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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits: Who
forgiveth all thine iniquities; who healeth all thy diseases; (Ps
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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
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.
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
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.