An updated version of this post can be found here.
When we look at the original language of the Old Testament, Hebrew, we find that they used many words to try to capture the fullness of what we call praise and worship. Over the next seven months I will be presenting one new word each month.
Our first word, Halal, is one that has even entered the English language as part of the word “Hallelujah”. The word Hallelujah is more than just a beautiful praise word that sounds nice as a chorus or bridge in a song. (When writing a song, if you can’t think of any good words for the bridge use Hallelujah. It works every time.) Hallelujah is the combination of the word Halal (praise) and Yah (Yahweh). Together they mean “praise Yahweh” or “praise the LORD”.
Our focus today, though, is only on the word Halal. It means to “shine (or flash brightly), boast, to praise, to act like a fool or madman“. This word occurs 165 times in the Old Testament and is the primary word to be translated “praise”. In Psalm 150 alone it occurs 13 times!
What can we learn from this word?
- God is worthy of our praise. The Bible calls us to praise over and over again – over 100 times with this word alone.
- God is worthy of exuberant praise. Halal means “to shine or flash.” The word Halal does not paint a picture of a quiet and dignified reading of a psalm. The word paints a picture of a bright flashing praise that draws everyone’s attention. We should praise God in such a way as to draw attention, like a light flashing in the darkness.
- God is worthy of our boasting. Halal means “to boast.” Our God is so great that we cannot help but boast in who He is. Like a child boasting about how strong his father is, we should be so enthralled by the greatness of our father that we cannot help but boast about Him to those we meet. (Jeremiah 9:23-24)
- God is worthy of our foolishness. Halal means “to act like fool.” One of the greatest mistakes I make when praising God is to worry about what others may think. Isn’t it interesting that the same word that is translated “praise” is also translated “fool” in other passages? Our praise of God should be so bright and full of joy that we may appear the fool before others.
We have a God that is worthy of our most crazy, exuberant, even boastful praise!
Question: Why do so few of us worship God with crazy exuberant praise? Please leave a comment.
by Jerry Wyrick, President of Worship Arts Conservatory