Praise is defined by Dictionary.com as "the act of expressing approval or admiration."
What act of praise, what act of admiration or approval sticks out most in your head? For me, a ton of romantic comedies and chick flicks pop into my head. In the movies (and yes, sometimes in real life) guys do some ridiculously crazy things to express their admiration. But even though we know it is ridiculous and crazy we still love it!
For instance, in the movie Hitch, he tackles a car! Just so he can tell her how he feels, how he really feels. Or what about Up? He moves his house the whole may to South America with a bunch of balloons as one last act of admiration (or praise) for his dear departed Elle. I even read a news story where a man had an ice company turn their yard into a winter wonderland (snow and all) so his wife, who was dying of cancer, could have the winter she wanted.
When we truly admire someone, when we want to give them our praise and approval, there is something in us that wants it to be over the top, ridiculous, crazy! Maybe that is because God desires our over-the-top praise for Himself and has placed that potential in our souls, in our inner-most being.
1 I will give thanks to the Lord with all my heart;
I will tell of all Your wonders.
2 I will be glad and exult in You.
I will sing praise to Your name, O Most High.
David really knew how to praise God. His admiration over flows in just two simple verses. When studying a passage, I always scribble down my initial impression: "This is how we should start every day! Giving thanks and praising God - it would make such a difference in me and everyone I encounter if my lips overflowed with praise for God as I got out of bed each day." Can you just imagine!?!
Here, David gives us a sort of outline for what praising God should look like.
First and foremost, if you are praising God, expressing your approval or admiration for Him, it should always be done with your whole heart: I will give thanks to the Lord with all my heart. This is essential. Let me say that again, this is essential...without your whole heart, no matter how crazy your act of praise or admiration is, it is irrelevant - "it is only when the whole heart is employed in the work that God can look upon it with acceptance" (Clarke).
I will tell of all your wonders. The Gesenius Lexicon defines 'wonders' in this case as "things done wonderfully, miracles of God, both in creating and sustaining the world." And 'tell' is translated from the Hebrew word caphar meaning "to count, recount, relate" (Strong's H5608). So, we should recount the miracles that God has done, not only in our creation, but in our lives, in our sustenance. We need to always be mindful and thankful of what He has done in our lives - focus on what you have, not what you do not have.
I will be glad and exult in You. It is not always easy to be joyful is it? When life is going our way, joy is easy. And when it is, "whatever occurs to make us glad, our joy must pass through it, and terminate in God only...not in the gift so much as in the Giver" (Henry). You see, He should always and forever be the source of our joy, no matter what life brings our way. And that means we should be joyful and glad even when it is difficult. You see, "Obsessed
people," or people that would do crazy things to show their praise and admiration, "know that true joy doesn't depend on circumstances or environment; it is
a gift that must be chosen and cultivated, a gift that ultimately comes from
God" (Francis Chan, Crazy Love). Remain joyful at all times and always remember to give Him the credit!
I will sing praise to Your name, O Most High. This, I believe, is where the crazy comes in - where the houses-flying-by-way-of-balloons and jumping-on-top-of-cars kind of stuff comes in. Yes, we sing in church with everyone else (and let's be honest, some of us don't even do that). But does our embarrassment get in the way of truly praising God? When I was going to school we went to a college-age service on Tuesday nights and it was always phenomenal. I left there each week knowing I had felt the presence of God in a powerful way. And I truly believe it is because it was a worship-the-way-you-want-to kind of atmosphere. For some reason, that place, that service made you feel less inhibited - I was never afraid to raise my hands in awe of God's presence and power. But in most places, I will admit, I'm too embarrassed to do so. I'm sure many of you can relate. But David danced in the streets when he was praising God - he was NEVER inhibited or embarrassed or afraid of what others might think (see 2 Samuel 6:14 and 1 Chronicles 15:19)! And we can hardly sing for fear of what the person in the pew behind us might think! If you want to praise God - do something crazy! Show your admiration in a memorable way.
I challenge you today to take your praise of God to the next level. Make sure your whole heart is in it and then do something crazy. Let's become a little less inhibited and give God the praise He deserves. But, please, don't go dancing naked in the streets...people might get the wrong idea.... ;)