The preacher may make us laugh and the songs may make us weep. The fellowship may warm our souls and the communion may give us chill bumps. But if God does not enjoy the hour, the service failed. The goal of worship is to make God “high above all nations which he hath made, in praise, and in name, and in honour” (Deuteronomy 26:19). “Praise ye the Lord: for it is good to sing praises unto our God; for it is pleasant; and praise is comely” (Psalm 147:1).
A hymn that was likely composed in the Talmudic period expresses our sentiment:
If my lips could sing as many songs as there are waves in the sea;
If my tongue could sing as many hymns as there are ocean billows;
If my mouth filled the whole firmament with praise;
If my face shone like the sun and moon together;
If my hands were to hover in the sky like powerful eagles
And my feet ran across mountains as swiftly as the deer;
All that would not be enough to pay you fitting tribute, O Lord my God.
If we had the tongues of angels, we could not praise God as He deserves to be praised. If we were born speaking praises and had breath to never cease, we could never adequately exalt His name in this life. If every rock could speak, it would praise God. If the stars could sing, their song would be in His honor. If the animals could write, their words would form new praises for their Creator. The very stones would praise Him if the need arose, and a thousand legions of angels would leap to do His will. “Let the heaven and earth praise him, the seas, and every thing that moveth therein” (Psalm 69:34).
What does the Bible say about praising God?
The word praise (in various forms) is used 268 times in Scripture. In Old Testament times, Gods people took praising Him seriously. Leah rejoiced at the birth of a son and cried, “Now will I praise the Lord” (Genesis 29:35). So she named the boy, “Praise” (Judah).
David organized a whole section of the Levites “to thank and praise the Lord God of Israel” (1 Chronicles 16:4). Hezekiah appointed courses of priests and Levites “to praise in the gates of the tents of the Lord” (2 Chronicles 31:2).
After nine silent months, when Zacharias’ tongue was finally loosed his first words were praise to God (Luke 1:64). We long for the time when it may literally be said, “His glory covered the heavens, and the earth was full of his praise” (Habakkuk 3:3). So much praise went up, that God was said to inhabit “the praises of Israel” (Psalm 22:3).
When Jesus was born, both exalted angels and lowly shepherds praised His Father (Luke 2:13, Luke 2:20). When He died, the very sky above Him bowed its head in reverent submission. Wherever Jesus went between these events, it seems that men were led to praise Jehovah (e.g., Luke 18:43). It seems no accident, therefore, that Jesus came from Judah, the tribe whose very name means “praise” (Genesis 49:10).
Ever since Jesus ascended to the Father, His followers have been “continually in the temple, praising and blessing God” (Luke 24:53; cf. Ephesians 3:20:21). The early church praised God and had favor with the people (Acts 2:47). In a beautiful prophecy, the church is said to have walls called, “Salvation,” and gates, “Praise” (Isaiah 60:18).
Christians are to “think on” praise (Philippians 4:8), since we have been adopted “to the praise of the glory of his grace” (Ephesians 1:5:6; cf. Jeremiah 13:11). Our very purpose in life is to show forth the praises of God (1 Peter 2:9; cf. Isaiah 43:21). God clothes His people with the “the garment of praise” (Isaiah 6:13).
When should God be praised?
God deserves to be praised every day (Psalm 145:2). One praised him twice a day-in the morning and in the evening (1 Chronicles 23:30). Another praised him seven times a day (Psalm 119:164). A third topped them all: “From the rising of the sun unto the going down of the same the Lord’s name is to be praised” (Psalm 113:3). But another’s ambition was even greater: “I … will yet praise thee more and more” (Psalm 71:14). Paul and Silas sang praises unto God “at midnight” (Acts 16:25). More to the point of this study, He deserves to be praised on the Lord’s day-Sunday (Acts 20:7)-in public worship: “In the midst of the church will I sing praise unto thee” (Hebrews 2:12). We should not forsake His worship (Hebrews 10:25).
Why should we praise God?
We should praise God for who He is.
Young people sing a song that goes: “I will call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised: so shall I be saved from my enemies” (2 Samuel 22:4). Those who have learned of Jehovah agree: “For great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised: he also is to be feared above all gods” (1 Chronicles 16:25). A wise man wondered, “Who is like unto thee, O Lord, among the gods? who is like thee, glorious in holiness, fearful in praises, doing wonders?” (Exodus 15:11). We praise God for His power (Psalms 21:13). We praise the Lord for the beauty of His holiness (2 Chronicles 20:21) and for His goodness and mercy (Ezra 3:11; Jeremiah 33:11).
We should praise God for what He has done.
“Praise him for his mighty acts: praise him according to his excellent greatness” (Psalm 150:2).
He has made us: “I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well” (Psalm 139:14).
He has delivered us (Exodus 15:1:11; 2 Samuel 22:49:50; Jeremiah 20:13). When Israel’s children learned that God had heard their cry and had sent a deliverer (Moses), they “bowed their heads and worshipped” (Exodus 4:31). When Moses learned that God kept “mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin,” he “made haste, and bowed his head toward the earth, and worshipped” (Exodus 34:7:8). Worship, distilled, is thanksgiving for salvation (Psalm 69:30:32).
He has blessed us. When we take time to count our blessings (James 1:17), it makes us worshipful. It is an unthankful heart that shuns worship. When the eldest servant of Abraham’s house played matchmaker for young Isaac, he devised a plan to determine which girl the Lord approved. When the sign was given, with a thankful heart he “bowed down his head, and worshipped the Lord” (Genesis 24:26, Genesis 24:48, Genesis 24:52).
He has given us His truth (Psalm 138:2). “In God I will praise his word” (Psalm 56:4). “I will praise thy name; for thou hast done wonderful things; thy counsels of old are faithfulness and truth” (Isaiah 25:1).
He has answered our prayers (Psalm 118:21).
So, “praise the Lord, all ye Gentiles; and laud him, all ye people” (Romans 15:11). Yea, “let every thing that hath breath praise the Lord” (Psalm 150:6).”Therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually” (Hebrews 13:15).
Join us Sunday as we exalt the name of the Lord!