“Let everything that has breath praise the LORD. Praise the LORD!” Psalm 150:6 [NKJV]
Have you ever heard someone say: “Praise the Lord!” I have heard people exclaim this in very different situations. Some did it in the midst of joyful circumstances such as at the birth of a child or the baptism of a new convert to Christ. I have also seen others do it when faced with great crises or situations filled with overwhelming sorrow and loss. To see someone “praise God” while dealing with the news of a lost job or even the death of close friend or loved one is impressive indeed. So what is this thing called “praise” and why are we to offer it to God?
“Praise” is defined as: “…1 to express approval or admiration of.”(1) It is derived from the Latin root word pretium which means worth or price.(2) Therefore when we “praise” something or someone, we evidently show how much we approve of or value it; we proclaim our admiration of its attributes or worth. An added dimension to the meaning of this word can be seen in the Hebrew root word translated as “praise” in our introductory verse of Psalm 150:6. The word is “HALAL” (haw-lalَ). It means: “to boast…celebrate, commend…praise.”(3) We are thus encouraged in this verse and many others throughout the entire Bible to boast of, to celebrate, and to commend God our Heavenly Father.
We praise God, first, for Who He is. He is the one and only true living God (John 17:3). He is unique and completely special – there is no one else like Him! We read in Isaiah 44:6, “Thus says the LORD, the King of Israel, and his Redeemer, the LORD of hosts: ‘I am the First and I am the Last; besides Me there is no God.’” He is the only Being who is self-existent, having no beginning or end (Exodus 3:13 – 15; Psalm 102:25 – 27). He is all mighty and all powerful along with being all loving, wise, righteous, good, merciful, and perfect (Psalm 118:1 – 4; 119:68, 137; Jeremiah 9:24; 32:17 – 19; I John 4:8). He is also the Creator of everything in the universe. Nothing would exist without Him! It says in Psalm 148:5, “Let them praise the name of the LORD, for He commanded and they were created.”
We also praise God for what He has done for us in the past and continues to do for us today. He is not only the Creator of this world, He is our Creator! Every person who has ever lived owes their life to Him. We certainly did not create ourselves (Psalm 100:3)! We must remember that everything we have is a gift from Him. The apostle Paul made this abundantly clear in his sermon to the men of Athens in Acts 17:22 – 28. Most importantly, however, we should praise Him for His wonderful love, mercy, and grace in providing us a way to save us from our sins and to restore our relationship with Him through the sacrifice of His Son Jesus Christ (Ephesians 1:3 – 7).
Therefore, as His children, we have both the privilege and the obligation to praise our Heavenly Father. Yes, it is something that we can and must do with our fellow brethren as we gather for “worship services.” The psalmist David wrote in Psalm 22:22, “I will declare Your name to My brethren; in the midst of the assembly I will praise You.” Yes, we should praise God through our songs, prayers, and teaching. But we cannot confine our times of praise to just our times of assembly. We must make it a habitual, daily practice! The inspired writer of the book of Hebrews reminds us: “…let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name” (Hebrews 13:15).
Every day, we must make it a top priority to take some time, rather, make some time to recognize our God and praise His holy name. Whatever our situation, whatever our circumstance, be it times of joy or sorrow, let us glorify Him. Let us be like David, who understood the importance of praising God: “O God, You are my God; early will I seek You; my soul thirsts for You; my flesh longs for You in a dry and thirsty land where there is no water…Because Your lovingkindness is better than life, my lips shall praise You.” (Psalm 63:1, 3).
(1) Michael Agnes, ed., Webster’s New Dictionary (Cleveland, Ohio: Wiley Publishing Inc., 2003), 506.
(3) James Strong, A Concise Dictionary Of The Words in The Hebrew Bible, in Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance Of The Bible (Peabody, Massachusetts: Hendrickson Publishers, 1990), 33. Used by permission. All rights reserved.