9 I will praise thee, O Lord, among the people: I will sing unto thee among the nations. 10 For thy mercy is great unto the heavens, And thy truth unto the clouds. 11 Be thou exalted, O God, above the heavens: Let thy glory be above all the earth. (Psalm 57:9–11)
This Thanksgiving I wonder if some said, “I have nothing to be thankful for; the times are hard.” The interesting thing about that is that Thanksgiving Day is a day that originated in hard times.
Most people remember from grade school that the Mayflower Pilgrims in Plymouth, Mass. celebrated America’s first Thanksgiving in the autumn of 1621. They were thankful for a bountiful harvest.
But did you know that the previous winter, a few months earlier, half the colony died of exposure and disease? Consider how you would feel if half of us died this winter, of diseases that wasted people away or of being frostbitten and cold?
Or consider that, when Thanksgiving was made an official holiday by Abraham Lincoln, it was 1863. The United States was in the midst of the bloodiest war on American soil, the Civil War, a war that set brother against brother.
How could Lincoln and the Pilgrims be so thankful in times that were marked by trial and adversity? It was not because they had a confidence in the human spirit, but that they had a confidence in God.
How do I know that they had confidence in God? I know this because of what they wrote, for example, Abraham Lincoln in his Thanksgiving proclamation of 1863 wrote:
No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things [the United States continued to operate and even grow in the midst of war]. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy. (William J. Federer, Great Quotations… [St. Louis, MO: AmeriSearch, 2001].)
The Pilgrims and Abraham Lincoln saw the love, faithfulness, and sovereignty of God in all times, and were thankful. So was another man, this one a king and writer of songs, David. One of those songs is Psalm 57.
In this psalm, David first teaches us to…