WEEK 6, DAY 38: PRAISE
Scripture Reference: Luke 22:54-62
I remember the first time I ever raised my hands in a worship setting. I was at a Passion Conference in Atlanta, surrounded by thousands of other college-aged individuals in a massive arena. Chris Tomlin was on the stage leading worship. Mid-song, he was so overcome by the presence of God that he fell to his knees and began to weep. The song continued as thousands sang in one accord, louder than before, moved by this man’s humility before the Lord. I felt my hands begin to raise and a freedom rush over me like I’d never felt before. Suddenly, all of the times I’d kept my hands glued to my sides, embarrassed to join the “hand raisers” seemed so senseless. While I was busy fighting to stay in my comfort zone, I was missing out on a deeper connection to the Creator.
PRAISE IN SCRIPTURE
There are seven Hebrew words for praise in scripture. We will look at two of them. The first is yadah which means to revere or worship with extended hands (used 114 times in Scripture). The second is halal (used 165 times). It gives a picture of praising in a celebratory way, even to the point of looking foolish. Foolishness was exactly my fear when it came to raising my hands. What will I look like? I also thought; What will others think? And What if people stare at me? You see, no one—and I mean NO ONE—raised their hands in the church I grew up in. So the thought of it was literally humiliating to me. But isn’t humility before our God what worship is about?
To yadah the Lord may be a stretch for some, as it was for me. Halal, though, takes it even a step further. Halal is 10 seconds left in the Super Bowl and your favorite team scores the winning touchdown. That euphoria that causes you to jump up and down, raise your hands, and scream until your voice is gone—doesn’t our God deserve that? Isn’t He worthy?
We find a great example of this celebratory praise in 2 Samuel 6:16, 20-22a:
Now as the ark of the Lord came into the City of David, Michal, Saul’s daughter, looked through a window and saw King David leaping and whirling before the Lord; and she despised him in her heart. Then David returned to bless his household. And Michal the daughter of Saul came out to meet David, and said, “How glorious was the king of Israel today, uncovering himself today in the eyes of the maids of his servants, as one of the base fellows shamelessly uncovers himself!” So David said to Michal, “It was before the Lord, who chose me instead of your father and all his house, to appoint me ruler over the people of the Lord, over Israel. Therefore I will play music before the Lord. And I will be even more undignified than this, and will be humble in my own sight.
Will we be willing to humble ourselves before the Lord as David did in this passage and as Chris Tomlin did in that arena full of people? Will we be willing to praise and worship the Lord through the raising of hands, dancing, weeping at the altar, or raising our voices in song? May we be willing, like David, to become undignified before the one true King!
—Crystal Cummings, 1Church Movement
TIME TO CONTEMPLATE:
- Integrate Christian music into your daily time with the Lord. If you don’t already, begin to include a time of private worship/praise into your routine. With only you and the Lord present, you can be free to worship in ways you may not have before.
- The next time you are in a corporate worship gathering, try to intentionally focus on the Lord. Really pay attention to the words you are singing and allow your posture to reflect those lyrics. Respond as the Spirit leads.
Lord, I praise you, because if I were to keep silent the rocks would cry out. You alone are worthy, the Creator of the universe and Author and Finisher of our faith. I praise you for my salvation. I praise you because you are risen and coming again. I will praise you with dancing and shouting. I will praise you with singing and with lifted hands, because you alone are worthy of it all! And if I be found foolish, may it all the more boast of the magnitude of your amazing power and grace! In Jesus’ name. Amen.