Skip to content

‘Going All In’ with Thanksgiving

‘To the max,’ ‘pedal to the metal,’ and ‘nothing in reserve’
are several more slang terms that express a total commitment
to a cause or undertaking.

If one were to poll Americans as to what that means for them in connection with their Thanksgiving Day activities, no doubt many would answer they were ‘going all in’ with a day of football or ‘leaving nothing behind’ on the dinner table.

King David would have been amazed, if not shocked, for he put high value on actually giving thanks. Many are the psalm verses where he gives praise and thanksgiving to God for His wonderful works and words.

But there is one incident in David’s life when he especially ‘gave it all he had.’ It is recorded in the second book of Samuel (chapter 6), with a parallel account in 1 Chronicles 16.

Years before, the ark of the covenant had been captured by the Philistines. Because the ark had caused them nothing but trouble, these heathens finally sent it back to Israel just to be rid of it. There “the Lord…blessed the house of Obed-Edom and all that belongs to him, because of the ark of God” (2 Samuel 6:12). This was so because the ark was the symbol of God’s presence among His Old Testament people.

David was determined that the ark should be brought to its rightful place–Mt. Zion in Jerusalem. But before the procession to take it there had gone six paces, it was halted as the king sacrificed a bull and a fattened calf—so much was his heart full of rejoicing and thanksgiving! [When was the last time we stopped in the middle of our drive to church—or of doing something else important—to remind ourselves of God’s forgiveness, goodness, and mercy?]

After the impromptu sacrifice the procession resumed. Godly emotion and joy prevailed. David took off his royal garments and donned the common clothes of a priest. Then the king danced before the Lord with great might: pedal to the medal, nothing held back, giving it all he had!

Nothing in the record indicates God was displeased with this exuberant display of joy and thanksgiving.   In fact, God inspired His king to compose Psalm 105 in connection with this very occasion. “Oh, give thanks to the Lord! Call upon His name; make known His deeds among the people. Sing to Him, sing psalms to Him; talk of all His wondrous works” (vv.1,2).

Nevertheless, there was one who was very displeased with David’s public behavior–Michal, his wife. She thought it thoroughly undignified and shameful that the king be seen leaping, twirling, and dancing before the Lord—and not wearing his kingly robes to boot. Obviously, she showed herself to be Saul’s daughter–having no appreciation for things that make glad the hearts of God’s people. “How glorious was the king of Israel today…shamelessly uncovering himself,” she needled.

To this sarcastic and biting comment David responded: “It was before the Lord…. Therefore I will play music before the Lord. And I will be even more undignified than this, and will be humble in my own sight” (v. 21). Nothing was going to stop the king from giving praise and honor to his God, certainly not his wife, and not even more self-abasement.

Michal paid a great price for her indiscretion, for she “had no children to the day of her death” (v. 23). What a warning against taking true thanksgiving lightly!

Many will celebrate Thanksgiving Day with family feasts [nothing wrong with that; even David later distributed to every person a loaf of bread, a piece of meat, and a cake of raisins.] Some might sarcastically remark to us: ‘You mean you’re going to church?’—obviously failing to recognize that God is in His house and that the sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving surely ascends to heaven with a
pleasing savor.

David gave thanks for God’s covenant faithfulness and His wondrous works. To Adam and Eve, Israel, and the Gentile nations God was indeed faithful in sending His own Son to be the atoning sacrifice for all sin. Christ Jesus ‘went all in’ for us with His substitutionary obedience and death. As He delivered Israel from her physical slavery, so through Christ He has set us free from slavery to sin, the power of Satan, and the curse of death. Bless the Lord, O my soul! God is in His Zion. Glory in His holy name!

Surely there is reason enough for speaking, singing, shouting, making a joyful noise and even some dancing before the Lord. The New Testament apostles encouraged the same attitude by exhorting us to “give thanks in everything” (1 Thessalonians 5:18); to give thanks “continually” (Hebrews 13:15) and “always for all things to God the Father” (Ephesians 5:20); to have hearts “overflowing with joy” (2 Corinthians 8:2), “singing and making melody in our hearts to the Lord”
(Ephesians 5:19).

Okay, so no mention of dancing, but surely, surely, ‘going all in’ with Thanksgiving!