Give Thanks and Praise
by Charles R. Swindoll
Psalm 100:4 contains two commands. Both of these commands urge us to speak directly to the Lord.
Give thanks to Him (100:4). The Hebrew command "give thanks" is a single verb that means "to confess, praise, acknowledge, extol, thank." This is more than a mere "Thanks, God, for the blessings." This depicts someone naming the specific reasons for gratitude, telling a story with God as the hero. We do this when telling a friend about a particularly good physician who cured a long-term malady. We gush with details and gratitude. We feel unable to say enough good about the doctor. Similarly, this "giving thanks" literally can't say enough about the Lord and what He does.
If you're looking for signs of the last days, then be on the lookout for ingratitude. Second Timothy 3:1–5 lists "ungrateful" in a list of attitudes that will mark the dark days before the end of time. Beware an ungrateful, thankless generation! Cultivating a grateful heart is no small issue with God.
Bless His name (100:4). The word bless is from barak, which means "to kneel, praise, salute." The idea is to show honor and homage to God, recognizing His name as higher than any other name. In the Ancient Near East, a person "blessing" a superior did so while bowing or kneeling. He or she then expressed a desire for the honoree to have power, prosperity, longevity, success, etc. Of course, the Lord already possesses all power, prosperity, longevity, and will certainly succeed in all He chooses to do; by "blessing His name," we affirm His power and goodness, and we commit ourselves to joining His cause.
The two actions, "giving thanks" and "blessing His name," have a special significance deeply rooted in Ancient Near East custom. To receive the hospitality of a nobleman and to pronounce a blessing in return effectively established an alliance, a lifelong indebtedness that linked two people in a bond of friendship. In this case, the psalmist calls us to pledge allegiance to the supreme King.
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