Praise Him Without Shame
Have you ever been to a rock concert or a Garth Brook’s show, maybe a book signing by Stephen King or Tom Clancy, or by chance waiting for Tom Cruise to emerge from a local restaurant? Preferably not, however, if you were, you no doubt would witness uninhibited adoration being cast upon this world’s stars by countless fans of all ages. At music concerts people sing with boisterous emotion, sway with the melody, clap to the beat and raise their hands, jump and shout praise to their favorite singer. At book signings fans wait nervously in line for hours, just to spend only a minute with someone they admire and idolize, all for an autograph and a handshake. I’m sure you’ve seen movie stars trying to make it through a crowd of admirers reaching out to hug, kiss or even just to touch their hero, many crying, shaking or even fainting with the excitement. This is how humans act in a close encounter with someone they are completely devoted and infatuated with. These celebrities have never as much as given these people a drive or bought them dinner, yet they are totally enraptured by them.
Now it appears to me, this type of affection should be reserved only for someone who has done so much for you, it completely changes your whole life, to the point of saving your soul. If there existed someone like this, should it not be incumbent on us to exalt Him in at least an equal manner?
I would imagine almost everyone reading this article believes his or her salvation is thanks to a loving heavenly Father, who sent His only begotten son to die in our stead. Why then do we not praise Him the way the world does its gods? Why do we not worship Him the way He has told us to? Are we too shy to show others what He means to us or are we ashamed to express our emotions, lest others might disapprove? Is it scriptural to “let loose” in service? Would it be wrong to say many of us should “lighten up a bit”?
Is anyone happy?
James asks, “Is anyone happy? Let him sing songs of praise” (Jas. 5:13 NIV). We should be happy; it’s a fruit of the Holy Spirit. Yahshua was not ashamed, He said, “ I will declare thy name unto my brethren, in the midst of the assembly will I sing praise unto thee” (Heb. 2:12).
Yahweh Himself will sing for joy over us: “Yahweh your God is with you, He is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing” (Zep. 3:17 NIV). The last clause in other bible versions brings out His delight more clearly: “He will exult over you with loud singing” (RV). “He will rejoice over you with shouts of joy” (NASV). “He will dance with shouts of joy for you as on a day of festival” (JB). This is our creator, the sustainer of the entire universe who takes great delight in us and shouts for joy over His children. If He can be this exuberant for us, we should not hesitate to be more so toward Him.
Looking into His word we clearly see what He expects from us: “Praise ye Yahweh [HalleluYah]. Praise God in his sanctuary: praise him in the firmament of his power. Praise him for his mighty acts: praise him according to his excellent greatness. Praise him with the sound of the trumpet: praise him with the psaltery and harp. Praise him with the timbrel [tambourine] and dance [pipe]: praise him with stringed instruments and organs. Praise him upon the loud cymbals: praise him upon the high sounding cymbals. Let every thing that hath breath praise Yahweh. HalleluYah” (Ps. 150).
We, whom He has revealed so much truth to, ought to be bubbling over with praise. We should be the children with a reputation for exultation, jubilation and rejoicing. The children of Yahweh should be filled with delight, joy and happiness. Did He not give us His Holy Spirit? Do we not have the fruit of the Spirit? Should we not joint with Peter and encourage all to “rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory” (1 Pe. 1:8)?
We are of a select few who know His name, let us do as the psalmist suggests, “Sing forth the honour of his name: make his praise glorious” (Ps. 66:2). David wrote in Psalm 98:4: “Make a joyful noise unto Yahweh, all the earth: make a loud noise, and rejoice, and sing praise.” There was no holding back David from showing how he felt about his Creator.
What limit should we impose on the magnitude of this praise? Looking at Ezra 3:11 we might advise no limit on genuine, heartfelt praise. For we read that “all the people shouted with a great shout, when they praised Yahweh.” What we must do is “Sing praises to Yahweh, sing praises: sing praises unto our King, sing praises (Ps 47:6).
Yahshua said, “Yahweh is [a] Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth” (Jo. 4:24). Far too many of us physically worship, going through the same routine without surrendering our spirit to His, that our worship may be pleasing to Him (See Ro. 8:14-27). Hebrew 13:15 points out that praise is a constant: “By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to Yahweh continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name.” Yahweh values praise far more then He values physical sacrifice (Ps. 40:6; 69:30-31 & He. 10:5-9).
