Come, let us sing to the LORD; let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation. Let us come before him with thanksgiving; let us make a joyful noise to him with music and song. (Psalm 95:1-2).
Gratitude is a fragile thing. If we’re not careful, it can come and go like a thief in the night. Consider Israel’s experience after God had delivered them from the agonizing humiliation of slavery. Initially, they were exuberantly thankful—“Who among the gods is like you, LORD, who is like you, majestic in holiness, awesome in glory, doing wonders?” (Exodus 15:11). Yet before long (just one chapter in Exodus, to be precise) they found themselves in the wilderness feeling hungry and indignant— “If only we had died by the hand of the LORD in Egypt!” (Exodus 16:3a).
Gratitude is also a powerful thing. It can spread among God’s people like wildfire and inspire us to act boldly. No one works harder, therefore, to sap the fervor of our thankfulness than our enemy, Satan. “Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8b). Satan wants to steal our joy by subversively magnifying what we don’t have instead of what we do have. And Satan knows that if he can plant seeds of bitterness in our hearts and minds, then he can knock us out of the fight.
Consequently, we need to remain vigilant in guarding our gratitude. As we seek to do so, Psalm 95 provides some precautionary guidance—or remedial guidance, if our gratitude happens to be spent already.
1. Remember who God is (95:3-5). If we’re to answer the summons to come before the Lord with thanksgiving, the first step is to acknowledge God’s sovereignty over all of creation: “In his hand are the depths of the earth…” (95:4a). Reflecting on God’s transcendent qualities enables us to gain perspective on whatever finite trials we may be facing.
2. Remember who you are (95:6-7). The God to whom the universe belongs lays claim to the lives of believers: “for he is our God, and we are the people of his pasture, the flock under his care” (95:7). If we’re God’s treasured possession, moreover, then we can be sure God will never let his flock fall off a cliff. No matter how devastating our circumstances, remember whose we are.
3. Remember what God has done for you (95:8-11). The Lord’s promise to care for us is not merely an abstract concept. It’s grounded in history. Just as the Passover lambs were slaughtered during the Exodus, so also the precious blood of Jesus was shed for sinners like us. Having received what God has done, may the same Spirit who seals us for redemption also guard our gratitude against the heart-hardening assaults of our enemy.