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Thanksgiving in the Bible: Best Reply for Gift of Love

Thanksgiving in the Bible: Best Reply for Gift of Love
Thanksgiving is an expression of gratitude, a heart attitude that honors the LORD with praise and rejoicing for His goodness and mercy.

The Bible encourages Thanksgiving from Genesis to Revelation. Here are some reasons why:

Thanksgiving in the Bible: Best Reply for Gift of Love

Let us come before his presence with thanksgiving. – Psalm 95:2

Thanksgiving is mentioned 28 times in the King James Bible, and the word “thanks” 73 more.

Here is a working definition:

Thanksgiving Definition


The act of giving thanks.

Webster’s New World

Similar definitions

An expression of this; esp., a formal, often public, expression of thanks to God in the form of a prayer, etc.

Webster’s New World

An annual U.S. holiday observed on the fourth Thursday of November as a day of giving thanks and feasting: it commemorates the Pilgrims’ celebration of the good harvest of 1621

Webster’s New World

A short prayer said at meals; grace, a benediction.


A public celebration in acknowledgment of divine favor.

Thanksgiving in the Old Testament

At first, “giving thanks” was implicit in the offerings or sacrifices to God. When we look at the first offerings made in the Bible we see that Cain* and Abel* brought them “in the process of time.”

*means that person is in my book SPIRITUAL LIVES.

Due to the nature of their offerings, John Gill (1697-1771) supposed this was at harvest time:

after the fruits of the earth were gathered in, and so a proper season to bring an offering to the Lord, in gratitude for the plenty of good things they had been favored with.

The next holy act of giving thanks appears when Noah*(3078-2146 BC) offered a sacrifice to the LORD:

And Noah builded an altar unto the LORD; and took of every clean beast, and of every clean fowl, and offered burnt offerings on the altar. Genesis 8:20

Noah’s view was to renew the worship of God, preserve and propagate it by his example; and this was done by way of thanksgiving to God for his wonderful preservation of him. John Gill

Moses*(1571-1452 BC) is the first to use the word “thanksgiving” when he described the peace offering given as thanksgiving in the Tabernacle. This is a personal and voluntary offering of thanks:

And when ye will offer a sacrifice of thanksgiving unto the LORD, offer it at your own will. Leviticus 7:13

This is an expression of gratitude, a heart attitude that honors the LORD with praise and rejoicing, as Hannah*(circa 1150 BC) does then He gives her the son she has asked for:

And Hannah prayed, and said, My heart rejoiceth in the LORD, mine horn is exalted in the LORD: my mouth is enlarged over mine enemies; because I rejoice in thy salvation.

There is none holy as the LORD: for there is none beside thee: neither is there any rock like our God. -1 Samuel 2:1-2

David*(1085-1015 BC) expresses his thanksgiving in Samuel*(1130-1055 BC) for deliverance from king Saul*(1115-1055).

Therefore I will give thanks unto thee, O LORD, among the heathen, and I will sing praises unto thy name.

He is the tower of salvation for his king: and sheweth mercy to his anointed, unto David, and to his seed for evermore. 2 Samuel 22:50-51

The Psalms encourage His people to give thanks 31 times and thanksgiving in the Temple and became an integral part of worship.

The prophets use these words less than a dozen times, but one verse and situation is remarkable:

But I will sacrifice unto thee with the voice of thanksgiving; I will pay that that I have vowed. Salvation is of the LORD.

And the LORD spake unto the fish, and it vomited out Jonah upon the dry land. – Jonah 2:9-10

Jonah*(circa 760 BC) prayed this in the belly of the fish, and here his thanksgiving is coupled with repentance and rewarded with deliverance.

Thanksgiving in the New Testament

Jesus*(5 BC-c28 AD) adds a deeper dimension wherever He appears. While the use of the word thanksgiving in the text does not appear until St. Paul*(5-67) uses it in 2 Corinthians 4:15.

We see both the spirit and the act of thankfulness in the opening chapters of the Gospel. The virgin Mary gives voice to her gratitude for the gift of her Son in this song which has become known as The Magnificat:

And Mary said, My soul doth magnify the Lord,

And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour.

For he hath regarded the low estate of his handmaiden: for, behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed. – Luke 1: 46-48

Jesus Himself “gave thanks” 9 times, more cited than anyone else is scripture, most notably when giving us the Lord’s Supper:

And when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me. – 1 Corinthians 11:24

He also gave thanks before feeding the four thousand:

And he took the seven loaves and the fishes, and gave thanks, and brake them, and gave to his disciples, and the disciples to the multitude. Matthew15:36

Giving thanks was a part of His nature, and He noted it in others or the lack thereof. Ten lepers asked Him for healing:

And when he saw them, he said unto them, Go shew yourselves unto the priests. And it came to pass, that, as they went, they were cleansed.

And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, and with a loud voice glorified God,

And fell down on his face at his feet, giving him thanks: and he was a Samaritan.

And Jesus answering said, Were there not ten cleansed? but where are the nine? – Luke 17:14-17

St. Paul mentions thanksgiving in his epistles 7 times and “thanks” 24. He tells us it is a means of grace and brings glory to God:

For all things are for your sakes, that the abundant grace might through the thanksgiving of many redound to the glory of God. – 2 Corinthians 4:15

He commands the church at Thessalonica:

In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you. -1 Thessalonians 5:18

Often we seek to know the will of God for our lives. Here Paul gives us an element of His will for us. It is sometimes difficult to be thankful in times of trial or testing, but there is One is it always easy to be thankful for:

Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift. 2 Corinthians 9:15

Thankful we should be for it; and our thankfulness should be shown by highly prizing and valuing this gift; by laying the whole stress of our salvation on Christ; by ascribing all the glory of it to him; by giving up ourselves to him, and to his interest; – John Gill (1697-1771)

Thanksgiving in Heaven:

Giving thanks is a trait of all those who love God. In heaven, we men and women will join with the holy angels joyfully thanking Him for His unspeakable goodness and love. John saw this in his heavenly vision that closes the Bible:

And all the angels stood round about the throne, and about the elders and the four beasts, and fell before the throne on their faces, and worshipped God,

Saying, Amen: Blessing, and glory, and wisdom, and thanksgiving, and honour, and power, and might, be unto our God for ever and ever. Amen. Revelation 7:11-12

We see what is the work of heaven, and we ought to begin it now, to get our hearts tuned for it, to be much in it, and to long for that world where our praises, as well as happiness, will be perfected. -Matthew Henry (1662-1714)

Long ago, in the 1950’s, I learned to be thankful in Sunday school by singing this song:

Thank You, Lord, for saving my soul,

Thank You, Lord, for making me whole.

Thank you, Lord, for giving to me

Your great salvation so rich and free!

I hope you can sing it with me today, or listen to it HERE.

We have much to be thankful for on Thanksgiving Day. Praise God, and remember:

In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you. -1 Thessalonians 5:18

’Tis Thanksgiving morn again!

Lift your voices, sons of men,

From the earth to God above—

Lift your hearts in praise and love.

Thank Him for His loving care;

Thank Him for the blessèd air;

Thank Him for the sunlight shed;

Thank Him for your daily bread.

Thank Him that our favored land,

By the bounty of His hand,

Richly her abundance yields

From her orchards and her fields.

Thank Him that no poisonous breath

Freighted with the germs of death,

O’er our land pursues its path

In its all-consuming wrath.

While the sweeping blast of war

Rages over lands afar,

Thank Him that the wings of peace

All our wide domain embrace.

Sons of men, your voices lift

For the precious, priceless gift

Offered up for you and me,

On the Mount of Calvary!

Salathiel C. Kirk


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