September 12, 2013

Psalm 76:1 In Judah God is known;
his name is great in Israel.

This Psalm is obviously a celebration of a decisive military victory, and I would guess from the internal context that it is from before the nation was divided. It is impressive that God is given full credit for the victory, with no evidence of boasting that I can see. That said, what comes to me on reading this verse is a pun that isn’t directly connected to military action at all. Judah was one of the sons of Jacob and the patriarch of the tribe that produced David and Jesus, but we read in Genesis 29:35 that the name means, or at least is derived from, “praise,” as in praising God. It has been the experience of God’s people down through the multiplied centuries that praising Him indeed opens our hearts and minds to know Him better. The NIV gives this translation only as a footnote, but Psalm 22:3 says that God is enthroned on the praises of His people. This has all the more impact when we consider that Psalm 22 is a remarkably detailed prophecy of the crucifixion of Jesus, as well as the results of His resurrection. I keep coming back to the fact that God doesn’t need our praise, but we need to praise Him. You could compare it to having a large diamond that you thought was just a piece of glass. You would think it was pretty, perhaps, but not value it very much because you didn’t know what you had. Praising God teaches us to value Him, which is integral with knowing what an omnipotent, infinite, loving, gracious, and compassionate God He is.

I have enjoyed singing hymns of praise since childhood, but I was introduced to what were called “praise and worship choruses” when I first got interested in the Charismatic movement. Often taken directly from Scripture, they opened me up to a level of experiencing God that I had not experienced previously. Since living in Omura I have had the privilege of translating a few hundred such songs, both from English to Japanese and Japanese to English, and that too has been very enriching to my appreciation of God. A pun though it is, I can say positively that God is indeed known in Judah (praise). Therefore, I do my best to encourage others to praise Him with me. Those who are not musical can still “make a joyful noise” to God!

Father, thank You for the privilege of praising You. Thank You for accepting our praise and worship, though we are not inherently worthy to give it. Thank You for how You straighten out our thoughts and emotions when we praise and worship You. I see so many people who need to do that, to get their eyes off of themselves to be able to see things in right perspective. Raise us up as a praising, worshiping people, Lord, so that we may escape the traps of the enemy and be and do all that You desire and intend, for Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!

About jgarrott

Born and raised in Japan of missionary parents. Have been here as an adult missionary since 1981.
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