The Psalms on True Praise and Thanksgiving
BARAK: Blessing the Lord • This Hebrew word for praise (pronounced baw-rak’), refers to making an action of thanksgiving (a verb) rather than a thing to be given or created. It is most commonly translated to mean either “kneel” or “bless.” It is contained in 289 verses, only 68 of which are in the Psalms.
One unique feature about this biblical word for praise is it is something we do for God, He does this for us and we do it for one another. It takes place in both formal and informal settings, publicly and privately. It is a form of praise that God commands us to do. God blessed the Sabbath day itself and made it holy. Generally when the Bible refers to God doing this for others, it is in a tangible form, as in a gift. When we do this for God, it is more of an act of thanksgiving and acknowledgment for who God is and what He has done. God specifically promises to do this for people who are generous and for those who trust in Him.
In the various scriptural examples of people doing this, it is generally described as bowing down, lying down or kneeling while lifting hands and doing homage verbally. When it was done for other people, the person doing the action typically stood with raised hands, and the recipient often bowed or knelt. (Picture someone being knighted by a king.) In the early middle ages, the church depicted this by crossing their arms over their chests as a sign of reverence. This later turned into folding one’s hands. While we still occasionally kneel, other actions that depict this includes bowing our heads.
Psalms of praise and thanksgiving:
- It is due to God from His people. (Ps 104:1, Ps 104:35, Ps 115:15, Ps 135:19, Ps 135:20, Ps 135:21, Ps 145:10)
- It is something God does for His people. (Ps 5:12, Ps 28:9, Ps 29:11, Ps 65:10, Ps 67:6, Ps 112:2, Ps 115:12, Ps 115:13, Ps 128:4, Ps 132:15, Ps 147:13)
- It is something we do for others who do God’s work. (Ps 118:26)
- It is something the ungodly do of their own desires. (Ps 10:3, Ps 49:18, Ps 62:4)
- It is something the angels do for God. (Ps 103:20, Ps 103:21).
- It is something all creation does for God. (Ps 103:22, Ps 145:10)
- It is the opposite of being cursed by God. (Ps 37:22)
- It is associated with lifting hands in God’s name, kneeling, bowing down together, singing, thanksgiving and praise. (Ps 63:4, Ps 95:6, Ps 96:2, Ps 100:4, Ps 132:15, Ps 134:2)
- It is something we can ask for from God both for ourselves and for others. (Ps 67:1, Ps 72:17, Ps 134:3)
- It is something to be given wholeheartedly and with one’s entire being. (Ps 103:1)
- It is a fitting act of thanksgiving for someone receiving counsel, salvation, an answer, peace, strength, rescue, land, growth, kindness, sustenance, help bearing burdens, power, miracles, benefits, protection, instruction, prosperity, training and equipping from the Lord. (Ps 16:7, Ps 18:46, Ps 28:6, Ps 29:11, Ps 31:21, Ps 34:1, Ps 37:22, Ps 66:20, Ps 67:6, Ps 68:19, Ps 68:35, Ps 72:18, Ps 103:2, Ps 107:38, Ps 119:12, Ps 124:6, Ps 128:5, Ps 144:1)
- It is to be done by God’s people as a group, including in the congregation. (Ps 26:12, Ps 66:8, Ps 68:26, Ps 95:6, Ps 100:4, Ps 106:48, Ps 115:18, Ps 132:15)
- It is something we should be continually speaking all day long throughout our entire lives. (Ps 34:1, Ps 63:4, Ps 72:15, Ps 145:2, Ps 145:21)
- It is eternal in nature. (Ps 41:13, Ps 45:2, Ps 72:19, Ps 89:52, Ps 106:48, Ps 113:2, Ps 145:1)
- It is something we are to be seen doing by the rest of the world, drawing them to Him. (Ps 66:8, Ps 67:7, Ps 72:19, Ps 109:28, Ps 118:26)
Let’s apply this information to our relationships by continuing to speak and perform blessings for one another. On a personal level, thank the Lord with your whole being throughout each day for all He has done for you. Don’t refrain from telling others of the Lord’s blessings in your life. When we gather as a congregation, join in as we sing songs declaring who God is and thank Him for His works and involvement in our lives. With all your whole being, bless the Lord!