Wednesday, November 7, 2007


Praise-- (from The American Heritage Dictionary) 1. Expression of approval, commendation, or admiration. 2. The extolling or exaltation of a deity, ruler, or hero.

Approval is "to consider right or good; think or speak favorably of."
Commend is "to represent as worthy, qualified, or desirable."
Admiration is "a feeling of keen approbation." (an expression of warm approval)

Where the word comes from:

Middle English: preise, from preisen, to praise, from Old French preisier, from Late Latin pretiâre, to prize, from Latin pretium, price.

So in "praise" we are attempting to "price" God and we are "prizing" Him.

Praise is also a very well defined term in scripture. Basically there are seven Hebrew words translated as “praise” in the King James Bible and lay a foundation for discovering what this concept entails. Briefly defined:

Barak--to bless (kneel is the root) the New Testament equivalent is "eulogeo" which means "to speak well of"

Halal--to boast about, (in a clamorously foolish manner) --yadah, towdah and shabach combined

Yadah --lit. "hands to God" (hands representing our lives...all that we are, have, and do) offering ourselves to God

Towdah--also "hands to God," but the idea here is "with thanksgiving," acknowledging Him as THE Source of all

Zamar --with song, lit. to pluck a stringed instrument; with music. This is where singing praises comes in.

Shabach--LOUDLY! The idea here is "unashamedly" and "boldly" without reservation.

Tehillah--is to "sing halal" (Halal + Zamar)

And to further narrow it down...
The first two words in the list, Barak and Halal, are the precise ideas of what is meant by praise, i.e. 'to bless' God and 'to boast' about God...He being "the object and subject of our praise," His attributes and actions being the primary source material...Praise is to be about Him! Everything else is simply an accompanying action or attitude we take while we praise Him. The other 5 words above are actually “accompaniers” of praise...with our lives, in gratitude, with singing, with music and loudly.

Praise ye the LORD. Praise God in his sanctuary: praise him in the firmament of his power. {2} Praise him for his mighty acts: praise him according to his excellent greatness. {3} Praise him with the sound of the trumpet: praise him with the psaltery and harp. {4} Praise him with the timbrel and dance: praise him with stringed instruments and organs. {5} Praise him upon the loud cymbals: praise him upon the high sounding cymbals. {6} Let every thing that hath breath praise the LORD. Praise ye the LORD. --(Psa 150 KJV)

Every word for "praise" in the preceding Psalm is the Hebrew word "halal." And the Psalm describes how we should boast about Him or what should/may accompany our boasting about God. Thus, much of what we call "praise" in our corporate gathering is not necessarily "praise to God."

Also note that simply playing any of the instruments listed in the above passage or dancing or singing or merely lifting our hands does not constitute praise in and of itself, (unbelievers do those things at parties, concerts & sporting events all the time,) unless it is accompanying our boasting about God--"halal." Even repeating the phrases, "Praise the Lord" or "Hallelujah" is not praise per se, but rather they are exhortations or commands to do so.

Telling God of our intention to praise Him, or how we will praise Him, is NOT the same as praising Him. What ends up happening many times is we praise our ability to praise, or we are in essence, "praising praise."

Now, where do we get our source material\words for praise? From Scripture and Scriptural ideas, of course. But, and this may surprise you, not all of Scripture is meant to be subject matter for "praise to God". There are even a number of the Psalms that do not qualify for "praise to God." And some Psalms may be intended for the privacy of the individual prayer closet. Some are not intended as "Praise to God", unless they are adapted for that purpose. In fact, many of the Psalms are simply instructions on "how to" praise the Lord, or exhortations/commands to praise the Lord. And some are imprecatory prayers, ie. curses upon enemies.

So then, this is what many have done with praise... they’ve read the instructions on how to praise... and they even know how to praise, but they are content with just simply rehearsing, repeating, singing and even raving about the commands, exhortations and instructions to praise, but then never really get around to actually praising Him. So they end up rejoicing in their knowledge about praise or rejoicing about their ability to praise, and never actually do the thing they claim or intend to do...boast about and bless God. This is the difference between "worshiping worship" and "worshiping God."

“If often surprises people to learn that God is not always pleased when people worship him. We might be inclined to think that God should be thankful for any attention we give him out of our busy schedules. But worship is not about God’s thanking us; it is about our thanking him. And God is not pleased with just anything we choose to do in his presence. The mighty Lord of heaven and earth demands that our worship- indeed, all of life- be governed by his word.” ~ John Frame

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