Did you know that there are seven Hebrew words for "praise" in the Bible? I didn't until this week. In "Holy Roar" by Chris Tomlin and Darren Whitehead, the authors walk us through these words and their nuances. One word in particular struck me, it's the first one in the book.
Many of you know I (Mark) have five kids. My favorite time with them is between 9 and 18 months old. There is just this amazing sense of discovery and victories over the little hurdles in that stage of life. Rolling over, grabbing things, crawling, walking…all that kind of stuff. When one of our kids would do something that brought us excitement or joy we would throw our hands up in the air and yell, "Yay!" So for the last 14 years or so, it was not uncommon for guests in our house to be overcome with upshot hands and screaming when a child would complete some random feat of childhood passage! Yâdâh.
Maybe that doesn't resonate with you. How about this one? When you finally complete that last final of the school year, or finish that household project, or watch your favorite team win the game with a walk-off home run like the Springfield Cardinals did this past Sunday night, our natural response is to throw our hands in the air and bellow some joyful, guttural response in glee. This is yâdâh!
To revere or worship with extended hands. To hold out the hands. To throw a stone or arrow. These are the responses that the Hebrews writers called Yâdâh. Whitehead says, "Is there any more natural expression of excitement, wonder or awe than raising your hands?" No sir, I don't believe there is. He goes on to say that in the context of praise, the Israelites in the Psalms would use this word to describe those moments when they were so overcome with glory of the Lord, that they would shoot (like an arrow) their hands up in praise!
Psalm 67:3, "May all the peoples yâdâh (praise), you, God; may all the peoples yâdâh you."
Psalm 63:4, "So I will bless you as long as I live; in your name I will yâdâh (lift up my hands)."
Those are just two of the 100 plus times the word is used in Scripture. Now, I realize that the raising of the hands can be difficult for some people who grew up with a background of staunch discipline and decorum in the church. However, this word is an active verb. Which means it is ongoing and will continue. As we make our way toward eternity, should we not practice what we will be doing when we reach heaven?
Check out this week's playlist here.