Wednesday, September 22, 2010

7 Hebrew Words for Praise

I was at a conference in July and one of the speakers was Jeff Deyo. He is the former lead singer for SonicFlood and now he tours with his own band and is a fantastic worship leader (or lead worshiper as he would call it). In one of his sessions he commented on the fact that in Hebrew, from which much of the bible was translated, there are a lot of words that ultimately got translated into the word praise. Another way to explain it, the Hebrew had several words that dealt with what we might consider praise, but since we only had one word to translate them too, some of the detail got lost.

This is very interesting to me. As a worshiper and a worship leader, I struggle with what praise to God should/could/would look like. I hear all kinds of opinions - worship should be traditional like it has always been (which really means "always been in my memory"), people should praise in any way they feel comfortable (which usually means as long as I feel comfortable when they do it in my presence) and many more opinions.

I try to go to other churches and see how they praise. I see a huge spectrum of differences from church to church which really makes this idea that there is more than one way to define praise seem believable to me. I am no expert on this but I'm beginning to dig a little deeper into what the word "praise" should really be saying to me when I read it in scriptures.

Jeff Deyo has a couple of podcasts on this topic that are interesting. You can find them here. Here is a summary of the words he talks about:

1.BARAK – baw-rak – To kneel or to bow.
2.YADAH – yaw-daw – To worship with the extended hand.
3.TOWDAH – to-daw – To give worship agreeing with what has been done or will be.
4.ZAMAR – zaw-mar – To worship with instruments.
5.SHABACH – shaw-bakh – To address in a loud tone, a loud adoration, a shout!
6.HALAL – haw-lal – To make a show, to boast; and thus to be (clamorously) foolish; to rave; causatively, to celebrate.
7.TEHILLAH – teh-hil-law – A spontaneous new song. Singing from a melody in your heart by adding words to it.

So I guess when asked is praise raising hands, the answer is Yes. Is it kneeling? Yes. Can it be shouting? Yes. Can it be quiet and reverent? Yes. Can it be crazy and exciting? Yes. It opens up a whole new way to examine yourself and others as you worship. Definitely has me thinking...

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