Thank you for joining us as we begin a study on Praise and Worship. Why do we praise the Lord? One of the obvious reasons is because of the splendor, glory, and majesty of our God, the One who created the heavens and the earth, the One who is to be exalted in His holiness. We are to praise Him for His might acts, His salvation and redemption, and for His unfailing mercy, grace, and love. We are to praise Him for His healing provision, for His wondrous acts of deliverance, and for His providental care. For everything, whether physical, mental or spiritual, we are instructed to praise the Lord. Let everything that hath breath, praise the Lord!
"I will praise thee, O Lord, with my whole heart; I will show forth all thy marvelous works, I will be glad and rejoice in thee: I will sing praise to thy name, O thou most High." (Psalm 9:1-2)
The Importance of Praise
From the verse in Psalm 9 quoted above, we can see several aspects of the act of praise. Praise, as David said, should come from the whole heart. Praise involves showing forth, or telling others, about God's marvelous works. Praise involves being glad and rejoicing, the giving of thanks, and often involves the singing of hymns or psalms.
The Scriptures often exhort God's people to offer praise unto the Lord. The writers of the Old Testament used three basic words to call the Israelites to praise God: 1) the word barak usually translated at "to bless"; 2) halal which means "praise", "boast" or "glory" and is the term from which the word "hallelujah" is derived; and 3) yadah which means to "give thanks".
The first song recorded in the Bible was sung after the Israelites crossed the Red Sea and watched as the Egyptian army was completely destroyed. It was a song of praise and thanksgiving, showing forth His might works which God accomplished in freeing the Israelites from bondage (see Exodus 15). "The Lord is my strength and song," Moses and the children sang, "and he is become my salvation... he is my God... and I will exalt him."
Of course, no study on praise would be complete without looking at King David who expressed praise and adoration to God through his life and through the many psalms or songs which he wrote.
When David was delivered from his enemies and from the hand of Saul, David said, "The LORD is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; the God of my rock; in him will I trust: he is my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my high tower, and my refuge, my saviour; thou savest me from violence. I will call on the LORD, who is worthy to be praised." (2 Samuel 22:2-4).
When David brought the Ark of the Covenant back to Israel, he appointed certain men of the Levites "to thank and praise the Lord God of Israel." He then delivered a psalm to thank the Lord which said, "Give thanks unto the LORD, call upon his name, make known his deeds among the people. Sing unto him, sing psalms unto him, talk ye of all his wondrous works. Glory ye in his holy name: let the heart of them rejoice that seek the LORD. Seek the LORD and his strength, seek his face continually." (1 Chronicles 16:8-11).
Throughout the Psalms, David as well as other writers gave praise unto the Lord as well as called God's people to live their lives in praising God. In Psalm 22:22-23, David penned, "I will declare thy name unto my brethren: in the midst of the congregation will I praise thee. Ye that fear the LORD, praise him; all ye the seed of Jacob, glorify him; and fear him, all ye the seed of Israel."
In Psalm 100, the psalmist wrote, "Make a joyful noise unto the LORD, all ye lands. Serve the LORD with gladness: come before his presence with singing. Know ye that the LORD he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture. Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name. For the LORD is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations."
David wrote in Psalm 150, "Praise ye the LORD. Praise God in his sanctuary: praise him in the firmament of his power. 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 psaltery and harp. Praise him with the timbrel and dance: praise him with stringed instruments and organs. Praise him upon the loud cymbals: praise him upon the high sounding cymbals. Let every thing that hath breath praise the LORD. Praise ye the LORD."
Matthew Henry says of this psalm, "We are here stirred up to praise God. Praise God for his sanctuary, and the privileges we enjoy by having it among us; praise him because of his power and glory in the firmament. Those who praise the Lord in heaven, behold displays of his power and glory which we cannot now conceive. But the greatest of all his mighty acts is known in his earthly sanctuary. The holiness and the love of our God are more displayed in man's redemption, than in all his other works. Let us praise our God and Saviour for it. We need not care to know what instruments of music are mentioned. Hereby is meant that in serving God we should spare no cost or pains.
