Thanking God

Robin WilliamsonPosted on Monday, March 11, 2013 by Revd. Robin Williamson

“I will extol the Lord at all times, His praise will always be on my lips”

Psalm 34 appears to have been written by David after he had escaped from a tricky situation.

The heading in most Bibles suggests it was written after he had pretended to be mad before an enemy King, but some commentators disagree with this, as the names quoted seem different from the situation described in 1 Samuel 21:10-15.

However it came to be written and whoever wrote it, it’s a marvelous Psalm of praise and thanksgiving to God, for deliverance in answer to prayer and instruction in how to live a godly life. Although we would not realize it from our English versions, it is an alphabetic acrostic poem – the first letter of each verse in Hebrew follows the order of the 22 letters of their alphabet, (lacking one Hebrew letter – perhaps like our ‘z’, but then there’s an added verse at the end!) The important thing to remember though is the spirit of exuberant confidence in the Lord is of more importance than any logical structure in the poem.

Verses 1-3 are a call to praise; 4-10 contain thanksgiving and 11-21 teaching that flow from this.

In a sense, it is written by someone with such a story to tell that they can’t help sharing it. They owe it to God – and to their fellow believers. In their experience, the person who honours God finds life. Their misfortunes may be many, but God will bring them through them all in the end…but, what can we learn?

My Bible commentary says, “Praise of God is independent and irrespective of our circumstances.” Let’s think for a moment – do we believe that is true?

Are we able to praise God when we don’t feel like it – perhaps even when we feel “down” or we’re being misunderstood – or even totally ignored?

Perhaps even God feels far away and our prayers seem to be hitting the ceiling – that’s assuming we even feel like, or have the courage, to praise God?

My commentary goes on, “…praise comes from the very centre of the writers being.” The psalm has certainly originated from a situation where the person knows that God has taken some positive action in their lives. We would probably call that testimony.

Can you recall a time where you’ve known (or sensed) God really looking after you – especially, perhaps, as you look back with hindsight?

On Friday, I was talking to someone who is really going through it at present. He longs to be aware of God really acting for good in his situation and so asked me whether I was aware of God doing things in my life? It was really encouraging for me to be able to look back over the years and say “Yes”, I was sure He had, and does now and will in the future. I know with absolute certainty that God has loved me, loves me now, and will continue to do so.

Why not take some time, through the coming week, to write down some things that have happened in your life that you can thank and praise God for? And, if you’re really going through it at the moment, can you still say that you know God is praiseworthy, even if you are unable to feel it at present?

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