2 Kings 11:21-12:21; Acts 18:12-22; Psalms 146:1-2; Proverbs 30:18-20
Psalms: “Hallelujah! My soul, praise the Lord. I will praise the Lord all my life; I will sing to my God as long as I live.” (Psalms 146:1-2 CSB)
Hallelujah is a phrase made up of two Hebrew words: halal Yah. Halal means praise and Yah is the abbreviated name of God (YHWH). This psalm begins with an exclamation, “Praise the Lord!” The psalmist then says to his soul, “Praise (halal) the Lord (Yehovah).” Yehovah (or Jehovah) is the variant of God’s name that the Jewish people were allowed to say. Hallelujah is a phrase that is familiar to people the world over, yet in its familiarity, it has lost its meaning. For us in the U.S., when we hear the phrase “Hallelujah,” we probably conjure up images in our mind of a pious church lady or an overly theatrical television evangelist. For some, the word oozes with self-righteous religiosity and is used to parody Christianity. At its root, Hallelujah has nothing to do with drawing attention to ourselves and our piety, but has everything to do with drawing attention to the ever-present God of the universe and His greatness. Halal, the word for praise, means to boast and become fanatical about someone. Sports fans know what it is to ‘halal’ their team or favorite sports figure. Fans set all self-imposed decorum aside when it comes to boasting about their team. They wear their team’s logo all over their body… they paint themselves in their team’s colors… they wear their favorite player’s jersey… they talk about their team to anyone who will listen… and when their team or player does something great, they jump up and down and celebrate like maniacs. That is the root of the phrase Hallelujah. However, we don’t become fanatical about a team or a player. We become fanatical about the Great I AM… the God who is always present… Who doesn’t just bask in victories of the past, or keeps stringing us along with promises of future victories, but is presently – in every moment of our lives – working on our behalf to make us victorious over the things that beset us. The praise that God deserves isn’t the praise that is comfortable for us. A lot of times, I hear worship leaders say something to the effect of, “If it’s comfortable with you, raise your hands,” or… “If it’s comfortable with you stand up and sing with us.” Comfortable praise is not Halal praise… which is why the psalmist tells his soul (the seat of desires, emotions, thoughts, will) to halal the Lord. Our soul rarely wants to give God the praise that He deserves because it is a sacrifice of our desires, our emotional state, our reputation, our comfort, and our will. However, if we press past our level of comfort and how we feel at the moment to boast on the Lord, it will open a door of life, peace, joy, faith, and grace into our lives that will sustain us through the challenges of life. So, today and every day, Hallelujah! Praise the Lord!