By John Gauger
King M., Mithridates the Great, ruled in northern Turkey from 120 to 63 BC. He worried greatly about being poisoned, but for good cause. His mother had poisoned his father, thus bringing Mithridates to the throne as a boy. She ruled for the young boy until he came of age.
The people hoped King M. would free them from the power of the Roman Empire. King M.’s first concern, though, was to survive. He feared his mother would poison him in order to give the throne to his brother.
An antidote is a medicine used to counteract a specific poison. But King M. pursued the development of a universal antidote for all known poisons, starting with a formula from Egypt. He eventually developed a recipe and took daily doses to render himself immune to poisons. His wife and children eventually died from poison, but not King M. Because of his antidote, he could not be poisoned, or so the legend says.
Over the centuries, many have tried to duplicate King M.’s antidote. One version had sixty-five ingredients, mostly plants. Unfortunately, by the eighteenth century, the surviving form of the antidote was not effective.
Maybe it never was.
But Psalm 30 talks of an antidote that is still effective to this day. It is thankfulness.
King David confesses, “As for me, I said in my prosperity, I shall never be moved” (Psalm 30:6 ESV). Notice the emphasis on “I.” David suffered from pride, claiming for himself what only God could accomplish. He claimed he was unbeatable. Don’t we also sometimes feel like the good things in life have come by our own doing?
Struggles came to David, as they always do for each person. David cried out to God for help, and God graciously answered (Psalm 30:2). David could have died, but God spared his life (Psalm 30:3).
David was reminded yet again that it was God’s strength and plan, not his own, behind all his successes. This was so important that David urges others to “Sing praises to the Lord, O you his saints, and give thanks to his holy name.” (Psalm 30:4 ESV). The formula is simple, with only two ingredients.
Praising God is acknowledging who God is. He is all-powerful, all-knowing, holy, gracious, and loving, infinite in every quality! God knows what He is like. But it helps us remember what God is like when we take time to praise Him.
Thanking God is the recognition of what God has done. Pride is claiming that we are responsible for the abilities we have and the opportunities before us. The antidote for such pride is to tell God of His character qualities and to give Him thanks.
On Thanksgiving, I plan to share the story about King M. and read the verses about King David. We will go around the table and share what we are each thankful for to God. Thankfulness and praise give God the honor and worship He deserves. It refocuses our hearts and reminds us that success ultimately is to God’s credit and not ours. And, done daily, thankfulness can be the antidote to the pride that could land us in the same trouble that almost stopped King David: himself.