“Give thanks to the LORD, call on his name; make known among the nations what he has done” – Psalm 105:1
Thanksgiving holiday sermons in Canada and the USA sometimes center on Psalm 105:1, and with good reason. The opening words -- “Give thanks to the Lord” -- resonate well with the idea of a Thanksgiving Day.
Verse 1 of Psalm 105 does, however, have more than a “be thankful” exhortation. It contains three commands: (1) Give thanks, (2) Call on the Lord, and (3) Make known among the nations.
Those words, “make known among the nations,” herald God’s passion for global evangelism. Please notice the verse does not say, “It will be known.” Rather, it is a commmand addressed to God’s people (that’s us). In addition to saying “what,” e.g. “Make known what He has done,” the verse specifies “where” -- “among the nations.”
Putting the command “give thanks” together with the idea of “publishing to all mankind the greatness of His doings” (Charles Spurgeon’s words), reminds us that divine blessing is never to be an end in itself. God blesses people so that they may be a blessing. Thus, if our thankfulness to God does not cause us to heed His command to proclaim the Good News in all the world, then that thankfulness is quite hollow.
Sometimes people advocate evangelizing by “presence” alone. They feel that evangelism will be less offensive and yet very effective if people simply live Christian lives with little actual talk about the Gospel. That scenario is far different from what Psalm 105:1 envisions. The pitfall with “presence only” thinking is that the focus is on the quality of our lives. People may get fixated on that and never look to Jesus.
Psalm 105:1 indicates we need to be verbally pointing people to Jesus. The call to speak of “what He has done” clearly foreshadows Jesus’ Great Commission. Indeed, the wording in Psalm 105:1 comes close to that of Mark 16:15: “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.”
Some argue that believers’ only Great Commission concern is the spiritual welfare of their near-neighbors. To be sure, enthusiasm for world evangelism must never crowd out or extinguish the passion for evangelizing our near-neighbors. However, the make-known-among-the-nations command of Psalm 105:1 pushes us to see the whole world. Psalm 105:1 asks us to be involved in getting the Good News to every people group on earth. Such involvement can be through intercessory prayer, sacrificial giving, promoting and mobilizing for world missions or even going ourselves.
Some Bible passages may be difficult to interpret. Not Psalm 105:1. There is nothing confusing about the commands in that verse. There is no part of “Give thanks, call on the Lord, and make known” that we cannot understand.
Will we obey this clear command? Or, by our inaction, will we disobey it?