Give Thanks To The Lord: 1 Chronicles 16:8-36 (Sermon)


What are you thankful for? 

  • I am thankful for those of you who helped decorate the church. It looks terrific, by the way. 

  • I am grateful for my family visiting this week. 

  • I am thankful for my son being home for the holiday. 

  • I am appreciative of you. 

What are you thankful for? Have you ever tried to list it out? Do you have a tradition of going around the dinner table to share your thanks during the meal? It is good to remember and give thanks. 

The Thanksgiving holiday was first celebrated as a feast in 1621 by the Pilgrims and Native Americans. They were thanking God for his provision. Nearly half the pilgrims died in the first year of their resettlement. Roughly two hundred fifty years later, in 1863, Abraham Lincoln proclaimed a national day of thanksgiving on the last Thursday of November. 

He wrote: 

The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God….

No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy.

It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American People. I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens. 


I love that, Old honest Abe calling us to praise and thank our “beneficent Father.” He echoes the Bible’s instruction. 

Scripture repeatedly calls us to thank and praise God. I want to share one particular passage that reflects this sentiment. If you have your Bible, we will read 1 Chronicles chapter 16, starting at verse 8. I have asked M. and E. S. to read for us. Would you please stand with me in honor of God’s Word? 

Oh give thanks to the LORD; call upon his name; 

      make known his deeds among the peoples! 

Sing to him, sing praises to him; 

      tell of all his wondrous works! 

Glory in his holy name; 

      let the hearts of those who seek the LORD rejoice! 

Seek the LORD and his strength; 

      seek his presence continually! 

Remember the wondrous works that he has done, 

      his miracles and the judgments he uttered, 

O offspring of Israel his servant, 

      children of Jacob, his chosen ones! 

He is the LORD our God; 

      his judgments are in all the earth. 

Remember his covenant forever, 

      the word that he commanded, for a thousand generations, 

the covenant that he made with Abraham, 

      his sworn promise to Isaac, 

which he confirmed to Jacob as a statute, 

      to Israel as an everlasting covenant, 

saying, “To you I will give the land of Canaan, 

      as your portion for an inheritance.” 

When you were few in number, 

      of little account, and sojourners in it, 

wandering from nation to nation, 

      from one kingdom to another people, 

he allowed no one to oppress them; 

      he rebuked kings on their account, 

saying, “Touch not my anointed ones, 

      do my prophets no harm!” 

Sing to the LORD, all the earth! 

      Tell of his salvation from day to day. 

Declare his glory among the nations, 

      his marvelous works among all the peoples! 

For great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised, 

      and he is to be feared above all gods. 

For all the gods of the peoples are worthless idols, 

      but the LORD made the heavens. 

Splendor and majesty are before him; 

      strength and joy are in his place. 

Ascribe to the LORD, O families of the peoples, 

      ascribe to the LORD glory and strength! 

Ascribe to the LORD the glory due his name; 

      bring an offering and come before him! 

                  Worship the LORD in the splendor of holiness; 

            tremble before him, all the earth; 

      yes, the world is established; it shall never be moved. 

Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice, 

      and let them say among the nations, “The LORD reigns!” 

Let the sea roar, and all that fills it; 

      let the field exult, and everything in it! 

Then shall the trees of the forest sing for joy 

      before the LORD, for he comes to judge the earth. 

Oh give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; 

      for his steadfast love endures forever! 

Say also: 

“Save us, O God of our salvation, 

      and gather and deliver us from among the nations, 

that we may give thanks to your holy name 

      and glory in your praise. 

Blessed be the LORD, the God of Israel, 

      from everlasting to everlasting!” 

Then all the people said, “Amen!” and praised the LORD.  (1 Chronicles 16:8–36)


Thank you. Let’s pray. 

Dear Heavenly Father, we need you. We have so much we are thankful for in life. Open our eyes to see your blessings. Open our hearts to be grateful. Speak to us now through the Bible and your Holy Spirit. Open our ears to hear you. In Jesus’s name, we pray, amen. You may be seated. 


We don’t know who compiled 1 and 2 Chronicles. The last thing it talks about helps date the compilation. One clue might also be the book that follows it in our English Bibles. Much like Acts follows Luke in how they begin and end, Chronicles ends with language similar to Ezra’s beginning. That might be why some scholars think Ezra was the historian who wrote the book of 1 and 2 Chronicles. 


