Magnify the Lord with Thanks
Let us magnify the Lord with thanks
For His steadfast love abounds.
All bow down to thank our gracious Lord
Let our praises shake the ground.
Join our thanks you ancient mountain tops
You were formed by His mere word.
Drop your leaves in awe you mighty oaks
In the wind your praise be heard.
From the depths of grief I cried to you
And you kindly heard my prayer,
Then you saved me from my hopelessness
Made a sinful child your heir.
Lift your thankful head you saints of God,
No more wandering alone;
He has made us His own family,
We will gather ‘round His throne.
Let us magnify the Lord with thanks
For His steadfast love abounds.
All rise up to serve our gracious Lord
Till with thanks our world resounds.
– by Tim Jennings
David wrote, “I will praise the name of God with a song; I will magnify Him with thanksgiving” (Psalm 69:30). Thanksgiving magnifies the Lord in the same way a telescope magnifies the stars. From our perspective the stars seem like insignificant glimmers of light in the night sky, but a telescope reveals them to be balls of fire thousands of times larger than our own planet. In the same way, thanksgiving allows us to see glimpses of our infinitely amazing God.
Of course, the glory of God should be obvious to everyone (Rom. 1:20-21). Yet, we can be so blind to the wonder of His works and forgetful of His care. We can become so enamored with the little pebbles of our own efforts that we fail open up the curtains and see the horizons of God’s glory. We need the vision only gratefulness can provide.
That is why thankfulness is a discipline that needs to be valued; it is a habit that needs to be nurtured. We need to grab hold of our souls and demand, “Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good!”(Psalm 118:1). “In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” (1 Thess. 5:18).
Thanksgiving magnifies God, because givers are more glorious than receivers. In thanksgiving we recognize God as the source of “every good and perfect gift” and ourselves as utterly dependent creatures (James 1:17).
It is at this point that our pride rises up to squelch our hymns of thanks. Gratitude strikes a blow against our own greatness. To see ourselves as dependent upon God’s mercy and provision robs us of our own glory. Our lives will be starved of joyful gratitude to the extent that we love our own glory, and prize our own intellect, power and possessions. Thankfulness will either root out pride, or pride will silence our thankfulness.
Ultimately, a thankful heart is the only offering God receives. God is not impressed by the possessions we’ve amassed. He already owns them all! He is not in awe of the position we’ve achieved. He infinitely excels it! What God most desires is “our humble, thankful hearts” (We Thank Thee, O Father. Matthias Claudius). So, let us “offer to God a sacrifice of thanks!” (Psalm 50:14).
One evening a Christian went to visit a little girl in the hospital. She was confined to her bed with a spinal problem. The believer sat by her bed and they both stared out the window. Finally the little girl said, “Do you want to play a game with me?” The man said, “What kind of game?” The girl said, “It’s a game I call “Stars.” Every evening when the stars come out I think of all the people I love and all the blessings I have; like my mom and dad, my dog, my food, and I name each star with one of my blessings.” The visitor said, “That sounds like fun!” The little girl said, “It is! The only problem is there are not enough stars.”
When we think about the works of God and the expansive wonder of God’s character, they are more numerous than the stars. So, let’s get to magnifying the Lord with thanksgiving!
“O magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt his name together” (Psalm 34:3)
“Let all that you do be done with love” (1 Corinthians 16:14)
In Everything Give Thanks
Paul wrote, “In everything give thanks” (1 Thess. 5:18). It’s that “everything” that’s so hard about thanksgiving. The poem below reveals that thanksgiving can be given even for the bitter moments in life. I got goose bumps the first time I read it.
I Thank Thee
O Thou whose bounty fills my cup,
With every blessing meet!
I give Thee thanks for every drop—
The bitter and the sweet.
I praise Thee for the desert road,
And for the riverside;
For all Thy goodness hath bestowed,
And all Thy grace denied.
I thank Thee for both smile and frown,
And for the gain and loss;
I praise Thee for the future crown
And for the present cross.
I thank Thee for both wings of love
Which stirred my worldly nest;
And for the stormy clouds which drove
Me, trembling, to Thy breast.
I bless Thee for the glad increase,
And for the waning joy;
And for this strange, this settled peace
Which nothing can destroy.
— Jane Crewdson (The Quaker Poets of Great Britain and Ireland. Evelyn Noble Armitage. William Andrews & Co. 1896)
Notes On “Magnify the Lord with Thanks”
I thought I’d share with you a few of the thoughts that motivated the poem at the beginning of this post.
