Monday, July 20, 2015

Praise His Name!

One place I never expected to find myself there I was. We were visiting Eureka Springs, Arkansas. The theater we decided to attend was called Ozark Mountain Hoedown. It sounded like a hillbilly convention, but we went. And near the end of the first half of the show the lead singer in the group announced they were going to sing some Christian songs. It didn't take long for one of those songs to stand out in my heart. "Praise His Name!" And the lead singer, Bruce Haynes, was the one who wrote it.

"When you're up against the wall," he wrote, "and your mountain seems so tall...," what do you do? You praise His name. You lift Him up.  The command in Psalm 113.1 is to praise the LordHe is the focus of our praise.  He is the subject of our praise.  He is the object of our praise.  He is everything, our all in all.  And the command is Hallelu-Jah!  Praise ye the Lord!

But the Psalmist also says to praise the name of the Lord.  What does it mean to praise the name of the Lord?  What is His name?  Having grown up under the influence of the authorized King James Bible, I always thought God's name was Jehovah.  Not!  Imagine my surprise to discover Jehovah is not only not God's name, it is not even a name at all in Hebrew.  For fear of profaning God's name, the Hebrews contrived an artificial way of expressing it, resulting in the creation of an artificial name --- Jehovah, and almost losing sight of God's real name altogether in the process.

If Jehovah is not God's name, what is?  God's name is sacred, but God wants us to know His name.  Why else would He command us to praise the name of the Lord?  And His name is Yahveh, abbreviated sometimes as Yah or Jah.  The Lord Himself revealed His name to Moses, when He told him to "say to the sons of Israel, 'Yahveh, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you.'  This is My name forever, and this is My memorial-name to all generations" (Exodus 3.15).  Later Moses confirmed this in a song of praise.  When he witnessed thousands of his enemies fall under the judgment of God, he sang, "The Lord is my strength and my song, and He has become my salvation; This is my God, and I will praise Him; God of my fathers, and I will exalt Him.  The Lord is a warrior; [and here it is] The Lord is His name" (Exodus 15.2-3, my translation).

In the Biblical culture, a name was more than just a tag for identification.  It was an expression of character.  God's name identifies His nature, so that a request for His name like Moses made, such as, what is Your name? is equivalent to asking about His character.  It is a succinct, yet overflowing revelation of who He is.  To praise the name of the Lord, according to Charles H. Spurgeon, means to "extol His revealed character, magnify every sacred attribute, exalt in all His doings, and reverence the very name by which He is called."

So, brothers and sisters, praise His name! Make it part of every day to praise the Lord even if no one is listening except the Lord Himself, especially if no one is listening except the Lord Himself.  Whatever your circumstances. Praise His name! However you feel. Praise His name! Remember who He is! And Praise His name! Like the Levites, whether you're in the choir or not, sing His praises, and sing them to the Lord.  Praise  the Lordbaruk ha shem (praise the name!)!

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