"Praise God with strong faith; praise him with holy love and delight; praise him with entire confidence in Christ; praise him with believing triumph over the powers of darkness; praise him by universal respect to all his commands; praise him by cheerful submission to all his disposals; praise him by rejoicing in his love, and comforting ourselves in his goodness; praise him by promoting the interests of the kingdom of his grace; praise him by lively hope and expectation of the kingdom of his glory. Since we must shortly breathe our last, while we have breath let us praise the Lord; then we shall breathe our last with comfort. Let every thing that hath breath praise the Lord. Praise ye the Lord.
"Such is the very suitable end of a book inspired by the Spirit of God, written for the work of praise; a book which has supplied the songs of the church for more than three thousand years; a book which is quoted more frequently than any other by Christ and his apostles; a book which presents the loftiest ideas of God and his government, which is fitted to every state of human life, which sets forth every state of religious experience, and which bears simple and clear marks of its Divine origin."
Besides David and the other psalmist, the prophets such as Isaiah and Jeremiah exhorted God's people to praise Him. The prophet Joel said, "And I will restore to you the years that the locust hath eaten, the cankerworm, and the caterpiller, and the palmerworm, my great army which I sent among you. And ye shall eat in plenty, and be satisfied, and praise the name of the LORD your God, that hath dealt wondrously with you: and my people shall never be ashamed. And ye shall know that I am in the midst of Israel, and that I am the LORD your God, and none else: and my people shall never be ashamed." (Joel 2:25-27).
The exhortation to praise the Lord continues through the New Testament as well. In Luke 10:21, we see Jesus Christ rejoicing in spirit and giving thanks to the Father. In Romans 15:11, Paul the apostle writes concerning the fulfilment of the Old Testament promise, "that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy; as it is written, For this cause I will confess to thee among the Gentiles, and sing unto thy name. And again he saith, Rejoice, ye Gentiles, with his people. And again, Praise the Lord, all ye Gentiles; and laud him, all ye people." (Romans 15:9-11). The apostle James instructs us, "Is any merry? Let him sing psalms." (James 5:13).
In Luke 19, Jesus tells that if people withhold their praise, even the very stones would cry out! Luke writes, "And when (Jesus) was come nigh, even now at the descent of the mount of Olives, 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; saying, Blessed be the King that cometh in the name of the Lord: peace in heaven, and glory in the highest. And some of the Pharisees from among the multitude said unto him, Master, rebuke thy disciples. And he answered and said unto them, I tell you that, if these should hold their peace, the stones would immediately cry out."
Let everything that hath breath praise the Lord
The angels are to praise the Lord, and the people of all nations from children to adults. Every human being and every "thing that hath breath" is to praise the Lord. Even creation, the sun, the trees, the snow, and the wind are to praise Him.
The psalmist writes in Psalm 148, "Praise ye the LORD. Praise ye the LORD from the heavens: praise him in the heights. Praise ye him, all his angels: praise ye him, all his hosts. Praise ye him, sun and moon: praise him, all ye stars of light. Praise him, ye heavens of heavens, and ye waters that be above the heavens. Let them praise the name of the LORD: for he commanded, and they were created. He hath also stablished them for ever and ever: he hath made a decree which shall not pass. Praise the LORD from the earth, ye dragons, and all deeps: Fire, and hail; snow, and vapour; stormy wind fulfilling his word: Mountains, and all hills; fruitful trees, and all cedars: Beasts, and all cattle; creeping things, and flying fowl: Kings of the earth, and all people; princes, and all judges of the earth: Both young men, and maidens; old men, and children: Let them praise the name of the LORD: for his name alone is excellent; his glory is above the earth and heaven. He also exalteth the horn of his people, the praise of all his saints; even of the children of Israel, a people near unto him. Praise ye the LORD."