by Henry Morris III, D.Min.
It may be a curious reflection on our Western culture, but the “thank you”of normal social interchange does not have a counterpart in the Bible. The declining custom of writing thank you notes has some implied connection to the biblical emphasis, but those social manners are more related to our sense of reciprocity than is reflected in Scripture.
Please do not misunderstand. It is a good custom to respond to someone’s gift or help, and all of us should express our pleasure for the effort extended to us from another person—even if the necktie is “strange” or the flowers make you sneeze. The old cliché still applies—it’s the thought that counts. The custom of “thanksgiving” is helpful, both as acknowledgement and as encouragement. But the emphasis in Scripture is much more specific, revolving around the concepts of confession and praise.
There are two Hebrew terms translated with the English word “thanks” in the Old Testament. Towdah is most often connected with sacrificial thanksgiving “offerings” (Leviticus 22:29, 2 Chronicles 29:31). Yadah is used more frequently and is most often translated “praise” (Psalm 18:49, Isaiah 25:1).
Both of these terms are built around the idea of “confession”—as in listing or acknowledging sins committed and forgiveness granted. Both terms are used of private as well as formal occasions, and they consistently imply vocal expression (speaking out loud), repeated communal expression (as in corporate worship), and often formal celebration, as demonstrated in the following passages:
And Joshua said unto Achan, My son, give, I pray thee, glory to the LORD God of Israel, and make confession unto him; and tell me now what thou hast done; hide it not from me.” (Joshua 7:19, emphasis added)
I will wash mine hands in innocency: so will I compass thine altar, O LORD: That I may publish with the voice of thanksgiving, and tell of all thy wondrous works. (Psalm 26:6-7, emphasis added)
And at the dedication of the wall of Jerusalem they sought the Levites out of all their places, to bring them to Jerusalem, to keep the dedication with gladness, both with thanksgivings, and with singing, with cymbals, psalteries, and with harps. (Nehemiah 12:27, emphasis added)….
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