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Lessons on thanksgiving from Psalm 138

Sunday English Service - 30 DEC 18


As it is the last Sunday of the year, I want to talk about thanksgiving, today. I want to talk to you about thanksgiving, thanking God. God has done so much for us and it is right to stump and thank God, especially at this time. When I talk about thanking God, it’s not enough to do it only on the last Sunday of the year. It's not even enough to do it on every Sunday of the year. We need every day, we need to do it every day. And we hope and trust that you are doing that. But on a day like this, at the end of this year, it's amazing to look back and see what God has done in our lives. And to thank God very specially. A lot of things we could say about it but we're going to use as our guide for today in this matter of thanksgiving, Psalm 138. We're going to limit our meditation on thanksgiving to this. This is a Psalm written by David. If there's anyone you want to learn thanksgiving from it's probably David. David was no perfect man. He had a lot of faults like most human beings, he had flaws and so on. But when it comes to thanking and praising God, there's few people who do it like David and there’s few people who can teach us like David. And I'm hoping that you have a lot of things that you can learn from David, or at least be reminded of by the way David does it. David shows us, through this psalm, several things about thanksgiving, how we should give thanks. These are the kinds of things will be looking at today. How does David give thanks? The manner in which he gives thanks. Also, why does David give thanks? The reasons for giving thanks. All these are lessons for us. Also, when we thank God, what does God get as a result? What does God get? Also, finally, when we thank God, what do we get out of it? Our personal benefit. This psalm addresses all those things.

And let's begin with the first thing; how, in what manner does David thank God? For this, you simply have to take a brief look at verse 1 and 2, and you will quickly see how he does it. Look at verse one and two. The first thing is the word, I give you thanks. That itself indicates the manner in which David thanks God. Psalm 138 verse 1, let me read it. I give you the thanks, O Lord, with my whole heart. We'll come to “with my whole heart” later. But before that, just that opening line, I give You thanks. You may say, “Well, that doesn't indicate how he's thanking.” No, in the English you're right it doesn't indicate, it just says I give You thanks. But the Hebrew word there behind this is not a simple thank you like what we would say today. There's something more there. And if you look at it, it indicates how David gives thanks. Today, we would say a simple thank you. Somebody does something good for us, we go and just tell them thank you. We could tell it very privately. It can just be between them and us. We can just send them a text message, nobody else will ever know that we thanked them. David is not talking about thanking God in that manner, “I will give you thanks privately, between You and me. It's an individual matter.” No, in fact, they say there is no equivalent for the simple English thank you in the Hebrew language, at least at the time.

When David says, “I will give You thanks,” what he means is, I will publicly acknowledge what You've done for me and thank You in public. Big difference. Not private, but public. Acknowledgement. In that word, the Hebrew word there is yada and it involves acknowledgement. Without acknowledgement you cannot be giving thanks. It involves telling others what God has done for us. So, not just thanking God. Now, sure, we should do that in our quiet time, and so on. We should thank God definitely. But what we're trying to say is, thanksgiving in the Psalms goes beyond that. It assumes you are thanking God privately but it goes beyond that to say, thanksgiving is where you publicly acknowledge what God has done for you. And that's why some translation says, “I give You praise, I praise You.” Some translations will say, “I give You praise.” Some translations will say, “I give You thanks.” Why? Because both are mixed. Praising God is declaring who He is, and what He has done. Thanking God is thanking Him for what He has done for you. But in the Bible's concept of praise or thanksgiving, it's both. It's declaring who God is, and what He has done in your life, specifically. Who God has proved Himself to be in your life, what God has done in your life. You realize that, you open your mouth, and you publicly in front of others acknowledge.

So, how does David give thanks? Number one, he publicly acknowledges what God has done in his life. A preacher gives an example to explain this, he talks about how a medical missionary doctor was doing ministry in an area. So, medical missionaries, they don't just preach the gospel, they actually give medical treatment. So, this medical missionary, he spotted a great need in that particular place. In that particular place the problem there was, people are suffering from what is called progressive blindness. Which is, they’re born with perfect eyesight, or good eyesight so nobody thinks anything is wrong. But as they age, slowly their eyesight becomes worse and worse and worse to the point where they almost completely lose it, basically become blind. And this problem they say is sometimes found in certain areas, with certain people, and so on. And this missionary was in such a place and he found out, “Okay, this is a big problem here.” So, he came up with a solution and he started doing a procedure to arrest that progressive blindness. So, the eyesight would get worse for people but then he would give this treatment, this operation he would do, which would stop that from worsening further. Arrest the progressive blindness so that at least their eyesight will be partially or in some cases greatly saved.

So, a lot of people came to him, it seems. This is a true incident, by the way. It’s about a real missionary who went about doing this, that's what they say, I don't know, I don't have any way of verifying it. But nevertheless. So, a lot of people went to him to get that procedure done. And it seems after the surgery was completed, they wouldn't tell him a simple thank you. Instead, they will say something like this in their language, “I will tell your name.” They'll tell that doctor, “I will tell your name.” And he wondered for some time, “Why aren't they just simply saying thank you?” No, they didn't say thank you. They said, “I will tell your name,” and then they'll go. So, later that doctor found out, in that particular language, there is no equivalent to thank you. You cannot simply say, “Thank you.” The way you say it is, “I will tell your name,” which means, “I will go tell what you have done.”

That is the Hebrew concept. That is the concept in the Psalms of thanksgiving. I will tell Your name. Look at that verse 1 and 2 again. I give you thanks, O Lord, with my whole heart; before the gods. You see, before someone he’s doing it. Before the gods I sing your praise. Verse 2. I bow down toward your holy temple and give thanks to your name. I will tell your name. How does David give thanks? Publicly acknowledges what God has done for him.

