Let’s Get Excited
The common Hebrew word for praise is hallal, hence the word, halleluiah. Forget what preconceive ideas you have of the word halleluiah. It literally means to be extremely excited about, to boast, rave, or to celebrate.
The picture here is of a football game. Your team has just scored the winning touch down. What is your response? You don’t with a solemn, dignified face say, “That is very nice. I’m glad we won.” NO! You yell, you shout, you jump up and down, “Yeahhhhh! We won!” You are beside yourself. You would not act that way in the normal course of the day, but this time you have reason to celebrate. Your team won! No one judges you by your jubilant celebration. In fact everyone else is ecstatic as well. This is the way you should act! No one embarrassed.
Yet, when we come to church, we assume that God wants us dignified. Let us not get too emotional. To some church goers, they dislike and disapprove of emotional outburst. They want their church quiet and reserved. But that is not praise!
How is it that we can jump and yell out loud when our team scores, but when Jesus triumphs over the devil we keep our composure? People get saved in the service; others are healed, and still more are touched. Yet, we don’t shout, or leap for joy. How can this be?
Now before someone jumps all over me and contends I am trying to make everyone like me, no I am not. You may praise God any way you want to praise Him. If you choose to be quiet and reserved that’s up to you and God.
I am just saying it is strange to me that most people can get excited and very demonstrative at football, soccer, baseball, basketball or any other sporting event but when it comes to God we are to be silent. These ball games are temporary and have absolutely nothing to do with eternity. But to think that God sent His only SON to die for me that I might live forever and not burn in hell….excuse if I get a little joyous and loud.
A football did not die on the cross for you!
Ways Praise is Manifested
Praise is something you do. Without action, you are not praising. Some complain about Spirit-filled churches, “Well, those Halleluiahs may go around dancing and shouting, but God knows my heart. He knows how much I appreciate Him.” You see, you are fooled into thinking that praise is inactive. There are other Hebrew words that describe the action of praise.
Yadah. I will praise you as long as I live, and in your name I will lift up my hands. (Ps 63:4)
This word means to publicly express our approval by lifting our hands. If you have ever been to a rock concert, then you have witnessed the adoring fans lifting their hands. You see that also in sports events. God designed us to express our excitement and adoration by lifting our hands.
Lifting your hands is also a universal sign of surrender. When a police officer arrests someone, he often says, “Put your hands up in the air.” Basically he does this to make sure the offender does not do anything to flee arrest.
In the same way, you raise your hands to God to signify that you surrender to His Lordship. You promise not to flee from Him. You have finished fighting. The battle is the Lords.
Barak. Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits: Who forgiveth all thine iniquities; who healeth all thy diseases; (Ps 103:2-3, KJV)
This word connotes to bless or say something good about. When we bless the Lord, then we enjoy all His benefits. Praise brings you forgiveness and health, including every other benefit we have in Christ.
Zamar. Praise the LORD. Sing to the LORD a new song, his praise in the assembly of the saints. (Ps 149:1)
Zamar is the word for singing. Let me admit, I do not have a good voice. However, you do not have to have a nice voice to sing to the Lord. God has a way to make our own voice sound great.
Have you notice how everyone’s singing voice sounds good to them? This is why we like to sing in the shower. I believe God enjoys our singing, even if others do not.
This brings us to a related topic, and it has to do with instruments. Some Christian denominations ban musical instruments, under the disguise that instruments are not in the New Testament. That is false teaching, bad doctrine and just wrong.
First of all, if God commands us anywhere in the Word of God to do something that was not fulfilled or set aside under the New Covenant, then we should obey Him. It is clear; the Word of God encourages—yes, even commands—us to use instruments to praise God.
But let me be clear, you DO NOT HAVE to use instruments!!! You can if you want to. It is your choice but do not try to lead others into bondage with false teachings by saying the New Testament does not allow the use of these in worship.
Praise him with the sounding of the trumpet, praise him with the harp and lyre, praise him with tambourine and dancing, praise him with the strings and flute, praise him with the clash of cymbals, praise him with resounding cymbals. (Ps 150:3-5)
How clear do we need God to get? The truth is, the banning or curtailing of musical instruments have more to do with tradition than the unambiguous scriptures. Scriptures are clear and forthright: we are commanded to use our musical talents for the Lord.
Someone might argue, “Where in the New Testament does it mention musical instruments?” People try to argue based on the “silent” theory—so long as it is not mentioned, then we should not do it. You cannot argue against instruments based on apparent silence.
I find it interesting that many religious organizations do not practice the laying on the hands, speaking in tongues, or any of the supernatural manifestations of the Spirit, yet the New Testament affirms and encourages these gifts. So what is their excuse? They can’t say it is not in the New Testament. You see, some Christians will just stick with their traditions, and pretend the Word of God agrees with them.
For those who feel they need a New Testament verse that concerning musical instruments, then consider Ephesians 5:19: “Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord.” What is the difference between psalms and hymns? Strong's exhaustive concordance defines a psalm as a set piece of music, a sacred ode accompanied with the voice, harp or other instruments. The word is taken from the Greek psao, which means to rub or touch, to twitch or twang. In other words, it was used to describe the work of Jubal who was the inventor of musical instruments (see Gen 4:21). He invented the harp and the flute (KJV says the organ). The harp made a twang sound, thus the term psao, root meaning of psalms.
A hymn on the other hand is a song without instruments. Paul and Silas were singing hymns to God while in prison (Acts 16:25). They could not sing psalms because, obviously, they had no instruments in prison. So as you can tell, the New Testament also encourages psalms which by definition would include musical instruments.