Devotion: 7 Ways to Praise
prepared by Michelle M.
for the Knox Leadership Workshop
I came across a word study on Praise recently, called 7 Ways to Praise*.
Did you know that in the Old Testament there are several different kinds of praise to God, often translated from the Hebrew just as ‘sing praise’ or ‘praise’? I had no idea!
1) Zamar (zaw-mar’): To strike with the fingers, as with a musical instrument
Usually translated as “sing praises,” this literally means to pluck the strings, to celebrate in song and music. It’s likely the most common form of “praise” Christians have across the world. Our regular Sunday services are filled with zamar.
· Bible: Psalm 150 (this psalm illustrates a picture of instrumental worship).
2)Barak (baw-rak’): To kneel
It means to kneel down, to bless God as an act of adoration and reverence. Kneeling before God in praise is a form we commonly see in the Anglican and Catholic churches, and in paintings. Bowing our heads is similar in attitude.
Consider the first thing you’d do before approaching the throne to have an audience with the King or Queen. You would bow low as a sign of reverence and deference to their power. The same applies here: we bow and kneel to outwardly express our awareness of God’s greatness.
· Bible: Psalm 95:6 (expresses this idea literally); Psalm 103 (uses the phrase “bless the Lord” to convey this expression)
3) Yadah (yaw-daw’): To extend the hands
This means to show reverence or praise with extended hands. The word pictures associated with the Hebrew root words for this type of praise is shooting an arrow or throwing a rock. It literally means to extend the hands, or to shoot an arrow.
Visualize a small child who wants to be picked up. They extend their hands high above their heads in a sign of surrender and desire to be held. Or, imagine throwing or shooting your praise outwardly to God instead of holding it in.
· Bible: Psalm 42:5. The Dedication of The Temple in 2 Chronicles 7 uses this expression of praise (visualize Levites blowing the trumpets and calling everyone to worship and the “praise” that everyone is expressing is through standing and lifted hands).
4) Tehillah (tel-hil-law’): To acclaim, exalt in song
This type of praise is a kind of singing, the singing that bubbles up from our hearts, spontaneously. These songs are unrehearsed and unprepared. They are straight to God. God resides (lives!), it says Psalm 22:3, in the praises of His people.
· Bible: Psalm 22:3 (these are the types of “praises” that God enthrones or inhabits). Psalm 33:1 (this type of praise is “fitting” for God’s people, or it literally makes them “look good”)
5) Halal (haw-lal): To shine, to make a show
This requires one to step outside of “dignity” for a moment and have fun praising God. It means to shine, to make a show, to boast. To be clamorously foolish. To rave. To celebrate. This is the kind of praise that David exhibited when he danced for joy at the return of the Ark of the Covenant to Israel. It’s also the form of praise that prompted his wife to ridicule him for his lack of dignity.
Having trouble imagining it? Think of a spontaneous victory dance after a touch down. It includes dancing and laughing and leaping and twirling before the Lord, but it also includes the state of the heart - turned towards God, and not afraid to boast in God and of God.
Halal is not only demonstrative praise, but can also be the force behind any of these other forms of praise. You can sing or shout or even play an instrument as a halal.
This is also where we get the word Halellujah from, which literally means “Praise the Lord” but even more literally it means to be clamorously foolish to God!
Think of a praise to God. What do you marvel at and want to acclaim as God’s handiwork? Shout it out. Be silly with it, dancing and laughing with it. Halellujah! Hooray! God, you’re amazing!
· Bible: This word appears over 100 times in the Old Testament. See 1 Chronicles 16:4 (there were actual appointed musicians to “halal” before the Lord); Nehemiah 12:24 (an example of call and response halal)
6) Towdah (to-daw’): To extend the hand
This word is very similar to yadah, but has a slightly different nuance. It means to show agreement with by extending the right hand. In today’s society the closest thing we have to it is a handshake to seal a deal or pact. It is usually associated with sacrifice - specifically things given up to show thankfulness to God.
Visualize offering our thanks to God (and our agreement with His promises) by visualizing the extended hand. Imagine you are shaking hands with God. Or you could lift your hands, in thankfulness and agreement.
· Bible: Psalm 50:23 (the thank or praise offering)
7) Shabach (Shaw-bakh’): To address in loud tone
Are you ready to get loud? Shabach means to address in a loud tone, and figuratively, to pacify (by words). It’s typically associated with freedom or triumph. But it’s more than just a loud shout, it’s the idea of putting everything you have into it. An attitude of wholehearted praise.
One of the best comparisons for this is the spontaneous, electric cheers and yells that fans at a sporting event utter when something good happens to their team.
· Bible: Psalm 63:3-4 (We typically look at this psalm as soft cry of thirst in a dry place, but the words in these verses literally mean to SHOUT praises!)
* Modified from this Reference: https://www.theworshipcommunity.com/7-ways-to-praise-a-simple-teaching-on-worship/#prettyPhoto