Next thing, how does David give thanks? Before the gods. This is related with publicly acknowledging. Before people he’s doing it. But here there is a very strange expression which says, before the gods. What does that mean? That sounds almost wrong, before the gods. Well, there are various ways in which people have understood this. One is, some people have taken it in this sense, that is, it's referring to angels or heavenly beings. Martin Luther, John Calvin took it in that way. Because some places it refers to that kind of thing. Some other people say it is really referring to other gods. Not in the sense that there are other gods other than Jehovah or something like that but the time and place where David was living, his situation, his culture, society and so on, he’s surrounded by people who believe in multiple gods, the plurality of gods. And so, in his setting, David is saying, “People all around me are believing in many gods and among those people I will publicly acknowledge You, my God, and say what You have done for me.” And I think that is a very possible option especially given that not only Israel's neighbors believed in multiple gods, Israel themselves, if you look at their history correctly, you will find that they never reached a point where all of them strongly believed in only one God. Very strange.

At almost all points in their history, there were some people in their midst, among the Israelites themselves, who would give place to other gods, who would sometimes engage in worship of other gods and so on. You see this in some very key families. Jacob’s own wife, Rachel, entertained to certain degree other gods. David's own wife, Michal. David’s own wife is written in other places, she didn't cut off her connection completely from the other gods of the surrounding regions. The Israelites, they were surrounded by the people who believed in multiple gods. And so, they were influenced, they found it very difficult sometimes to completely cut away and say, “No, we believe in only one God,” and so on. And so, what happened oftentimes is God had to stress that. That's why He gave a commandment saying, “Thou shall have no other gods before Me.” That is main commandment, but they broke it again and again. In fact, Moses was bringing the Ten Commandments down from the mountain, and they already broke it, actually. And they kept on breaking it throughout their history, you read it. So, they themselves had a big problem. So, David is saying, “In the midst of this kind of people, I will publicly acknowledge you before the gods.”

But there's a third option, which I think is probably the best option here. But both, number two, as well is... third option is this. That he’s talking about kings or judges or great ones, great people of the earth. Why do we get this idea? Because, just come down to verse 4. He's talking about kings in verse 4. And so, in some settings, these kings, these great men were considered almost like gods. And so, perhaps he's talking about that, great kings or judges, or great people with wealth or power or influence. And he's saying, “I will publicly acknowledge you, O Lord, what You have done for me, before everyone, even before the great ones.” He himself is king and he's thinking of people on his level. Point is, “I'll do it publicly before everyone who’s thought of as great. Whether it be other gods or people.”

So, he’ll publicly acknowledge before the gods, how else does he thank God? What manner? How else does he do it? With my whole heart. Look at verse 1. I give You thanks, O Lord, with my whole heart. Everybody say whole heart. There’re two things there: heart and then whole heart. Heart tells us that thanksgiving is supposed to come from the heart. Which we need to be reminded of that today because we are used to many times in today's world, just thanking people with our lips and mouth. Because giving thanks today, saying thank you, has become good manners to the point where if somebody doesn't say thank you, they are considered uncivilized, not knowing good manners, and so on. So, just to give the appearance of good manners, sometimes we will say thank you. It doesn't mean it's coming from our heart or something, it’s just coming from here. We just want to show we have good manners.

No, no, David doesn't thank God like that. It's from the heart. And from the heart doesn't only mean heart. When the Old Testament says heart, it also involves the mind. What is meant is the entire inner person, not the outer person, the body, but the inner person. What David is trying to say is, “I don't thank You only with my outer being, I thank You, Lord, from my innermost being.” Which means my heart, my mind, my spirit, my soul, what all you cannot see, the inner person. That means what? The mind is involved, thoughts are involved, thinking is involved. Some people think when it comes to praising and thanking God, you can put your mind on the shelf. “No need mind. Just clap their hands, and just get all excited. Just emotion, just heart, no need for... No, it’s not a mental activity.” No, no, it is a mental activity. You will see how much David is thinking, I'll show you in a bit. There's a lot of thinking going on. There's a lot of processing going on.

And so, David is saying, “With my entire inner being, with my heart and mind, my spirit and soul, in spirit, and in truth, I give You thanks.” He says, whole heart. Notice that whole heart. Whole heart means, one thing is, he’s saying, “My heart has a single focus.” Sometimes when we are praising or thanking God, when we’re engaging in that activity, we are guilty of having multiple focus. Our focus is not single. Especially in today's world, it's very difficult to have single focus. We're always doing multiple things. People who can do multiple things at the same time are hailed as very great ones. Once you can drive and talk on the phone, take care of kids and do their work. We’re always doing multiple things at the same time and we think it's a great skill. So, we come to praise and thank God, we are also doing the same thing sometimes. We're singing, “Oh, God, You are great.” And looking what is happening there, who's come and who's not come today, what they are wearing. It just comes naturally, doesn't it?

David says, “I give You thanks with my whole heart,” means, my entire inner being has one focus and that is to give You thanks, Lord. Not just single focus, he also means, my entire inner being, all the energy of it, I devote to giving thanks. Not just single focus, whole heart means, all the energy is devoted to this task of thanksgiving. All the energy. What is that word? Tell you, energy, effort. Thanksgiving is not an ordinary thing for David. When he says, “With my whole heart,” what he means is, “With my entire inner being, single focus, all of it directed there, all the energy, all the effort of my thinking, and my feeling and everything I devote to thanking You O Lord.” Let me also say this, it’s very important, I think. Why does he put it right at the beginning? Verse 1. I give You thanks with my whole heart. It says he's thanking God with his whole heart, not just because that's what he's doing but because that's what he wants to do. David is saying, “Lord, I give You thanks with my whole heart.” Why? He’s not merely reflecting what he is doing, he is making a decision on how he's going to do it. He’s saying right at the opening of the psalm. “Lord, I have decided that I am going to give You thanks with my whole heart.” It's a decision.

