Read: Psalm 104:35 |
There was a man living in the hills of Arkansas who was brought to Christ. He was known as “Mr. Moonshine” because of the many liquor stills that he had hidden away back in the hills. After becoming a Christian, his life changed dramatically. He destroyed all of his stills and poured out all of moonshine he had stored away. One of his favorite expressions, whether in worship or just casually talking with a friend was “Hallelujah”. He would “Hallelujah” this and “Hallelujah” that. One day someone asked, “What does the word ‘Hallelujah mean, anyway?” He laughed and said, “I really don’t know. But I think it’s a Hebrew word for ‘Hot Dog, this is it!’”
The former Mr. Moonshine provided a working loose translation. Hallelujah is a Hebrew word. It is actually two Hebrew words put together. “Hallel” is a command and means to praise, to boast in, to shine forth, to be worthy of praise. “Jah” is a shortened form of “Jehovah” which means the Self-Existent and Eternal One. The two words together are translated “Praise the Lord”!
The first occurrence of Hallelujah occurs in Psalms 104:35. The word is only found in 24 times in the Old Testament and 4 times in the New Testament. In the Old Testament, it only appears in the Book of Psalms in a group known as the Hallelujah Psalms. In Judaism, Psalms 113-119 are sung during the Passover Seder, Feast of the Pentecost, Feast of the Tabernacle and the Feast of Dedication. Jesus would have worshiped with these same Psalms after the Jewish tradition. In the New Testament, it appears only in the book of Revelations. The scene in this passage opens in heaven after the final overthrow of the enemies of the church and the triumph of the gospel. A great multitude has gathered before the throne in the immediate presence of God Himself. What a worthwhile time to say “Hallelujah” as the exclamation point!
Saying Hallelujah is to speak the language of Heaven. For in Heaven, we will be signing and praising His name all the time. In fact, Charles Spurgeon [CHS} says that “Praise is the most heavenly of Christian duties. The angels pray not, but they cease not to praise both day and night.”
Without mincing words, our purpose, our motivation, our reason to praise is simple, succinct and sincerely summarized into two reasons. God is good and His mercy endures forever. (verse). That is enough. Together or one at a time, these reasons are enough to praise Him and shout Hallelujah right now. Our acknowledgement of His position and power along with our posture of prayer and praise will ignite a spiritual fragrance that attracts His presence.
We should be persistent and praise Him anyhow, anywhere. In good times or bad, Praise Him. In fact, if you have not praised Him yet today take a break and say “Hallelujah” for something right now. Psalms 150 notes “Let everything that has breath praise the Lord.” (Psalm 150:6) In other words, as long as you can take a breath you can breathe praise to Jehovah.
We readily show passion with our spouses, our favorite sports teams and/or TV shows. However, our praise to the Lord should exceed the passion we show them. Passionate praise is circular. As we praise Him and recall His goodness and mercy, we recall something else that He has done for us and it re-starts our praise once again. CHS writes, “Praise is the rent which God requires for the use of his mercies”. As we passionately praise Him and spiral to a higher high the angels themselves may take notice of our earthly choir practice!
As we remember the purpose, persevere with persistence and passionately shout Hallelujah; let us wear His praise like a garment we never remove. Hallelujah, Praise the Lord!
Next week we will cover Part 2– “If Prayer changes things, what can Praise do?”
A. When do I praise God?
B. How often do I praise Him?
A. How can I develop more persistence and passion with my praise?
A. How is my purposeful praise impacting those around me?
B. Challenge your prayer partner to pick a day of the week as your “Hallelujah Day”. A day where you will praise Him when your mind strays or wonders.