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What Does it Mean to ‘Come into His Presence with Thanksgiving’?

During the season of Thanksgiving, many people turn their thoughts to making gratitude lists and giving thanks. Demonstrating thankfulness over a meal of turkey, mashed potatoes, and pumpkin pie is one way to praise God.

However, when we stop and think, how many of us regularly give thanks to God when we come before Him in prayer and worship?

So often, we are too preoccupied with our worries and concerns to stop and express gratitude to our Lord and Savior. In our prayers and worship, the attitude of our hearts can easily slip into one of complaint or anxiety.

Psalm 95 gives us a helpful reminder about the worthiness and awesomeness of God, inviting us to thank and praise Him.

Passage Background and Context

Psalm 95 does not specifically mention the author’s name. However, the author of Hebrews connected David to this psalm (see Psalm 95:8 and Hebrews 3:7-12; 4:7).

In addition, David is well-known as a writer of numerous psalms since he loved to worship God through music (2 Samuel 22:1). Thus, the internal evidence of Scripture supports David’s authorship of this Psalm.

In the context of worship at the Tabernacle, David encouraged the Israelites to joyfully worship the Lord. As he wrote in this song, “Come, let us sing for joy to the Lord; let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation. Let us come before him with thanksgiving and extol him with music and song” (Psalm 95:1-2).

The reason for David’s joy and gratitude is that he knows how great God is as the King of all (Psalm 95:3). There is no other god besides Him who crafted the earth, mountains, and sea (Psalm 95:4-5).

This song encourages us to worship our magnificent and awesome King. David invites the Israelites to “bow down in worship, let us kneel before the Lord our Maker; for he is our God, and we are the people of his pasture, the flock under his care" (Psalm 95:6-7).

The Psalm ends with a warning against unbelief. The Israelites had disobeyed God at Meribah, also known as Massah. When the Israelites grumbled about the lack of water in the wilderness, God told Moses and Aaron to speak to the rock to bring forth water (Numbers 20:5-8).

In this way, God would be shown as holy among the Israelites (Numbers 20:13). However, in disobedience, Moses and Aaron struck the rock twice instead of speaking to it (Numbers 20:10-11).

Psalm 95 repeats this warning to the Israelites, cautioning them against unbelief and reminding them of the cost of disobedience.

Moses and Aaron were not allowed to enter the Promised Land because they disobeyed God (Numbers 20:12). Thus, David is emphasizing the need to trust in the Lord and obey His Word.

Entering God’s Presence with Thanksgiving

Some versions of the Bible render the phrase “come into his presence” differently. For instance, the NIV says, “Let us come before him with thanksgiving” (Psalm 95:2).

Other versions read, “Let us enter His presence with thanksgiving” (BSB), or “Let’s come before His presence with a song of thanksgiving” (NASB).

In one sense, David was encouraging the Israelites to enter God’s presence at the Tabernacle, where the Lord’s presence dwelt physically before the building of the Temple (Exodus 40:34).

The Israelites would have associated entering God’s presence with going into the Tabernacle, where the Ark of the Covenant was held and symbolized the Lord’s dwelling place among His people (2 Samuel 6:17, 21).

However, the Hebrew word for “presence” can also mean “face,” according to the Englishman’s Concordance. Believers do not have to go to a specific location or building to be in the presence of God or seek His face.

Jesus tells us that true worshipers will “worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth” (John 4:23-24). We can enter his presence anywhere and anytime.

Although David would have entered the Tabernacle to worship the Lord, his emphasis is on having a proper attitude when entering God’s presence. To come before the Lord, we must prepare our hearts to encounter the only living God and Maker of all (Psalm 95:2-3).

He deserves our gratitude and praise, not half-hearted worship. Thus, when we talk to God and worship Him, we need to examine our attitude and heart to ensure we approach Him with thanksgiving and praise.

Incorporating Gratitude into Our Prayers and Worship

Understanding the biblical teaching of approaching God with a worshipful attitude is significant and impacts our everyday life.

When we read Psalm 95 and the exhortation to praise our magnificent King and Lord, our response should be one of awe, praise, and gratitude.

Heeding the warning from David about unbelief and disobedience, believers can act in obedience by worshiping the Lord with the right attitude.

To incorporate thankfulness into our everyday relationship with the Lord, we should consider our hearts. Are we regularly thinking about God’s magnificence and worthiness?

Do we consider His great love in saving us? Even if life is challenging, we can always give thanks to God for who He is and what He has done in our life.

A practical way to approach God with thanksgiving is to tell Him how much we are thankful for what He has done in loving us (1 John 3:16). Our prayer can match 1 Corinthians 15:57, which says, “But thank God! He gives us victory over sin and death through our Lord Jesus Christ” (NLT).

We do not deserve His love, but Christ died to give us forgiveness of sins and eternal life (Romans 5:8). Before asking for things or telling God about our worries, we can spend time in prayer thanking Him.

In addition to entering His presence in prayer, we can also cultivate an attitude of thanksgiving when we worship the Lord. People commonly think of going to church and singing as the only ways to worship Him. However, we can take time to worship God throughout our day and in anything we do.

Reading from the Book of Psalms or another passage of Scripture can help reorient our minds and hearts to come before God with a thankful attitude.

In addition to reading Scripture, we can pause throughout our day and spend a few moments meditating on God’s glory and love, expressing our gratitude for His grace.

Of course, we can also turn on a Christian worship song or hymn to worship and sing praises to our Lord and Savior (Ephesians 5:19).

Why Does This Matter?    

The Lord is the awesome and glorious God of the universe. He created all things and is the only true God and King. To come before the living God to worship Him, we need to prepare our hearts, minds, and attitudes.

Psalm 95 reminds us of the importance of entering God’s presence with thanksgiving and praise. Instead of receiving casual or half-hearted worship, He deserves our wholehearted devotion and gratitude.

Every believer can develop a heart of thanksgiving and praise when they enter God’s presence by regularly giving thanks to the Lord and meditating on His character. A correct heart posture and attitude enable us to worship the Lord as He deserves.

For further reading:

Why Will We Enter His Gates with Thanksgiving?

Can We Really Give Thanks in All Things Like 1 Thessalonians 5:18 Says?

What Does it Mean That God Inhabits the Praise of His People?

Photo Credit: ©iStock/Getty Images Plus/Drazen Zigic


Sophia Bricker is a freelance writer who enjoys researching and writing articles on biblical and theological topics. In addition to contributing articles about biblical questions as a contract writer, she has also written for Unlocked devotional. She holds a BA in Ministry, a MA in Ministry, and is currently pursuing an MFA in Creative Writing to develop her writing craft. As someone who is passionate about the Bible and faith in Jesus, her mission is to help others learn about Christ and glorify Him in her writing. When she isn’t busy studying or writing, Sophia enjoys spending time with family, reading, drawing, and gardening. 

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