Understanding Praise

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praise worshipPraise is from the Hebrew word “hallal.” The definition of hallal is “to praise, celebrate, glory, sing (praise), boast.” Strong’s Concordance includes in the definition “to rave.”  The word praise can be found well over 200 times in the Bible. When we include related words such as “worship, sing, shout, and bow down”, that number climbs to close to 500.

Worship is revelation of who God is or of what He’s done. Praise, then, is our reaction to what God has done for us and to who God is.

What do you learn about praise from these definitions? How does this redefine your concept of praise?
Praise is not empty. It comes from discovering who God is!

The Priority of Praise
Deuteronomy 8:10, "When you have eaten and are satisfied, praise the LORD your God for the good land he has given you."

2 Chron 20:18,19 “Jehoshaphat bowed with his face to the ground, and all the people of Judah and Jerusalem fell down in worship before the LORD. Then some Levites from the Kohathites and Korahites stood up and praised the LORD, the God of Israel, with very loud voice.”

Worship + Praise=Christian lifestyle. The deeper the worship, the greater the praise. The shallow the worship, the lesser the praise.

What do these verses teach about the endless ways God is praised? How is worship and praise interlinked? Can they be separated?

The fact that all of Judah bowed in worship shows that praise was not just for the “less educated” or “less cultured.” Rather, it was every believer’s most natural response to God’s power and grace.

Perfect Praise
Psalm 43:5 “Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.”

1 Thessalonians 5:18 “give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus.”

What does Psalm teach us about praise?  Is praise just an emotional experience?

Our very breathing in and out is an expression of our worship and a testimony to God’s faithfulness in our lives.
Praise is that upward focus toward God. You may not even consider some of the things you do to be worship because they flow so naturally from your heart and mind and are almost unconsciously given to God. However, you are almost sure to know when you’re praising him. That’s because praise is direct and deliberate adoration. Praise is a choice.

Requirements for Perfect Praise
Amos 5:23 “ Away with the noise of your songs! I will not listen to the music of your harps.”

Psalm 51:17 “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.”
Why was God not pleased with their praise? According to Psalm, what does God require?

FIRST, Perfect praise emerges from a worshipful and passionate heart. God hated to hear the songs of Israel in Amos 5 because their praise did not spring from love for him; their hearts were evil. They had committed “manifold transgressions and mighty sins”

SECOND: requirement of perfect praise, then, is that we approach him as little children. This doesn’t mean we should act childish. Rather, what God wants to see in us are certain childlike qualities. For instance, little children are humble (Matthew 18:4). Children are also trusting.

It is summed up in one all-important word: “Out of the mouth of babes and nursing infants, You…” (NKJV). The “You” Jesus was referring to is God himself. “You have perfected praise” (italics mine). We must depend on God to initiate and perfect our praise. It was God who put it in the hearts of those little ones to celebrate Jesus in the Temple. The Father was perfectly blessed by their praises because he set up that entire praise moment. There was no doubt their praise would be accepted by he who matters most—our audience of One.

Ways to Praise
"Praise, by its very nature, is outward, open, demonstrative, and obvious to anyone watching. " D. Moore

Matthew 26:30 "When they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives."

Acts 16:25 "About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them."

Ephesians 5:19 "Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord,"

How can be praise be evident to all? How is praise a lifestyle?

Vocal Praise
Psalm 100:2 says, “Worship the Lord with gladness. Come before him, singing with joy” (NLT).

David writes in Psalm 40:3, “He has given me a new song to sing, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see what he has done and be amazed. They will put their trust in the Lord” (NLT).

What did David mean when God put a new song in his heart?
1 Samuel 4:5-6. Some of the specific definitions for the word translated shout here are “alarm,” “signal,” “sound of tempest,” “battle-cry,” and “shout of joy.” That same word is used in Ezra 3:10-13.

Then they all gave a great shout of praise to the Lord. Their shouts and weeping made a noise that was heard far away.

The second—and by far the most common—vocal way to praise is singing. There’s something about singing that unites us no matter how diverse our backgrounds or cultures may be.

The Hebrew word for sing in Psalm 100:2 is renanah, which literally means “joyful voice,” as in joyful, triumphal singing.

When we sing God’s praise, we should be full of joy. How can any song about God or our salvation be depressing, even if we’re  having a bad day or week?

Turn to Isaiah 54:1-3, and read Isaiah’s exhortation to Israel. Even the “woman,” Jerusalem, who could not bear spiritual children at that time, should sing. And the word for singing here again includes the idea of crying out in joy. How can someone going through a trying time still manage to sing with excitement and inner joy? Notice that in the last part of verse 3, the Lord is giving barren Jerusalem words of hope. There’s the key: hope in God. That’s how we can get up week aft er week and sing and praise with consistent enthusiasm. We always have hope!

Audible Praise
Psalm 150:3-6 "Praise him with trumpet sound... lute and harp...tambourine and dance...strings and pipe...sounding cymbals...loud clashing cymbals! Let everything that has breath praise the LORD! Praise the LORD!"

Psalm 47:1: “Clap your hands, all you nations; shout to God with cries of joy.”

According to these verses, what other ways can we praise God?

Now we come to our final expression of praise: audible. There are two ways that do not involve our voices but can still be heard. The first is playing an instrument.

Read Psalm 150. Notice there are enough instruments for an orchestra! Brass, wind, stringed, and percussion instruments are included. As far back as Miriam, the people of Israel used instruments to praise God. Miriam took a tambourine in her hand as she danced and sang to the God who had just delivered Israel from Pharaoh’s army. (See Exodus 15:20-21.)

David realized it was the person playing the instrument—the one with breath— who was praising God. The instrument was merely a tool.

Another audible way to praise is clapping. Interestingly, there are twice as many references to nature clapping its hands in praise than there are to people. Our verse is Psalm 47:1: “Clap your hands, all you nations; shout to God with cries of joy.”

The two verses about nature clapping its hands are Isaiah 55:12: “The trees of the field will clap their hands,” and Psalm 98:8: “Let the rivers clap their hands.” If God is pleased with trees and floods clapping for joy, how much more would he love to hear us doing it?
“Some of us clap on the beat; some of us clap off the beat. The rest of us clap somewhere in the cracks!” Again, the important thing is to clap with joy in your heart to your awesome Creator.

Other Ways to Praise:
Praise God by silence and meditation.

Maskil: Description of a poem in song, which gives insight and causes the reader or listener to consider carefully the words which are being presented to them or it could be indicative of an artistic or skilful song which brings instruction Psalm 32 and 78.

Psalm 32: 1 “Of David. A maskil. Blessed is he whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered.”
Praise God is through dancing.

2 Samuel 6:16 “As the ark of the LORD was entering the City of David, Michal daughter of Saul watched from a window. And when she saw King David leaping and dancing before the LORD.”

Praise God by raising our hands.
Ex 17:8-12 has often been used as a reason for the use of hands in praise, teaching that extended arms can overcome the enemy.  "As long as Moses held up his hands, the Israelites were winning, but whenever he lowered his hands, the Amalekites were winning."

David prayed and asked God (Ps 141:2)‘Let my prayer be counted as incense before Thee, and the lifting up of my hands as an evening sacrifice’

Praise God by kneeling down.
Psalm 95:6 “Come, let us bow down in worship, let us kneel before the LORD our Maker;”


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