What is Praise? What are the elements involved? Some of the Old Testament words that are translated “praise” are Hallal, Hilluvi, Tehillah, Shabach, Zamar etc. Hallal is the most frequently used word in the Old Testament for praise. It occurs about 88 times. The primary meaning is “to produce a clear sound”. Its further meaning is “to boast, to celebrate, to rave about, to glorify in….”
True praise therefore, should have a clear and distinct sound. There should be no confusion as to what is intended. It must be clearly recognizable for what it is. It is a note of celebration, a boasting in the Lord. It is a “celebration of thanksgiving for the completion of harvest”. Such praise is to be expressed in merriment. The harvest is safely gathered in. singing and dancing are the order of the day. The rejoicing is an expression of thanksgiving and praise. Songs and hymns should be clearly and unmistakably songs of praise to God. We are to boast about Him, in both the words and the music..
Praise does not always have to be noisy. We do not always have to shout. But there are occasions when a triumphant shout is the only fitting manner in which to praise our God. “….shout unto God with the voice of triumph” (Psalm 47:1). When such occasion arise, do not be half-hearted, let your shout of praise be a resounding one. It is also wonderful to play unto the Lord on all kinds of instruments, making a glorious anthem of praise unto God. It also conveys the thought of “extending forth the hands,” giving thanks with the hands extended towards God in adoration and thanksgiving.
Praise demands active physical participation. It cannot always be silent and inactive. Praise is something we do. Praising God is not an emotional exercise, it is a spiritual activity, but it does necessitate emotional release. Biblical expressions of praise require a positive, controlled emotional release. God gave us our emotions and they are meant to glorify Him. David says we are to “Bless the Lord with all that is within us”(Psalm 103:1). That includes our emotions. Human emotion must have expression. Praising God is the healthiest way to release your emotions. It is the God-ordained way!
Praise is not primarily for the enjoyment of men, although we do enjoy expressing it. It is, and always should be an expression of reverence to God. In releasing our emotions in praise, which is both biblical and legitimate, we should carefully avoid going to excess and merely making a show in the flesh. True reverence is always an essential ingredient of praise.
Why should we praise God? “Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised….” (Ps 48:1, 96:4). “Praise ye the Lord…..” (Ps 149:1). Praise Him because He is the Lord. He is the ultimate authority, the highest power, the King of Kings and Lord above all lords. He was before all things and is the maker of all things. He was before all things and is the maker of all things and is greater than all things.
“Bless the Lord for all his benefits”(Ps 103:2). “Praise Him for his goodness” (Ps 107:21). “Praise Him for his mighty acts” (Ps 150:2). “The Lord is worthy of Praise” (2 Sam 22:4, Ps 18:3). Praise magnifies God (Ps 69:30). God dwells in the praises of his people”(Ps 22:3).The Holy One of Israel inhabits our praises! If our heart is filled with praise, it is also fill with God, for He inhabits our praises. We can surround ourselves with God’s presence by cultivating the attitude of praise. We shall then be more conscious of His presence than we are of problems, difficulties and adverse circumstances.
Praise generates Power. In Psalm 84:4-7, David says,” Blessed are they that dwell in thy house: they will still be praising thee…blessed is the man whose strength is in thee…they go from strength to strength…” The man who praises God has the Lord for his strength. He also knows the joy of the Lord through praise, and the joy of the Lord is his strength (Neh 8:10). The praising soul delights himself in the (Ps 37:4).WE praise Him, and delight in Him, and then He gives us the desires of our heart. God puts holy desires in the praising heart and so we have the right desires. The “praisers” priorities are in order, and God then delights to grant those desires.
Who should praise the Lord? All men everywhere (Ps 145>21; 148>11-13). The People of God (Ps 79:13).Those who fear the Lord (Ps 22:23). Those who know and believe the truth (1 Tim 4:3). The servants of God (Ps 113:1; 134:1; 135:1).
When are we to praise the Lord? From morning till night. “From the rising of the sun to the going down of the same the Lord’s name is to be praised” (Ps 113:3). All day long “My mouth shall be filled with your honor and your praise all day” (Ps 71:8). As long as we live: “While I live I will praise the Lord” (Ps146:2) At all times “….his praise shall continually be in my mouth” (Ps 34:1). In times of depression “why art thou cast down, O my soul? And why art thou disquieted within me? Hope thou in God. For I shall yet praise Him, who is the health of my countenance and my God” (Ps 42:11).
Where are we to praise the Lord? In the congregation. “In the midst of the great congregation will I praise thee” (Ps22 :22; 149:1). Among the people “I will praise thee O Lord among the people (Ps 57:9). Among the Nations “I will praise thee, O Lord, among the people and I will sing praises unto thee among the nations (Ps 108:3).
Hindrances to Praise: .Sin is the first hindrance to praise. Condemnation, Worldliness, Wrong concept of God, Pride, Fear of man and Satanic suppression are some of the hindrances to praise.
Expressions of Praise: Praising God with the voice. “I went with them to the house of God, with the voice of joy and praise…” (Ps 42:4). : “My lips shall greatly rejoice….My tongue also shall talk of thy righteousness all the day long…..”(Ps 71:23-24). Begin each day by speaking forth praise to God. Tell him how great and wonderful He is, how you love him and experience Him. Thank Him for a new day, and begin to praise Him for His presence with you throughout that day. Use your voice, your lips, your mouth. Make them instruments of praise. “I will bless the Lord at all times; his praise shall continually be on my mouth” (Ps 34:1).
Raising the hands: Raised hands are a universal sign of surrender. By raising our hands high before the Lord, we acknowledge that we are completely surrendered to Him. We tell Him again that we are unconditionally His. ”Lift up your hands in the sanctuary, and bless the Lord” (Ps 134:2). It is also a sign of deep longing after God.
Clapping our hands: We are commanded to clap our hands unto God. “O clap your hands, all ye people….” (Ps 47:1). It is a sign of gladness, rejoicing and approval.
Dancing: Dancing has always played an integral part in the worship of the children of Israel. “Let them praise his name in the dance…. ”(Ps 149:3). “Praise him with the timbrel and dance….”(Ps 150:4). Examples of dancing in praise we in Exo 15:20; Judg 11:34; 2Sam 6:14; 2Sam 6:16; 1Chr 15:29;Jer 31:13; Acts 3:8; Acts 14:10.