************ Sermon on Psalm 116:12-14 ************

By: Rev. Adrian Dieleman

This sermon was preached on November 25, 1999

Psalm 116
Psalm 116:12-14
"Repaying the Lord for His Goodness" Thanksgiving Day 1999

Boys and girls, have you ever seen a crocodile at the zoo? Was he lying perfectly still in brownish water? You probably had to look twice to see him. Perhaps all you could see was his nostrils, the bumps of his eyes, and a part of his back sticking out of the water. He may have looked like a harmless floating log. But he is not harmless he is dangerous.

Do you know what would happen if an animal should wander too close to the crocodile? Quick as a flash the crocodile's strong jaws would snap hold of a leg and he would drag the careless animal under water.

Years ago some people in India thought the crocodile was sacred. They worshiped him as one of their gods. Before laws were made against it, mothers used to throw their children to the crocodiles in the river thank God this isn't done anymore. Why did they do that? They did it because they thought it would please this river god.

One day two missionaries walked along a certain river path. At the river's edge sat an Indian mother staring at the dark water. In her arms the mother cradled a sickly baby girl. And nearby her healthy son laughed and played happily.

The missionaries looked sad. They guessed what the Indian mother meant to do. She was planning to give one of her children to the crocodile god. The missionaries stopped and sat down to talk with her. They told her about Jesus.

"Don't give your dear children to the river god," begged the missionaries. "Trust in Jesus. He is the only Savior."

"All my life I have worshiped the river god," said the mother. "What you tell me is so new and strange. I just can't believe it."

At last the missionaries sadly walked away.

A few days later they met the Indian mother again. This time only one child was with her the sick baby girl. The missionaries sighed. They knew what must have happened. The mother's healthy son had been given to the crocodiles.

"If you thought you had to give one of your children, why didn't you give the poor, sick baby?" asked the missionaries.

The mother's dark eyes flashed. She stood straight and tall. "We give our best to our gods," she proudly answered.

Today is Thanksgiving Day. I wonder do we give our best to the One and Only true God of heaven and earth? Do we give God our best when we give Him thanksgiving?

In Psalm 116 King David wonders how he can show thanksgiving to God. "How can I repay the Lord for all his goodness to me?" he asks.

I The Lord's Goodness
A Before we thank God we, like the Psalmist, have to remind ourselves of the Lord's goodness. King David saw many signs of the Lord's goodness in his life; he saw many things to thank the Lord for. And, everything that he mentions we can mention too.

God is good, so very good: "... he heard my voice; he heard my cry for mercy ... he turned his ear to me" (vs 1,2). David is thankful for prayer, prayer that is heard and answered. How blessed is the condition of God's people because theirs is a God Who hears prayer. In prayer we can carry everything to God: our sins and sorrows, our pains and troubles, our trials and temptations, our discouragements and weaknesses, our burdens and cares, our sighs and tears, the needs and heartaches of loved ones. When we carry all these to God in prayer He lifts us up with His presence, His power, and His peace.

B God is good, so very good: "The Lord is gracious and righteous; our God is full of compassion ... he saved me" (vs 5,6). David thinks here of the Lord's grace and mercy for him a sinner. Burned on his mind and searing his conscience is his adultery with Bathsheba and his murder of her husband Uriah. David suffered through and from the consequences of these sins the rest of his life. Yet, he knew that even these horrible sins were graciously forgiven and forgotten by the Lord.
Topic: Forgiveness
Subtopic: Examples of Human
Index: 1316
Date: 3/1993.23

There's a Spanish story of a father and son who had become estranged. The son ran away, and the father set off to find him. He searched for months to no avail. Finally, in a last desperate effort to find him, the father put an ad in a Madrid newspaper. The ad read: Dear Paco, meet me in front of this newspaper office at noon on Saturday. All is forgiven. I love you. Your Father.
On Saturday 800 Pacos showed up, looking for forgiveness and love from their fathers.

We all have sinned. We have all fallen short of the glory of God. We are all estranged and separated from our Father. So, like those 800 Pacos, we all search for and need forgiveness from our Father in heaven. And, in Christ Jesus, God searches us out to forgive us and give us His love.

C God is good, so very good: "For you, O Lord, have delivered my soul from death, my eyes from tears, my feet from stumbling, that I may walk before the Lord in the land of the living" (vs 8,9). The first answer of the Catechism says the same thing, though in different words: "Christ, by His Holy Spirit, assures me of eternal life and makes me whole-heartedly willing and ready from now on to live for him" (H.C. Q&A 1). God preserved David and He preserves you and me in the faith. Satan attacks us and tempts us but God guards and protects our souls unto life everlasting so that no one can snatch us out of His hand. God has forged a golden chain of salvation so that our redemption is assured and we are able to live for and serve the Lord in joy.

D God is good, so very good: "Be at rest once more, O my soul, for the lord has been good to you." David thinks here of how God satisfies his material needs. There was a time when David lived in caves and holes in the ground. There was a time when David had little or nothing to eat. There was a time when David was constantly on the move, running from his enemies. But when David wrote Psalm 116 he was living in a palace. He had more than adequate food, clothing, and shelter. He was surrounded by luxury even.

