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There are many verses in the Bible that are about being thankful, being full of gratitude, why that is important and what that looks like. Many of these verses people know by heart. Here’s a few of my favorites:

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.  Philippians 4:6

Oh give thanks to the LORD for he is good; for his steadfast love endures forever.  Psalm 118:1

Whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.  Colossians 3:17

I memorized these verses when I was young and have taught and preached on them over the years. I came across a verse about being thankful that is not on most peoples spiritual radar, last week. At least I did not remember reading it before.

The kids and adults at the home for needy children in Oaxaca, Mexico, meet for worship and Bible study every Wednesday night. The study theme for the last couple of months has been Psalm 119, the longest chapter in the Bible. Every verse has some comment about the Word of God. The portion that I taught on was verses 57-64.

In verse 62 the Psalmist proclaims, “At midnight I rise to give you thanks for your righteous laws.”

Now honestly, I have never intentionally risen at midnight to give thanks to God for his righteous laws. Nor do I know any0ne that does. I think what the writer may have in mind is that he is so full of love for God’s righteous laws that he is always giving thanks for them, and that, if for some reason he needs to get up at midnight, the first thing on his mind is giving thanks.

If that is what this verse is all about then I can identity with him. I don’t sleep all that great at night. I normally wake up a few times during the night. I don’t know if that is because I am getting older or what. Whatever the reason, generally the first thing I do is give God thanks. I have generally lived a very blessed life that I totally don’t deserve, due entirely to the grace of God. So I’m inclined to be thankful to my Savior and Lord throughout the day, and yes, even in the middle of the night when I unfortunately wake to use the bathroom or just can’t sleep.

I am especially thankful to God for my relationships. Relationship with God. Relationships with my wife and children. Relationships with people in my community of faith.

I mention this because I think this is also what the Psalmist had in mind. Specifically he mentions God’s righteous laws. What are God’s righteous laws all about?

I like to listen to the Bible Project podcast with Tim Mackie and John Collins. Lately they have been discussing the laws of the Torah. On thing they said about the word righteous is that it means living in right relationships. God gave all his righteous laws so that we can live in happy relationship with God, our families and our communities.

So the Psalmist writing about thanking God for his righteous laws is not the holier than thou Pharisees thanking God that they are not like those common sinners over there, but is thanking God that he is so happy experiencing and living in great relationships with those around him and most importantly with the God that gives the guidelines and principles, and yes, laws, that make it possible for those happy relationships to exist in the first place.

So this Thanksgiving, we may not rise up at midnight to thank God, but as we sit around the table filled with good food, we can look around at those we love and thank God for his righteous laws.

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