When you love someone, it’s hard to keep quiet about it. In his Reflections on the Psalms, C. S. Lewis wrote, “I think we delight to praise what we enjoy because the praise not merely expresses but completes the enjoyment. It is not out of compliment that lovers keep on telling one another how beautiful they are; the delight is incomplete till it is expressed.” This is an apt description of the attitude at the heart of worship and the exhortation from today’s key verse.
The book of Hebrews was written to Christians struggling to hold on to faith. The audience seems to have had a deep knowledge of the Old Testament so they were probably Jews and Gentile converts to Judaism who had come to believe that Jesus was the Messiah. It seems that persecution had demoralized many in the group and they were considering a return to the seeming safety of their previous convictions.
We don’t know who wrote Hebrews, but “the preacher” had a consistent and insistent sermon: Jesus is God’s final word. One cannot dismiss or exclude Christ and have a right relationship with God. The preacher switched back and forth between words of warning and words of assurance, presenting the fear of God and the grace of God as important spiritual realities that both need to be acknowledged.
Today’s passage comes near the end of the preacher’s sermon and praise is described as a kind of sacrifice that—along with kindness—was pleasing to God. Praise is called “the fruit of lips that openly profess his name,” and we are told to lift it up to God constantly. Those who love God will have a posture of the heart that offers a sacrifice of praise that honors God. Our worship is a fulfillment of the pleasure we take in the character and provision of God.