“What can I offer the Lord for all he has done for me? I will lift up the cup of salvation and praise the Lord’s name for saving me. I will keep my promises to the Lord in the presence of all his people.” — Psalm 116:12-14
There are times when life is so rich that even surly men smile and the most ungrateful are thankful. Feelings of well-being that well up in the soul demand to be expressed. Such times are difficult times for the atheist, because he has no one to thank–but he often wonders what he can do to express his gratitude adequately.
The psalm writer asked the question, “What can I offer the Lord for all he has done for me?” (Ps. 116:12). In other words, “What can you give a God who has everything?”
Fortunately, the psalm writer was able to answer his own question. First of all, he “will lift up a cup symbolizing [God’s] salvation” (116:13). This refers to the psalmist’s commitment to participate in regular formal worship where actions such as lifting high a cup of wine symbolically demonstrated in visual and dramatic ways the deep experiences of the heart. He will say “thank you” by making regular worship in the community of believers a priority. We do similarly when we pass up the activities and entertainments of this world in order to attend Sunday worship services at church with our friends and family. Setting aside the Lord’s day to honor Him is saying “thank you.”
Second, the psalm writer adds, “I love the Lord because he hears and answers my prayers”(116:1). Love demands opportunities for expression, and formal praise affords such opportunities. While the psalmist has no difficulty articulating his own love, many men are not so gifted. So they should know how important it is for them to be in attendance when the people of God lift their voices in praise as they sing hymns and songs that express their joy.
Third, the psalmist states, “I will keep my promises to the Lord in the presence of all his people” (116:14). He knows that men make great promises at times of extreme danger or delight but tend to forget them when the grand moment passes away. But not the psalmist–he will keep his promises, and he will do it in such a way that men know he is a man of integrity and devotion.
There is much in life that can be experienced alone–but is better experienced with friends. You can worship on your own–but it is better shared with God’s people. It is how you say “thank you” to the God who saved you…