Praise Is Not What You Think It Is: What It Means To Praise

It’s time to stop and praise the Lord! We hear it frequently said, “praise the Lord” and “Hallelujah.” But did you know this is not praise? What is the real meaning of praise, the definition of praise?

It’s time to stop and praise the Lord! We hear it frequently said, “praise the Lord” and “Hallelujah.” But did you know this is not praise? What is the real meaning of praise, the definition of praise? #praise

There are many different Hebrew and Greek words used as our English equivalent of the word Praise; however, they all have the same general meaning: glory, boast, give thanks, confess, triumph, commend, and sing are a few to help define praise. Phrases of praise are found throughout the Bible from Genesis to Revelation.

Let’s look at a few from the Psalms. C. S. Lewis tells us in his book, Reflections on the Psalms We delight to praise what we enjoy because the praise not merely expresses but completes the enjoyment; it is its appointed consummation.  In the Psalms (Psalm 9, Psalm 33, Psalm 66, Psalm 100, Psalm 150), you’ll find praise and worship songs with phrases such as:

  • I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart. I will recount all of his wonderful deeds.
  • I will be glad and exult in the Most High. Say to God, “How awesome are your deeds! So great is your power that your enemies come cringing to you.
  • Shout for joy in the Lord! For the word of the Lord is upright, and all his work is done in faithfulness.
  • Sing to him a new song; play skillfully on the strings, with loud shouts! Come and see what God has done: he is awesome in his deeds toward the children of man.
  • All the earth worships you and sings praises to you; they sing praises to your name. Know that the Lord, he is God! It is he who made us, and we are his.
  • Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth! Come into his presence with singing! Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise!
  • Praise him with trumpet sound; praise him with lute and harp! Praise him with tambourine and dance; praise him with strings and pipe! Praise him with sounding cymbals; praise him with loud clashing cymbals.

To put real praise into perspective, imagine the words you say to a child when you praise him, “Johnny, you’re so creative to come up with that winning art project.” Or to your friend, “I appreciate you being there for me during that hard time.” Or imagine your spouse, “I love you and am thankful I get to spend the rest of my life with you.” 

When we praise those around us, we don’t yell out, “Praise Johnny, Hallelujah!” We also acknowledge them for who they are and what they’ve done. It’s no different when praising God. Nancy DeMoss in her book, A Quiet Place of Rest, scripts a perfect definition of praise: “Praise is a verbal or visible adoration of God – for who He is.”

The next question we should ask is, why? There are several reasons why we should praise God.

1. We should praise Him because He seeks praise,  “But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him” (John 4:23). Praise pleases God. He seeks praise.

2. He commands us to praise Him. He not only commands us but the whole world as well. Read Psalm 148 to see He expects the heavens, stars, moon and sun to praise Him; the creatures of the sea, air, and earth to praise Him; the mountains and trees to praise God; even the weather, snow, wind, fire and hail are to “praise the Lord from the earth.” We are commanded to praise Him.

Remember that every time He commands us to do something, it's for our own good....which leads to number three below.


3. The most remarkable reason we are to praise God comes from Psalm 22:3 which says, “But thou art holy, O thou that inhabitest the praises of Israel.” God inhabits the praises of His people! The meaning of inhabitest in Hebrew is sit, abide, dwell.  Take a moment to visualize God sitting with you, dwelling with you, hanging out with you as you praise Him. 

Another example of God’s presence in praise is 2 Chronicles 5:13-14. As they were praising God by singing, playing their trumpets and other musical instruments, “the house of the Lord, was filled with a cloud, so that the priests could not stand to minister because of the cloud, for the glory of the Lord filled the house of God.”

Praising God brings us into His presence! 

So, let’s get to it and praise God today in song! The hymn below comes from Samuel Trevor Francis, written around the year 1875. He was a British lay preacher and hymn writer who also had a passion for poetry (

Imagine Samuel sitting on the beach on an early July morning watching the sun rise and tide come in while in prayer and in study of the Word. Imagine His response of praise: 

O the deep, deep love of Jesus, vast, unmeasured, boundless, free!
Rolling as a mighty ocean in its fullness over me!
Underneath me, all around me, is the current of Thy love
Leading onward, leading homeward to Thy glorious rest above!

O the deep, deep love of Jesus, spread His praise from shore to shore!
How He loveth, ever loveth, changeth never, nevermore!
How He watches o’er His loved ones, died to call them all His own;
How for them He intercedeth, watcheth o’er them from the throne!

O the deep, deep love of Jesus, love of every love the best!
’Tis an ocean full of blessing, ’tis a haven giving rest!
O the deep, deep love of Jesus, ’tis a heaven of heavens to me;
And it lifts me up to glory, for it lifts me up to Thee!

The next time you're having fun beach time, stop and recall this hymn of praise. God will be sitting and dwelling with you. 

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