Give Thanks in the Great Congregation

There is a word theologians sometimes use. That word is prolepsis or proleptic. It speaks of something being anticipated even before it comes. It is so certain that one can represent it as having already happened. This is the tone of Psalm 35. The Psalmist is certain that he will be giving thanks in the great congregation of God’s mighty works, even though God has not yet moved in his life.  This attitude of gratitude and thanksgiving may be ours as well.

Let’s start now from the beginning. Appeal to God for help. Tell him right now about your battles and difficulties. He alone can save you. Do not turn to yourself and do not turn to others for help. “Contend, O Lord, with those who contend with me.”

Secondly, give God the specifics of your situation. Do not hide your feelings from God. Do not content yourself with “well, he knows anyway.” Tell him what you are experiencing and express the aches of your soul to him. To grit our teeth and merely endure is akin to affirming Deism (God is up there watching but not intervening).

Finally, praise him now for what he will do then. Let your confidence in God flow. He will most certainly intervene on your behalf. He will most certainly work on your behalf. Anticipating this very thing, David says, “I will thank you in the great congregation; in the mighty throng I will praise you.”

When we praise God for his mighty works we participate in righting the created order. We give proper glory to God, obeying the first commandment. We position ourselves properly as created beings dependent upon him. And, we give the people of God a witness.

Beyond righting the created order, we also position ourselves to be above resentment, bitterness, envy, and jealously. A God-follower who is constantly giving thanks to God has no room in his heart for folly. He keeps his heart clean and reserved only for God.

This passage comes from Psalm 35.  Want to listen? Here’s the online sermon archive.

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