Summary: The terms praise and sacrifice seem to be opposites of one another. Praise generally bubbles from a happy and a grateful heart. Sacrifice, on the other hand, costs us something. What then does it mean to offer – sacrifice of praise?
Hebrews 13:15 - Therefore by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name.
Psalm 49:14 - Offer to God the sacrifice of praise
Praise generally bubbles from a happy and a grateful heart.
Sacrifice, on the other hand, costs us something. Otherwise, we cannot call it a sacrifice.
We can recollect what David said to Araunah when Araunah offered to freely give him the animals for the sacrifice, “No, but I will surely buy it from you for a price; nor will I offer burnt offerings to the Lord my God with that which costs me nothing.” (1 Chronicles 21:24). So, David bought the threshing floor and the oxen for fifty shekels of silver.
The terms praise and sacrifice seem to be opposites of one another.
What then does it mean to offer – sacrifice of praise?
Praise is often our response to something that has impressed us, and we feel generous when we praise someone. It is easy to praise God this way too. When He has blessed us, answered our prayers, helped us, and protected us, when all things go good for us, we feel grateful and praise Him. We may sing praises to His name, worship Him for all his goodness and even testify of His blessings to others. This kind of praise is worthwhile, and God expects this gratefulness from us. However, this kind of praise cannot be considered a sacrifice.
Which praise is then considered sacrifice?
There are times in our lives when God does not come through the way we expect Him to. The medical test comes back positive. Our children are wayward. Loans keep piling up. We lose our dear ones. Prayers seem to be unanswered. God seems very far away. We cannot see His goodness in our circumstances. It looks like God has forgotten us. How about praising God at that moment? I am pretty sure that praise would be the last thing to bubble up from most of our hearts. When things get tough, praise gets harder.
To praise God in those troubled times necessitates personal sacrifice. This is the sacrifice of praise which is often difficult and costly. It requires us to wholly submit ourselves on the altar to the will of God although we do not understand His ways. Through such a sacrifice of praise, we confess that God is still good and can be trusted although things do not work our way.
This was the secret of King David.
Psalm 34:1 - I will extol the Lord at all times; His praise will always be on my lips.
This psalm is titled A Psalm of David when he pretended madness before Abimelech, who drove him away, and he departed. Things were not working out for David as expected. When David was still young, Samuel anointed him to be the next ruler over Israel. He also won the giant Goliath and the hearts of the men of Israel. He was over the men of war under Saul. David was probably expecting greater glory since He had a promise and anointing of a king. But things turned out differently. Saul no longer favored David and even sought to kill him. As a fugitive from Saul, David had to seek refuge among the Philistines, the giant of whose he had killed before and earned a name. When the Philistines recognized him as the one who had slain the thousands of Philistines, David was afraid and pretended to be insane in their presence and acted like a madman, making marks on the doors of the gate and letting saliva run down his beard. David then departed from there and escaped to the cave of Adullam.
It was there that David wrote the beautiful psalm – Psalm 34 which begins saying ‘His praise will always be on my lips.’
Imagine the thoughts that could have run through David’s mind – He had a promise from God and the anointing to be the King of Israel. But here he was running from the land of Israel to the land of enemies and playing a madman there to escape death. He could have questioned God for the circumstances of his life. Any other man in his place would probably have murmured against God.
Remember how the Israelite's forgot all the goodness of the Lord started complaining to their Lord about their troubles (Numbers 11:1) and how they craved for meat to eat in the wilderness and began to murmur (Numbers 11:4-6).
But here is David praising God at this difficult moment saying - I will extol the Lord at all times; His praise will always be on my lips. Read the entire Psalm and you can look into the grateful heart of David irrespective of his circumstances. David chose to praise God irrespective of the storms in His life. This is the sacrifice of praise that is offered to God. God is honored through this sacrifice and our faith grows deeper (Job 13:15)