Psalm 149; Praise the Lord! Sing to the Lord a new song, and His praise in all the assembly of saints. Let Israel rejoice in their Maker; Let the children of Zion be joyful in their King. Let them praise His name with the dance; Let them sing praises to Him with the timbrel and harp. For the Lord takes pleasure in His people He will beautify the humble with salvation. Let the saints be joyful in glory; Let them sing aloud on their beds. Let the high praises of God be in their mouth, and a two-edged sword in their hand, to execute vengeance on the nations, and punishments on the peoples; to bind their kings with chains, and their nobles with fetters of iron; to execute on them the written judgment – this honor have all His saints. Praise the Lord!
C. S. Lewis once said that just as a car is made to run on gas, God made us to run on Himself. God is powerful, sovereign, and holy, and we receive all that we are and have from Him. Apart from God, we have no energy, no power, and no fulfillment in life. Praise releases that energy and power in our lives. God wants us to praise and worship Him not because He needs it, but because we need it. Praise helps us to function better and can change our attitudes.
Praise expresses and strengthens our faith. True praise is not an attempt to manipulate God into producing the results we desire; but rather true praise expresses acceptance of what God has brought into our lives. Praise helps us to accept the situation whether it changes or not. Sometimes, the victory may come in the form of changing circumstances. Sometimes the change may come in us. Either way, our faith is strengthened and we are reminded of how much larger our God is than our problem and our faith is strengthened.
When things are going well, praise comes easily. We rejoice as thanksgiving pours from us. Our praise is joyful and enthusiastic. It feels good to praise God and to rejoice in His goodness. But there are those times when we feel pain or discouragement or depression. At those times, praise does not come naturally. It is especially in those times we must understand that praise is not based on how we are feeling. We will bring a special kind of joy to the Lord when we praise Him even if we are exhausted or depressed. Years ago, I heard a pastor preach on the sacrifice of praise. He asked if we give it easily, where is the sacrifice? But, if it hurts to praise, or if things are going so badly it’s hard to praise – this is when we can offer the sacrifice of praise. The Bible does not command us to feel thankful – just to be thankful. Praise causes us to enter the influence of His perspective. When that happens, the hurt, fear, frustration, or resentment we are feeling can be replaced with a peace we never dreamed possible. We don’t have to deny the negative thoughts or circumstances but we should combine them with genuine praise. When, as an act of will, we choose to keep praising in spite of our pain or confusion, God brings peace, freedom, and joy.
Praise is an active agreement with God of Who and What He is. We were created to praise God and to Worship Him. He made us for Himself and wants an intimate relationship with us that will last forever. Praise and worship bring to our lives purpose, power, unity, and peace. When we praise and worship God, we are fulfilling the very purpose for which we were created. Psalm 22:3 says that God is Holy and that He is “enthroned in the praises of Israel.” Psalm 84:1, 2, and 4 express the joy of worship, “How lovely is Your tabernacle, O Lord of hosts! My soul longs, yes, even faints for the courts of the Lord; my heart and my flesh cry out for the living God… Blessed are those who dwell in Your house; they will still be praising You.”
As Jesus spoke to the Samaritan woman about worshipping God (John 4 23-24), He emphasized that God is Spirit and those who worship Him must do so in spirit and truth. Because Jesus is truth (John 14:6), we worship God through our acceptance of Jesus’ sacrifice on our behalf. And we worship out of hearts made pure by His shed blood. We worship when we quiet ourselves before Him, thinking of all He has done for us. We worship when we praise God with music and words. In whatever setting we find ourselves, we can praise and worship when we give God all the glory. The true nature of praise and worship is the response of the soul as we encounter the living God.