Andrew Fountain - Testimonies of Praise

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Sermon notes - What Praise is

  • I recently read about how to approach English royalty—the “neck bow”
    • That wounldn’t of cut it with Henry VII (what would have been cut would’ve been your head)
  • What about God?
    • Today you’re going to learn more about how God wants us to approach him

1. Worship

  • What is the difference between “praise” and “worship”
    • We tend to use the terms interchangbly nowadays
      • That’s fine. Words are fluid and change meaning over time
    • The Bible uses them much more specifically
      • We’re going to see how the Bible uses them

Hebrew words for worship

sha-chah or hishtawa

literally mean to “prostrate yourself” in respect and honour

  • It has the idea of going down, in recognition of their greatness
    • to throw yourself down on the ground in front of them
      • like an extreme form of bowing down before someone (neck bow)
    • It is an acknowledgement of lordship That everything belongs to our king!
  • But this extends to the whole of our lives
    • It does not involve singing or dancing, but it may involve offering gifts, and our own selves
  • Please understand: I’m not trying to tell us we’re to stop calling our singing “worship”
    • Nowadays we don’t make a distinction between praise and worship
    • But the Bible does, and it’s useful to understand it
  • So worship means literally to “lie on your face before God”
    • But sometimes the Bible uses it of actions that carry the same message
    • e.g. Giving gifts
    • in fact our whole lives act this out
  • Two examples of worship that was pure action
    • e.g. The Elder’s threw their crowns down before the Lord in Revelation
    • The woman who anointed Jesus’ feet with oil
  • Definition:

To worship God:

To acknowledge him as our Lord
both in word and in action.

2. Praise, the other side of the Coin

  • This is what I want to focus on today
  • There are a number of Hebrew words for praise

Hebrew for Praise:

Common word: halal

from which we get halelu-jah = praise Jah

  • Praise has the idea of lifting up
  • Worship is casting ourselves down at his feet

Nehemiah 8:6

  • Then all the people answered, ‘Amen, Amen!’ while lifting up their hands.
  • Then they bowed their heads and worshipped the Lord with their faces to the ground.
  • The physical actions are completely opposite
  • Exactly the same but in reverse order:

2 Chronicles 7:3

  • they bowed their faces to the ground on the pavement, and worshipped
  • then praised the LORD, saying: ‘For he is good, For his mercy endures forever.’
  • Ronald B. Allen makes the following statement (quoting Westermann):

Praise in the O.T.

“…Praise to God must be vocal
and in a public forum.
Praise is not silent,
nor is praise possible in solitude.”

Praise! A Matter of Life and Breath by R. B. Allen (Nashville:Nelson, 1980), p.58

  • You may say “that’s not true at all, I can do that…”.
    • That’s not what he’s saying—he’s speaking of the O.T.
  • Before we go any further, I’ll give you a couple of examples
    • notice what David says here about praise (parallelism)
    • just show v.1

Psalm 9

  1. I will praise you O LORD, with my whole heart.
    I will tell of all your marvellous works.
  2. Sing praises to the LORD, who dwells in Zion!
    Declare his deeds, among the people.
  • Praising God, is telling of his works. It is telling forth, declaring, proclaiming God’s works.
  • In verse 11 the Psalmist encourages other people to join in…

Psalm 107

  1. Oh, that men would praise the LORD for his goodness
    And for his wonderful works to mankind!
  2. Let them sacrifice the sacrifices of thanksgiving,
    And declare his works with rejoicing.
  • Same idea
  • 1 Peter 2:9 —a very clear verse

1 Peter 2:9

  1. But you are a chosen generation,
    a royal priesthood,
    a holy nation,
    his own special people
    that you may proclaim the praises
    of him who called you out of darkness into his marvellous light.
  • This is our

3. Examples

  • Allen —apples in car (p.61.63)
  • Read v.1–8
    • and then God answers! v.22–25

Psalm 22 tells a story

  • David Cries out to God
  • Who heard prayer in the past
  • The problem
  • The prayer
  • The praise
  • Psalm 22
  • My example: keys lost
    • Anyone here have some stories?

4. Praise is Public and vocal

Some examples

Praise in the Psalms

Ps.35, 40, 111 God, if you help me, I’ll tell everyone about it!
  -The idea is that we are praising God “in public”

-My example: someone handed me a cheque, totally out of the blue

-Praise is addressed to God, but it for others to hear
  -If I say to Anne “I’ve been praising you all week” (but who to?)
  -Ps.138 This “public” includes the angelic realm

Ps.149 Amazing that God takes pleasure in our praise!

  • Summary: Praise is generally addressed to God, but it for others to hear
    • I went through all 150 Psalms to see how many actually addressed God
    • 99/150 (was hoping for 100)
    • The others tell of what he has done—addressed to other people, but about God
  • For the first half hour or so or our meetings we are singing to God
    • Please don’t misunderstand—a difficult point to make without being taken the wrong way
    • We often call it worship time, but technically it is praise
    • You can do anything you want during this time—you can stand or sit or lie on the floow
      • You can pray, or dance, or repent or kneel in worship, it is between you and God
    • But if you want to praise God, understand you can’t praise him without moving your lips
    • Also the idea is that it is public, so people should be able see you are praising God by looking at you

But am I making too much of a distinction?

  • Isn’t there really a big overlap between praise and worship so that they amount to the same thing?
    • It is true that when we are praising God, in some senses it is an act of worship
    • But if we muddy them together, we will lose the intensity of each one
      • Eating a meal—nothing to stop us mixing main dish and desert together
  • e.g. David dance before the Lord in 2 Sam 6
    • Half dance/half prostrate... Sit? Flop?
    • dance with one leg and arm lying down?
    • Lie down with a leg twitching
      • God understands, we don’t want to be legalistic here
      • But God likes intensity, not lukewarm-ness

Why sing? Why not just talk?

  • The N.T, word “Psalm” literally means to “pluck a string”
    • very strong idea in the Bible of singing to praise God
  • Part of the way we are made is to express joy with singing
    • English soccer match—no singing, just state your praise for your team
  • We are going to do it now... (Possible songs:)
    • God, You have Done Great Things (Let your Mercy Rain)
    • From the Highest of Heights (Indescribable)
    • I see your face (beautiful)

Updated on 2016-12-17 by Andrew Fountain