13 We having the same spirit of faith, according as it is written, I believed, and therefore have I spoken; we also believe, and therefore speak; 14 Knowing that he which raised up the Lord Jesus shall raise up us also by Jesus, and shall present us with you. 15 For all things are for your sakes, that the abundant grace might through the thanksgiving of many redound to the glory of God. 16 For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day. 17 For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory;
This past year and maybe even the coming year and many more after that may seem like an endless night to others, but not to us. We know the blackest dark of the world’s deepest night has an end and for us, joy will be ushered in with the dawn of that new day.
Illustration: The Dawning of the Resurrection
I can’t help but try and put myself in the place of those first Christians, the first followers of Jesus on the days following the crucifixion. Can you even begin to understand the depth of the night they found themselves in after Jesus, the one they believed as the Messiah, the Son of God, the one who had promised them eternal life, was crucified and buried in a tomb. That night was so dark they simply fled in fear and hid themselves in their sorrow.
And then we read in Matthew 28:1 In the end of the sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week… There had been three days dark nights of brokenness but at the dawn of Sunday morning,… joy was about to be experienced as it had never been experienced before.
That new day is why we know, that’s why we won’t lose faith, that’s why hope is stronger, that’s why we can write down in our own hearts what David says in here. “Yes, weeping may endure for a long and dark night, but praise God, joy always comes in the morning!”
Transition: David has one more new thing to than God for its
in vss 6-12
New Heart – Psalms 30:6-12
And in my prosperity I said, I shall never be moved. LORD, by thy favour thou hast made my mountain to stand strong: thou didst hide thy face, and I was troubled. I cried to thee, O LORD; and unto the LORD I made supplication. What profit is there in my blood, when I go down to the pit? Shall the dust praise thee? shall it declare thy truth? Hear, O LORD, and have mercy upon me: LORD, be thou my helper. Thou hast turned for me my mourning into dancing: thou hast put off my sackcloth, and girded me with gladness; To the end that my glory may sing praise to thee, and not be silent. O LORD my God, I will give thanks unto thee for ever
From Pride to Praise 6-10
David confesses to God that he had put faith in the wrong person. David had begun to believe in his prosperity. He believed “I shall not be moved.” He forgot that it was the Lord who had made his mountain to stand strong. And so God hid his face from David. His protection was removed, Satan had access to David that had not been possible until pride replace humility and his personal inner power replaced God’s power moving in him.
David is punished and like “the man after God’s own heart” always did when confronted with his sin, David repents. He prays, “unto the Lord I made supplication” and he pleads with God for his life that he may continue to be a vessel of praise for his God, What profit is there in my blood? When I go down to the pit, shall the dust praise thee? Shall it declare thy truth? He wants to live and to see his nation live that he and they may be used to bring glory to God. He prays for that heart of pride to be replaced with a heart of humility. His prosperity turned into praise for what God has done.
He then with a new heart, expresses his last thanks in this passage, “Thou has turned for me, my mourning into dancing, though has put off my sackcloth and girded me with gladness.” For this reason, David says, “To the end that my glory may sing praise to thee and not be silent. O LORD, my God, I will give thanks to thee for ever.” I like the fact that the KJV separates the two words for and ever here, because I think it adds emphasis. It not just forever it is for…….ever! Give thank to thee for…..ever!”
From Me to The Mighty
I don’t know why 2020 is the year that it is. We don’t have a Gad to be our prophet of from God and tell us you did this, God did this and now you need to do this. We don’t have prophets like that anymore because God’s word has given us the full revelation of God. In its pages we can hear as God speak and the the Holy Spirit convicts us personally about pride and sin and God’s judgment in our own lives. I can’t speak of those things for this entire pandemic, for this election or for the condition of our nation. I can certainly see parallels and I need to heed them, but I can’t stand before you today and say because of this God has done this. Only a self-righteous fool would do such a thing and we have enough of those without me joining their ranks.
Though I can’t deal with 2020 from God’s perspective directly still I can hear God’s message to me and to us as a church and as a nation.
I know that in all cases Psalms 14:1 The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. They are corrupt, they have done abominable works, there is none that doeth good.
You need to know why young people are rioting, burning, killing and cursing their nation and their God? Well here is the reason and it will always be the reason. People with God are not better than animals, they will always do abominable works.
I also know that whether it is the nation’s or my own life as it says in Proverbs 16:18 Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.
It was true for David and the kingdom of Israel and it is true for us.
I also know that this is true for us as a nation and for us as individuals, 2 Chronicles 7:14 If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.
You know I used to see that verse broadcast every morning and every evening when the TV stations would begin and end their broadcast day. Right there on the screen for everyone to see and consider. I will hear and forgive. I will heal their land.
The night will end all the sooner for us as a nation and for me personally when I turn toward God and pray. When I examine myself, confess my sin, confess my replacing God with the things of this world and call out to him. David’s title as the man after God’s own heart could be applied two ways. First that God favored him, that God’s affection was with him and that would certainly be true, but I like to think of it as the man who followed after God’s heart. That David wanted to know the heart of God. That he could better love the God who loved him and then give his live to glorifying the One who loved Him.
Abraham Lincoln’s Proclamation of 1863
We have been the recipients of the choicest bounties of heaven. We have been preserved, the many years, in peace and prosperity. We have grown in numbers, wealth and power, as no other nation has ever grown. But we have forgotten God. We have forgotten the gracious hand which preserved us in peace and multiplied and enriched and strengthened us; and we have vainly imagined, in the deceitfulness of our hearts that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own.
Intoxicated with unbroken success, we have become too self-sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving grace, too proud to pray to God that made us! It behooves us, then to humble ourselves before the offended Power, to confess our national sins, and to pray for clemency and forgiveness. - April 30, 1863, President Abraham Lincoln's Proclamation
Hard to imagine any president in the last 40 years or so saying something so biblical isn’t it. But we can’t speak for the nation, but we can and must speak for ourselves, our families and our church.
Lord we call out to thee, as David did. We pray as he prayed, Lord God, heal us, mend us, restore us that we may glorify thee. Father, A family filled with bitterness cannot serve Thee, a life built up in pride, cannot praise Thee, and Dear Father an empty building where a church used to gather cannot preach the Gospel.
Lord heal us that we may glorify thee. We lift your name in praise. We offer thanks looking to that joy that comes in the morning.