I think that's why he puts it right up front. I give You thanks with my whole heart. Because, I think, David knows, if you don't say it, you won't do it. This whole heart thanksgiving is not going to come automatically, my friend. It’s going to require much effort. And that's why David puts it up front and he says, “I am making a decision and let me declare my decision to everyone, I give You thanks with my whole heart.” Saying it out loud helps him to actually do it. His whole heart, his whole mind, his whole inner being is involved. Guess what? If your whole inner being is involved, your outer being is also involved. How many of you know that? It seems obvious. If your whole heart is involved, whole mind is involved, all you're thinking is involved, all your energy is involved, single focus, how many of you know that will show out in your body also some way? Somebody cannot say, “Brother know my whole heart is involved, whole mind is involved, every fiber of my inner being is involved, but outside I'll be sitting like, I thank you God.” No expression, no nothing. It’s very difficult to do that. It’s very difficult to not show anything on the outside but yet whole heart, whole mind, whole inner being is involved with all its energy. I think, naturally, it will show on the outside. Either your face will show it, your hands will raise, your voice will raise, your expression will show, something will happen with your body, it's all connected. Your spirit, your soul, your body are connected.

That's why David you can see even it shows in his body. Verse 2. He bows down. In verse 1 he says, I give You thanks with my whole heart. In verse 2 he says, I bow down toward Your holy temple. Who is he? He's a king. He’s the king of the nation of Israel and he says, “I bow down before God.” He’s not king because God is King. I bow down. When he gives thanks with his whole heart, he cannot help but bow down. It shows out in his body. So, what have we seen so far? How David gives thanks, publicly acknowledges before the gods with his whole heart, bowing down.

Now, I want to take you to a place where David actually does this. Here we see that he says, “I will do this.” But I'll let me take you to a place where he actually does it. We can see it happen. 2nd Samuel chapter 6. I think we are familiar with the story where David dances. Remember that? That's where we're going to go now. Lot of people know this, where David was a musician and he was not only a musician looks like he was a dancer also. He's one of the best all-rounders you can find in the Bible. And in this place, he's dancing. The context is, remember the ark of the Lord, which symbolized the very presence of God, is being brought into Jerusalem, into the city. Before that it was not there and it was brought into the city. And David gets all excited and he himself goes and joins the procession that is bringing the ark of the Lord. Remember ark of the Lord symbolized God’s coming. And so, he's not just sitting in his palace, he goes out there to the street, to the procession which is bringing the ark of the Lord and he's leading that procession and so on. And in the course of events he dances over there, he's dancing. Look at verse 14.

2nd Samuel chapter 6 and verse 14. And David danced before the Lord with all his might. People look at this, especially scholars who research the ancient world and how kings lived and what they did, what they didn't do, and they find it very strange because it says David, remember he's a king, danced before the Lord. They've done a lot of research on ancient near Eastern kings and so on but they have not found recorded any incidents of kings dancing. They've not found instances of kings dancing. There may have been kings who dance, but it's not there in the record anywhere at least not yet found. No pictures or no statements, nothing. Queens dance sometimes, they’ve found that, other people dance, kings sometimes join in the procession where there is dancing but he won't dance, it seems. Very strange here, David danced before the Lord. He didn't just dance, he danced with all his might. You remember that whole heart business showing out in the body? That's what it is, all his might. Not just little bit here, not just moving a little bit grooving, no, no. This is all his might. It’s a different, I don't know. You can imagine yourself what he might have danced. With all his might. And then we are told an interesting line in verse 14. David was wearing a linen ephod. I don't know how you pronounce that. David was wearing a linen cloth. We'll see later why that was important.

But notice that he danced with all his might, look at verse 15, what else did he do? David and all the house of Israel brought up the ark of the Lord with shouting and with the sound of the horn. Who was shouting? the people in the procession but also David, that's how it puts it. David and all the house of Israel brought the ark with shouting. Here is the king shouting, dancing, why? The ark for the Lord is coming. Which means God is coming. But some people don't like that kind of outward expression. Guess who did not like it? His own wife. His own wife didn't like it. While all this has been happening, she has been watching the dance from the window of the castle. Verse 16. Let's look at her perspective. As the ark of the Lord came into the city of David, Michal the daughter of Saul looked out of the window and saw King David leaping and dancing... Once again notice it's not just a little bit, leaping. This is full energy. ...before the Lord. And what did she do? She despised him in her heart. She thought very low of him in her heart.

Go down to verse 20. David does all his duties there and in verse 20 he comes home. and look how his wife greets him. His wife comes out to meet him in verse 20 and she says, look at this. David returned to bless his household. But Michal the daughter of Saul came out to meet David and said, “How the king of Israel honored himself today, uncovering himself today before the eyes of his servants’ female servants, as one of the vulgar fellows shamelessly uncovers himself!” My goodness, that's some strong words. The way she's saying it is, very sarcastic. She’s saying, “How the king honored himself.” That’s sarcasm. What she means to say is how the king humiliated himself. “By uncovering himself.” Look at her words. Before whom? “Before these female servants.” Actually, it means slaves there. If you look carefully, it is the slaves of David's servants. That is, she’s saying, “Here you are a man, you uncovered yourself before these women, these female servants and here you are the king, the highest in the land, and you humiliated yourself in front of the lowest, your servants’ servants.” Look at her perspective, my friend, is it right? Is it right? Some people look at what she said, and said, “See, David uncovered himself. David did like this, and did like that.” No, no, no. Her words are very harsh and very wrong actually.

