David’s logical flow of thankfulness, rest, and ambition

Return to your rest, my soul, for the Lord has been good to you….What shall I return to the Lord for all his goodness to me? (Psalm 116:7, 12)

A friend of mine was watching a kid play his heart out on the basketball court even though his team was up 20 points. After the game, my friend asked the boy why he was hustling so hard when victory was guaranteed. The kid’s response was perfect: “Because I love my coach.”

That’s a pretty good picture of what David is getting at in Psalm 116.

In verse 7, David instructs his soul to rest. Why? Because “the Lord has been good” to him. As we express gratitude for the things God has already done in and through our work, we can rest and be content even if the Lord doesn’t provide anything else in the future.

In short, thankfulness is a path to rest. But it’s not just a path to rest. In verse 12, David says that rest is a path to ambition—to leave it all out on the court, if you will. “What shall I return to the Lord for all his goodness to me?” David asks. In other words, in view of the Lord’s graciousness, what can I do to serve him? 

David understood that ambition to do the Lord’s work was a proper response to the good things the Lord had given him. How much more true is that for us who know the ultimate good that was done for us on the cross?

The goodness God has shown us in Jesus Christ should lead us to thankfulness and rest. But it should also lead us to great ambition—not to earn our salvation, but as a worshipful response to it (see Ephesians 2:8-10).

Take a moment right now to meditate on how “the Lord has been good to you” this past week. Thank him for the projects you’ve completed at work, the impact your work is having in the lives of customers and your team, or just the fact that you have work and income. 

Once you’ve given thanks, take a moment to rest in the goodness of God. And then allow that rest to lead you to work “heartily as unto the Lord” as a response of worship today (see Colossians 3:23)!


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