What is it to praise God?The dictionary defines the word praise as "to glorify, especially by the attribution of perfections." God is absolutely perfect in every attribution, which means that He is worthy of praise! The Bible commands every living creature to praise the Lord (Psalm 150:6). There are three Hebrew words found in the Bible that explain praise in nuance. These words are yadah, which means "praise, give thanks, or confess;" zamar, which means "sing praise;" and halal, which means "to praise, honor, or commend." All three terms indicate giving thanks and honor to one who is deserving of acclamations.
The best example of praise in the Bible is found in the Old Testament. The Psalms overflow with David's praises and songs to God. David praises God because God is righteous (Psalm 7:17), powerful (Psalm 21:13), a deliverer (Psalm 18:3), and holy (Psalm 22:3). He proclaims, with elation and repetition, "Sing praises to God, sing praises! Sing praises to our King, sing praises! For God is the King of all the earth; sing praises with a psalm!" (Psalm 47:6–7).
Psalm 150 is a helpful instructor on where, why, and how to praise. The first verse says, "Praise God in his sanctuary; praise him in his mighty heavens." You can praise God anywhere. He is always present to hear. The second verse states we praise Him "for his mighty deeds" and "according to his excellent greatness." Psalm 150:3–6 emphasize that we should praise the Lord with instruments and dance, and that everything with breath should praise God. We should praise Him with every means we have for expression! The Psalms also give examples on when to praise. David praises God when he is joyful, fearful, and angry. He demonstrates that every situation offers an opportunity to praise God.
Praise is also found in the New Testament. Luke 1:46–55 records Mary's song of praise at hearing that she would give birth to the Messiah. The Gospels are full of praise as Jesus heals many and saves them from their maladies (Luke 17:18; 19:37). After witnessing Christ's miracles and love, crowds praised Jesus as the Son of God, and spoke of God's wondrous power. The early church also gave examples of people praising God in groups. The early church placed an emphasis on worshipping and praising God together (Acts 2:42–47). Paul's letters even include praise to God, written as if the thankfulness bubbled over from his heart into his letters (1 Timothy 3:14–16; Philippians 1:3–11).
The Bible also speaks of praise as an action of the future when sin is removed from our world. Revelation depicts all of God's people joyfully praising Him, for "no longer will there be anything accursed …" (Revelation 22:3). All of God's people will join in praising the Lord forever. Our time spent on earth choosing to praise God in all situations is said to be preparation for the wonderful things to come.
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