Exhortations to Thanksgiving.
1 O give thanks unto the LORD for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever. 2 O give thanks unto the God of gods: for his mercy endureth for ever. 3 O give thanks to the Lord of lords: for his mercy endureth for ever. 4 To him who alone doeth great wonders: for his mercy endureth for ever. 5 To him that by wisdom made the heavens: for his mercy endureth for ever. 6 To him that stretched out the earth above the waters: for his mercy endureth for ever. 7 To him that made great lights: for his mercy endureth for ever: 8 The sun to rule by day: for his mercy endureth for ever: 9 The moon and stars to rule by night: for his mercy endureth for ever.
The duty we are here again and again called to is to give thanks, to offer the sacrifice of praise continually, not the fruits of our ground or cattle, but the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to his name, Hebrews 13:15. We are never so earnestly called upon to pray and repent as to give thanks for it is the will of God that we should abound most in the most pleasant exercises of religion, in that which is the work of heaven. Now here observe, 1. Whom we must give thanks to--to him that we receive all good from, to the Lord, Jehovah, Israel's God (Psalms 136:1), the God of gods, the God whom angels adore, from whom magistrates derive their power, and by whom all pretended deities are and shall be conquered (Psalms 136:2), to the Lord of lords, the Sovereign of all sovereigns, the stay and supporter of all supports Psalms 136:3. In all our adorations we must have an eye to God's excellency as transcendent, and to his power and dominion as incontestably and uncontrollably supreme. 2. What we must give thanks for, not as the Pharisee that made all his thanksgivings terminate in his own praise (God, I thank thee, that I am so and so), but directing them all to God's glory. (1.) We must give thanks to God for his goodness and mercy (Psalms 136:1): Give thanks to the Lord, not only because he does good, but because he is good (all the streams must be traced up to the fountain), not only because he is merciful to us, but because his mercy endures for ever, and will be drawn out to those that shall come after us. We must give thanks to God, not only for that mercy which is now handed out to us here on earth, but for that which shall endure for ever in the glories and joys of heaven. (2.) We must give God thanks for the instances of his power and wisdom. In general (Psalms 136:4), he along does great wonders. The contrivance is wonderful, the design being laid by infinite wisdom the performance is wonderful, being put in execution by infinite power. He alone does marvellous things none besides can do such things, and he does them without the assistance or advice of any other. More particularly, [1.] He made the heavens, and stretched them out, and in them we not only see his wisdom and power, but we taste his mercy in their benign influences as long as the heavens endure the mercy of God endures in them, Psalms 136:5. [2.] He raised the earth out of the waters when he caused the dry land to appear, that it might be fit to be a habitation for man, and therein also his mercy to man still endures (Psalms 136:6) for the earth hath he given to the children of men, and all its products. [3.] Having made both heaven and earth, he settled a correspondence between them, notwithstanding their distance, by making the sun, moon, and stars, which he placed in the firmament of heaven, to shed their light and influences upon this earth, Psalms 136:7-9. These are called the great lights because they appear so to us, for otherwise astronomers could tell us that the moon is less than many of the stars, but, being nearer to the earth, it seems much greater. They are said to rule, not only because they govern the seasons of the year, but because they are useful to the world, and benefactors are the best rulers, Luke 22:25. But the empire is divided, one rules by day, the other by night (at least, the stars), and yet all are subject to God's direction and disposal. Those rulers, therefore, which the Gentiles idolized, are the world's servants and God's subjects. Sun, stand thou still, and thou moon.