Sunday, July 13, 2014

Voluntary praise

TODAY'S SPECIAL: Psalm 119:97-112

TO CHEW ON: "Accept, I pray, the freewill offerings of my mouth, O Lord." Psalm 119:108a

When the writer of Psalm 119 asked God to accept the "freewill offerings of my mouth" he was referring to a specific category of offerings. These were offerings that people gave to God voluntarily out of the overflow of their worship, gratitude and emotion.

In the Old Testament freewill offering [Nedabah = voluntariness, free-will offering] is first used in Exodus 35 where Moses asked the Israelites to bring treasure (most of it plundered from the Egyptians when they left Egypt) for building the tabernacle (Exodus 35:29).

Though freewill offerings were voluntary, they were to be of the same quality as other sacrifices (Leviticus 22:18-23). They were also to be offered not just any old place but at the place of worship (Deuteronomy 12:5-7; 17). It is clear from Leviticus 23:38 that they were an expected part of the sacrifice routine along with prescribed offerings, keeping the Sabbath, bringing gifts, and making vows. They were common enough to warrant a priest whose sole job it was to look after them (2 Chronicles 31:14).

It's in the context of this kind of sacrifice that the Psalm-writer asks God to accept the "freewill offerings of my mouth." It is a metaphor for volunteer praise, worship, adoration and thanksgiving that flows to God from a praising, worshiping, adoring, and thankful heart.

We don't know whether he offered these freewill offerings of his mouth only at the temple when he went to worship, or offered them wherever he was. Neither do we know whether he would have disqualified himself if he was an off-key singer or a stuttering speaker. I hope these exclusions are not implied. Rather I like to think of the invitation to bring such sacrifices as open-armed as the one in Hosea:

Take words with you,
      And return to the LORD.
      Say to Him,


      “Take away all iniquity;
      Receive us graciously,
      For we will offer the sacrifices of our lips." - Hosea 14:2 NKJV

and in Hebrews:
Through Him, therefore, let us constantly and at all times offer up to God a sacrifice of praise, which is the fruit of lips that thankfully acknowledge and confess and glorify His name." -
Hebrews 13:15 AMP


PRAYER: Dear God, "Freewill offerings" — what a wonderful metaphor for praise and worship. Help me to make such offerings throughout my day as I reflect on You and Your ways with me. Amen.

MORE: "Hosanna" by Paul Baloche

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Unless otherwise noted all Scripture quotations are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Scripture quotations marked AMP are taken from the Amplified® Bible, Copyright © 1954, 1958, 1962, 1964, 1965, 1987 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission." (www.Lockman.org)



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