As Christians, we praise God.
We do so in spoken word, in song, and in other worship.
Do we understand what it means to praise God?
Do we know what we are doing when we offer the sacrifice of praise?
In the Old Testament, there are different Hebrew words for praise. These different words indicate different nuances of meaning. There are at least five concepts behind the words for praise: thanksgiving, joy or rejoicing, adoration or worship, blessing and boasting. When we praise God, we do these things.
- When we praise God we give thanks. The Bible is filled with the language of gratitude. Psalm 106:1 reads Praise ye the LORD. O give thanks unto the LORD; for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever. Hebrews 13:15 also teaches the relationship between thanksgiving and praise: By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name. Undoubtedly, praise involves thanksgiving.
- Praise also involves joy. Psalm 98:4 declares, Make a joyful noise unto the LORD, all the earth: make a loud noise, and rejoice, and sing praise. In Luke 19:37 we see the two concepts used to extol Jesus in the triumphal entry. The text says, …the whole multitude of the disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works that they had seen. When the Christian appropriately praises the Lord, he does so with joy in his heart.
- The concept of praise means we also love. We can see the love for God of Paul and Silas as they sang praises in the jail at Philippi (Acts 16:25). The man at the gate called Beautiful no doubt was filled with love for God when he was healed. The text says, And he leaping up stood, and walked, and entered with them into the temple, walking, and leaping, and praising God (Acts 3:8). Love and praise go hand in hand.
- Blessing is also involved in praise. Psalm 145 is a song of praise. It declares: Every day will I bless thee; and I will praise thy name for ever and ever (145:2). All thy works shall praise thee, O LORD; and thy saints shall bless thee (145:10). My mouth shall speak the praise of the LORD: and let all flesh bless his holy name for ever and ever (145:21). When we praise God, we bless God as well.
- When we praise God we boast of His greatness. The Psalmist writes, In God we boast all the day long, and praise thy name for ever (Psalm 44:8). Consider Paul’s words in Romans 11:33 O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out! Here is a praise of exclamation that boasts of God’s greatness. God is truly worthy of our boasting. Jeremiah wrote by inspiration, But let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth me, that I am the LORD which exercise lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness, in the earth: for in these things I delight, saith the LORD (Jeremiah 9:24).
Praising God is an important part of the faithful Christian’s life. Let’s resolve to know what we are doing when we offer praise to God. It will both improve our worship and our spiritual lives.