1 Chronicles begins with a genealogy and the first man, Adam. It goes from generation to generation up to King David. From there, it details the story of God’s people for centuries as they go from following God to wandering away. The book documents enemy states attacking, conquering, and eventually deporting God’s people from the Promised Land. God was punishing Israel because of their constant rebellion against his ways. Like Adam’s banishment from the Garden of Eden, God exiled Israel from their homeland. Yet, he was merciful and forgiving. The end of the book recalls the prophecy of Jeremiah. Which one? God told Jeremiah that a king named Cyrus would decree the return of Israel to the Promised Land and the rebuilding of the Temple. And that is what happened around 538 B.C. But that is getting ahead of ourselves. 


In chapter 16, we read that King David was transporting the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem, his new capital. Inside were the Ten Commandments, a coriander-like substance called manna, and Aarron’s staff. The Ark was made out of gold. It was 52 inches long by 31 inches high and wide. So, it was around four feet long by three feet tall and wide and weighed nearly three hundred pounds. This is a picture of what it looked like: 

It was holy. Only Levites could touch it. In 1 Chronicles chapter 13, God’s people were moving the ark, and oxen carrying it stumbled. One of the men driving the oxen grabbed hold of the ark, presumably to stabilize it. This is what happened to a man named Uzzah, 

“And the anger of the LORD was kindled against Uzzah, and he struck him down because he put out his hand to the ark, and he died there before God” (1 Chronicles 13:9–10, ESV).

David was upset, and I don’t blame him. He had to reconcile God’s holiness with God’s love, the justice of God with the mercy of God. Uzzah’s punishment was frightening. David let the ark be taken to a nearby home and sit. He didn’t want to deal with this. He had to come to terms with God. God was and is perfect, transcendent, and set apart. He is grander than a mountain, 

more powerful than lightning,

and more just than our justice system.

He is so holy that Moses had to take off his shoes when God spoke to him in a burning bush. 

He is so holy that angels cover their eyes before him constantly. In Revelation and Isaiah, we peek into heaven and read that, 

….Day and night they [angels] never cease to say, 

                  “Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty, 

      who was and is and is to come!” (Revelation 4:8, ESV)

God is so holy that if we were to see his face, the Bible says, we would die. 

After several months, David held a parade with the ark coming to town. He wanted to put it back in its place, the Tabernacle. The Tabernacle was a moveable tent that God had Moses build hundreds of years before. The Levites were to put the ark inside the Tabernacle. It had a separate room called the Holy of Holies. Only the Jewish people of the tribe of the Levi could enter. And not just any; it had to be a consecrated, high priest, and only once a year. When was that? It was on Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. On that day, the priests would sacrifice for God’s people’s known and unknown sins. This context surrounds chapter 16 as the ark nears Zion, David’s royal city. God’s power, provision, and presence would rest again with God’s people. 

King David was so happy that he stripped down to his most basic outfit and danced, sang, and blessed God’s people. In verse 7, David commissioned this song Matthew and Elizabeth read.


As we work through the text, it is repetitive, with three calls to worship, two sections of reasons, a closing prayer, and a response. 

8-11   The first call to worship 

12-22 The reason for worship

23-24 The second call to worship 

25-27 The reason for worship

28-35 The third call to worship 

36      The closing prayer and the people’s response

Main Idea and Intended Response  

Chapter 16 is one of the high points in Israel’s history. God’s power, provision, and presence would dwell again with his people in the Promised Land. It echoed Eden and foreshadowed heaven. It gives four actions for God’s people to do in light of God’s power, provision, and presence: Thank, Pray, Proclaim, and Praise. If you want my main idea, it is: 

Four actions for God’s people to do in light of God’s power, provision, and presence: Thank, Pray, Proclaim, and Praise. 

Thank GOD 

Look at verse 8, 

“Oh give thanks to the LORD” (1 Chronicles 16:8, ESV).

We reread these words in 34. Oh, give thanks to the LORD. Why? Why should we thank God? Read all of verse 34. 

“Oh give thanks to the LORD 

for he is good; 

for his steadfast love endures forever!” (1 Chronicles 16:34, ESV). 

God is kind and caring. His goodness means he is faithful and true. James, Jesus’s half-brother, tells us that every good and perfect gift comes down from the Father above (James 1:17). God is loving, with a love that will never fail or fade. He loves us so much that he sent his one and only Son, Jesus, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have everlasting life (John 3:16). He died to forgive us. Jesus died, demonstrating his love. He is the definition of love. If you want to know God’s goodness, look at his love. If you want to know God’s love, look at his Son. Jesus is why we can thank him in the good times and bad. 


