O give thanks unto the Lord, for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever.
Psalm 107:1 (KJV)
David had plenty of reasons to thank God. As a young shepherd, God helped him fight off a lion and bear for the life of his flock. He stood against the mighty Goliath in simple clothes, and God guided his small stone which brought down the giant. He was hunted by Saul and chased into hiding, and still God fed him and shielded him. As a king, he was in continual conflict with the surrounding nations, but God always provided him victory.
Yes, David was thankful, but this verse does not allude to the events for his reason, but rather to God’s own character – God is good and His mercy endures forever. Of course the character of God is action and not just traits used to describe Him. When Moses asks which God is sending him to Pharaoh, God uses a verb to state who He is – “I Am”. He is action, and because God is active in our lives, should we assume that simple thoughts of thankfulness are enough to show our gratitude, or is there more to the Hebrew word yada which is David’s thankfulness?
My first inkling, influenced by Greek thought, is to analyze the situations for which I should offer thanks to God and share my thankfulness to Him. But He’s already aware of those events, He was there. His character brought forth action into my life.
The Hebrew response is yada. It is confession of everything that God is and what He does. Yada is my public praise to God. It is not internally communicated secretly between The Creator and myself, but outwardly expressed for others to observe and reflect upon. This is why the thanksgiving offering brought to the Temple was required to be eaten among family and friends. This group of people invited to share in the thanksgiving offering were there to witness my declaration of God’s action in my life. In the same thought, the offering was to be eaten entirely on that day, and nothing leftover for tomorrow. Why? The large meal that accompanied the offering was there to provide my company a relaxing time wherein I could fully confess my experiences with God. It was a time for the thankful to give their testimony.
The word yada is often translated in English as “to thank”. We see this especially in the repeated words found in Ezra 3:11; Ps. 106:1; Ps. 118:1, 29; Ps. 136:1-3, 26. But it falls short of the intended meaning. In fact, in the Old Testament there is no Hebrew verb that means only “to thank”. The Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament has this to say:
“Therefore, yada is one of the key words for “praise.” It is continually found in Hebrew poetry in parallelism with such praise terms as halal “to praise,” zamar “to praise with musical instruments,” rum “to exalt,” zakar “to remember,” kabad “to glorify,” and nagad “to declare. Thanksgiving follows praise, for when one declares God’s attributes and works, he cannot help but be thankful for these.”
The Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament, p. 365
O give confessional praise among your friends and family over a wonderful meal unto the Lord, for He is good, and His mercy endures forever. Are we ready to give our testimony? Will we show our gratitude by vocally praising His works and character to others? Or are we muttering a quiet “thanks” to God under our breath without the inclusion of others? As Apostle Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 10:17, “Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord.” (ESV)