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Attitudes of Gratitude: Stories of Thankfulness in the Bible

Thanksgiving was established as a national holiday in the United States by President Abraham Lincoln in 1863. The roots of the holiday can be traced back to 1621, when the Pilgrims offered a prayer of thanks before their meal with members of the Wampanoag Tribe. The Pilgrims were grateful for their first harvest in the New World—and for their Native American neighbors who helped make it possible. The momentous occasion is often referred to as “the first Thanksgiving.”

That would likely come as a surprise to certain Bible characters who gave thanks to God in memorable ways thousands of years before the Pilgrims arrived in the New World. These men and women demonstrated the kind of gratitude that pleases God—and perhaps inspires others.

King David

(2 Samuel 6:1-23)

One of the pinnacles of David’s reign was the arrival of the ark of the covenant—God’s dwelling place among His people—in Jerusalem. David was so grateful to the Lord for allowing the ark to be transported to Jerusalem that he could barely contain himself.

Second Samuel 6:14 says he “danced before the Lord with all his might.” Two verses later, he’s described as “leaping and whirling before the Lord.” His display of thankfulness was so exuberant that his wife chided him for celebrating in a manner unbefitting a king. David refused to let her spoil his thanksgiving.

“It was before the Lord,” he explained. “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” (see 2 Samuel 6:21-22).


(1 Samuel 1:1–2:10)

A man named Elkanah had two wives: Peninnah, who bore him sons and daughters, and Hannah, who was barren. Hannah’s inability to bear children devastated her—and made her an easy target for Peninnah’s taunts.

Once a year Elkanah made the journey to the tabernacle in Shiloh to worship and offer sacrifices. And every year Hannah accompanied him. She spent her time there deep in prayer, begging God to open her womb.

Her cries of anguish were so intense that on one occasion, Eli, the priest at Shiloh, chastised her because he thought she was drunk. After Hannah explained her plight, Eli said, “Go in peace, and the God of Israel grant your petition which you have asked of Him” (1 Samuel 1:17).

God answered Hannah’s prayers and granted her the desire of her heart. She gave birth to a son and named him Samuel.

We don’t have to imagine the joy Hannah experienced or the gratitude she felt toward God. Her exuberant prayer of thanksgiving in 1 Samuel 2:1-10 expresses her feelings quite vividly.

The Samaritan Leper

(Luke 17:11-19)

Jesus was passing through a village in Samaria when He encountered a group of ten men who suffered from leprosy. The men cried out for Jesus to have mercy on them. Jesus heard their cries and healed them. He instructed the men to show themselves to the local priests so that they could be ceremonially cleansed.

The men did as they were instructed, and then nine of them went their separate ways. Perhaps they left to celebrate their healing. Perhaps they intended to share the good news with their loved ones. Perhaps they were just eager to rejoin society and begin their new lives.

The tenth leper likely had similar plans. But he had something else to do first. According to Luke 17:15-16, he “returned, and with a loud voice glorified God, and fell down on his face at [Jesus’] feet, giving Him thanks.”

Jesus was moved by the man’s response, which must have been almost as rewarding to the man as the healing itself. Because he went the extra mile to express his thankfulness, the tenth leper was able to connect with the Lord in a profound way.


Check our a few great prayers of Thanksgiving found in the Scriptures. 


Jack Hayford, founding pastor of The Church on the Way led a team of anointed scholars to produce the perennial best-selling Spirit-Filled Life Bible. This 3rd edition now includes contributions from dozens of new scholars, professors and ministry leaders!

Think About It:

What are other stories in the Bible that show a spirit of gratitude?

11 comments on “Attitudes of Gratitude: Stories of Thankfulness in the Bible

  1. Okonjo Phelgona says:

    The story of Sarah when she gave birth to Isaac.
    Martha when Jesus raised Lazurus back to life.
    Job when the Lord healed him and restored his children and wealth
    The blind man when Jesus healed him.

    1. John.Andrade@harpercollins.com says:

      So good!

  2. Okonjo Phelgona says:

    When Sarah was blessed with baby Isaac.
    When Jesus raised Lazurus from de
    When Jesus healed the blind man
    When Job was restored together with his children and wealth

    1. John.Andrade@harpercollins.com says:

      Those are great!

  3. Jack Cowan says:

    IN NORTH AMERICA by Jack Cowan
    One crisp, clear morning many years ago a group
    of over 500 weary travelers crossed the Rio Grande
    River and entered into what is now Texas at a site not far from what would become the city of EI Paso. The travelers had been on a long and dangerous Journey across the desert of northern Mexico. Parched and exhausted, they rejoiced when they spotted the refreshing waters of the Rio Grande. They made it safely across the river with the help of the friendly Jumano Indians.
    The travelers decided to offer a thanksgiving mass and the Jumanos, in a gesture of friendship, helped prepare a celebratory feast. Soon the succulent aroma of roasting wild game filled the air. In the spirit of fellowship and camaraderie, the Jumano Indians and the travelers assembled to give thanks. It was April 30, 1598, the first Thanksgiving on the North American continent. It took place 23 years before the Pilgrims sat down with the Wampanoag Indians at Plymouth Plantation. Celebrants included explorer Juan de Onate and a group of Spanish colonists, soldiers, and missionaries who entered the area in hopes of establishing a permanent colony and converting the native inhabitants to Christianity.

  4. Anne Brewitt says:

    Feel free to send me one for Christmas

    1. Kevin stollings says:

      Love this story how history was made

  5. Linda Owens says:

    I enjoy reading the book of the words of God.

  6. Hannatu Mamman says:

    1 The cripple at the Beautiful Gate was walking and leaping and praising God. 2 Solomon at the dedicating of the Temple 3. David after Nathan delivered God’s covenant message to him assuring that Solomon will build the Temple and reign after him

  7. Tauya says:

    I am thankful that by his grace he saved me from a world of sin. Now I live without fearing death for he had conquered the grave.
    Let’s give glory to God o most high my first and last love.
    Strength n Power n Honour and Grace n Peace and all that is good is from your spirit praise you Father for your love for my very broken soul.
    Your grace and mercy is sufficient for all my problems therefore I will stay courageous and fear no more
    Praise Jesus and the Father and His Holy Spirit ❤️

  8. Edward Epie njume says:

    Iam a lay preacher. I enjoyed the script. Iam researching on a theme glorifying God in thanks giving. Can you further edify me? Thanks

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