With a freewill offering I will sacrifice to you; I will give thanks to your name, O LORD, for it is good. Psalm 54:6
Spontaneity, that is the word of this psalm. This psalm begins spontaneously and, much the same way, the poet describes his desire to offer praise to his God spontaneously. It is with a freewill offering he offers praise. When I was a very young child I remember occasions where I would wake up to a small gift bag on my bedspread. When you are a child, you may not recall days like Valentine’s Day, those type of days are not necessarily the sort of thing a child thinks about or schedules. To me the small gift was a complete surprise and it made the gift ever-more effective in bringing me joy. I couldn’t wait to see my parents and express to them my appreciation. Our God is not a mere child; He is our immense benefactor. The gifts God gives are directly proportional to the immensity of such a God. We awake each morning with greater gifts from our Father of lights then we could truly ever appreciate. He, who freely gives, loves to receive freely from us the praise we express in knowing Him. As spontaneously as David, we ought to express to God all He is due.
It is important to note the distinction in this offering since it is described as a freewill offering. John Calvin explains the two types of sacrifices lifted up to God: one is for the atonement of sin, removal of guilt, and the offering of hope to be reconciled to God. That sacrifice has been completely fulfilled in our savior Jesus Christ. The other is what we find here in David’s jubilation. In this freewill offering the poet intends “to honor and reverence God. In it he acknowledges [God] to be the one who is the source of all good and thus gives him thanks.” Why is this an important distinction to make? Because David is now crying out in appreciation for who God is, not because of what God can do for him in his predicament. David is rejoicing in the splendor of God’s glory for no other reason than to be with God and share in God’s God-ness. Do you ever stop to simply enjoy Jesus Christ? This is a spontaneous offering of praise that may seemingly be unattached to the previous petitions for deliverance, but it is not so detached as to be unrelated… both describe who God is. Not only is He a deliverer, a Savior, but He is so magnificent, even when His redemptive qualities are not seen, that the only natural response is to stop and admire Him as one brought into His glory.
We must make notice of the reason why David is spontaneously praising God. Charles Spurgeon writes of this, “So certain is he of deliverance that he offers a vow by anticipation.” What an amazing way to praise God in our petitions to Him! Do we trust His faithfulness and His honesty? Surely God is our deliverer; Job praised Him as such even in his countless afflictions (Job 19:25; 23:10). The one who prays, “Save me!” ought only to pray in such a way as he believes the answer is sure. David believed he was gifted to “behold” the presence and power of Jesus Christ (look to the previous verses of this psalm). If this, too, can be our expectation, then we ought to anticipate the loyal love of our God! Do you anticipate your deliverance in the Name above all Names? Praise comes not with demands or expectations like so many television personalities describe, those name-it-and-claim-it public speakers would drive David bonkers. No, we trust who our God is and we anticipate His promises with patient joy, with diligent trust, and with preemptive praise.
Again, Spurgeon reminds us of how David uses this name. “The name he invoked in prayer he will now magnify in praise. None can praise the Lord so well as those who have tried and proved the preciousness of his name in seasons of adversity.” David specifically identifies his thanks as being owed to “your name” because it is this name he has trusted in all of his prayers and petitions. This name has been treasured and spoken to in countless moments of peace and affliction. The name is not only precious by its very nature, but has become personally precious to David for the surety and succor found in its mention. According to Walther Eichrodt, this specificity toward a name is “a designation of divine power, a hypostatic entity through which Yahweh guides the course of the world without leaving his transcendent glory.” Eichrodt examines Psalm 54, as well as the multitude of other places, where the name of God is the recipient of praise; he regards these as instances or attempts to safeguard the unapproachability of deity. But something different is at work here, David is approaching the majestic presence of God. He is freely walking into the sanctuary, before the Throne of Grace. Eichrodt is wrong in his some of his conclusions; we are called, not only to sing the psalms but, to personally experience all that is conveyed within them. We are called to approach the same deliverance David sings of here. We have been given the name above all names, that we may call to Him in praise for the anticipated deliverance from all sin, guilt, and affliction. This is a name worth remembering frequently, as Paul said to the Thessalonian church, “pray without ceasing!” David “resolves to have the Lord in perpetual remembrance” because doing so proves wise and necessary throughout all he is going through. It is not a mandate or command without warrant, it is for our own blessing and peace; this is proven when we unravel what it truly means to call upon the name of the Lord.
- With a freewill offering I will sacrifice to you;– Sovereign Lord, I praise you freely and joyfully, not because you owe me something, but because the debt I owed is gone. I sacrifice this moment and all my moments of life as praise to you because of who you are. I do so willingly because of the joy set before me at the mere mention of my Savior Jesus Christ.
- I will give thanks to your name, – I thank you that you have set me apart to worship you by gifting me the knowledge and promise of your name. Jesus, God Saves. Christ, my Messiah. Yahweh, I AM. I thank you for all the attributes that swarm throughout my mind as I think of what your name means.
- O LORD, for it is good.– I treasure calling upon you because you are good to me. As I offer this praise, show me the wonders of your goodness. By confirming I am in your presence, bless me to recognize my rest in you.
Render this time to God. This week, challenge yourself to rest in the name of the Lord. To call upon his name for peace, freely, sacrificially. Not because God needs it, but because you do. Let your Amen resound in how you live after your time of prayer.
Pastor Chris Osterbrock
All Scripture quotations taken from the ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®) copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.