What if I have no goat?

Psalm 107:22 Let them present thank offerings, and loudly proclaim what he has done!

What can be done to thank the Lord when he has heard our distress? As a 21st century believer I have no outlet for my joy, no work I can do to show my deepest gratitude. In former days a thank offering could be brought to the Lord, a sacrifice not demanded by the law but given when a worshiper felt overwhelming awe at the work of God. I have no goat or cattle, I have no cakes made without yeast and there is no altar or priest to officiate on my behalf. All these things were a shadow of things to come, but now, at the fulfillment of the age, I am at a loss. How can I say "Thank you"?

In the psalms when people were in distress they made vows to the Lord. "If you get me out of this I will... for you." It sounds a little shallow to our ears. After all, what can we offer to God? As I have studied these psalms I have been struck by how often the vow is a simple, "I will praise you."

Psalm 22:21-22 Rescue me from the mouth of the lions; save me from the horns of the wild oxen. I will declare your name to my brothers; in the congregation I will praise you.

These vows are not haphazardly placed in the psalms, nor are they hollow promises made in distress. When a psalmist says he will praise the Lord he means he will tell others how the Lord has rescued him in this specific situation. The praise is not general, but specific. In psalm 34 David praises the Lord for his deliverance from Abimelech. He proclaims the Lord's might in the situation and then encourages his hearers to put their trust in God.

Psalm 34:4,5 I sought the LORD, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears. Those who look to him are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame.

So I, in my life in the year 2007, having no goat and no vow (for fear I might forget to fulfill it), can still declare the mighty works of the Lord witnessed in these days.

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Surly the Lord is a Father to the orphan
A helper to the helpless and a deliverer to those in bondage
His arm is not too short to save
not to short to reach his child in Guatemala

I cried out to the Lord against injustice
I prayed to the Lord and he was not deaf
We cried out to the Lord from our despair
For our arms could not reach her

She was abducted in the night by armed men
A child, a babe under the care of your covenant
Stolen with her sisters from caring hands
Stolen to be sold or discarded

Oh the wickedness of men, what perversity and scorn
Men who have neither heard your law nor know your Son
Do not destroy them in your anger
In your justice may mercy follow close behind

I sought you that day
We mourned in the night
When we awoke our hearts were heavy with tears

I sought you that day
We mourned in the night
When we awoke the sun shone bright

You took captive captivity to release us from fear
You were sold as a slave to release us from bondage
You walked among us and carried our pain
You are not ashamed to call us brothers
Jesus, your wonders never cease
And when we awoke the Son shone bright

The news of her deliverance was not slow in coming
She was returned with two of her sisters
Even three of her sisters felt the overflow of grace
Poured out on your beloved child

Let all the miserable and broken hear this
The Lord lives

Let all the wicked and mockers hear this
The Lord lives

Let all the fatherless hear this
The Lord is by your side

Let all who love his Son hear this
Our Lord lives, our Lord hears

The Lord is mighty to save.

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Two stories were written about this incident in the local news paper. Article 1 Article 2
In addition, updates have been made on the Western Seminary Alumni page, for the dates March 16th, and two posts on March 14th.

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  • Amira

    From reluctant evangelist to out right hymns/ psalms of praise.
    Portland is changing you, Adam.
    Joking aside I join with the rest in Praising God for the safe return of these innocent children.
    Amira