The Ways of Praise

Sometimes we don't understand what worship is. Church services are frequently referred to as worship services. We also think of the elements in the service as worship. But, worship is not the church service. It is not the songs. Worship is an expression of love. It is adoration. It is the act of expending our precious resources on something we value. God desires to be the object of our worship. He wants to be the person we lavish our resources on. Of course, in life we pay attention to many things. We are passionate about hobbies and dreams and other people. It’s ok to have other things we value in our lives, but we just do not want to love them more than God. We are to have no other god before us.

In Luke 19, we learn about the Sunday before Jesus was resurrected. This period in Jesus’ life was known as His popularity. The people welcomed Jesus with a parade as He rode on a donkey into Jerusalem. They used palm branches for the celebration, laying them on the ground in front of Him and waving them, shouting and singing as He rode by. This was offensive to the religious leaders and they asked Jesus to stop the crowd from doing it. Jesus’ response was that if the people kept quiet, the rocks would cry out in praise. God doesn't have a set style of worship but He will be praised. As we look at the Psalms, we find praise and worship explained so we can understand. To draw a picture of worship, Psalms uses seven Hebrew words that have been translated as “praise” in the English language. Therefore, to understand the responses and reactions of worship, we have to go back to the Hebrew.

Halal means to rave, to boast, to celebrate, clamorously foolish behavior. Thinking of a football or baseball game, should we shout louder for a team or player who doesn't know anything about us more than we do for our Creator who knows us intimately and cares for us boundlessly? God is looking for people who are excited to be in His presence. Ps 35:18 is a verse that uses halal translated as praise. Resisting this kind of praise does nothing but protect your ego. Give God the praise He's asking for. You don’t have to do anything radical. Just take a step closer from where you are now.

1. Yadah is a form of praise meaning to acknowledge God in public with an extended hand. Think of when they call your name at a restaurant. You raise your hand to acknowledge that you are at the restaurant and ready for your table. Acknowledge God in public. There’s no need to ask why. Just do it. God said it, so do it His way. You like to be acknowledged. God does too. Ps 138:1 says to give thanks with all your heart.

2. Barak means to bless by kneeling or bowing. In Ps 103:1, “Let all that I am praise the Lord.”

3. Zamar is making music to God with stringed instruments. I personally think this means to pluck those bad boys really hard. God’s cool and Ps 92:1 declares it good to praise God this way.

4. Shabach is to address God in a loud tone or to shout. You do it at your kid’s soccer game. Ps 63:3 says to shabach because God’s love is better than life. It’s better than golf, better than my Harley, better than blue skies. Let your lips shout because God’s love is better than anything else in life.

5. Todah praise means to lift hands in adoration. It forgoes your pride. It means to lay yourself down. In Ps 50:23 it is called the sacrifice of praise.

6. Tehillah is exuberant singing (sing regardless of how you think you sound!). Ps 34:1 declares that praise is always on my lips. It’s an all in, completely surrendered kind of praise.

Worship is love expressed. It's not worship if it's not love and it's not love if it is not expressed. We express love the way that blesses the object of our love. Ps 150 sums up praise and worship beautifully. “Praise the Lord! Praise God in His sanctuary; praise Him in the heavens of His power! Praise Him for His mighty acts; praise Him according to the abundance of His greatness! Praise Him with trumpet sound; praise Him with lute and harp! Praise Him with tambourine and [single or group] dance; praise Him with stringed and wind instruments or flutes!”
Where do you start? Jesus’ answer was to love the Lord. Love the Lord the way He said He wants to be loved. As we love God first, everything else will be added. Fall in love with God. That's the secret to Christianity. Fall in love with the God of the Bible. Go all in and make Him the object of your worship.

worship, praise, hebrew, zamar, shabach, todah, halal, tehila

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