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Praise - An In Depth Study

The word praise can be traced back to Genesis 29:35 when Leah bore Jacob's son and said, "Now I will praise the Lord." The Hebrew translation of the word she uses, yadah means "to give thanks, laud or praise." From there we begin to see the use of the word halal for praise. Halah means to thank, rejoice, boast about someone. David told us many times throughout Psalm to praise or halah the Lord. "Let them praise (halal) the name of the Lord, for His name alone is exalted."(Ps. 148:13a) "Praise God in His sanctuary; Praise Him in His mighty firmament!" (Ps 150:1) In fact, the rest of Psalm 150 shows us that praising God is not just done by word, but also through instruments: "Praise Him for His mighty acts; Praise Him according to His excellent greatness! Praise Him with the sound of the trumpet; Praise Him with the lute and harp! Praise Him with the timbrel and dance; Praise Him with stringed instruments and flutes! Praise Him with loud cymbals; Praise Him with clashing cymbals! Let everything that has breath praise the Lord. Praise the Lord!"

A couple other words used quite frequently for the word praise are shabach meaning to commend, to adore, to glory in something in a loud tone and tehillah meaning a celebration or a lauding of someone praiseworthy. We see an example of shabach in Psalm 117 when David said to "Praise the Lord, all you Gentiles!". He is saying to shout your praise one to another "For His merciful kindness is great toward us, and the truth of the Lord endures forever." In Psalm 22:22 David said "I will declare Your name to My brethren; In the midst of the assembly I will praise (tehillah) You."

In Ezra 3:10-11 we read
"When the builders laid the foundation of the temple of the Lord, the priests stood in their apparel with trumpets, and the Levites, the sons of Asaph, with cymbals, to praise (halal) the Lord, according to the ordinance of David king of Israel. And they sang responsively, praising and giving thanks to the Lord: For He is good, For His mercy endures forever toward Israel. Then the people shouted with a great shout, when they praised the Lord, because the foundation of the house of the Lord was laid."

In the New Testament we see examples of the Greek word epainos such as when Jesus healed the blind man in Luke 18 and in verse 43 "all the people, when they saw it, gave praise (epainos) to God." They applauded God for this mighty act. In Luke 19:37 as Jesus was ascending from the Mount of Olives, "the whole multitude of the disciples began to rejoice and praise (epainos) God with a loud voice for all the mighty works they had seen." In other words, they were looking at one another and proclaiming what an awesome God for He did marvelous things.

We can approach praise from 2 different angles. On one hand when we praise God we are saying that we are grateful for the mighty things He has done on our behalf. We are looking up at Him and expressing how thankful we are. Another aspect of praise that is sometimes overlooked is that praise is also intended for us. It encourages us and strengthens our faith. As in the case of Psalm 150, we are instructed to boast about God one to another in words, by shouthing, in song and through the instruments. We are telling with excitement to all who can hear how thankful we are to God and how awesome He is.

Praise is horizontal - going from one person to another. It speaks of the works of God: what He has done, what He is doing , and what He will do - from a basis of fellowship with Him and with each other.

Let's take a look at some examples of songs we sing today that would fall in the category of Praise:

“Forever God is faithful. Forever God is strong. Forever God is with us. Forever and ever.”
By: Chris Tomlin

“Our God is an awesome God, He reigns from Heaven above with wisdom, power and love. Our God is an awesome God.”
Awesome God
By: Rich Mullins

“Did you feel the mountains tremble. Did you hear the oceans roar. When the people rose to sing of Jesus Christ the risen One.”
Did You Hear The Mountains Tremble
By: Martin Smith

Through praise we do 3 things.

  1. We tell each other what an awesome God we have.
  2. We reaffirm to each other his faithfulness.
  3. We rejoice in the knowledge that He is our King and our Savior.
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