The Structure (The bones on which the hymn hangs):
The verses are written in a 97.97 meter. I chose four key themes which arose out of a study of thanksgiving psalms/prayers in Scripture, then I arranged them into a chiastic structure, as follows…
A Call To Thanksgiving
(reason: God’s steadfast love / result: bow down to worship)
B Thanksgiving from Physical Creation
(plural “our” / 2nd person “you”)
C Thanksgiving for Personal Deliverance (singular “I” “my”)
B’ Thanksgiving from Spiritual Creation
(plural “our” / 2nd person “you”)
A’ Call To Thanksgiving
(reason: God’s steadfast love / result: rise up to serve)
Here are a few lessons I was trying to communicate by the structure I used for the hymn.
The Collective And Individual Aspects of Worship. The psalms of thanksgiving in Scripture often switch between the collective worship of “we” and “us” and the very personal moments of individual worship seen in the shift to “I” and “me.” I’ve tried to reflect that change from the 2nd person and plural pronouns of verses 1,2,4,5, and the singular pronouns of verse 3.
The Superiority Of Spiritual Blessings. The purpose for using a chiastic form is to emphasize something. At the apex of the chiasm is an individual awareness that God hears our cries and gives us the answers we need the most. The fundamental way he does this is in salvation (Acts 2:21; 22:16). He continues to pour out blessings of all kinds in response to prayer, yet forgiveness and spiritual strength lay at the top of the heap (1 John 1:9; Eph. 6:17-18).
Words Of Worship Should Lead To Acts Of Worship. The opening verse calls upon us to “Bow down and shake” the ground with praises, which is the joyful result of collective worship. However, words of worship are not enough. The thankful should then become active. So the closing verse calls us to “Rise up and serve” till all the world thanks God with us. Worship & Works – One should always spawn the other! Stoop to worship; Stand to serve.
The Content (the muscles which makes the hymn move):
The content of the hymn rises out of a study of the psalms of thanksgiving in the Old Testament (Psalms & 1 Chronicles 16), and the prayers of thanksgiving offered by Paul in the New Testament. That study formed the hymn of thanksgiving in the following ways.
The Title Line: The opening line of the hymn, “Let us magnify the Lord with thanks…” comes from Psalm 69:30 which reads, “I will praise the name of God with a song; I will magnify him with thanksgiving.”
A Meaningful Refrain: The psalms of thanksgiving often contain phrases that are repeated for emphasis. Sometimes these lines are repeated at the beginning and the end to create an enclosed thought. Sometimes they are repeated throughout the psalm. The line that captured my faith was “His steadfast love endures forever!” (Psalm 118:1-4,29; Psalm 107:1,43), which I used in the style of Psalm 118 & 107 at the beginning and end of the hymn.
Calling All To Thanksgiving. In the psalms of thanksgiving God is praised in grandest way possible. To achieve this, the psalmist calls upon all the peoples of the earth to join with him (i.e. Psalm 107:8, 21; Psalm 138:4-5). Yet, this is not enough thanks for such a worthy God, so he enlarges the thanksgiving by including the inanimate creation (Psalm 65:12-13). Following this pattern, verse 2 calls upon the inanimate creation, and verse 4 calls upon God’s new creation in Christ, to magnify the Lord with thanksgiving.
God Hears Our Prayers. One of the key features of the psalms of thanksgiving is they are offered in response to answered prayer, “Out of my distress I called on the Lord; the Lord answered me and set me free” (Psalm 118:5; see also Psalm18:3; 30:2, 8; 65:2). This truth is reflected in the words of verse 3, “From the depths of grief I cried to you, and you kindly heard my prayer.” Thankful people are praying people! And note the order…praying leads to, God hearing, which leads to thanking God.
By the way, if you want an excellent example of a modern hymn of thanksgiving consider “Magnify, O Magnify!” by Glenda B. Schales. What a delightful hymn!
Exercise Your Thanksgiving
Try writing your own hymn of thanks! You don’t have to pay attention to rhyme or meter. Just get the thanksgiving out. It will do a good work in you. (Share it with me. I’d love to read it!)
Here is how you can do it.
1. Read Thanksgiving Done Well. Fill your mind with the kind of thanksgiving modeled in Scripture. Sometimes our thanksgiving reveals a preoccupation with material and trivial things. The thanksgiving of Scripture will pull your thoughts heavenward. Try reading…Psalm 118, Psalm 107; Psalm 30; and 1 Chronicles 16.
2. Write Your Thanksgiving. The psalms of thanksgiving in Scripture usually contained these elements. Answer these questions and write your own psalm of thanksgiving.
Opening Line: If you could only write one sentence to express your thankfulness to God, what would you write?
Content Of Thanks:
The God of History: What has God done throughout history and in your history that is worthy of thanks?
The God who Hears: What prayer has God answered in your life?
The God who Delivers: How would you thank God for delivering you from sin, death and hell?
The God who Provides: How would you thank God for your necessities?
The God of Community: How would you thank God for your family and local church?
The God of Character: What amazing characteristics of God are most thankful for?
Closing Commitment: In light of God’s wonderful gifts what will you do in response?