25 – O Come Let Us Adore Him: Understanding Adoration, Blessing, and Thanksgiving as Parts of Genuine Praise
The Lightest Form of Flogging had another episode further discussing discussions we have discussed on this very show. Check out The Podfather, ep. 119.
You Say…. is no longer even in the top 50. Crazy.
We open by sharing our year in listening to music. On Spotify at least. Let’s see if you can find any themes.
Main Topic: Adoration, Blessing, and Thanksgiving
The first commandment implies that we have a duty to adore God among other things. See WLC 104.
The word “adore” is not a Bible word, but even in its origins it has always been a sacred word. It shares a prefix with Adhere and shares a root with Orate, essentially in its strictest form it means “to speak to or of”. Culturally, it carries a loftiness as well as accompanying action: “to speak highly of while performing acts of devotion.”
In the Psalms, the instances of Praise that could be defined as adoration are everywhere (with the exception of maybe only Psalm 88), as this is a very general expression of praise. We are talking about adoration today specifically as a contrast with two other types of Praise: Blessing and Thanksgiving.
The song Oh Come, All Ye Faithful has this adoration theme which draws on Luke 2:15-20.
The adoration was the heart’s response to the Truth, and the proof was the outpouring of the praise and glory in speech. Much of the Psalter can be seen as the outpouring of praise and glory in speech. And this is what I am personally referring to when I say “adoration”.
John Piper article, What Does It Mean to Bless God? This was helpful in understanding how we as humans can bless God.
In his 1978 article “What does it mean to bless God?” John Piper offers three distinct answers to that question:
- To announce received blessing from God
- To thank God for His blessing
- To declare that God is perfectly blessed
Through a very quick search of “bless the Lord” in my Bible app, I discovered that nearly every instance of blessing the Lord in books 1-4 was accompanied with “because He has given me X.” But nearly every instance in book 5 (the shift is seen in the middle of book 4 with Psalm 103, and even then the end of Psalm 103) is a call to bless the Lord intermingled with a declaration of what it means to be blessed by God (blessed is the man who…).
Ultimately, all of this comes from a heart of gratitude and thankfulness for the blessing.
Relationship between Thanksgiving Psalms and Lament Psalms
The thanksgiving psalm is a response to answered lament. In addition, there is a close connection between hymns and thanksgivings. The relationship is so close, in fact, that Westermann has argued well that thanksgiving is really a subcategory of praise. A thanksgiving psalm is praise to God for answered prayer.
Longman, T., III. (1988). How to Read the Psalms (p. 30). Downers Grove, IL; Nottingham, England: IVP Academic; Inter-Varsity Press.
Characteristics of a Thanksgiving Psalm
Thanksgiving psalms often start out a lot like Hymn or Praise psalms.
Example: Ps 34:1
Others begin with a blessing like Psalm 32
Longman gives an extended treatment of Psalm 30 in chapter 11.
Next, the psalmist will thank God for what he has done in his life. The psalmist may also encourage the congregation to praise God as well, giving thanks. Psalm 30:4 is where Longman points us.
There is also a restatement of the lament and God’s saving work. Psalm 18 is a fantastic example. This restatement of lament with the account of God’s salvation is one of the most distinguishing factors of a Thanksgiving Psalm.
Giving thanks is distinctly Christian
Romans 1:21, “For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened.”
So a major part of what sets Christians apart from non-Christians is that a Christian gives thanks to God.
Calvin also identifies Thanksgiving as a key component of worship in addition to praise:
“Let us now see what is meant by the due worship of God. Its chief foundation is to acknowledge Him to be, as He is, the only source of all virtue, justice, holiness, wisdom, truth, power, goodness, mercy, life, and salvation; in accordance with this, to ascribe and render to Him the glory of all that is good, to seek all things in Him alone, and in every want have recourse to Him alone. Hence arises prayer, hence praise and thanksgiving — these being attestations to the glory which we attribute to Him. This is that genuine sanctification of His name which He requires of us above all things.”
Calvin, J. (n.d.). The Necessity of Reforming the Church.
Thanks for listening
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