We can thank our “Beneficent Father” for all the gifts he gives. Let’s take a moment to thank God right now. Just speak up and say what you are thankful for. Say a word or sentence. We can speak at once or intermittently. We can be quiet or loud. God will understand. Let’s do that right now. I will start, and after a little while, I will close and move to our next point. 


David went on. He called the assembly to join him in prayer. This is the second point I see repeatedly in the text. God desires his people to seek him.

“Oh give thanks to the LORD

call upon his name” (1 Chronicles 16:8, ESV)


David re-phrases this in verse 11. 

“Seek the LORD and his strength; 

seek his presence continually!” (1 Chronicles 16:11, ESV).

This reminds me of 1 Thessalonians. It says, 

“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” (1 Thessalonians 5:16–18, ESV) 

In verse 35 David wrote: 

Say also: 

Save us, O God of our salvation

       and gather 

and deliver us from among the nations, 

                   that we may give thanks to your holy name 

       and glory in your praise. (1 Chronicles 16:35, ESV)

David’s song permits us to pray for ourselves and others. It is okay to ask for help. It is okay to make requests. God is not too busy or bothered by our petitions. We are not annoying. Our prayers are not informing him but connecting us to him. So, let us be specific and bold in our talk with God. Let us pray. 


The author of the song Amazing Grace once wrote: 

Thou are coming to a king

Large petitions with thee bring 

For His grace and power are such 

None can ever ask too much


Another person of prayer was John Knox. He was born in 1514 and became a catholic priest. Sometime in his thirties, God changed his conviction about the Bible, and he became protestant and marginalized. He fled the country. Queen Mary, nicknamed Bloody Mary for killing protestants, reportedly said, “I fear John Knox’s prayers more than all the assembled armies of Europe.” Knox knew the value of prayer. He wrote, “Let no man think himself unworthy to call and pray to God.” And, “Prayer is an earnest and familiar talking with God, to whom we declare our miseries, whose support and help we implore and desire in our adversities and whom we laude and praise for our benefits received.” 

God wants us to pray. Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob prayed. Hagar and Hannah prayed. Moses prayed. Samuel and Daniel prayed. Jesus prayed and assumed his followers would, too. He invites us to pray. The early church devoted themselves to prayer. Do we? 

Prayer is simply talking to God. You can pray anywhere and at any time. I can feel guilty pretty quickly when we talk about spiritual practices and other people’s habits of prayer. Let’s not let our past dictate our future. Let us proceed with this as an invitation to a relationship with God and talk with him. 


My wife is my role model. When she can’t sleep well, she prays instead of surfing ESPN or Facebook or reading emails. I love that. That is how she prays. What might prayer look like for you this week? 

If you struggle to pray, consider joining a corporate prayer time or asking for help. Congregational prayer can be like jump-starting your car. Let’s pause now to quietly seek how God would have us talk with him this week.   


This brings us to the third point, proclaiming. Look at verse 8 again. 

Oh give thanks to the LORD

call upon his name

make known his deeds among the peoples! (1 Chronicles 16:8, ESV))


Now, look at verse 23. 

“Sing to the LORD, all the earth! 

Tell of his salvation from day to day. 

Declare his glory among the nations, 

his marvelous works among all the peoples! 

For great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised, 

       and he is to be feared above all gods. 

For all the gods of the peoples are worthless idols, 

       but the LORD made the heavens. 

Splendor and majesty are before him

       strength and joy are in his place. “ (1 Chronicles 16:23–27)

God is the God of living, the Creator of the Universe, our Savior, the King of kings, and the LORD of lords. No one is like him. He is full of splendor, majesty, power, and joy. He wants us to share him with those around us. 

We are to make known what God has done. That is, in part, what we do when we give to missions. That is what we do when we petition God to save the lost. That is what we do when helping with Michigan Migrant ministries. People do this when they befriend someone from another nation in the name of Jesus. It is what we do when we teach our kids in children’s and youth ministries. We have opportunities all around us to share God’s goodness and love. Some beautifully designed cards are in your bulletin, and smaller ones are on the welcome table. You can share them around town and with friends. This is one of the year’s seasons when people might check out the church and hear of God’s goodness and love. 


