Tôwdâh

Larry BruceWorship CornerLeave a Comment

In God, whose word I praise,
in the Lord, whose word I praise,
in God I trust; I will not be afraid.
What can mere humans do to me?
I am obligated by vows to you, God;
I will make my thanksgiving sacrifices to you.

Psalm 56:10-12 (CSB)

Perhaps you have seen a video (or maybe in person) of a speed painter working on a canvas in what appears to be wild, erratic, brush strokes. As you watch, trying to make sense of the chaos, your mind tries to expect what is next, but the colors don’t seem to go together, and nothing resembles anything you can recognize. Then, when you are perhaps most confused, the artist steps aside, sets down the brush, kicks aside a bucket of paint, looks at the audience and rotates the canvas 180º to reveal an amazing, obvious likeness of a well-known celebrity. You sit astonished at how it was so impossible to tell what was happening until the reveal even though you were so expectant. 

These moments help us understand our next word of praise. Sometimes we are called to praise God in circumstances that are less than desirable – or downright difficult – knowing something good is coming, even though we can’t see it yet. This word is tôwdâh (to-daw’) and it represents a physical expression of an inward emotion: an extension of the hand, a thanksgiving for things that are yet to be received, a sacrifice of praise. 

Psalm 56 is of David, who wrote regarding his capture by the Philistines. His words demonstrate a concern for a very present enemy, yet he writes: “In God, whose word I praise, in the Lord, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I will not be afraid. What can mere humans do to me? I am obligated by vows to you, God; I will make my tôwdâh [thanksgiving sacrifices] to you” (Psalms 56:10-12). Chapter 8 of Paul’s letter to the Romans is also a wonderful exposition of this expectant praise.

I admit this term is a little more abstract than what we have discussed previously. You see, when we know something good is coming, even though we might not know what that might be, we can be expectantly thankful for it. Of course, the anticipation of great things is yet to come is all that we hope for through Christ. As abstract as this term is, it should be central to who we are as a community of worshipers.

Tôwdâh.

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