Throughout scripture, words like praise and thanksgiving are interchangeable. In fact, in the Old Testament, many translations of the Bible often replace words like thankfulness and thanksgiving with the word praise.
The Hebrew word yada means to revere or worship; intensively, to bemoan, confess, praise, to give thanks, thankful and thanksgiving. So, depending upon which translation of the Bible we use, we may find the word praise substituted for the word thanksgiving. They are almost interchangeable.
Thanksgiving is closely related to praise before God, but it does have a slightly different sound. In the Tabernacle of David and the Temple of Solomon, King David arranged for certain groups of singers and Levites to proclaim songs of thanks before God. One group would sing songs of praise, and another would sing songs of thanksgiving.
And he appointed some of the Levites to minister before the ark of the LORD, to commemorate, to thank, and to praise the LORD God of Israel: 1 Chronicles 16:4 (NKJV)
to stand every morning to thank and praise the LORD, and likewise at evening; 1 Chronicles 23:30 (NKJV)
Praise and thanksgiving are atmospherics conducive to the presence of God. Where these sounds and actions thrive, the presence of God arrives. And because we are now the temple of God (1 Corinthians 3:16), these are the sounds and activities that should exist within our lives. They are attributes of a well-built life.
People who walk with God express thanksgiving and gratitude to God. It may start as a discipline, but gratitude develops into a lifestyle, emanating from our hearts and minds like a constant song and fragrant incense toward heaven.
In the book of Revelation, as John peered into the throne room of God, he saw many intriguing sights. Notably, he recognized that praise and thanksgiving are the sounds of the throne room of God.
All the angels stood around the throne and the elders and the four living creatures, and fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, saying:
“Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom,
Thanksgiving and honor and power and might,
Be to our God forever and ever.
Revelation 7:11-12 (NKJV)
In the US, this week, we celebrate a holiday known as Thanksgiving. This is more than a historical tradition – or at least it should be. Thanksgiving is a defining attribute of a life lived in the presence of God. If we are the people of God, if we walk with God, if we desire more of God, then the sounds of thanksgiving and thankfulness ought to rise up with abundance from our lives.