Did David actually uncover himself or something? No, no, no, no, he did not uncover himself. That's why we were told in verse 14, he was wearing a linen ephod. He's wearing a linen piece of cloth, that garment was a priestly garment. See, David is a king and a king's garment involves a lot of layers. It's very rich garment. Even just a suit involves multiple layers. Now, imagine an Old Testament king he had a big, amazing garment, very royal, very heavy and involving a lot of layers. And David removes his kingly garments, puts on a linen ephod which is a priestly garment. Why does he put on a priestly garment? Because now he's going to go serve the Lord as a priest and bring the ark. He’s not going as a king. Before God he’s not king. Before the people only he can put on his kingly garments and be king. When he goes before God, he’s going to serve God like a priest. So, he puts on the priestly garment, which is not as elaborate as a royal kingly garment. And it's also very convenient for dancing. It’s hard to dance with a suit or a kingly robe or something like that. But with the linen cloth, it is much easier to dance. And so, he freaks out. But does he freak out in a wrong way? She suggests that he uncovers himself. No, no, again, it's a priestly garment. Priests did not uncover themselves, in fact there were clear laws in the Old Testament that a priest cannot expose his nakedness in the presence of God. If he does it, he’s finished.

David knows all that. He meditates on the Lord day and night. He's not going to go and expose himself like that. No, no, no. See, her talk is like that. You see these people who criticize, they'll take something small, they'll talk as though something you know. That is the nature, isn't it? Actually, the only person who did wrong in this scenario is Michal, David's wife. Because what was she doing watching the procession from the window? She should have been in the procession. Read verse 17 and 18, everybody was in the procession. Women, children, the entire city was there in the procession. They participated in all the celebration. And David finally hands over presents and all that, and then only they go home. She alone is watching from the castle window, not participating. That itself tells you what kind of relationship she has with God. But criticizing David, look at how she thinks. She thinks how the king of Israel humiliated himself.

David doesn't think of himself as the king. Look at how David thinks of himself. He replies to her harsh words in verse 21. And David said to Michal, “It was before the Lord, who chose me.” She is saying, “You humiliated yourself, uncovered yourself before those female servants.” He’s saying, “I danced before the Lord.” Perspective. See how she's thinking, “He's dancing before everyone.” He's thinking, all the people are there. He’s thinking, “So what if 100,000 people are there I am dancing before the Lord.” He says, “It was before the Lord,” verse 21, “who chose me above your father and above all his house.” Who's he talking to? He's talking to the daughter of Saul, the previous king. And she's saying, “A king should not do like this. Should not humiliate himself like this, embarrass himself like this.” He's saying, “Listen, I am only king by the pure grace of God. I am king because He chose me. And it is before the One who chose me as king that I'm dancing.” Look how he says it. He says, “It was before the Lord who chose me above your father and above all his house.” What is he saying? “Your father and his line, his children, they were the ones who are actually qualified to be king. They are the ones who had the background, they were the ones who had the experience but God chose me, a nobody, the last in my family, who was just a shepherd for a few sheep. He chose me from there and He made me king. It is before that Person, the Lord who chose me to be king over anybody in your father's house, that I'm dancing.”

The sense he has is, “I am nothing without Him.” What [inaudible 00:32:04] and all this. She is saying, “Oh you’re king.” He’s saying, “Before God, I was a nobody and God made me great. Before Him I dance.” He chose me as prince over Israel, and I will make merry before the Lord.” Then he goes one step further. Look at his reply in verse 22. “I will make myself yet more contemptible than this,” He says, “You just watched the beginning. Now, I'm going to freak out a little more. The dance is going to go a little more.” By that he doesn't mean, “I'm going to do it in a dishonorable way. I'm going to do in an indecent way.” People use this sometimes as an excuse. “See, David did it like that, we can also...” No, no, no. Remember, David danced before the Lord. Look at the way he's thinking. If he’s always thinking, “I'm dancing before the Lord.” Would he have done it in an indecent way? No. Look at his next sentence. even though he says, “I'll make myself yet more contemptible than this.” He says, “And I will be abased in your eyes.” What he means is, “You will think I'm very low, I will go more and dance more so that you will think I am even worse.” But look at the next one. “But by the female servants of whom you have spoken, by them I shall be held in honor.” What he's saying is, “Woman, you are wrong. You are saying I'm humiliated in front of those female servants. No, actually, they hold me in high honor. They understand me right, you are the one who misunderstands. And just to prevent your misunderstanding, I will not reduce my dance. You think of me worse, I will dance even more for the Lord.”

It’s amazing, he is willing to risk being misunderstood and humiliated, because he wants to give it all to God. He's not doing it in an indecent or dishonorable way. Please don't misunderstand the whole point. Point is, with my whole heart, with my whole mind, with my whole strength, with all of my strength, my body, my mind, my everything is given, involved in this act of thanksgiving. He devotes all his energies into it. He loses himself in it. Why does he go to such great extremes, my friend? Why does David the king go to such an extreme in praising and thanking God? Think about it. Why does David thank God? That's the next question. We just saw how David thanks God. Now let's answer the next one. Why does David thank God in this extreme manner? Let's go back to Psalm 138. And we'll pick it up again where we left off. Look at verse 2. David tells us clear reasons why he thanks God. Verse 2. I bow down toward your holy temple and give thanks to your name for your steadfast love and your faithfulness. For your steadfast love and your faithfulness. That's the reason, two reasons right there. Why does David thank God? For His steadfast love and faithfulness.

