A Confession of Praise

A study Bible footnote unexpectedly intersected with thoughts about Thanksgiving.

I’m not a Hebrew scholar by any means. But the ESV Study Bible noted that the Hebrew word todah could be translated as “make confession” or “give thanks or praise,” depending on the context. The footnote goes on to say, “Some overlap of these meanings is not surprising because rightful confession is itself a kind of worship of God” (p. 820).

We don’t usually connect confession of sin with worship and praise, but the one does lead to the other, doesn’t it? Once we’ve confessed sin to the Lord and rested in His grace and forgiveness, we overflow with joy and thankfulness.

“Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. Blessed is the man against whom the Lord counts no iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit” (Psalm 32:1-2).

But I began to wonder at another connection.

I was taught that confession of sin means saying the same thing God says about it. In other words, we don’t downplay our sin. We’re honest about it. We don’t say, “Oh, I just told a little fib.” No, to adequately confess sin, we have to call it what it is and own up to it: “I lied.”

So I wonder if giving thanks or praise carries that same connotation. When we praise God, we’re agreeing with what He says about Himself. It’s not that He needs the affirmation, but we need to recognize Him for who He is. And when we do, we can’t help but praise Him. And the more we behold Him, the more our cares and concerns melt away, because we remind ourselves He is more than able to handle any need we have.

Confessing also seems to carry the connotation of personal experience. I might share or rejoice in what God has done in someone else’s life. But if I am confessing, whether it’s sin or praise, I’m sharing what God has done in my life.

In Psalm 95:2, todah is the word translated thanksgiving: “Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving; let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise!”

Many of the psalms combine confession of sin, thankfulness for God’s grace, amazement at His greatness, and confession of His people’s personal experience of His provision, protection.

Psalm 145 is a beautiful example of this. Part of it says:

One generation shall commend your works to another,
    and shall declare your mighty acts.
On the glorious splendor of your majesty,
    and on your wondrous works, I will meditate.
They shall speak of the might of your awesome deeds,
    and I will declare your greatness.
They shall pour forth the fame of your abundant goodness
    and shall sing aloud of your righteousness.

The Lord is gracious and merciful,
    slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.
The Lord is good to all,
    and his mercy is over all that he has made.

10 All your works shall give thanks to you, O Lord,
    and all your saints shall bless you!
11 They shall speak of the glory of your kingdom
    and tell of your power,
12 to make known to the children of man your mighty deeds,
    and the glorious splendor of your kingdom.
13 Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom,
    and your dominion endures throughout all generations.

Psalm 65 does as well:

Praise is due to you, O God, in Zion,
    and to you shall vows be performed.
O you who hear prayer,
    to you shall all flesh come.
When iniquities prevail against me,
    you atone for our transgressions.
Blessed is the one you choose and bring near,
    to dwell in your courts!
We shall be satisfied with the goodness of your house,
    the holiness of your temple!

These thoughts brought to mind Ron and Shelly Hamilton’s song, “Worthy of Praise”:

My heart overflows with praise to the Lord
I will lift up my voice to the King
He brought me out of the pit of despair
And taught my heart to sing


Worthy of all my praise
You are worthy of all my praise
I bow at Your throne
And I worship You alone
Lord You are worthy
Worthy of praise

I wish you all a wonderful Thanksgiving filled with food, family, and praise for Him who is worthy.

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