St. John's & Zion Lutheran Churches

God’s Providing Hand

Thanksgiving Sermon on Psalm 145:15&16

Text: The eyes of all look to you,
and you give them their food at the proper time.
16 You open your hand
and satisfy the desires of every living thing.

Guess which hand? We’ve all had that experience when someone comes up to us with both fists closed. They want us to pick a hand. Usually, there is something good in the one hand, while the other hand is empty. You hope that you guess the right hand so that you get the good thing. Otherwise, the presenter might show us that we guessed incorrectly and hide their hands behind their backs and make us guess again. On this Thanksgiving, we are going to study these two verses from Psalm 145 and, as we do so, we see that we have every reason to rejoice in GOD’S PROVIDING HAND.

The first phrase is “The eyes of all look to you.” (Verse 15) When you hear these words, you might think of a child that is eagerly looking to their parent to give them the gift that they have been promised. They don’t look the other way. If you promised them that you would give them this gift when you got home, you can be sure that they will swarm you as soon as you get in the door. They eagerly wait for the gift that you have promised. This waiting also denotes trust. You said that you would give them the gift and they trust that you will carry out your promise. In their mind, the gift is as good as theirs.

What a beautiful way to describe the relationship between our heavenly Father and us. God has promised that he will take care of us, that he will give us everything that we need to live. For that reason, we look to him in trust that he will fulfill his promise. He will take care of us.

Yet, so often, we don’t fit this picture, do we? Instead of remembering that “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights” (James 1:17), we can be fooled into thinking that all that we have has come about because we worked hard for them. We were smart enough to figure out how to get what we have. In addition, sometimes, we might not look to God in the trust that he will give us what we need. We run into situations, and we worry. We worry if there will be enough. We worry about what’s coming in our future. When we act this way, we are breaking the First Commandment, where we are taught that we are to trust in God above all things. We call God a liar. Honestly, we don’t deserve anything from God, except to hear him pronounce eternal judgment on us because of our sins.

Here we find our greatest reason to give thinks, not just today, but every day. God, in his amazing love, took care of our greatest need by sending his Son into the world to be our Savior. While Jesus was on this earth, he perfectly obeyed his Father in our place. We see this in the fact that he trusted that his Father would provide, when the devil tempted him to turn stones into bread. We read that Jesus gave thanks for what he had been given. Then, to pay for all of sins, including our misplaced trust and worry, Jesus suffered and died on the cross. Jesus was punished with all the torments of hell, so that you and I would never have to be. By his death, Jesus paid for all our sins. Jesus’ resurrection shows us that the relationship between God and people was restored. God further showed his love to you by bringing you to faith, so that you might live in this restored relationship with him. He has taken care of your greatest needs. Because of this, we can trust that he will take care of all our other needs, as well.

The next phrase of these verses is “You give them their food at the proper time.” (Verse 15) What is meant by “the proper time?” This is a reminder that God will give us what we need at just the right time. So often, you and I have a timetable in mind when God should give us what we ask of him. Usually, it’s right now, isn’t it? However, it is good for us to remember that God’s timetable and ours aren’t always the same. There may be times when he, in his infinite wisdom, may have us wait for him to answer our prayers. It may, also, be that God has something better for us than what we asked for. We trust that he will give us what we need at just the right time.

This phrase also gives us the answer to the question that some ask, ‘If God promises to take care of our needs, why are there people who go hungry?’ God will give to them at the time he sees fit. He has not forgotten them. Perhaps, God is even giving us the opportunity to be the answer to our own prayers, when we pray that God would take care of those who must go without. Remember those words that Jesus speaks to the righteous on the Last Day, “I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me. . . whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.” God has promised to care for us and we, together with all creation, look to him to satisfy our needs.

Going on, we read, “You open your hand.” (Verse 16) What a beautiful picture of the way that God provides for us. He isn’t stingy, just letting a crumb or two fall from his clenched fist. He opens his hand wide to give us our blessings. That’s really what this day of Thanksgiving is all about, isn’t it? It’s more than just a day to get together with family and friends to enjoy a great meal. It’s a day when we pause and think about all the ways that God has blessed us. Just think of all that God has given to us and how generous he has been with his gifts. I’m sure that, in addition to the meal that we might enjoy later, there are many other choices in our refrigerators, freezers, and pantries for us to eat. Often our closets and dressers are filled with all the clothes that we could wear. We have nice warm places to live. We have the occupations that God has given to us. We have our vehicles. We live in a country that has enjoyed peace. We have the freedoms that come with living in this country. We would have to say that we have been richly blessed with many physical things.

In addition to these wonderful physical blessings, we also thank God for the way he has opened his hand and showered upon us his spiritual blessings. We have the washing of baptism, by which faith is created in the heart. God has given us the Lord’s Supper, where we get to meet with Jesus and receive from him his body and blood with the bread and wine for the forgiveness of sins and the strengthening of our faith. God has given his Word for us to read and study. We have our congregation, where we can gather to hear God’s Word as it is preached and taught. We have Christian brothers and sisters who are there to rejoice with us in the happy times and encourage us when we are going through tough times. They are there to encourage us in our daily walk of faith. It is absolutely true that God has opened his hand wide open to shower his blessings upon us.

The phrase that concludes our text is “[You] satisfy the desires of every living thing.” (Verse 16) God is pictured as opening his hand and giving to each, both man and animal, as much as they require to satisfy their needs. Then, he goes on to the next and satisfies their needs. What a comforting picture we find here. The almighty God, who fills the universe in every way, knows about each of us, individually. This is a wonderful picture in world where at times, we feel like just another number. Sometimes, we might feel alone in a crowd. Yet, we are never alone. God knows us, individually. He knows what we are going through and is concerned about us. He loves each one of us. God makes promises to us, such as we find in Isaiah 49:15, “Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you!” This phrase also reminds us that our loving God also knows what my needs are and takes care of them, just as he knows what your needs are and takes care of them. We can rest in the security of our God’s love for us.
Hands can tell you a great deal about an individual. You can tell if a person is young or old. You can tell if a person has a job that requires them to get their hands dirty or they have a job without as many calluses. This morning, we have looked at our God’s hands. What do we see when we look at his hands? We see hands that love us, especially when we look at Jesus’ hands outstretched on the cross. We see hands that protect us. Today, with the help of the psalmist, we see hands that provide for us. We want to thank our God for all the ways that his hands care for us. In conclusion, we pray this prayer of trust and thanksgiving: “The eyes of all look to you, and you give them their food at the proper time. You open your hand and satisfy the desires of every living thing.” Amen.