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Monday, November 10, 2008

Power in Praise –Part 1

There was no hope!

There was no hope! Judah’s army was tiny compared to the three nations that had joined together for the express purpose of annihilating them. What was Judah to do under these horrible circumstances? Maybe they should fight back! Perhaps surrender with the hope that the enemies would show mercy!

After consulting the people, Jehoshaphat appointed men to sing to the LORD and to praise him for the splendor of his holiness as they went out at the head of the army, saying: “Give thanks to the LORD, for his love endures forever.” (2 Chr 20:21)

What a strange tactic! Instead of fighting or surrendering, the king, after hearing from God, decided to put all the people skilled in praise in front of the battle lines and have them do only one thing: praise God!

What does praising God have to do with warfare? At first glance it seems that praise has nothing to do with it, but a closer examination of the scriptures proves otherwise.

From the lips of children and infants you have ordained praise because of your enemies, to silence the foe and the avenger. (Ps 8:2) Notice that praise shuts the mouth of the enemy. Without the enemy being able to communicate, they will be thrown into utter confusion. That is what happened to the three armies arrayed against Judah.

As they began to sing and praise, the LORD set ambushes against the men of Ammon and Moab and Mount Seir who were invading Judah, and they were defeated. The men of Ammon and Moab rose up against the men from Mount Seir to destroy and annihilate them. After they finished slaughtering the men from Seir, they helped to destroy one another. (2 Chron 20:22-23)

The enemies were befuddled. They couldn’t tell the difference between Judah and themselves. They eventually killed each other. In the end this hopeless situation proved to be a blessing in disguise for Judah.

When the men of Judah came to the place that overlooks the desert and looked toward the vast army, they saw only dead bodies lying on the ground; no one had escaped. So Jehoshaphat and his men went to carry off their plunder, and they found among them a great amount of equipment and clothing and also articles of value—more than they could take away. There was so much plunder that it took three days to collect it. On the fourth day they assembled in the Valley of Beracah, where they praised the LORD. This is why it is called the Valley of Beracah to this day. (2 Chron 20:24-26)

Without this battle, Judah would not have been given so much wealth. This battle was God’s way to bless Judah. To emphasize the cause of victory, they named the battle site: Beracah, which in Hebrew means praise.

In the Midnight Hour

The Apostle Paul, also, knew the power in praise. While he and Silas were in prison, during the midnight hour, they began to praise God. While many Christians would find themselves truly defeated in prison these men praised God instead of whining. Sure they hurt. They had just been beaten. Their feet and hands were chained. Yet, they knew the clout they had with God. God gives power to the faint (Isa 40:29). Who receives power from God? Those who are about to faint—to give up; the discouraged—are the candidates for God’s power.

And why does God give them His power? But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint. (Isa 40:31, KJV)

To wait on the Lord means to praise God, and what happens when we praise God? Keep silence before me, O islands; and let the people renew their strength: (Isa 41:1, KJV) God shuts the mouths of the enemies and gives us time to renew our strength.

Concerning Paul and Silas, what was the result of their praise to God? And suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken: and immediately all the doors were opened, and every one’s bands were loosed. (Acts 16:26, KJV)

Just when you look like you are “stuck” in trouble—suddenly God breaks through. I love it when suddenly something happens; some breakthrough that only God could orchestrate. It looks like nothing will change. Your circumstance seems permanent. You have prayed and prayed. Others have prayed for you, yet nothing seems to change.

What should you do? Give God praise!

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