We’ve been discussing praising God with others, as well as in our personal devotion to the Lord, which brings us to one of my favorite expressions of worship:
Hallelujah! Literally, “Glory to God!” From the Hebrew root word “halal’ (haw-lal’): to be clear; to shine; hence to make a show; to boast: and thus to be clamorously foolish; to glory; also to celebrate; to rave; to be mad; to praise. (def. from Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible, Crusade Bible Publishers, Nashville, TN) “ -lu,” makes the word 1st person plural, and “-jah” is the Hebrew shortening of the name of God. So it could be translated, “We Glory, Praise, Celebrate God!” How can we, mere creatures add glory to the Almighty, already Glorious, Creator? Well, we can’t add anything to God, but we can boast about Him; shine for Him; rave about Him; tell about His wonders; and even look “clamorously foolish” as we get caught up in our praise of Him.
Halal is used 113 times as some form of the word “praise.” *Ps.22:22 “..in the midst of the congregation will I praise (halal) thee.” *Ps.35:18 “I will praise (halal) thee among much people.” *Ps. 109:30 “…I will praise (halal) him among the multitude.” Halal is used liberally in Psalms 148 and 150, and in descriptions of Old Testament Tabernacle worship, and brings to mind 1Peter2:9: …“ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy notion, a peculiar people that ye should show forth the praises of Him who hath called you out of darkness into His marvelous light
I love the story of King David when he found the Ark of God, and decided to bring it to Jerusalem. The Ark was not just a symbol, but was considered by the Jews to be the actual dwelling place of God on earth; the seat of His presence. It was upon the “Mercy Seat” of the Ark where the blood of the sin offering was to be sprinkled every year. The Ark had been captured by the Philistines, but had been sent back into the land of Israel because its presence there had brought calamity upon those people. Now David, the Bible says, was “a man after God’s own heart.” (1Samuel 13:14 & Acts13:22) He longed for the Lord’s presence to be in the midst of Israel.
This is a story that is rich with the Biblical principles and patterns for our present day worship. The part I want to draw on today is David’s complete abandon in His joy and pleasure at finally bringing his beloved Lord’s Ark home to his people. As the priests carried the Ark up the road to Jerusalem David “danced before the Lord with all of his might!” He laid aside His kingly robe, humbling himself before the One True King, and began to “show forth” his praise in his famous dance. (2Samuel 6:13-23) Now David’s wife, Michal, was watching through a window as he was leaping and dancing, and she despised him in her heart. Please note that she was not participating in the ceremony. She had distanced herself from the worship. Perhaps she thought his brash display was unbecoming a king, or perhaps she just thought all this hoop-de-doo was too much! She met David with scornful contempt….his reply? “It was before the Lord…..and I will yet be more vile…” (vs. 21 & 22) He was prepared to humble himself even further to exalt his Lord.
Please notice two things: 1. David’s praise was completely God focused. He wasn’t performing for an audience! 2. Michal’s heart was far from God. She cared only about what it looked like to others. By the way, Michal paid a price for her judgemental attitude towards David’s worship. She was never to bear children. Her life became barren.
Please take away these two lessons: 1. Don’t be afraid to “show forth” your praise (halal). To rave about God; to glory & shine in Him, even if it may look or sound foolish to others. Perform your “halal’ for Him alone. 2. It is displeasing to the Lord for us to despise others as they perform their praise (halal) to Him. Withhold your judgement of the praises of others, so that your life doesn’t become barren like Michal’s. Leave it to God to decide if the praise offering is acceptable or not. He sees the heart.
Having said that, be aware that wherever there is liberty in the Spirit to worship freely, there may be a time when you see something happening that is decidedly unscriptural. This is why we have wise shepherds to bring correction, so that the service is orderly and God-centered.
God loves the praises (halal) of his people. Read Psalm 150! Here, and in many other places in scripture, we are commanded to praise (halal) the Lord! Let us offer our hallelujahs to the King
Let’s pray: Lord of the Mercy Seat, help us to be like David, a people “after your own heart.” May we learn to abandon ourselves to You, to praise You with a singleness of heart: To see you high and lifted up. To glory in Your Presence and Your love. May joyful hallelujahs fill our hearts today! In Jesus’ name,