That word steadfast love and some translations will say for His mercy. Tamil... Some translation will say, for His loving kindness. Loving kindness, mercy, steadfast love, what does that mean? It means mercy. What does mercy mean? Where God’s mercy, loving kindness, steadfast love, the basic meaning for these words is God gives us what we don't deserve. Grace also that meaning is there. See, in Tamil... Kirubai means grace. That word is translated in so many different ways, because it's such a rich word, people cannot decide how exactly to translate it. You have to use so many words. It is actually that word is even bigger than the word grace in the New Testament. This word which is translated steadfast love in the Tamil Bible comes out as grace, it's a bigger concept than grace in New Testament because this one word involves both grace and love. Imagine if you put grace and love and pack it into one word, that's that word. In the Hebrew it is hesed. Steadfast love, loving kindness, mercy, favor and so on. It's translated as.

There's so much in that word but let me try to break it down. God gives us what we don't deserve, that is steadfast love. That is His loving kindness. That is His mercy. That is His grace. He gives us what we don't deserve. Like I just said, David didn't deserve to be king. He didn't have the necessary qualifications to be king. He didn't have the necessary background to be king. But God gave him what he didn't deserve, He made him king. Not only that, it's not just where God gives us what we don't deserve but it's where God enters into a covenant with us. There is the idea of covenantal love in that word hesed, which means loving kindness. They say, the idea is not just like a one-time love or occasional love being shown, occasional grace whenever you need it, kind of thing. No, no, it's a constant thing. And it's a continuous thing because God pulls you into a covenant relationship with Him and keeps showering you with His loving kindness and mercy and grace. That's what God did to David. He entered into a covenant with him. Go read 2nd Samuel chapter 7, you will see that. He makes a pact with him. Comes and He says, “I will make you great. I’ll make sure your son is on the throne, your heir is on the throne,” and so on. And He continues to shower His kindness and His love and His mercy and His grace. That's what David means. He means to say, he's speaking from personal experience. And he says, “God has given me what I don't deserve. And He keeps giving me what I don't deserve, because I am in covenant relationship with Him.”

And the next word there is what? Next reason why David thanks God is His faithfulness. Verse 2. I give you thanks for your steadfast love and your faithfulness. What does that mean, faithfulness? I'm just giving you some brief things so that it will help you to thank God right now. My goal is by the end of this message, you should be thanking God from your hearts. If I have done something to help with that, I'm happy. Faithfulness means what? Faithfulness here especially means God is faithful to His word. What He has said He will do. He’s faithful, He's loyal to the word or the promise that He has given us. That's the meaning. How do I know that? Because if you read the next line it confirms it. For you have exalted Your word above Your name. I'm reading verse 2. David is saying, “God I give you thanks for your steadfast love, for your mercy, for your faithfulness where you are loyal to word,” and he says, “You have exalted your word above your name.” What does he mean by that? That's quite an amazing statement. He’s saying, even above your name. God's name is the highest. There is nothing exalted beyond God's name, you see. But here David says, “You have exalted your word above your name.” I mean, how can you even understand that? There are various explanations but I'm thinking that perhaps again, David I think he's speaking from personal experience here. I'll show you why in a bit.

In the next verse he talks about, God answered me, “You answered me.” He makes it personal. So, I think David is speaking from personal experience, and he's thinking of how God chose him, he didn't deserve to be king. God chose him, made him king, showered His mercy and grace and gave him great promises. Go read the promises in 2nd Samuel chapter 7 once again. Chapter 6 is where he danced. Chapter 7 is where he says, “God I want to build you a temple.” Remember that? And God says, “Forget about you building Me a temple,” He says, “I want to build you a house.” “Forget about you building Me a house, I will build your house.” That's what God says in the next chapter. What He means is, “I will build up your dynasty, your descendants, your heirs. I will make sure your heir is on the throne forever and ever.” I don't have the time to read it, you can go read in 2nd Samuel chapter 7.

God gives him amazing promises. And after that what happens? You remember? After that only David falls into adultery, commits murder. You remember that? In the beginning he was very nice. God chose him, made him king, he didn't deserve to be king. And then he gave him lavish promises. I mean promises nobody will ever get. “I will make your heir to be on the throne forever and ever.” That's the promise. And after that David commits adultery and murder. I think by that time David would have thought, “That's it. God is done with me. He's finished with me.” Why? I have ruined His name. I have ruined His reputation.” Think about what the people who would have thought at the time after David commits adultery and murder, how they were spoken, “The king whom God appointed look how he’s acting. Look how he's behaving, committing the worst sins. Look at his own family.” David's family goes through a very tough time after that. All kinds of problems and fighting. They're trying to murder one another. It becomes one of the worst families actually after he commits murder and adultery. By that time, I think people would have been talking. “Look at the king whom God has kept, how he...” And when they spoke about the king, I think God's name and reputation itself would have taken a hit at that moment. Not long term but at that moment. “Yes, it's the king whom God selected and God put. Look how he is.”

Perhaps David is thinking back to his experience and he’s saying, “God you chose me, gave me what I didn't deserve. Gave me lavish promises. But Lord, I failed you sometimes. I committed the worst things against you. I murdered somebody. I committed adultery. I went against you, Lord. You could have thrown me out. You could have removed me from my kingship but you did not. I ruined Your name and Your reputation. In spite of that You stuck with me and You are loyal to the promise You gave me. You exalted Your word to me above Your name and Your reputation for the moment.” You see, God could have thrown out David in one minute. He could have said, “You're done. I gave you a promise but that's before you acted this way. Get out.” But no. What does God do? He keeps His promise to David. David’s son only comes on the throne. Yes, there are consequences and ramifications that Israelites lose the kingdom and the kingdom is broken, and so on, everything goes. But guess what? There comes another king many hundreds of years later. That King's name is Jesus. And He is known as the son of David only.

