Praise: A Matter of Life and Breath
I am not anti-Semitic but I am anti-semantic☺
It’s vital for those of us who follow Christ to define biblical terms. This is important both in communicating with those who have limited Bible knowledge as well as with our Christian friends. God uses words with an intended meaning to communicate to our hearts and minds!
From my perspective there is a misunderstanding among many believers related to the meaning of two words: worship and praise.
For example, if you ask the typical church attender which portion of the Sunday service is devoted to worship, what would they tell you? The singing part, right?
(Refer back to my last teaching on Worship for a biblical explanation.)
Praise is different than worship. When we praise God in church we can worship, (physically bow and then rise up to obey Christ), but normally we sing songs and sit down or move on to the next portion of the service. Praise is very definitive in the Word of God.
The word translated praise is Yadah in the Hebrew. There are many places it is found in Scripture and with each use it carries the same meaning.
“A Psalm of David. I will praise You with my whole heart; Before the gods I will sing praises to You.” – Psalm 138:1
Yadah (praise) means to declare vocally, publicly, and sincerely the attributes of the true God in song or conversation. It always has a visible demonstrative expression whether that is lifting one’s hands, singing out loud of His attributes, speaking His Names, verbalizing His will and ways or elevating His worth. With true praise, the expression of our lips comes from a sincere internal motivation (our heart) to elevate and extol enthusiastically the attributes of Yahweh God.
Praise is never silent!
One cannot accurately “praise” God inwardly only. There is always an outward expression. This truth tells me that God wants us actively involved in the process! Here are some reasons I think praise is meant to be out loud:
- Out loud declarations about God’s character cement the truths spoken or sung into our hearts.
- Out loud expressions about God allows others to actually see and understand the object of our praise. Praise is meant to be public!
- Out loud declarations of God’s worth and ways unite us when we come together.
- Out loud praise is like a public announcement that draws attention to the characteristics of the LORD Jesus Christ.
The most pronounced expression of praise in the scriptures, and in our churches, is singing!
“The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and I am helped: therefore my heart greatly rejoices; and with my song will I praise him.” – Psalm 28:7 KJV
There are a variety of expressions which demonstrate praise, all of which should be accompanied with evident joy and delight.
“For thus says the LORD, ‘Sing aloud with gladness for Jacob, and shout among the chief of the nations; proclaim, give praise and say, ‘O LORD, save Your people, the remnant of Israel’” – Jer. 31:7 NASB
In many organized churches when we sing corporately it is praise. That is why when we sing together we ought to call it our “praise” portion of the service. There is a powerful expression when people lead out in song with or without musical instruments and the body of Christ follows. The place of a cappella (without musical accompaniment) is only one beautiful way to exalt His attributes and allow people to hear each other’s voices lifting up the name of Jesus Christ.
Also, songs that are rooted in truth are central in the praise of God’s people.
“I will worship toward Your holy temple, and praise Your name for Your loving-kindness and Your truth; for You have magnified Your word above all Your name” – Psalm 138:2
Without attempted obedience the truths of Scripture are nothing but hear-say.
I am encouraging you to bring an added dimension of praise into your Christian behaviors. Here are a few suggestions.
• To begin, in your own life make out-loud statements declaring attributes of our God. Here is an example:
• While standing with your arms out stretched say out loud the following: “You OH LORD are holy, just, kind, faithful, jealous and pure! I am giving you all the recognition for being the Creator and sustainer of the earth!”
• With your eyes open looking to heaven declare out loud more characteristics of Him: “Only You El- Shaddai (God almighty) are superior to all other gods, You alone whole the power to give life and to bring death.”
• And again, “El Elyon (God Most High) You are the ultimate controller of the affairs of nations, kings, authorities, and people. You are not silent for You are evident in your created order.”
Now take it up a notch and gather with your family even around the kitchen table or while driving in the car and begin to praise the Lord God aloud!
I love what takes place when God’s people praise Him:
“But You are holy, Enthroned in the praises of Israel.”