The Sacrifice of Praise

“So will I compass thine altar, O LORD: that I may publish with the voice of thanksgiving, and tell of all thy wondrous works.” —Psalm 26:6,7

DAVID associates the altar, symbolic of sacrifice, with the voice of thanksgiving. This indicates that whole-hearted thanksgiving calls for sacrifice. The psalmist presents this viewpoint in Psalm 103:1, saying, “Bless the Lord O my soul: and all that is within me, bless his holy name” The expression, ‘all that is within me’, denotes all our powers, all we possess. Nothing short of this should be considered an adequate thanksgiving offering to the Lord in return for all that he has done for us.

The Apostle Paul expresses a similar thought, saying, “By him, therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name.” (Heb. 13:50) Here Paul may have had in mind the statement of Hosea 14:2, where the prophet speaks of the “calves of our lips.” In any case, the thought is that true Christian thanksgiving involves sacrifice, as foreshadowed by the typical sacrifices of the Tabernacle.

There are various ways, of course, whereby we can praise God. We can sing hymns of praise, which, without a doubt, is pleasing to him. Not a great deal of sacrifice is involved, however, in this form of praise. It is a delight to raise our voices in songs of praise to the Giver of every good and perfect gift. We should also express our thanks to God by means of prayer. How blessed to pour out our hearts to him in praise and adoration, telling him how much we love and appreciate him! Such incense of praise is a sweet-smelling savor to our Heavenly Father. It is this form of praise that is pictured more particularly by the offering of incense at the Golden Altar in the Holy of the Tabernacle.

But we should remember that the fire that burned the incense at the Golden Altar was brought by the priest from the Brazen Altar out in the Court. If the fires of sacrifice were not burning on this altar, there could be no burning of incense at the Golden Altar. The one depended upon the other.

In our text, David explains what is involved in offering the sacrifice of praise, saying that we should tell of all God’s wondrous works. To do this means to bear witness to the truth. Certainly David does not mean that we should tell the Lord about his own works! Sometimes the Lord’s people, when offering prayer in public, tell the Lord considerable about his plan; but this is a mistake. God knows all about his own works and does not need us to remind him of any feature of it. However, the expression of thanksgiving and praise to God for all his wondrous works would always be in order.—Ps. 89:5; 107:8; 150:2

It is to others that we tell of God’s wondrous works. It is by doing this that we show forth the praises of him who hath called us out of darkness into his marvelous light. (I Peter 2:9) And what a wonderful privilege it is to tell others of God’s works! Every feature of his plan is a delight to his people, and their joy in the truth increases as they tell it to others. Even when relating it to one another, it becomes more precious, more wonderfully sweet.

There is no better way, in fact there is no other way at all, to live a true life of thanksgiving and praise to God than to lay down our lives in showing forth his praises. When we consider that all we have and all we hope for are ours by God’s grace, then we will know that our debt of gratitude calls for nothing less than the devoting of our all to him, no longer living unto ourselves nor for ourselves, but for him. It is this thought that is expressed by David in those well-known words, “What shall I render unto the Lord for all his benefits toward me? I will take the cup of salvation, and call upon the name of the Lord. I will pay my vows unto the Lord now in the presence of all his people. Precious in the sight of the Lord is the [sacrificial] death of his saints. O Lord, truly I am thy servant, … and the son of thine handmaid: thou hast loosed my bonds [released me from Adamic condemnation]. I will offer to thee the sacrifice of thanksgiving, and will call upon the name of the Lord. I will pay my vows unto the Lord now in the presence of all his people.”—Ps. 116:12-18

Again the psalmist calls upon us to remember the Lord’s goodness with thanksgiving, saying: “Oh that men would praise the Lord for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men! And let them sacrifice the sacrifices of thanksgiving, and declare his works with rejoicing. (Ps. 107:21) How clearly does David here, as elsewhere, associate thanksgiving with declaring the works of the Lord! This is a very practical arrangement. Had we received special favors from an earthly friend and wanted to show our appreciation by letting others know of his goodness, there would be no better way to do it than to tell of his works, of what he did for us.

And how wonderfully the Lord has favored us! What rich blessings he has bestowed upon us! And how grand are the things he has promised yet to do for us; and not only for us, but also for the whole world. To tell of all his works it is necessary to publish the truth of his plan. Thus it is that in appreciation of what God has done for us, because his love calls forth our love in return, his people become the light of the world—a city that is set on a hill which cannot be hid!

Dawn Bible Students Association
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