July 17, 2008

Praise and Thanksgiving

Psalm 30

Sing to the Lord … praise his holy name… O Lord my God, I will give you thanks forever.
Psalm 30:4, 12


One of the most important things we can ever say to God is “thank you.” It's a habit that should never get old. When we give thanks to God, we are usually responding to specific gifts or blessings God has been pleased to give us. Praise, though, is different. When we praise God, we are not so much thanking him for what he has done. We are honoring and adoring God for who he is. If you read Psalm 30 closely, you discover that like many of the psalms, it is characterized by both praise and thanksgiving. Most of the psalm consists of David's expressions of thanks to God. David thanks God for hearing his voice when he called out to him, and for lifting him up when he was down. But nestled in the middle of the psalm, in verses 4-5, is a call to praise. Like all expressions of praise, it is rooted not only in God's actions but also in God's character. It's important that we remember the difference between praise and thanksgiving. We ought to work hard at practicing the vertical habit of saying “thank you” to God in response to all his gifts. But we should also remember to praise God simply for who he is. Perhaps in this way we can become what Augustine said every Christian should be: “an alleluia from head to foot.”

Lord, we thank you for all your gifts, and we praise you for all your glory. Thank you for hear-ing us when we call to you. Help us to give you glory in everything we do. Amen.

About the author — Peter Hoytema

Peter Hoytema has been a pastor for nearly 30 years and has served congregations in Ontario and New Jersey. He is currently the pastor of a congregation in Strathroy, Ontario. He is a graduate of Calvin Theological Seminary and San Francisco Theological Seminary. He and his wife, Grace, are the parents of four adult children.

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