Praise the Lord! Praise O servants of the Lord, praise the name of the Lord! Blessed be the name of the Lord from this time forth and forever more! From the rising of the sun to it’s going down the Lord’s name is to be praised. The Lord is high above all nations, His glory above the heavens Psalm 113:1–4
What do you praise? Most of us praise our favorite sports team, a great restaurant, a great band, successful companies, or the courage of a hero we admire.
When we praise these things, what do we do? We shine a light on their most positive attributes, calling attention to them so that others will think highly of these things too.
How do we feel when we praise something or someone? We are emotionally engaged, excited about others’ knowing what we know and feeling what we feel.
But we utter genuine praise only when our hearts are connected to the thing we are praising. Otherwise it’s just empty chatter.
In this beautiful psalm, sung each year at the beginning of the Jewish Passover meal, the psalmist is certainly emotionally engaged! He calls on everyone to join him and he wants us all to praise God all day, for all time, and in all places. He wants the world to know that God is wonderful, mighty, and gracious.
On one side of the capstone of the Washington monument, 555 feet high, a plaque reads Laus Deo ( “Praise to God”) The builders wanted to be sure that God received a credit for their work and their nation, so they engraved these Latin words permanently at the top. You and I have the same opportunity every day to give God credit for all He has given us including our ability to work and care for others.
“It is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God and to obey his will.” George Washington
A couple weeks ago we spent the entire service reading scriptures concerning why and the various ways to give God praise. If there’s anything that should move us a Christians it’s our thoughts about God. Who besides Him truly deserves praise. Often we give praise to self-centered people such as sports figures, political figures, movie and music stars- all who live for adoration from their fans but know few if any by name. Yet we limit our praise to the very God who created us, who redeemed us and who knows us by name.
We can spend countless hours and vast sums of money seeing our favorite star. We have no problem standing in line to purchase tickets at exorbitant prices. We are willing to be in an uncomfortable, crowded room, even if we have to stand for the fleeting glimpse of that idol.
I marvel that those who can jump and yell themselves hoarse; willing to drive miles, make time and commitment for such events and yet often only give God their left-overs. Somehow church has become our duty, our obligatory weekly chore rather than the most moving and challenging day and experience of our week.
I have to wonder how we have come to this place where we who can yell in a stadium when our star scores a goal or hits a home run seldom if ever lift our voice to give God glory. I realize that many have been taught that silence is reverence but apparently those who suggest such things haven’t read a lot of the Bible. The Psalms are filled with encouragement to praise God. Jesus refused to silence the crowd when He was coming into Jerusalem. As a matter of fact it was on this occasion that He said if we don’t praise Him, the rocks would cry out in praise.
If one were to read the history of the Jews they would discover that they were people of extravagant praise. Consider David, the king of Israel who danced with all his might as the Ark of the Covenant was brought home to Jerusalem. Oh that God would give us his spirit rather than the spirit of Michal- David’s wife and Saul’s daughter- who accused him of making a fool of himself and embarrassing the throne. I love David’s answer:
“Then David returned to bless his household. But [his wife] Michal the daughter of Saul came out to meet David and said, “How glorious and distinguished was the king of Israel today, who uncovered himself and stripped [off his kingly robes] in the eyes of his servants’ maids like one of the riffraff who shamelessly uncovers himself!” So David said to Michal, “It was before the Lord [that I did this], who chose me above your father and all his house, to appoint me as ruler over Israel, the people of the Lord. Therefore I will celebrate [in pure enjoyment] before the Lord . Yet I will demean myself even more than this, and will be humbled (abased) in my own sight [and yours, as I please], but by the maids whom you mentioned, by them I shall be held in honor.” Michal the daughter of Saul had no child to the day of her death.”
2 Samuel 6:20-23
I wonder if some of the reason that the modern church is barren- few if any new believers added- is that we hold our dignity more important than our praise.
Praise is a powerful weapon against the devil, oppression, depression, anxiety and the like. It’s hard to think about all the things that bring fear or anxiety when we are busy giving God praise. Scripture teaches us that God is the inhabiter of our praise. In other words praise attracts God. Think about Paul and Silas in jail and how a supernatural visitation of God occurred because they chose to praise Him even in adverse circumstances.
We have been given permission and instruction to praise God every time we gather together as the people of God. It ought to be our normal habit.
Revelation reveals that at this very moment all the hosts of heaven are engaged in praise and worship. They praise with loud voices. They fall down before the throne. They cast their crowns down before the Lamb signifying that He is King of Kings and Lord of Lords. From eons of time heaven is and will be filled with constant praise and worship.
Why don’t you decide to join in with them? Incredible things happen when the people of God engage in praise.
Quite often I hear people ask each other what they got out of the service. But I wonder what Jesus would say He got out of it. No preacher can tell Him anything about the Bible since He is the Living Word so He doesn’t receive some new revelation. He gave all the words and music to the song writers so He isn’t hearing some song for the first time. So what does Jesus get out of it all? Do you suppose He might like to report to the Father that He was in a church that was praising and worshipping Him? Do you think that He is worth losing your stoic dignity like David did? Of all there is on this earth is there anyone or anything that is more worthy of our praise than Christ? Can we really believe that some sports player or music star or any other human is worth more praise and adoration than Christ?
I’m not asking us to become radical. If you can watch football, basketball or baseball or any other sport and sit quietly and dignified than by all means do so in church. If no artist, musician, actor moves you than by all means stay silent in church. But if you can act like a nut in these other venues, can’t you at least act a little less dignified when you come into the presence of the One who died for you?
Dr. John Thompson