Saturday, February 19, 2011

Week #7 Psalm 71:8 "A Definition of Praise"

"My mouth is filled with Your praise, declaring Your splendor all day long."

PRAISE: (definition)
1. "psalm," "confession," "thanksgiving," "glorify," "to stretch out the hand." The word comes from the Latin pretium, "price," or "value," and may be defined generally as an ascription of value or worth.
(International Standard Bible Encyclopedia)

2. (v.) To extol in words or song; to magnify; to glorify on account of perfections or excellent works; to do honor to; to display the excellence of; -- applied especially to the Divine Being. (Webster's Dictionary)

These definitions of "praise" are important to me. If I attempt to apply this truth from Psalm 71:8, I need a good grasp of the term "praise." It got me thinking, about what praise really is, and whether or not I am actually doing it.

You see, I have a slight problem when it comes to praise. Praising God is oftentimes associated in the Psalms with gladness, dancing and singing. But, as a Christian who struggles with depression, I can't always bring myself to sing, dance or feel glad. Does this mean I'm not capable of praise?

That's when I looked at the aforementioned definitions of the word "praise." I have to say, they made me feel a whole lot better. Praise, at least by these definitions, doesn't necessarily require any particular emotion, such as happiness or even a good mood, or motoric behavior, such as dance.

To praise is to acknowledge who God is, and to give honor to who He is. Period.

If you doubt my interpretation, consider this. David, in many of his psalms, such as in Ps. 143, spoke honestly to the LORD about his pain, his trials and his suffering. He wasn't dancing and singing at that moment. But notice what he says in verse 6: "I stretch out my hands to You, my soul thirsts for You like a parched land." "Stretch out his hand" other words, praise.

And take Job, as another example. Though he wailed about his enormous suffering, even pronouncing that God was "slaying him" (Job. 13:15), look what Job said just before that (Job 12:13): "With Him are wisdom and might. To Him belong counsel and understanding." In other words, he was acknowledging God's attributes. Sounds like praise to me.

What an enormous relief that is. Even in my darkest moments of sadness, I can still praise God honestly and truthfully. No, I don't have to put on a happy face, or force myself to dance, sing and shout "hallelujah." I can sit at the feet of my LORD and acknowledge who He is.

Of course, if all that meditation about God's attributes and blessing starts to bring a smile - an honest, sincere smile - to my face, all the better.

But even if it doesn't, God can still inhabit the praise of his people regardless of their mood. Why not? He's a big God, and can do anything.

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