There is a phrase in Psalm 26:7 that caught my attention: “…the voice of thanksgiving…” That sounds like a voice that I want to be acquainted with. Because being thankful is all about being on the mountaintop, right? Wrong!
I did some searching and found that phrase only one other time in the Bible in Jonah 2:9. The writer was anywhere but on the mountaintop. I think you would have to agree that the belly of a great fish in the depths of the sea is not the place you would expect to find the voice of thanksgiving.
Jonah had been there for 3 days and 3 nights. He had cried out to God for forgiveness and deliverance. He was sitting with seaweed wrapped all around him, in the digestive juices of a fish that God had prepared to put him back on the right track. He was sitting in the darkest of darkness. Maybe that is why he speaks of the voice of thanksgiving in this way: “I will sacrifice unto thee with the voice of thanksgiving;…” It couldn’t have been easy to be thankful in his situation.
It’s interesting to note that when he found that voice (that place of thankfulness in the midst of the darkest, deepest despair) was the very time was when his deliverance came. Jonah 2:10 says, “And the Lord spake unto the fish, and it vomited out Jonah upon the dry land.” In my mind, there is no doubt that these two events are connected. Jonah sacrificed with the voice of thanksgiving and he was delivered out of the belly of the fish.
I believe it is a principle that you will find in God’s word: whenever you sacrifice anything to the Lord, the resulting blessing is far greater than the sacrifice. And who knows? Your deliverance may be God’s response to your sacrifice. Whatever the outcome, there is no doubt that a sacrifice of thanksgiving will always be worth whatever it costs.
Going back to our text in Psalm 26:7, notice how David wrote about this voice of thanksgiving. “That I may publish with the voice of thanksgiving, and tell of all thy wondrous works.” There is a sound to the voice of thanksgiving. It is a publishing (proclaiming, spreading forth, broadcasting) and a telling of what God has done for you. There is no such thing as a stealth Christian. You may appear to give thanks in the house of God. However, if you never talk about His goodness outside of the churches walls, outside the company of other Christians, you obviously know very little about the voice of thanksgiving.
There is no denying that there are things in the life of every Christian that are worth publishing. We need to let the world know about what God has done for us. It is worth telling and telling again and again. The world needs to know how thankful we are for what God has done for us. They need to know what it is that He has done for us.
In reading Psalm 26, I thought it was interesting how David prepared himself to be able to publish with the voice of thanksgiving. Telling the world about God’s wondrous works doesn’t happen by accident and it shouldn’t be attempted until you have prepared yourself in the same manner as David.
He told us in the first part of the Psalm that he was walking in integrity. How desperate we are for a revival of integrity. David was walking right when no one else was around. He was trusting in the Lord to preserve his walk. He was walking in truth. He was being careful with whom he spent his time. He avoided close relationships with people who were fake and contrary.
But then in verse 6, he got down to the fine detail of what it takes to be able to publish with the voice of thanksgiving. He said, “I will wash mine hands in innocency: so will I compass thine altar, O Lord:” David knew that he had to wash his hands in the purity of God’s holiness. He also knew that his life had to revolve around the altar of the Lord.
If you truly want to have the voice of thanksgiving, if you want to publish all of the wondrous works of the Lord, and to affect the world around you, you must walk in your integrity. Who you are when you are in church or among Christian friends makes absolutely no difference if you are someone else when they are not around.
You also have to realize that the only way you can preserve a holy walk is to trust in the Lord. Because He alone can preserve you. You have to walk in truth. Don’t let it be said of you that you have a deceitful tongue. Stay away from those who twist the truth and are quick to debate every matter.
Most importantly, if you want to have the voice of thanksgiving, you must purify yourself in God’s holiness. Sanctify yourself by conforming to His word and be sure your life revolves around the altar of the Lord. If the only time you pray is in church, you are not ready to publish with the voice of thanksgiving. There are so many who want to enjoy the times of worship. They want to lift their voice in thanksgiving when the presence of the Lord comes by. And yet, their life does not revolve around the altar of the Lord. They don’t realize the depth of relationship with the Lord that they are missing.
If you remember, earlier we were looking where Jonah talked about sacrificing with the voice of thanksgiving. There are some that believe that this relationship, this walk, is all about emotion. They believe that it is all in the shout. If that is the way you live, your walk with the Lord is a very shallow walk. The truth is there’s not a whole lot of shouting that goes on in the valley.
That doesn’t mean you are not as close to God as you were on the mountaintop. If God leads you to the valley, He walks with you through the valley. I have found that it is in the valleys that I learn to walk closer to the Lord. It is in the valley that my life gets reoriented such that I am drawn to the place of compassing His altar.
If you want to find out what it is like to really walk with the Lord, center your life around the altar of the Lord. Separate yourself from the things of the world. Understand that to walk with the Lord, there will be times when you have to sacrifice unto the Lord with the voice of thanksgiving. If you can be thankful when circumstances defy you to do so, the world will take notice. They can’t help but be affected by your unexplainable joy.
This month, we are going to celebrate a national day of Thanksgiving. Most Americans have never known or have forgotten what that is all about. They have made it a day of eating and visiting with family. Many have made it a day filled with entertaining themselves. Let me challenge you to be different.
It doesn’t matter what your current circumstances may be. You may be on the mountain top or you may be in the valley. I want to challenge you to do whatever you have to do to be able to publish with the voice of thanksgiving this week and every week. Tell one and all of the wondrous works of the Lord. It will make a difference in those around you. And you will find that it will also make a difference in you. Happy Thanksgiving.