You know, when I was asked to do this address, I thought to myself, how am I going to speak upon the subject of praise? It’s such a vast subject!

So what I did, was, I got out my Concordance, and I said, ‘Praise’, this is my theme; all right, let’s speak about praise. I looked up my Concordance. I am not a Hebrew student—I don’t know anything about Hebrew. I depend upon those who do know something about Hebrew, and I got my Concordance, and I looked up the word ‘praise’, and I noted that there were many Hebrew words that are translated ‘praise’ in my Bible. So, I went to the trouble of looking them up—I was intrigued. I saw that one particular word meant something, another particular word meant something, and I thought to myself, now an excellent thing for me to do would be to take those words, and with my Concordance, go right through the Psalms and colour in the words and put that colour in the front of my Bible together with the Hebrew word.

So I did that and it took me a couple of nights. I went through the Psalms and I took my six coloured pencils and I marked in colours in my Bible everywhere where the word ‘praise’ was found, so that when I turn over the Psalms now, and I see the word ‘praise’ in a certain colour, I know the Hebrew word is a particular word, which means something to me, and the Psalms came ALIVE, for I found there were six words in the Hebrew language which are translated by our translators as the word ‘praise’, and they are interesting.

Now you take the major word that is used, halal. Some of you may have heard about the Jewish Halal. The Jewish Halal is a term they use to describe the songs of the psalms which they sing during the Passover season. They call that the halaland it is a word of course, which is translated ‘hallel-ujah’. ‘Hallelujah’ – ‘Praise the Lord’; ‘Hallelujah’ – ‘Praise be to the Lord’. Now this word halal is a word which means ‘to be clear in sound, or in colour’. When a person makes a sound, and it is a clear sound, or a colour, and it is vivid – this is the idea of halal, and it really means ‘to celebrate’, and the word has the meanings of ‘to make a show’, ‘to raise’, ‘to glory’, ‘to be clamorous’.

You get the idea don’t you? Not that we rave in the sense that the Gentiles outside this place rave; not that we be clamorous or make a show as the Gentiles make a show, young people, but that we be moved by the power of God to such an extent that we celebrate Him with such clarity of meaning and feeling that we halal, praise God: Hallelujah. And that’s how that word is translated. It is used in the sense of glory—clear, crystal clear glory. There is nothing nebulous about the praise which is offered to God, and you will find that word in the Psalms used in that sense. So when I turn my Bible over, that word appears in red everywhere, and I notice, young people, that the further I get into the Psalms, the more that word appears, until finally, when I get to Psalm 150, what do we find? Halal is used 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13 times in the 150th Psalm, and there’s only one word for praise in the 150th Psalm, and that’s halal, and it concludes the Psalms on that note of ‘Hallelujah’.

Then I found this word tehillah (not that the Hebrew word itself means anything to you). I am not quoting it for that purpose, but I do this for this purpose, that really the name ‘Tehillah’ is the Jewish name for the psalms. You see, we read “The Book of the Psalms”, don’t we? That’s the name given to the book by the Septuagint translators. They gave the name to the psalms 200 years before Christ, but the psalms were written some centuries before Jesus Christ. The Jews wouldn’t call them ‘The Psalms’, they’d call them ‘The Tehillah’, and this word tehillah, means ‘a laudation, or praise’. Not in the sense of halal ‘to celebrate’, ‘to make a show’, ‘to be moved’, but in the sense of a calculated intelligent praise. Hence The Book of the Psalms was called by the Jews, ‘The Praises of Israel’.

Now the Jewish title appears of all places in Psalm 22, and you have a look at this. Here’s where you find our title, “The Praises of Israel”, and strangely enough, we find this word, tehillah, coloured green in my Bible, and staring me in the face. Now when I see this word for praise, coloured in green, I know it is this word tehillah—and it means a lot. I can see that this is a title. This is a calculated title. It is a word which means a ‘calculated, deliberate, meditated praise’—a praise based on the fact that people have thought about God, they have assessed the worth of His Word, and, having assessed all these things, they make a calculated, planned, and deliberate praise to His Name.

