And they were to stand every morning, thanking and praising the LORD, and likewise at evening, 31and whenever burnt offerings were offered to the LORD on Sabbaths, new moons, and feast days, according to the number required of them, regularly before the LORD.
– 1 Chronicles 23:30
David’s blessing for the Levites was that once God had given them rest in the Land, the Levities would no longer have to carry the tabernacle and its utensils (1 Chron. 23:25-26). Their office was now changing to help Aaron with the service of the house of the Lord by servicing the components of the permanent site for Israel (28-29). But verse 30 outlines an interesting responsibility for these workers. Now that there is rest they can set aside the maintenance of the tabernacle and part of their “new” responsibility is to make time, morning and evening, to be thankful and praise the Lord.
Most of us are thankful when good stuff happens. If something special happen to us or we experience some serendipitous good fortune, or we experience good success at some responsibility. It is not hard to be thankful and praise the Lord when life is good. We can be emotionally ecstatic or wonderfully at peace. We can be exuberant or have a sense of confidence and rest about our life. It takes very little effort to be thankful and praise the Lord when life is going well.
The obvious challenge for most of us is being thankful and praise the Lord when our circumstances do not intuitively evoke from us an attitude of thanksgiving or a heart of praise to the Lord. We struggle with the problems we face and become stressed with the challenges of life. When we get overwhelmed with life it robs us of a joyful disposition and we can become discouraged. For others, the stress of life can produce a negative attitude towards others, ourselves and even God. Clearly this is much more of a challenge for anyone who are facing things in life that tend to overwhelm us and rob us of life rather than give us something to celebrate.
This text is not speaking about thanksgiving or praising the Lord based on circumstances. In fact when you read the text these individuals were responsible, morning and evening, to thank and praise the Lord. It is hard to believe that every individual felt joyful and thankful every morning and this was a simple, delightful task every single morning and evening. Even if the morning was stress free, they had an entire day to live with all its challenges and they had to do it all over again in the evening. There was plenty of time for something to go wrong in their life which would provide an easy excuse for complaining not praising. Of course, this responsibility was shared by a larger number of people so that this was not the same people, every day, every week of the year. It would require a team of people to take their shift, so to speak, and that could last for days or several weeks.
Thanksgiving and praise is to be a personal investment not just a leadership responsibility. These Levites would serve the people of God but note that the text does not indicate here that all of these were just leading others. They seem to have a personal responsibility to thank the Lord and praise Him. They clearly had to offer sacrifices and offerings that would be for others but if there is any insight here they are to lead by example. If you have ever struggled through the difference between leading something and participating, there can be a huge difference between them. Any good leader can pull themselves together and go through the motions of doing what needs to be done in any given situation – it is their responsibility. But good leaders are not just doing it for others, they personally participate themselves. There is the responsibility of thanksgiving and the praise, and there is the relationship of thanksgiving and praise. Good leaders do both.
Herein lies an interesting truth. The Levites were supposed to start the day with thanksgiving and praise to the Lord, and they were to finish the day with thanksgiving and praise to the Lord. This was not just convenience but strategically intentional. Life can be chaotic and frustrating but nothing could be more powerful than if we began the day with praise and worship and finished the day with thanksgiving and praise. If we know that we had the responsibility at the end of the day to present ourselves before the Lord and thank and praise Him, we might pay more attention throughout the day to see God at work so that we would have greater clarity about why we were praising and thanking Him at the end of the day. We could avoid just making things up to fulfill the responsibility.
The nature of both praise and thanksgiving to the Lord is both a responsibility and a relationship. There are times that we must praise and thank Him even when we don’t feel like it. The responsibility of praising and worshipping Him is because He is worthy of it. This does not make us hypocrites or disingenuous; because life is great, we have seen God actively engaged in our life. Sometimes thanksgiving and praise is energizing because we experience the freedom of being of abiding in Him. Sometimes it seems like more of a responsibility and our thanksgiving and praise may feel artificial but it actually transform the discouraged heart to reflect the character of God. All this feel in the context of getting God’s rest (25). When we experience the blessing of God’s rest for our souls then praise and thanksgiving flows much easier. If we are out of alignment with God or we are fighting God these things are more than a challenge.
Learn to start your day and finish your day with thanksgiving and praise – if you do it as a responsibility then it can help change your heart. If it can be fueled by a heart at rest and we see how God has been active throughout the day, it becomes a pathway of renewal.