When 2nd Samuel 7 talks about David's heir being on the throne forever and ever, it's not about Solomon, it is about Jesus. God could have said, “Listen, David, you have ruined My reputation. You have given Me a bad name now. So, I'm going to kick you out and bring in Jesus through another line.” No, no, no. What God has spoken, He will do. Nothing can change that. He will not take back His promise. He will not go back on His word. That is what David means when He says, “I praise you for Your faithfulness. You have exalted Your word above Your name.” And I think in the end because of this, God's name also is exalted right now in your hearts and your minds. When you think of this, we exalt God's name. Because He exalted His word above His name, we exalt His name. In the short term, His name perhaps takes a hit, but God will do anything to keep His word, God will do anything to keep his promise. David has personally experienced it. Why do I say he's personally experienced it? Look at verse 3. He says, On the day I called, you answered me. He’s talking about prayer. He’s saying, God, you answered my prayers. Has God answered your prayers, my friend? Think about this past year, the prayers you have prayed to God, have you received answers to those prayers? Take a moment to think right now. After you leave here, that's it. No time to think again. The lunch will come, then the sleeping nap will come. Think right now. With God it's right now or never. What prayers has God answered for you this year? Do you think of anything, any big prayers? David says, “You answered me.” Everybody say, You answered me. I believe He's answered you. And thank Him in your hearts, in your minds.

But he doesn't only say, “You answered me.” Look how he says it, “On the day I called, You answered me.” Boy, that's something else. It is one thing to say, “God, You answered my prayer.” It is another thing to say, “On the day I called, You answered me.” Now that's a different level. Do you have that kind of experience? On the day I called, You answered me. We wonder sometimes why David would go to such extreme measures to thank God dancing, shouting, because of this. His experiences with God have been glorious. He says, “On the day I called, You answered me.” That’s his experience. What He means to say is, “Lord, I have failed You sometimes. I have gone against you sometimes. You never gave up on me. You never took back your word. And whenever I prayed, You answered me, and You answered me the same day.” I think we should desire those kinds of experiences. But today's message is not about desiring more experiences, it's about realizing the experiences you've already had, and thanking God for them.

That's the amazing thing about David. You see, a lot of people experience God, they experience His goodness, but they don't even realize it. Take the people in the world, for example, they experience God's goodness every day, every day. Who makes the sun shine? God. Who sends the rain? It’s God. Who gives them water? Water is such a blessing, my friend. What about their food? What about their work? The very idea of work itself came from God. What about their family? Husband, wife, children, parents. The very idea of family itself was given by God. They experience so much joy, happiness, fulfillment, through family, through word, through play, all these things, and it all comes from God. They don't even think about God. They don't even realize they're experiencing His goodness. Believers are a little more aware. We know that every good and perfect gift comes from God.

But even believers, our awareness sometimes is not sharp enough. We are not very keenly aware, we are not very deeply aware. We are not very sharp sometimes. We are sharp with a lot of things, bright, quickly we get a lot of things, but this sometimes comes slowly only. Our awareness of what God has already done for us. Look at David, his awareness is very sharp here. It's not just naturally sharp, he’s spending a lot of time and effort and energy in it. I want to show you. Look at this, verse 3. How can David say, “On the day I called, You answered me”? Just think about it. Now, let's not be up in the clouds. David was a man like you and me. He experienced struggles like you and me. Are we going to say, every time David prayed, all his struggles vanished on the same day, all his problems vanished on the same day? Is that what David means? How can he say, “On the day I called You answered me”? If you read the whole verse, you'll understand. He himself explains. Look at verse 3. On the day I called, you answered me; my strength of soul you increased. I think the New King James says, You made me bold with strength in my soul. How did You answer me on the day I called? you made me bold with strength in my soul. What is he saying? God, You gave me strength in my soul. You answered me that way.

Now, let me explain this. Let's say you have a problem. And it's become a big problem, big challenge, very heavy burden, seems very hard to overcome, hard to cross, big obstacle. So, you go to God in prayer and you say, “God, help me with this.” And you commit it to God. Once you do that, there are at least two ways God can help you. See, we tend to think God can help only in one way. In our mind, “God, help me with this problem,” means, “Remove it all together, take it away, make it disappear.” But for God, there are several ways, at least two ways. One is, God can do what we are expecting most of the time, which is, “Lord, make this problem disappear, go away. This challenge must just simply vanish.” But there is another way. What is that? The other way is, the challenge remains and it doesn't even lessen, it doesn't even weaken. The problem doesn't weaken in any way, it remains as strong as ever. But what does God do? He strengthens you, He elevates your strength to match the problem, to match that obstacle, that hindrance so that you are now able to go against it and overcome it. God, you see, He doesn't have to always make the problem vanish or disappear. That’s not how He always works. Sometimes that stays, but God increases your strength. He gives you His strength, He fills you with His strength, so that you are able to match the challenge.

Let's say you are in a boxing ring. You enter the boxing ring and you're like this. And your opponent comes. Now at that moment are you going to pray saying, “Lord, make him vanish.” No, no, no. Prayer is what? Lord strengthen me. Help me to defeat him. Give me enough strength to overcome him. Life is sometimes like a boxing match only. You have to fight some opponents. You can’t just say, “Let them disappear.” No. We wish sometimes, that's not the way it is though. At that moment what does God do? He strengthens you not in your body, that’s not where the big strength is, strengthens you in your soul. If your body needs it, He’ll strengthen you there also. But your soul needs the strength. The Psalmist is saying, “Lord, I pray to you so many times and You answered me the day I prayed.” How did You answer me? The same day You strengthened me in my soul immediately. Whether the problem went away or not immediately, You strengthened me in my soul immediately.

