The Bible teaches 7 types of praise. This praise can happen at home, work, in the car or during the worship service.
We know that a lifestyle of worship and/or praise is so much more than just the songs we sing or even the motions we go through in our worship gatherings. That being said, there are seven specific expressions of praise used to convey different “shades” of praise throughout the Bible. When we look at the language that these words were originally written in we see that our English translators basically just popped the word PRAISE in when they could have been a LOT more expressive and accurate.
Think about that! Each time you see the word PRAISE, throughout the Psalms for example, it might be one of seven different word pictures (meanings).
It’s not something that we’re going to build an altar to, base our doctrine on, or even make a denomination out of, but it is something that can enrich the lives of your congregants. And if you deliver it in a casual, interactive way, something that they will take home with them and apply in their own repertoire of outward worship expressions.
- Yadah (yaw-daw’) Strongs 3034:
This means to show reverence or praise with extended hands. The word pictures associated with the root words for this type of praise is shooting an arrow or throwing a rock. It literally means to extend the hands, or to shoot and arrow.
- You can references of this in Psalm 42:5, and also in 2 Chronicles 7 . The picture is of the Levites blowing the trumpets and calling everyone to worship and the “praise” that everyone is expressing is through standing and lifted hands. This can practically be illustrated by a small child who wants to be picked up; they extend their hands high above their heads in a sign of surrender and desire to be held.
- Towdah (to-daw’) Strongs 8426:
This word is very similar to yadah, but has a slightly different meaning. It means to show agreement with by extending the right hand. In today’s society the closest thing we have is a handshake to seal a deal or pact. The idea is that it is usually associated with sacrifice (specifically things given up to show thankfulness to God). Psalm 50:23
- Barak (baw-rak’) Strongs 1288:
This type of praise is one that we commonly see around altars. It means to kneel down, to bow low as a sign of adoration and reverence. Carrying with it the idea of humbling yourself to a place that is lower than the recipient of your worship (God). As far as worship goes, this is the most physically uncomfortable expression of praise, it takes effort and may cause discomfort. If you think it is too painful, your back hurts, or you are too feeble to make this action, consider yourself kneeling before a king who has power of life and death over you and trying to explain why you cannot bow down. God is much more powerful and worthy than any earthly king. Psalm 95:6 Psalm 103
- Tehillah (tel-hil-law’) Strongs 8416:
This type of praise is singing, but not just any type of singing. It’s the singing that bubbles up from our hearts. It’s a spontaneous type of singing. These songs are unrehearsed and unprepared. They are straight to God. Think SPONTANIOUS!! Psalm 22:3 Psalm 33:1
- Zamar (zaw-mar’) Strongs 2167:
This literally means to pluck the strings, to celebrate in song and music. Basically it’s probably the most common form of “praise” we have across the world in our churches. It’s just singing songs put to music. What’s neat about it though, is that it can also refer to JUST PLAYING, as well. It is usually translated as “sing praises.” Psalm 150
- Halal (haw-lal’) Strongs 1984:
This might be one of the most “fun” forms of praise because it requires one to step outside of “dignity” for a moment. It means to be clamorously foolish. To boast. To shine. This is the kind of praise that David exhibited when he danced for joy at the return of the Ark of The Covenant to Israel. It’s also the form of praise that prompted his wife to ridicule him for his lack of dignity.
- This is also where we get the word Halellujah from. It literally means “Praise the Lord” but even more literally it means to BE CLAMOROUSLY FOOLISH unto the Lord! This includes dancing and laughing and leaping and twirling before the Lord, but it also (and probably more accurately) includes the state of the heart before God. A heart that is turned towards God and not afraid to BOAST in and of God is a “halal” heart. Halal is not only demonstrative praise, but can also be the force behind any of these other forms of praise. You can sing or shout or even play an instrument as a halal.
- This word appears over 100 times in the Old Testament. 1 Chronicles 16:4 (there were actual appointed musicians to “halal” before the Lord);
- Shabach (Shaw-bakh’) Strongs 7623:
Are you ready to get loud? Shabach means to address in a loud tone. It’s typically associated with freedom or triumph. But it’s more than just a loud shout, it’s the idea of putting everything you have into it. An attitude of wholehearted praise.
- Psalm 63:3-4 (We typically look at this psalm as soft cry of thirst in a dry place, but the words in these verses literally mean to SHOUT praises!)
There it is, a short introduction to the 7 types of praise used in the Bible. I would encourage you to dig deeper and study this topic more in-depth. God-inspired authors put these 7 unique types of praise in the Bible for a reason, it is worth some time of study and practice. While there is no specific “diet” of how much of each praise we should use, I would argue that Biblical principles teach to avoid excess of any one type. Maybe next time you are alone, at the park or even at Church you can worship God in a different way, uniquely you and honoring to Him.