“With them were Heman and Jeduthun and the rest of those chosen and designated by name to give thanks to the Lord, ‘for His love endures forever.’” 1 Chronicles 16:41
Today is Thanksgiving – and, prompted by the Spirit of God, I began to research the word “thank” in Scripture. There are more than 130 verses in the Bible that speak of thanks, thanksgiving, thankfulness, etc. Jesus often spoke to His Father saying “I give thanks…” Paul’s letters are filled with thanks, and I am convinced that his grateful heart was one of the biggest contributors to his joyfulness in spite of his circumstances. And Paul had some mighty unpleasant, difficult, life-threatening circumstances. But I believe Paul could be grateful because he knew who he was, and more importantly, he knew whose he was.
At least twice in his letters, Paul identified himself as “called to be an apostle and set apart for the gospel of God” (Romans 1:1), and “called to be an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God” (1 Corinthians 1:1). The word “called,” in its root meaning is “chosen.” Paul knew that he had been chosen, and the One who chose him was Christ Jesus. Did you know that you are also “chosen”? I discovered at least seven verses in the New Testament that express exactly that. My favorite is 1 Peter 2:9 which says: “Buy you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of Him who called you out of darkness and into His wonderful light” (emphasis added). You and I are also chosen and called by the same Savior who called Paul. We have been chosen to be God’s unique and special people – not by anything was are or have or do – but only by the mercy and grace of Him who chose us.
I am especially drawn today to our key verse – 1 Chronicles 16:14. Let me set the scene for you. The Ark of the Covenant, the one element of the Tabernacle that was God’s special dwelling place, had been captured by Israel’s enemy, the Philistines. David set out to bring the Ark home, and the people and their king were ecstatic with joy and gratitude. David, the Psalmist and musician, crafted a beautiful Psalm of Thanks, which I encourage you to read in 1 Chronicles 16. They celebrated with sacrifices and offering and much joyful thanks. Now look again at our key verse. Do you see that there were specific priests who were “chosen…to give thanks to the Lord”? Their sole responsibility was to express gratitude to the Lord who was again dwelling among His people. They led the Israelites in songs and exclamations of thanks.
You and I are chosen by God to be His royal priests. We are chosen by the Lord to give thanks. We have been given the special calling of leading our families, churches, communities and nation in gratitude to the Lord, the God who created us, sustains us, provides for us, and, most importantly of all, the One who saved and redeemed us. We are God’s priests in this age, chosen to be thankful people. Oh, hear the words of John in Revelation 17:14: “But the Lamb will overcome them because He is LORD of lords and KING of kings – and with Him will be His called, chosen and faithful followers.” Now that’s something to be thankful for!
Holy Father, You have called me out of darkness and chosen me to be your royal priest. Thank you for your wonderful mercy and grace. You are the giver of “every good and perfect gift” (James 1:17), and I am forever grateful. Amen.