Part 7 of Above & Beyond! Psalm 148
Peter Foxwell. The Cornerstone Church. February 18, 2018.
INTRODUCTION: YOU AND I WERE MADE FOR WORSHIP
Do you remember the story about Jesus talking to a woman at a well in a little village called Sychar? It's in John 4. It's an interesting story for lots of reasons. But what really strikes me is that this woman (we don't know her name) had all kinds of problems, but she wants to debate Jesus on the proper place to worship God. Why?
Here's why: You know the worship song we sing that has the line, "You and I were made for worship." That's great theology. It's true. Worship is in our DNA.
Since we have this drive to worship, it's very important that we learn to worship well. To help us with that, we're going to look at three words ancient Israel used to express their praise to God. I got the idea for this teaching from a little book called Holy Roar by Chris Tomlin and Darren Whitehead. They actually look at seven words, but we don't have time for that.
We'll take a look at these three words to learn how to honor God with extravagant praise.
WORD 1: HALAL
This is the main Bible-word for praise. We need to know three things about halal.
1. Halal is loud praise.
Halal comes from a root that means to boast and to shout. The more we know about God - his glory and goodness, his majesty and excellence - the louder the shout.
Psalm 98:4. Shout (rua - battle cry) for joy to the Lord, all the earth,
2. Halal is public praise - holding nothing back:
Psalms 109:30 (NIV-WS) With my mouth I will greatly extol (yadah) the Lord; in the great throng of worshipers I will praise (halal) him.
3. Halal is happy praise. That's why we call our Sunday mornings here a "worship celebration." Psalm 149 captures the energy:
Psalm 149:3 Let them praise his name with dancing and make music to him with timbrel and harp.
When King David brought the ark of the covenant into Jerusalem, he was so excited. In the past, the ark was where the glory of the Lord had appeared to Moses. David's worship was full on:
2 Samuel 6:14-15 Wearing a linen ephod, David was dancing before the Lord with all his might, 15 while he and all Israel were bringing up the ark of the Lord with shouts and the sound of trumpets.
We have so much more reason to "halal" the Lord. We are in his presence all the time. We don't need to go to the ark or to a special building to find him. The presence has come to us by his Spirit. We are his temple. We're filled with his presence. We see his glory in Jesus (through the gospel/Word 2 Corinthians 3:18; 4:6).
Why has the Lord been so good to us? Because he wants our loud, unrestrained, public halal. He has made us to be a kingdom of priests to declare his praises (1 Peter 2:9; Revelation 5:10).
WORD 2: YADAH
Yadah is focused on "grateful praise" to God - for two main reasons:
1. Yadah to God for his protection:
Psalms 44:6-8 I put no trust in my bow, my sword does not bring me victory; 7 but you give us victory over our enemies, you put our adversaries to shame. 8 In God we make our boast all day long, and we will praise (yada) your name forever.
We praise God because he's faithful and he cares about us and he keeps his promises.
In the car the other day, I listened to a dramatic reading of Romans 8. That chapter is so full of ways God loves and keeps us. I was bursting with yadah-praise at the end.
2. Yadah to God for his salvation:
1 Chronicles 16:34-35 Give thanks (yadah) to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever. 35 Cry out, “Save us, God our Savior; gather us and deliver us from the nations, that we may give thanks (yada) to your holy name, and glory in your praise.”
We know so much more about salvation than the folks in the OT. We know all about Jesus. All that he is and all that he has done for us at the cross. So we have even more reason to praise God the Savior. We even have a model song of praise for this:
Revelation 5:12 “Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise!”
Here's an interesting insight. The linguistic origins of yadah - way back when - are in a word that means to raise the hand. Raising hands is a way to express our praise:
Psalms 134:2 Lift up (nasa) your hands in the sanctuary and praise (barak) the Lord.
Sometimes, it just seems so right to raise our hands in praise to God - joining our bodies to our words:
I have a repeated phrase that cycles through my mind as I get ready for Sunday worship times: "Take the lid off." I don't know if it's a prayer to God or an encouragement from God. Is it a word to you to give your whole self to praising God? Isn't God worthy of all we can offer?
WORD 3: ZAMAR
Zamar means to sing, to chant, or to play an instrument.
Psalms 144:9-10 I will sing a new song to you, my God; on the ten-stringed lyre I will make music (zamar) to you, 10 to the One who gives victory ...
When we use music to praise God, something really important happens to us: What we know about God in our heads travels down to what we feel in our hearts. It transforms what we know into what we feel.
The American Colonial era preacher, Jonathan Edwards, was an expert in emotional reactions to God. He pastored a church during the First Great Awakening and he watched people go through all kinds of physical and emotional experiences as the glory of God was shown to them: crying, shaking, laughing, shouting. He called these the Religious Affections. He thought they were a good thing IF: the affections were affected by nothing but the truth of God. He wrote that we should aim to "feel" in proportion to what we "know." There is nothing sadder than a person who knows about the greatness of God and feels nothing; the heart is cold as ice.
Here's the best response to knowing who God is and what he has done:
Psalms 9:1-2 I will give thanks (yadah) to you, Lord, with all my heart; I will tell of all your wonderful DEEDS. 2 I will be glad and rejoice in YOU; I will sing (zamar) the praises (halal) of your NAME, O Most High.
I experienced the power of zamar several years ago at a pastor's conference worship time. When my heart is cold to God, I read the Bible and "don't get anything out of it." But then along comes a worship song about that same passage and I feel awe, start crying or laughing. That's what happened at the conference. Martin Smith was leading worship. It started out very exuberant with a full band, but then the stage went dark and a spotlight covered just Martin Smith as he led us in I Could Sing of Your Love Forever and then Waiting Here for You. I was overwhelmed by God. As I was preparing this teaching, just remembering that time brought tears to my eyes. To know God, to be loved by him.
Yes, there is much more to worship than music. But music has its place and I'm so glad that we celebrate with music here at the Cornerstone. I love our worship bands - our singers and musicians. Praise God for all of you!
CONCLUSION: GIVE IT ALL YOU'VE GOT!
We've looked at three words for worship. Taken all together, they paint a picture for us of what it takes to live a life of praise:
Give God center-stage. He's the focus. Matt Redman - "I'm coming back to the heart of worship, and its all about you."
Give God your grateful praise: that's yadah - praising with hands raised.
Romans 12:1 - "In view of God's mercy, offer your bodies as living sacrifices."
Give God your energy and celebration: that's halal. When Habakkuk faced his own death at the hands of the Assyrian army, he said he was going to "dance in a circle before the Lord." -
Habakkuk 3:18 "Yet I will rejoice (jump, dance) in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior"
Give God your music: that's zamar. Instruments, voices, Spotify playlists. Do that and expect to meet with the Lord - to sense his presence.
When King David brought the ark of the covenant (the place where God's glory lived in the tabernacle) into Jerusalem and into the Tabernacle, David told the Levites what he wanted the worship to look like:
1 Chronicles 16:8-11 "Give praise (yada) to the Lord, proclaim his name; make known (yada) among the nations what he has done. 9 Sing to him, sing praise (zamar) to him; tell of all his wonderful acts. 10 Glory (halal) in his holy name; let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice. 11 Look to the Lord and his strength; seek his face always."
That's the invitation from the Lord. He invites us into that experience together every time we gather.
Do you know what the last verse in the book of Psalms says?
Psalm 150:6 "Let everything that has breath praise the Lord. Praise the Lord"
That's it. That's us. That's the point of today's teaching. Got breath? Give him praise! Extravagant praise!