by Josh Meyer
1 Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever…Psalm 107:1, 8-9, NIV
8 Let [us] give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for humankind,
9 for he satisfies the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things.
The word הֹד֣ו (hō-ḏū) in the Hebrew Bible is fascinating. It means “to give thanks,” but it also means “to shoot.” We read in the Psalms: “I will give thanks to the Lord because of his righteousness; I will sing the praises of the name of the Lord Most High” (Ps. 7:17). But the same word, הֹד֣ו, is also used in Jeremiah 50:14: “Take up your positions around Babylon, all you who draw the bow. Shoot at her! Spare no arrows…”
To shoot or to sing…
Both meanings of הֹד֣ו come from the same root word for “hand.” You can use your hands to draw a bow, or you can use your hands to lift in gratitude.
Built into this one Hebrew word is the tension we all feel in life. Sometimes it’s easy to give thanks: life is going well, circumstances are manageable, we feel God’s blessings. Other times it’s much more difficult: we are tempted instead to “shoot” arrows – arrows of anger, cynicism, sarcasm, bitterness, judgement.
To shoot or to sing…
Tradition tells us that the psalm 107 was written by David after being wrongfully accused of conspiracy against King Saul, which would surely result in David’s death. He pleads to God: “…save and deliver me from all who pursue me, or they will tear me apart like a lion and rip me to pieces with no one to rescue me.” (7:1). It was a dark and potentially deadly situation for David. He had every right to spare no arrows.
Yet, in the final verse he chooses to lift his hands in song. “I will give thanks to the Lord because of his righteousness and will sing praise to the name of the Lord Most High.” In reflecting on this psalm, Charles Spurgeon writes: “What a blessing would it be if we could turn even the most disastrous event into a theme for song, and so turn the tables upon our great enemy.”
And that’s just it, isn’t it? Giving thanks is actually the more effective “weapon.” It’s easier to reach for an arrow than a song, but it always misses the mark. The bow never satisfies.
But we turn the tables when we choose to give thanks to Jesus, the One who on the cross took every arrow humanity could shoot, then rose from the dead to begin the restoration of all things – from death to life; from darkness to light; from shooting to singing…
This week, may you turn the tables by giving thanks.
May you choose singing over shooting, giving thanks over slinging arrows.
May you put down your bow and lift up your hands.
Josh Meyer is a Leadership Minister for Mosaic Conference.