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“Praise the LORD. Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever.” Psalm 106:1
Thanksgiving, to be truly thanksgiving, is first thanks, then giving. Anonymous
In my opinion, the single most important thing to an authentically spiritual life is to learn how to praise God. It connects us to the source of all things spiritual. It puts both our triumphs and failures, joys and sorrows into perspective. It sorts out the conflict all of us feel too often between the spiritual and the material, the things of eternity and the things of time. Genuine praise and thanksgiving to God are a soul’s orientation to him — comparable to the pull of magnetic North on a compass needle when we get disoriented on life’s way.
From Psalms 106, we want to affirm the value and meaning of worship to the Lord and help to direct you in an experience of it.
A God to Praise
Psalm 106 is a microcosm of sorts for this total process of orientation, disorientation, and new orientation before Yahweh, the covenant-keeping God. It opens with a hymn of praise to the Lord, recounts a variety of disorienting times in Israel’s history, and closes with a grand affirmation of faith. It begins with these words:
Praise the LORD. Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever. Who can proclaim the mighty acts of the LORD or fully declare his praise? Blessed are they who maintain justice, who constantly do what is right (Psa. 106:1-3).
For everything that eventually will be cited in this psalm, it is a psalm of praise and thanksgiving throughout. God is “good,” and his “love” endures forever. These two words are linked in other places in the Psalter — such as in the oft-quoted line “Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever” (23:6).
In this case, the goodness and love of the One in whom Israel has placed her faith — and with whom she has covenanted! — are so magnificent that the writer despairs of any human’s worthiness to praise him appropriately. “Who can proclaim the mighty acts of the Lord or fully declare his praise?” he asks. Here is his answer: “Blessed are they who maintain justice, who constantly do what is right.”
Do you get his point? Right living is the preface to worship. People who do not have their hearts set on Lord the other six days of the week can’t “pull off worship” on Sunday. People who live by the world’s dog-eat-dog rules until they pull into the church parking lot and who plan to return to those same rules in sixty minutes will never know why others find worship so enthralling, exhilarating, and transporting.
A sacrifice of praise will always cost you something. It will be a difficult thing to do. It requires trading in our pride, our anger, and most valued of all, our human logic. We will be compelled to voice our words of praise firmly and precisely, even as our logic screams that God has no idea what he’s doing. Most of the verses written about praise in God’s Word were penned by men and women who faced crushing heartaches, injustice, treachery, slander, and scores of other intolerable situations. Joni Eareckson Tada
I praise loudly; I blame softly. Catherine ii of Russia (1729–1796)
Praise is more than singing, it’s the saint reflecting the life of Christ.
Praise is the best auxiliary to prayer. He who most bears in mind what has been done for him by God will be most emboldened to ask for fresh gifts from above. Andrew Melville (1545–1622)
You don’t learn to praise in a day, especially since you may have been complaining for years! New habits take time to develop. But you can begin today, and practice tomorrow, and the next day, until it becomes part of you. Erwin W. Lutzer (1941– )