"Praise the Lord. Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; His love endures forever." Praise and thanks are consistently linked together in Scripture. They are somewhat similar and yet unique. When we give thanks we are expressing gratitude and appreciation. When we praise we are expressing admiration and approval. As we celebrate our annual day of gratitude (called Thanksgiving) here in the United States I want to look at the results of adding praise to our thanks.
1 Chronicles 16:4 and 23:28-30 tell us that King David appointed Levites to give thanks and praise to the Lord every morning and evening. Hezekiah also assigned priests and Levites to "give thanks and to sing praises..." (2 Chronicles 20:21) Nehemiah set up singers at the gates of the wall around Jerusalem to sing "songs of praise and thanksgiving to God." (Nehemiah 12:4) Psalm 100:4 tells us that we are to "Enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise."
A Psalm that has been significant in my life is Psalm 71. Several of the verses describe my experience with the Lord. (Verses 5 & 6) "For you have been my hope, O Sovereign Lord, my confidence since my youth. From birth I have relied on you; you brought me forth from my mother's womb. I will ever praise you." (Verses 14-16) "But as for me, I will always have hope; I will praise you more and more. My mouth will tell of your righteousness, of your salvation all day long, though I know not its measure. I will come and proclaim your mighty acts, O Sovereign Lord, I will proclaim your righteousness, yours alone." (Verse 18) "Even when I am old and gray, do not forsake me, O God, till I declare your power to the next generation, your might to all who are to come." (Verses 23-24) "My lips will shout for joy when I sing praise to you—I, whom you have redeemed. My tongue will tell of your righteous acts all day long for those who wanted to harm me have been put to shame."
Let's look at Psalm 71, Verse 14, in the Young's Literal Translation. It attempts to translate, literally, each word and phrase from the original language. Verse 14 is translated like this: "But I will continually wait with hope and will add to all your praise." When we look at this entire Psalm, it is apparent that the Psalmist has experienced distress in his life, and yet there is something inside of him that leads him to wait with hope and add to his praise of the Lord.
Verse 15 and 16 show us how to start the process of having hope and of increasing praise. It is when we declare His righteousness and salvation and proclaim His mighty acts. It has been my experience that no matter how difficult life is I can always find a multitude of reasons to praise Him and give Him thanks. He has shown me His strength and wisdom and love again and again. He has confirmed that He is near, even in the dark night of the soul.
One of the devotional books that has blessed me is written by Kevin Geoffrey. His book is called Messianic Daily Devotional. An entry in his book is written about Psalm 71:14-16. Here is what he says about hope and praise: "We do not endure by simply crying out to God--anyone can do that, and they often do. The difference lies in having the fortitude to praise God even in the worst circumstances...and to keep adding to that praise...The key is to let praise build hope, and then to respond to the hope we have by praising Him some more."
When you are thanking God this week, add praise to it. Then add to your praise and watch as your hope builds. May God bless you and your loved ones abundantly.
Joan E. Mathias