By Michael Clack –
I’ve been so overwhelmed lately by the goodness of Jesus. The more I hear about what He is doing in people around me, the more I grow in my love for Him. I think God created us to be encouraged and empowered by the stories of others. These testimonies lift our spirits and turn our hearts to bless and praise God. I want to look at two incredibly powerful forms of praise that God has given.
The first form of praise comes in the word shabach. Although this word is not used much in Scripture, it has a powerful effect. It means to shout, address in a loud tone, or to unashamedly proclaim. It is used to give adoration to God in the form of testimony and also to raise a shout because of God’s faithfulness. This form of praise is so enormous.
The power in testimony
Psalm 145:4 says that ‘One generation shall commend (shabach) your works to another, and shall declare your mighty acts’. This literally means that one generation will shout the mighty acts of God into the next generation. This isn’t a shout because of volume, but it is a metaphorical shout of God’s power. Even a small and quiet voice can speak volumes when declaring the mighty acts of God. When you proclaim what God is doing, He adds the volume. Just the other day I was at the shops with a friend speaking to one of the personnel. My friend felt God say that the lady had a pain in her lower back. She looked at us surprised, but acknowledged it. We asked if we could pray for her. As soon as we finished praying, her entire composure had changed and she leapt into the air! Her back had been healed. We were able to tell her about the love of Jesus and testify about His goodness. This encourages me to seek the mighty acts of God and declare them wherever I go because I know the power that God attaches to these stories.
Shout it out!
There is another form of this word that actually means to shout out loud. In one of my favourite verses from the Psalms we can see it – ‘Because Your steadfast love is better than life, my lips will praise (shabach) You’. It is a mighty shout, this time of volume, unashamedly proclaiming God’s goodness and love. I wouldn’t suggest going around shouting wherever you go, but when you have the opportunity, try it! It might be driving in your car, or at home when only your family can hear. It will truly encourage you as you praise God.
To finish off this series, we are going to look at a word that is used very often these days. The word in Hebrew is barak. This word expresses a deep devotion of the heart. It literally means to kneel, to bow down, or to bless. The word ‘bless’ is often associated with us receiving something, but I want to look at it from another angle. When the word barak is used in Scripture, the people used to literally bow down as an act of adoration. To bless therefore means to bow down.
Bless the king
When a person barak’s God, they are making a statement that He is the origin of all power, success, health, wisdom etc of their lives, and that He sits on the throne. A helpful image is that of an earthly king. Although we don’t have a king ruling over us in the physical sense, I want to see if I can help us understand this with a picture from when kings used to reign. To be in the presence of a king for a couple of minutes, you had to go through at least five hours of protocol training. After this, you would walk into the throne room, and set your eyes on the throne. You would not take your eyes off of the king, otherwise you would be thrown out. It’s all about the king; you behold him. You give him eye contact, and when you come close, you kneel and bless him (barak). In doing this, you are saying: ‘you are my source of blessing, my source of life, and anything good in my life is because of you. Every good thing that I have is because I am in your kingdom, in your presence’. Everything you said and did would indicate this truth. Psalm 103:1-2 tells us that everything we receive, all the benefits that we have are from the Lord – ‘Bless (barak) the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless His holy name! Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits’. The Psalm then continues to tell us of all His wonderful benefits that He gives to us!
There are not many other words that carry such a strong sense of surrender. God does not require us to go through extensive training, but asks us to give our hearts to Him. When this occurs, you will truly find a new joy and peace.
Let praise rise
As you interact with God in new expressions of praise, may you see Him move in such incredible and wonderful ways. You can be released into true freedom when you put your eyes on Him. May the God of peace give you the grace to see Him in His beauty, and the strength to praise Him without restraint.
Picture by Paballo Thekiso