Halal is the primary Hebrew word for praise. It’s the word from which we derive the biblical word hallelujah. It’s an exuberant expression of celebration, a word that hints at boasting, raving, or celebrating. It carries with it the notion of acting in a way that is foolish. True halal contemplates laying aside your inhibitions and killing your self-consciousness.
It’s used almost always in the context of corporate worship. In Leviticus it is used to describe the way the people might celebrate a harvest festival. The Psalms are littered with this word. The God of the universe made us to praise Him with abandon, like fun-loving children. Sometimes I wonder if God looks down on us American Christians and sees our ultra-dignified and carefully orchestrated worship experiences and wishes we’d cut loose. That’s how Christians worship throughout the rest of the world.
The first time I saw it as a kid I thought it was strange. While are these people raising their hands while singing in worship? I was a Christ-follower but thought maybe this was strange. Many people still misunderstand it today.
I agree with the sentiments of the great theologian, Dr. Martyn Lloyd Jones, who are argues that a dislike of enthusiasm can be “one of the greatest hindrances to revival.”
Yadah is one of the seven words translated in the Old Testament as “praise,” and it’s found over 111 times in Scripture. It is defined as a word meaning “extend hands” or “to throw out the hand,” and it is used to describe the act of shooting an arrow (Jeremiah 50:14) or throwing a stone (Lamentations 3:53). In the context of worship, yadah describes those moments when the Hebrew people were so overcome by the glory of the Lord that their hands shot upward in response.
Since that first experience when I saw others raise their hands I was intrigued with trying it too. Sometimes I feel like doing it but let my worries about what other people think of me become more important than my heart-felt devotion to God. But more often than not I do it and don’t worry about the people around me because their not my audience. God is. It’s a way of demonstrating my surrender to Him in that moment and that like a child raises their hands for a parent to pick them up, so to am I asking for God’s provision of comfort and security.
Many people think worship is an obligation we OWE God. It’s used to motivate people to go to church. God does not need our worship. God is perfectly fine without it But WE NEED to worship. When we worship we are aligned with truth and our souls function well when immersed in truth.
Worship is an invitation BY GOD. Worship is our RESPONSE to what God has done and is doing. Worship is an invitation from a gracious God who bids us to come and enjoy His beauty and goodness.
We do not worship so much as respond.
Worship is not merely a personal matter to inspire the individual. It’s about the transformation of the person WITHIN, BY, and FOR the community of faith, the local church, through the devotion and worship of God almighty. While church worship need not be boring, it is also not designed merely to give us good feelings. While inspiration is a by-product of worship, it is not the central aim of worship.
Worship IS a communal activity meant to instruct a people. We tell our stories, learn our language and find our life in the presence of other Christ-followers. We go to church not to be entertained but to be trained.
Amidst the “Worship Wars” that churches have been going through for over 30 years, let’s be clear that Scripture addresses our question at hand. What kind of music does God like? God likes music with the following components:
- Skill: God does not appreciate poorly written or sloppily performed music (1 Chronicles 25:7; Psalm 33:3).
- Volume: God commands us to shout for joy (Psalm 33:3). What will be the volume level of the mass choir described in Revelation?
- Joy: The Psalmist exhorts us to sing for joy (Psalm 33:1).
- Creativity: The creativity of God is mirrored in the men and women who have ability to create beautiful musical sounds and to use them for praise.
- Participation: Musical praise is not for isolated individuals alone. It is a corporate activity (1 Chronicles 23:5; Colossians 3:16).
- Motivation: This involves the heart of the worshiper. We may have all of the above but if the songs are not offered with love in the heart for Jesus Christ, the exercise is futile.
What kind of music do you think God likes?
After reading 1 Corinthians 11:17-34, it’s pretty clear that Michael Green’s summary of the theology of the Lord’s Supper is super helpful to Christian who wants to participate on Sunday but isn’t sure what to do with that corporate time with God. Using this text and the following outline has helped me to avoid making this memorial meal an empty ritual.
- Look back (to Christ’s death).
- Look in (self-examination).
- Look up (fellowship with God).
- Look around (fellowship with each other).
- Look forward (to Christ’s return).
- Look outward (to proclaim God’s word to others).