Let me tell you what I see when I travel through the Trinity congregation: I don't see anyone who is hungry or without clothing and shelter; I see new or newer cars in many driveways; to the best of my knowledge there is no one without gainful employment; I see many who are able to travel long distances either to visit loved ones or to have a vacation; throughout the year, from the pulpit I see many women with new dresses and stylish hair-cuts; I see TVs, VCRs, stereos, and computers; I look in the newspaper and I see good prices for milk and some crops. We can always find people and areas who are better off than we are yet, compared to 90% of the world, we are fabulously wealthy.

E I read this past week of a family that hangs a great big long roll of paper from the ceiling, all down one wall, and on this long roll of paper they write all the things they are thankful for. It is a really long list! Anytime someone in the family thinks of something else, they write it down. They've kept the list for years, rolling it up as they write down more and more blessings. Every once in a while they unroll the list, read it over, and are reminded of many years' worth of blessings.

I know that if any of us were to do this, we too would have long, long lists. Yes, congregation, God is good, so very good to us.

II The Thankful Response
A We have so much to be thankful for. Now we need to thank the Lord for these blessings.
Topic: Thankfulness
Index: 1455
Date: 11/1999.101
Title: Can Hardly Keep From Telling You

The story is told of a farmer in Vermont sitting on the porch with his wife. He was beginning to realize how much she meant to him. It was about time--for they had lived together forty-two years, and she had been such a help, a very willing worker. As they sat together, he said, "Wife, you've been such a wonderful woman that there are times I can hardly keep from telling you."

Perhaps a wife or two can tolerate an inexcusable situation like this, but our God certainly doesn't. He wants us to express our praise and thanksgiving on account of all His goodness to us. He wants, He demands, a grateful response for all His blessings.

In fact, we can go so far as to say that a lack of thankfulness is the root of all sin. People who are not thankful fail to glorify the God Who made them. People who are not thankful fail to return the love of the Lover of their souls. Either we are thankful and glorify God, or we are unthankful and fail to glorify God.

How can I properly thank the Lord for all His blessings and goodness? David tells us.

B "How can I repay the Lord for all his goodness to me? I will lift up the cup of salvation." We, with David, on account of sin, deserve the "foaming cup" of the Lord's wrath. Instead, we are given the cup of salvation God's gift of grace. To raise the cup of salvation in our celebration of the Lord's Supper is a testimony of faith in Jesus Christ; it is a proclamation of one's trust and belief in the Lord. The Lord loves to see His children lift that cup of salvation; nothing pleases Him as much as man's receiving the gift of salvation with a believing heart.

C "How can I repay the Lord for all his goodness to me? I will ... call on the name of the Lord." David knew what we also know: that prayer is a very important part of the thankful life. In prayer God wants to hear our praises and our "thank-yous." He wants to hear our petitions, intercessions, and supplications for all that we need for body and soul; our asking, you see, shows our utter dependence upon the Lord and thus gives Him honor and glory as the Great Provider.

D "How can I repay the Lord for all his goodness to me? ... I will fulfill my vows to the Lord in the presence of all his people." David had made a promise to give to God an offering, a sacrifice of thanks. David knew that everything he had was a gift from the Lord. He knew that God demanded from His Old Testament people a tenth of all they had. But David, out of gratitude, was going to give an extra gift to the Lord. And, out of gratitude, we too are to present gifts to the Lord.

E Notice, David brings his thanksgiving to God "in the presence of all (God's) people." David, in other words, gives gratitude to God in a worship service, when God's people are gathered together. Praise and thanksgiving of people when they are gathered together for worship is especially pleasing to the Lord. He loves it when we sing together, pray together, and worship together. That's why we are gathered together today: we want to thank God as a worshiping community and not just as separate individuals or families.

F "How can I repay the Lord for all his goodness to me?" David knew what the Indian woman in our story knew: that we are to give to God our best. What God wants is our hearts, our lives, our service. He wants us to love Him with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength. The Apostle Paul can say, "Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God--which is your spiritual worship" (Rom 12:1).

God is good, so very good to us. "How can I repay the Lord for all his goodness to me?"
I will lift up the cup of salvation
and call on the name of the Lord.
I will fulfill my vows to the Lord
in the presence of all his people.

"How can I repay the Lord for all his goodness to me?" In the Hebrew of our text from Psalm 116 that little word "How" expresses what is impossible. "How can I repay the Lord for all his goodness to me?" When it comes right down to it, I can't. I can do everything that David did and yet it isn't enough, and it isn't good enough. In other words, there is no way that we sinful creatures can every repay the Lord for all His goodness. Don't forget, in this life we can make only the smallest beginning in living the life of gratitude.

Yet, God wants and even accepts our humble efforts. He wants them and He accepts them unworthy though they are--because they are made acceptable in and through Christ. Jesus, through His blood and Spirit, sanctifies our faith, our prayers, our offerings, our worship, and our persons so that they are worthy of God.

"How can I repay the Lord for all his goodness to me?" On my own I can't. But in Christ, with Christ, and through Christ
I will lift up the cup of salvation
and call on the name of the Lord.
I will fulfill my vows to the Lord
in the presence of all his people.

In Christ: that's the only way that you and I and anyone can "repay the Lord for all his goodness." So in Christ let us give thanks unto the Lord.
You can e-mail our pastor at: Pastor, Trinity United Reformed Church
Back to Index of Sermons Page