How many of you ate some good food this week? What was it? What was your favorite? Shout it out. For me, it was some stuffing a family member had made. It was amazing. I had never had anything like it. It is easy to talk about food we like. Yet, God is exponentially better. Why is it so hard to talk about him? More people are divided by religion than food. I worry about what people think of me. At the end of the day, we need to be gentle, respectful, and obedient to this call to share the good news. We can be creative, Spirit-led, and natural in how we declare what God has done among the nations. What might that sharing or proclaiming look like this week? Maybe you don’t have an answer. We can be in prayer about that, too. 


This brings us to our last point: praise. Go back to verse 8. 

Oh give thanks to the LORD; call upon his name

make known his deeds among the peoples

Sing to him,

 sing praises to him; (1 Chronicles 16:8–9, ESV)

Go to verse 10. 

“Glory in his holy name

let the hearts of those who seek the LORD rejoice! “ (1 Chronicles 16:10, ESV). 

God is a God of joy. We serve the true good God whose love endures forever. We are to praise, exalt, lift, shout, declare, and make a melody to him. He is worthy.


The speakers referred to the Five Love Languages in our recent Marriage Seminar. Do you know the five? What are they? 

  1. Touch

  2. Words of Affirmation 

  3. Quality Time

  4. Gifts

  5. Acts of Service


What is your language? How do you feel most loved? You can be any combination of those. In this call to worship, I see several directed to God: words of affirmation, quality time, and perhaps acts of service. God wants our praise. We invest in relationships we care about. Praise can be done as a group and privately. What does it look like to express your appreciation to God? One way is to sing. 

In this song of David, he details specific things that God did, demonstrating his power, provision, and presence. He called God’s people to remember. Why? Because they forget. 

  • God made a promise to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

  • He made a family into a nation, a barren woman became pregnant, and he rescued them from annihilation. 

  • He split the Red Sea as God’s people fled Egyptian oppression. 

  • He gave the Ten Commandments. 

  • He provided meat, bread, and water for the people to eat and drink when there was no food or water. 

  • Their clothes didn’t wear out. 

  • He guided them with a cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night. 

  • He destroyed their enemies and spoke to them personally. 

  • He brought them into the Promised Land.

God was powerful, provided, and was present. 

  • He raised judges and kings to lead them.

  • He made a city for worship, Jerusalem.

  • He eventually brought peace to their borders.

  • He established a Temple for worship.

God was powerfully providing and present for Israel. 

Yet, What the Israelites rejoiced about in chapter 16, some wept about centuries later. Israel left the faith within a generation. Even those who followed God fell into gross sin. God allowed Israel’s enemies to conquer. The ark was lost, the Temple destroyed, and God’s enemies overran Jerusalem. God’s people were taken from the land that was to be theirs forever. Where was God’s power, provision, and presence? Why praise and thank God? 

When Abraham Lincoln called for a national day of thanks and praise, war ripped through the nation. The country was not united. Politics divided families. About 750,000 people died as a result of the war. In the United States, there were 4 million slaves. Scarcity, homelessness, sickness, and disease were threats to some. Yet, President Lincoln found things to praise and thank God for. What he didn’t mention was our ultimate reason: Jesus. 

The Bible tells us that 1000 years after David celebrated God’s power, provision, and presence, Jesus came as a baby. In a sense, he tabernacled or tented among us, wearing our skin and bones. John, Jesus’s follower, wrote:  

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. (John 1:14, ESV)

He lived in obscurity for thirty years. At thirty, he invested three years in teaching healing and training. At the end of those years, those he came to save killed him. But that was not the end of him. Rebellion would not have the last word. He defeated death, rose victoriously, and, after forty days, ascended into heaven. Ten days after that, he sent the Spirit to come and rest upon the church. Every believer now has in his or her heart the power, provision, and presence of God. He dwells with us, not in a special ark or tabernacle that one person can touch and see once a year but us all the time. That is one reason we can join David in thanking, praising, and proclaiming God regardless of how our year has been.

Through Jesus, we know that sin will be no more one day, and we will be with him. We have mercy and grace today and a bright hope for tomorrow because of him. 

Suffering is only temporary for those who follow Jesus, and the goodness and love of God we experience now are only an appetizer of what is to come. 

Revelation tells us: 

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” (Revelation 21:1–4, ESV)

God deserves our thanks and praise. With that, let’s conclude in worship. 


Let’s pray. Dear God.

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