Think about great examples in the Bible itself. Think about Paul's thorn in the flesh. Everybody knows this. Paul says he had a thorn in the flesh, something that wouldn't go away, just kept being there. 2nd Corinthians chapter 12 he talks about it. You can turn to it if you need to refer to it. 2nd Corinthians chapter 12 verse 7 he talks about he had a thorn in the flesh. We don't know what it is exactly. And then in verse 8 he says, “I prayed to God three times,” implying what? Lord remove the thorn or something like that. I prayed to God three times. And then what did God say? Look at that verse quickly. God said, “My grace is sufficient.” That's what God said. A lot of people take that and say, “Look brother, even the Apostle Paul sometimes his prayer was not answered. He said, ‘Lord remove the thorn’ but God didn’t remove the thorn. He only said, ‘My grace is sufficient.’” For them, God saying, “My grace is sufficient for you,” is not an answer. That's the difference between them and Paul, that's the difference between them and David.

Go to that passage, did God answer or not? What did Paul think? Everybody is saying, “No, no, God didn't answer Paul,” but what did Paul say? 2nd Corinthians chapter 12 and let's look at verse 8. Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. Verse 9. But he said to me, God said to Paul, “My grace is sufficient for you, my power is made perfect in weakness.” People say God didn’t answer, but look how Paul took it, next. After God stopped speaking, Paul speaks. Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Does this sound like a man who did not receive an answer to prayer? What does he say? Immediately, therefore I will boast. In what? Boast in my weaknesses. Paul is saying, “Lord remove it, remove it, remove it,” three times. God is saying, “My grace is enough for you. My grace is enough for you. My grace is enough for you. My strength is made perfect in your weakness.” And Paul responds by saying, “Thank you, Lord. Now, I will boast in my weakness, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” What is he saying? Lord, thank you for strengthening me with the very power of the risen Christ. Now I can overcome this. That is the meaning, my friend.

See, people turn Paul into a gloomy face, “Oh, it's so sad. He prayed three times, the great Apostle Paul was not answered.” Nonsense. Paul will say, “On the day I called unto Him, He answered me. He strengthened me in my soul. He gave me the very power of the risen Lord Jesus Christ.” Think about Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane, Luke chapter 22. Jesus prays. This is another prayer people will say, “Look at Jesus Himself, His prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane was not answered.” He said, “Lord, if it be possible remove this cup.” See, God didn’t answer His prayer. Actually, Jesus immediately changes it there. “Nevertheless, not My will but Yours.” But a lot of people leave it at that and say, “Look, Jesus wished He never went to the cross. And God didn’t answer His prayer.” No, look at that passage, my friend. Luke chapter 22 verse 42. After Jesus prays that prayer, most people don't read the next verse, 43. In 42 He prays, “Father, if you are willing remove this cup. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.” 43. And there appeared to him an angel from heaven, strengthening him.

See, God could have answered this prayer in two ways at least. One is, to completely avoid the cross, to remove the cross, and say, “Okay, let's forget about the cross.” You are experiencing some burden. Jesus was going through a great time of burden. He's thinking about the cross, the weight that He's going to bear, the weight of the whole world’s sin and it is just weighing down upon Him. He's sweating blood, He's in a moment that shows that he was a human being there, not just God, He was a human being. As a human being, He was literally in a point of weakness there. And he’s saying, “Lord, help me.” Praying to His Father. And at that point, what happens? God could have said, “Okay, let's avoid the cross.” But what does God do? He has higher purposes, and so does Jesus. He sends an angel to strengthen Him. If He had gone the other way, cross would not have happened, you and I would not be here. Nothing to preach about, no church, nothing, no hope. What did God do? He sent an angel immediately to strengthen Jesus. Cross is going to come, the hardest thing any man has ever done. But God is going to give supernatural strength, special strength to meet the challenge.

How many of you are able to relate to this? Think about this year, your prayers if they’ve been answered. But don't just think the prayers that have been answered in an obvious way. See, that's the difference between David and a lot of Christians. David just doesn't think only superficially of the prayers answered in an obvious way, he thinks about all his prayers, and about how God has answered all of them in some way or other, by strengthening him in his soul. So many of us, perhaps not many, but at least some people may think, “Well, this prayer has not been answered. That problem is still there, this hindrance is still there.” But, my friend, that's not the question. Have you been strengthened in your soul? Has God given you enough strength to meet that challenge? I think He has. The very fact that you're sitting here listening to this message it's a good indication that God has strengthened you in your soul. Otherwise, you would not have been able to cope up with it this far. See, my friend, realize what God has done for you already. If you can't see what God has already done, how can you believe for what He's going to do?

It’s so important. David stops and spends all his energy and his thinking and his time on what? What has God done for me? He has answered my prayers, not just the obvious ones, but the ones which I feel the problem is still there. But He has even answered there also. He has strengthened my soul so I can rise to meet the challenge. Maybe sound like a silly example but even today, I was trying to avoid preaching. My prayer in the last three days, at least two days back was, “Lord somehow save me from preaching this Sunday.” So, I felt that said, “I have nothing more to preach.” I asked but I was not given the option. So, I said, my goodness. But sometimes God knows it's better to give us what we don't want or don't expect. If God always gave us what we wanted or expected, my friend, we'd be ruined. We'd go to nothing, literally because our expectations are so low sometimes. “God just save me from preaching this Sunday. That's my great prayer.” Why? “Because, well, I don't have nothing. I don't have enough energy. No, nothing to...” God says, “Well, my strength is made perfect in your weakness.”

Think about your own experiences, my friend. God knows how to make someone out of you, someone strong. Somebody said it like this, “When God gives you comfort, it's comfort with teeth in it. It's comfort with strength in it.” Holy Spirit is the comforter. He’s not just comforter, He’s strengthener. He strengthens you. That's what the word actually means. Not just comforter. Comforter will pat you on your back and say... No, no. He will strengthen you. That’s the ministry of the Holy Spirit, my friend. Has God strengthened you? Definitely He has. Whether you realize it or not He has strengthened you. And I hope and pray you realize it and give thanks to God for it.

