Praise is His Gracious Choice

We want people to corporately participate in and experience praise and worship.

This is the uninhibited exaltation of God alone, and serves as a witness to the believer and non-believer alike of the splendors of God through Psalms, hymns and spiritual songs.

The line to one of my favorite hymns says,

“Let all with heart and voice,
come before His throne rejoice,
praise is His gracious choice,
Alleluia, Amen!”

That’s an odd line. There was even a time that I considered it to be a mistake. We can sometimes think that praise is actually our choice. We choose to load up the car, gather with other believers, and seemingly choose whether or not we’re going to praise God. Some of us might feel like we have the choice to say, “I’m going to praise God.” Others may similarly think, “Well, maybe, but I had a really hard week. I just don’t feel like singing.”

God wants us to see praise from His perspective.  Praise is in fact His gracious choice, and His gracious invitation to each one of us to lift our eyes above our trials, our difficulties, our challenges, our pains, our sins, our weaknesses to see that we have a great Redeemer and a great Saviour who has overcome the grave!

  • He has defeated death and hell.
  • He has reconciled us to the Father.
  • He is risen from the dead.
  • He is now interceding for us before the throne.
  • He has poured out His Spirit.
  • He is now working in us to make us like Himself.

In English, the word “praise” simply means to celebrate, to adore, to extol, or to applaud. However, if we look at the Hebrew language, we find that there are many words which we have translated into our English word “praise”. All of the Hebrew words for praise are connected to an action and demand exuberance, excitement, and passion!

Let’s take a look at some of the meanings and usage in the Old Testament book of Psalms of the Hebrew words for praise.

  • Halal – This is where we get the word “hallelujah”. It means to praise the Lord by celebrating, by dancing and shining forth, by acting clamorously foolish. “Praise the Lord. Praise God in his sanctuary;  praise him in his mighty heavens” (Psalm 150:1).
  • Yadah – To praise the Lord with extended hand (yad), to throw out the hand. “I will bow down toward your holy temple and will praise your name for your love and your faithfulness, for you have exalted above all things your name and your word” (Psalm 138:2).
  • Shabach – To praise the lord with a shout and a loud voice. “Because your love is better than life, my lips will glorify you” (Psalm 63:3).
  • Towdah – To thank God for things at hand, as well as things not yet received. “He who sacrifices thank offerings honors me, and he prepares the way so that I may show him the salvation of God” (Psalm 50:23).
  • Tehillah – A praise from your spirit; the residual (new) song of the Lord from the heart of the believer. The book of Psalms in Hebrew is titled, “Tehillim”. “Yet you are enthroned as the Holy One; you are the praise of Israel” (Psalm 22:3).
  • Zamar – To praise the Lord with the playing of an instrument. “My heart is steadfast, O God; I will sing and make music with all my soul” (Psalm 108:1).
  • Gil – To circle in joy, to dance in circles and rejoice. “This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it” (Psalm 118:24).

So “praise is His gracious choice.” Let’s not waste those moments to sing corporately and in response. Let’s respond to God’s gracious invitation to lift our hearts and our voices, to praise Him, with everything within us to remind ourselves, each other, and the world around us that there is only one name by which we may be saved – and that is the name of Jesus Christ – he is a great Redeemer, and He is worthy of our praise!

Praise to the Lord, the Almighty, the King of creation!
O my soul, praise Him, for He is thy health and salvation!
All ye who hear, now to His temple draw near,
Join me in glad adoration.

Praise to the Lord, who o’er all things so wondrously reigneth,
Shelters thee under His wings, yea, so gently sustaineth!
Hast thou not seen how thy desires e’er have been
Granted in what He ordaineth?

Praise to the Lord, who doth prosper thy work and defend thee!
Surely His goodness and mercy here daily attend thee;
Ponder anew what the Almighty can do
If with His love He befriend thee.

Praise to the Lord, O let all that is in me adore Him!
All that hath life and breath, come now with praises before Him!
Let the amen sound from His people again;
Gladly forever adore Him.

Lyrics by Joachim Neander (pub. 1680), translated by Catherine Winkworth (1863).


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