What does it mean to praise God? Does it involve singing, shouting, raising hands, bowing, kneeling or all of the above? It’s likely that if you were to ask seven worshippers you might end up with seven different answers to this simple question. As It turns out, there is a good reason for this lack of clarity.
Many of us are familiar with the fact that in New Testament Greek there are three words that are translated as “love” in English: eros (erotic love), phileo (brotherly love) and agape (unconditional love). Once we become aware of these variations, the simple phrase “I love you” suddenly takes on several possible and quite distinct meanings.
In this new book, Holy Roar, Christian artist and worship leader Chris Tomlin and his pastor, Darren Whitehead, shed some much needed light on what it means to praise the LORD. You see, there are seven distinct Hebrew words that are translated as “praise” in English, each revealing another layer of meaning to the worship experience.
“Praise (Hallal) ye the LORD. Praise (Hallal) God in his sanctuary: praise (hallal) him in the firmament of his power.” (Psalm 150:1)
YADAH יָדָה to extend hands, to throw out the hands, to shoot an arrow, to throw a stone
“Let the people praise (yadah) thee, O God; let all the people praise (yadah) thee.” (Psalm 67:3)
TOWDAH תּוֹדָה an extension of the hand, thanksgiving, a confession, a sacrifice of praise, thanksgiving for things not yet received, a choir of worshippers, expectant praise
“In God have I put my trust: I will not be afraid what man can do unto me. I am under vows to you, my God; I will present my thank offerings (towdah) to you.” (Psalm 56:11-12)
SHABACH שָׁבַח to shout, to address in a loud tone, to command, to triumph
“One generation shall praise (shabach) thy works to another, and shall declare thy mighty acts.” (Psalm 145:4)
BARAK בָּרַךְ to kneel down, to bless God as an act of adoration, to salute
“I will bless (barak) the LORD at all times; His praise (tehillah) shall continually be in my mouth.” (Psalm 34:1)
ZAMAR זָמַר to make music. to celebrate in song or music, to touch the strings of a musical instrument
“Be exalted, O LORD, in Your own strength! We will sing and praise (zamar) Your power.” (Psalm 21:13)
TEHILLAH תְּהִלָּה the singing of halals, to sing or to praise, hymns of praise
“Yet you are enthroned as the Holy One; you are the one Israel praises (tehillah).” (Psalm 22:3)
In this easy, yet powerful read, Whitehead explores the meaning of each Hebrew word in depth, while Tomlin connects each distinct aspect of the word “praise” to one of his worship songs. This book unlocks what it truly means to praise God and is sure to transform both your study of scripture as well the way in which you worship the LORD!
7 Words That Will Change The Way You Worship