Now look where it is found in Psalm 22:3: “But thou art holy, O thou that inhabitest the praises of Israel”. What’s so marvellous about that appearing there? Well, this is what’s marvellous about that, young people, because in verse 1 we have the fervent, anguished cry of a man hanging upon a stake with nails driven through his hands, blood streaming all over him, stark-naked before the populous, in agony of mind and body, tortured upon that stake. “My God, my God”, he says, “why hast thou forsaken me?” And he knew why and he thought about it, and the fact that the Lord Jesus Christ asked that question on the cross, and it is put in his mouth by the gospel writers, doesn’t mean that he didn’t know the answer. HE KNEW THE ANSWER—for the Spirit had left him.

He hung there, as Brother Thomas so beautifully expounds, as “the man, the crucified Nazarene, to declare the righteousness of God, the glory of God, the mercy of God, that only through this way, could we have salvation”. There, in absolute torture of mind and body, the anguished cry, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” and he knew the answer because he said, “Thou art holy” (v3). The holiness of God demanded this. God is not indifferent to His holiness, and His mercy could only be extended if this man was prepared to sacrifice himself for the sins of the world, and to declare for all time, that the flesh profits nothing, that the Spirit gives life.

As we hear that tormented cry, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” we believe the thoughts of Psalm 22 must have been his thoughts, and despite that expression of anguish, he could also say, “Thou art holy, O thou that inhabitest the praises of Israel” (v3). As I said before, this word praise is a calculated, meditated thought upon the goodness and mercy and greatness of God. It wasn’t the scream of a madman upon that cross—one beyond himself. It wasn’t a man, young people, who was so tortured by pain he didn’t know what he was saying. He meditated; he knew why God had forsaken him. And when he asked that question, the answer came to his own lips: “Because You are holy”, and he says that God inhabited the praises of Israel. That word “inhabitest” is rendered in the RSV and can be rendered according to the Hebrew, ‘enthroned’; and there is one hanging on that cross—you picture that scene, just picture it in your mind, and he saw God, young people, ENTHRONED on the praises of Israel.

God sitting upon a throne of praise, that the praises which were coming up from that stake were like a throne over which God was sitting there accepting that praise and sitting upon that praise, enthroned in the praises of Israel. And what are we doing this weekend? We are not hanging on stakes! We are not asked to do very much for the Truth. We are not asked to give our life, young people; we are not asked to go without wives or husbands. We are not asked to have all our friends deny us; we are not asked to be spat upon. We are not asked to do any of these things that he did. And how often do we, and I, lift up our voices in praise that God might sit enthroned on that praise? Do you think it is possible between 150-odd young people on this weekend, that what is wafted up from this place, God may inhabit and sit upon it as a throne to be pleased and honoured to sit there? And we are not in a situation like his. What do we do under pressure? Our cry would have been one of for help, for deliverance! He couldn’t be delivered, because thus it must be fulfilled. And he realised that all this was in the mercy and love of God, and he said, “You are enthroned on the praises of Israel”. A beautiful word, isn’t it?

There are other words used. You have got the words yahdah and towdah. Again the Hebrew words don’t mean a thing to us. I merely use them because you can see, can’t you, the relationship between the words; one comes from the other. Now the word yahdah means ‘to worship God with extended hands’. As David says, “I lift up my hands as the evening sacrifice” (Psa 141:2), and we have seen an illustration tonight of the word towdah when Brother Phil Wilson was up here, he was conducting the choir.

I was intrigued as I watched this, because I knew that this was going to come into my address, and so I watched him closely, and I not only watched him but I watched the singers as well. (The little Palmer girl I particularly noticed; she was very emblematic of this particular word). Because the word means the same as yahdah with a difference. It means to worship God with the extension of the hands all right, but it is used in the sense of choirs.

Now David was the chief musician; he was the sweet psalmist of Israel, to whom all the psalms were committed. He had other musicians: Heman, Asaph, and so forth, the sons of Korah, and into their hands the psalms were given, and what did they do? They got the choirs together, and this word towdah was used. They conducted the choirs with extended hands. And tonight as I watched Bro Phil there conducting that choir, he was the chief musician. The words they were singing were, “How excellent is Thy name in all the earth”. In the psalms, young people, David would have been standing out in front of that choir. He’d have been the inspiration of that choir. And every eye would have been riveted on him watching him—his hands—and all singing in time, so that there would have been a glorious melody. But useless if the singers or the choirmaster didn’t understand what they were doing. Useless without that! And this is how that word was used. This is the word which is used, by the way, for the word, ‘thanksgiving’. It is the very term taken from Leviticus, so that thanksgiving came from the choir. It wasn’t an offering in Israel which was an individual offering. It was, instead, a combined offering of thanksgiving.