Sunday, January 8, 2012

Songs of Praise

2012: A Year of Thanksgiving and Praise
Day 8: I'm Thankful for Songs of Praise

I love music. I guess I always have. And I love to sing. Ever since I can remember, I sang in church. Even as a little girl, I sang in groups, or in duets, or by myself.

I used to like just about all kinds of music, but as I've grown older, I've pretty much narrowed my musical preference down to one genre:  praise and worship.

I still sing in the choir, if I'm not running projector. Either way, I love to participate in that very special -- and important -- part of the worship service.

Personally, I feel it brings me into closer communion with God. Sometimes during praise and worship I can't keep from smiling, other times I'm filled with such awestruck wonder that I can't keep the tears from rolling down my cheeks.

From a corporate aspect, I believe that singing songs of praise not only shows our love, respect, and worship for our Creator and Father God, but it also sets the stage for the message the pastor has prepared. I see it as a way of preparing the heart and the soul to receive the Word of God, much as you prepare the soil to receive seed.

The word "praise" appears in the Bible approximately 248 times. Most of them are in the old testament. In fact, most of them appear in the book of Psalm.  No surprise there, since David was a musician and loved to praise God through music and song -- hence, the name of the book Psalm, which means hymn or song of praise.

There are so many excellent verses in the Bible on praise, it was nearly impossible for me to narrow them down to a favorite.

What are some of the uses of praise? For one, I believe you can drive out worry and fear with praise.  David said:

"In God I will praise his word, in God I have put my trust; I will not fear what flesh can do unto me." 
~ Psalm 56:4  

I really like the meaning of the word praise used in this verse. It is the Hebrew word hâlal which means to shine; to make a show; to boast; and thus to be (clamorously) foolish; to rave; to celebrate. To be clamorously foolish! What an awesome description.

The same word for praise is used in Psalm 106:1  "Praise ye the LORD. O give thanks unto the LORD; for he is good: for his mercy endureth forever."

So, we also use praise as a means of giving thanks to God for his goodness.

Another word used for praise is the Hebrew word yâdâh; literally to use (that is, hold out) the hand; especially to revere or worship (with extended hands). 

This is why we lift our hands during praise and worship. We are showing our reverence to God. This form of the word praise can be found in Psalm 28:7:

"The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusted in him, and I am helped: therefore my heart greatly rejoiceth; and with my song, will I praise him."

We are told that it is comely, or suitable, or beautiful for us to praise God this way.

"Rejoice in the LORD, O ye righteous: for praise is comely for the upright." 
~ Psalm 33:1  

I think we short change ourselves when we restrict singing praise to church services only. Praise can -- and should -- be sung everyday. I find that it is the surest and fastest way to change my mood. If I'm feeling tired, singing praise will often revive me and give me a boost of energy.

If I'm feeling down or depressed, there is nothing like singing songs of praise to pick me up and fill my heart with gladness.

If I'm feeling anxious or worried about something, belting out a song of praise will clear my mind and bring me peace.

When I've poured out my heart and soul to God in prayer, I know that I'm finished when I spontaneously burst into praise. It makes since. We should experience thankfulness if we believe we have received what we asked for.

Praise and worship through song is a way of focusing on God and His promises rather than on our circumstances and the appearances that surround us.

"My heart is fixed, O God, my heart is fixed: I will sing and give praise." 
~ Psalm 57:7  

Whether or not you think you have a good singing voice, I invite you to sing praise to God. Sing to Him daily. Sing to Him often. Sing loudly.

We are told to "Make a joyful noise unto the LORD, all the earth: make a loud noise, and rejoice, and sing praise." ~ Psalm 98:4  

Go ahead, be clamorously foolish!

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