Is there more to worship then singing and shouting? In what other ways can we convey our feelings toward our Saviour, as we praise Him? His word is always the first place we should look to witness how others worshipped. Again we turn to David for direction, we find him praying in Psalm 63:4, “Thus will I bless thee while I live: I will lift up my hands in thy name.” We see that David sings, shouts, leaps and dances (2Sa. 6:16), and also raises his hands in worship. You can’t help getting the impression David is very pleased with Yahweh. Once more he writes: “Let my prayer be set forth before thee as incense; and the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice” (Ps 141:2). Adam Clarke’s* comments on this verse are helpful: “Why, as he could not worship according to the letter of the law (he was on the run from Saul), he will worship God according to the spirit; then prayer is accepted in the place of incense; and the lifting up of his hands, in gratitude and self-dedication to God.” What true spiritual worship is, should be clear from what we learn from David, someone Yahweh called “a man after mine own heart” (Ac. 13:22).
Solomon prayed “kneeling on his knees with his hands spread up to heaven” (1Ki. 8:54). In Lamentations 3:41 Jeremiah shows us that humility is attained, in part, as well as forgiveness, by raising our hands and heart to Yahweh, “Let us lift up our heart with our hands unto the Mighty One in the heavens.” Ezra, in sorrow, shame and fear for Israel’s iniquities said, “I fell upon my knees, and spread out my hands unto Yahweh my God” (Ezra 9:5). Israel would not have prevailed against Amalek had not Moses held his hands up to Yahweh (Ex. 17:11). This is what the whole congregation did after returning from their captivity in Babylon, “And all the people answered, Amen, Amen, with lifting up their hands: and they bowed their heads, and worshipped Yahweh with their faces to the ground” (Ne. 8:6). In Psalms we read over and over again of fervent prayer and worship, undertaken with hands raised to Yahweh, (see 28:2; 88:9; 134:2). In the New Testament as well, we find Paul encouraging all to lift our hands in prayer: “I will therefore that men pray every where, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting” (1Ti. 2:8).
In many ways our hands represent our capabilities and what we have accomplished. Strong hands imply power (Ne. 2:18), whereas weak hands represent our weaknesses (Ezra 4:4). Our hands are synonymous with sin (Job 11:14, Ps. 7:3) or righteousness (2Sa. 22:21, Ps. 18:20). By washing our hands it symbolizes removing guilt, (Ps. 73:13, Mt. 27:24, Ja. 4:8). We also see that Yahweh worked His miracles and imparted His Holy Spirit through the hands of the apostles (Ac. 5:12, 8:18 and 14:3).
Today we’re to worship in spirit and lifting our hands enables us to open-up to Yahweh’s presence, surrender to His will and embrace His love.
You often see people today clapping their hands to the rhythm of music, to the excitement of a sporting event or to display their approval of a particular performance. Clapping one’s hands is an outlet for built-up emotion and happiness. Let’s now read Psalm 47:1: “O clap your hands, all ye people; shout unto God with the voice of triumph.” By clapping and shouting unto Yahweh, we release our joy for what He has done for us, it enables us to demonstrate to all, the great enthusiasm, passion and affection we feel for our highly exalted, gracious Father. As an example for us the scriptures show how the earth itself feels toward Yahweh: “Let the floods clap their hands: let the hills be joyful together” (Ps 98:8). Turn to Isaiah. 55:12 where we see the day when the earth will worship with us in peace: “For ye shall go out with joy, and be led forth with peace: the mountains and the hills shall break forth before you into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.” Clapping your hands is not limited to charismatic groups only, but can and should be enjoyed by all those who love to worship.
He can look elsewhere
On the day Yahshua entered triumphantly into Jerusalem and the multitude “began to rejoice and praise Yahweh with a loud voice,” He was told by the Pharisees “rebuke thy disciples.” Yahshua said, “I tell you that, if these should hold their peace, the stones would immediately cry out” (Lu. 19:37-40). John the Baptist also knew Yahweh required worshippers, for he told the Pharisees and Sadducees, “I say unto you, that Yahweh is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham” (Mt. 3:9). Our Almighty Creator is not dependent on us for worship. If need be, He will raise up out of the ground those who will worship Him. We have Yahshua’s word on that and He has told us, “the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth,” this is what we must start to do, “for the Father seeketh such to worship him” (Jo. 4:23). If He doesn’t receive it from us, whom He has shown so much truth to, He is sure to turn to others.
We are often times too stiff, dry and self-conscience. We should be more like children, uninhibited by our pride and vanity, which is carnal and prevents us from worshipping spiritually. Read what Yahshua said to the chief priests and scribes: “Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings thou hast perfected praise” (Mt. 21:15).
Hear what Yahweh says, “The people whom I formed for myself that they might declare my praise” (Is. 43:21 RV). Let us not be stifled by the “chief priests and scribes” of our day, and in no way should we allow our flesh to subdue the joy the Holy Spirit has placed within.
JB- Jerusalem Bible
NASV- New American Standard Version
NIV- New International Version
RV- Revised Version
*Adam Clarke, Clarke’s Commentary, vol. 2, pg. 670.