Next, we just saw how David gives thanks. Why David gives thanks. Thirdly, what does God get out of it? Psalm 138. What God gets out of it is glory. Verse 5. They shall sing of the ways of the Lord, for great is the glory of the Lord. Notice the Psalm begins with giving thanks in verse 1. And by the time it goes to verse 5, it goes to glory. There is an upward progression. When you give thanks to God, God gets the glory through that. How many of you want to give God the glory? I think every believer wants to give God the glory. But giving God glory is not just where you say, “God, I give you glory.” No, no, no. It involves seeing God's glory. Only if you see God's glory, you can truly acknowledge and say He is glorious. But seeing God's glory is not always easy. He’s glorious and his glory is always shining forth, but people can hardly see it. It's like the sun shining forth but people hardly think about the sun. God is shining forth. The Bible says, even the heavens declare the glory of the Lord. But people can't even see it. They're numb to it. Why? One of the reasons is thanksgiving. See, people are caught up with their problems, depressed with their own problems. The devil's design to get you wrapped up in your own problems, and not think about the good things that God has done for you, so that he can just keep you down there from seeing God's glory, and giving God truly glory.

But David has started giving thanks with his whole heart. Devoted his time, his energy, his effort, all of it into this. And by the time he comes to verse 4, his vision has gone behind his own life. And he says, “Look at verse 4. All the kings of the earth shall give you thanks, O Lord, for they have heard the words of your mouth. He's not talking about himself. Now, he's talking about all the kings. He's saying, “Lord, I have seen your glory, now I want all the kings of the earth shall give you thanks. This is one of those things where it is a... it is said in the future. Right, they will give you thanks, they shall give you thanks, and they have heard the words of your mouth. They shall sing. Who shall sing? The kings, all the great ones of the earth, the leaders. They shall sing of the ways of the Lord, for great is the glory of the Lord. You see, David is a king and he's thinking of his peers, the kings of all the earth, and he’s saying, “Lord, I've seen your glory. Now, I want these kings to see your glory, and they will see your glory, because I'm going to do something about it.” They have heard the words of your mouth means what he's saying is, “I am going to speak your words. Through me they will hear Your words. Verse 5. They shall sing the ways of the Lord. Through me they will hear about the ways of the Lord. Once my friend, you give thanks, it leads you to a place where you see God has great and glorious and amazing. You become aware of it. You speak from personal experience and the next thing you want to do is tell others. Once you've seen something great you want to show it to others. We are always forwarding these WhatsApp messages. Nothing’s super great about them, but still we forward it.

Just something little great also, we want to ... my friend, if you see the glory of the Lord, and you will see it when you engage seriously in the task of thanksgiving, you will see more and more clearly the glory of the Lord. And you will want others to see it. You’re pierced to see it and you will do whatever it takes to show them. You’ll do your part. See, you want to live for God more? Thank God more. Engage in thanksgiving more because through that it will go to a place where you give God, you see His glory, and you give Him glory, and through you others will give Him glory. What do we get out of it? I'm running out of time. What do we get out of it? Verse 7, verse 8. We do get something out of it. Something somebody might think, “Oh, but we should not get anything from thanksgiving.” No, that's not the way God designed it. I'm sorry. Only God should get the glory. My friend, when God gets the glory, the usual pattern is you get the blessing. That's the way God designed it. Wherever He gets the glory, you will get the blessing. So, don't become so concerned about your blessing. You be more concerned about His glory, and you will where He is glorified you will be more and more blessed.

Look at verse 7. Though I walk in the midst of trouble, you preserve my life. It's actually saying it in the future only. That's not coming out very clearly in English, but in Tamil it comes out clearly. Though I walk in the midst of trouble you will preserve my life. There's a ring of certainty to it. You preserve my life. You stretch out your hand against the wrath of my enemies, your right hand delivers me. David is thinking about the future, so long he's been thinking about the past, thanking God for what God has already done, deeply thinking about the past, being deeply aware of God's doings in his life. Now, he's thinking about the future and he says, Though I walk in the midst of trouble, you preserve my life; you stretch out your hand against my enemies, your right hand delivers me. You see, there is no doubt in his mind. He’s saying, “Lord, whatever happens, You are there for me. You will deliver me, You will save me. You will preserve my life. You will come against my enemies.” Look at that, certainty about the future, my friend. That's what thanksgiving will do to you. It will bring you to a place where you are unafraid of the future.

That's why I want you to do this the end of this year. Certainty regarding the future. That's most important, my friend. It's not so important that your problem goes away, it's more important that you become certain that you will overcome. See, people are always going to the end without the process. But God says, “It’s more important that you get the certainty, the assurance, the confidence that you will overcome. The faith, that is more important. The faith is more important. If you get the faith you get the victory but people want the victory without the faith. The way to get the faith, my friend, one way, very easy way is to engage fully in the task of thanksgiving. David engaged in it and look where he has ended up. He has ended up in a place where he's absolutely sure about the future. “You will preserve my life. You will come against my enemies. Your right hand delivers me.”

And look at the climax of it. Verse 8. The Lord will fulfill his purpose for me. How many of you know this verse? Everybody knows this verse. The Lord will complete that which concerns me, another translation says. But do you recognize now how this verse came about? You see this kind of certainty doesn't come about automatically, it doesn't come just like that, it began where? It began in verse 1. I give you thanks, O Lord, with my whole heart. He started there and he did it. And where did he end up? the Lord will complete everything concerning me. No doubt. Certainty about his own life, his own future. My friend, what we need for the coming year is certainty that God will give us the victory, that we will be overcomers. But the thing is, it's not going to come automatically. Start with thanksgiving. Give your time, your energy, your effort is not going to go to waste because God is going to get the glory and you will get certainty for the future. Which means you will get the victory in the future guaranteed. God bless you.

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