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There’s Power in Praise
By Tom Brown

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!

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 holler when our team scores, but when Jesus triumphed 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? We have acted this way because we don’t have praise in our hearts. Praise must come from the heart. It must be felt.

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.

            1. 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.

            2. 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.

            3. 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. Two major Christian denominations (Orthodox and Church of Christ) ban musical instruments, under the disguise that instruments are not in the New Testament.

            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.

            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 the Church of Christ organization usually does 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 concerns 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.

            4. Machowl. As the ark of the LORD was entering the City of David, Michal daughter of Saul watched from a window. And when she saw King David leaping and dancing before the LORD, she despised him in her heart. (2 Sam 6:16)

            Dancing especially leaping is an obvious product of jubilation. You cannot stand still while you are celebrating. Back to the analogy of a football game; when a team scores people leap and jump up and down with excitement. It is natural to move your feet while excited. 

            This is what David did when the ark of the Lord was recovered from the enemy. David was full of excitement. He danced before the Lord with all his strength. But notice his wife, Michal, thought this display of jubilation was vulgar. It seemed crass to her.

            When David arrived to his house to bless her, she blurted out, “How the king of Israel has distinguished himself today, disrobing in the sight of the slave girls of his servants as any vulgar fellow would!” (2 Sam 6:20)

            Spiritually dense people do not appreciate the value of dancing before the Lord. Don’t be caught looking down at those who love to dance before the Lord. In fact, go a step further and join them.

            I know at first you may feel embarrassed, but this shows how carnal and self-centered you have become. David told his wife, “Honey, you haven’t seen anything yet. You think I look like a fool in your eyes. Well, I am going to get so wild for the Lord that I will even embarrass myself.”

            If the world can get wild on alcohol and do such embarrassing and truly vulgar things like strip for TV, then how much more jubilant we should become for the Lord. We should let down our hair and be happy to serve the Lord.

            Something about dancing I have noticed. No one is a big shot in church when all dance. Lawyers and doctors become equal with teachers and janitors. If you cannot dance before the Lord, then you need a real release in the Spirit. Try dancing alone at first. Get free in the Spirit in your bedroom and when you are ready, let loose in church.

            David refused to back down from celebrating the Lord’s victory.

        5. Shabach. Shout with joy to God, all the earth! (Ps 66:1)

            This means to command and show your approval in a loud voice. Some are uncomfortable with a loud religion. However, I do not know how Christianity can be quiet. It is amazing how religion turned Christianity into a subdued religion, when our faith is in such things that should make us shout with joy—the incarnation, the resurrection, and the coming of the Spirit—should put a “shout” into our spirits.

            When Jesus healed the ten lepers, who did he commend? He complemented the one who came back, praising God in a loud voice (Luke 17:15). This man was so grateful for his health that he could not hold back the shouts. He shouted with the voice of victory.

            If you can shout when your team scores, then you should doubly shout when Christ gives you victory.

            6. Towdah. He who sacrifices thank offerings honors me, and he prepares the way so that I may show him the salvation of God. (Ps 50:23)

            The most impressive form of praise is sacrificial. Praise is called a sacrifice. A sacrifice is to give up something in order to obtain something greater.

            In baseball, there is a play called a sacrifice. This is when the batter purposely hits the ball high in the outfield or bunts so a runner on base can advance. He gets out, but his team moves forward.

            At times, the last thing you want to do emotionally is to praise God. How often have you been depressed and then went to church. Your flesh wanted to sit down in the chair while the music was played. You did not want to praise God. You just wanted to be quiet and alone.

            It is at those times when you need to sacrifice your lips to God and praise him with all your heart. Do you know what God does in return? He exchanges your sacrifices with salvation, health and deliverance. When everything else seems to fail—your prayers, your confession of faith, your Bible reading—then try praise. Praise often works when nothing else does.

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