As born again children of God, Praise is one of the weapons of our warfare. Praise is unique because it is also very important to God. In point of fact, the Bible tells us in Psalm 22:3 as follows, “But thou art holy, O thou that inhabitest the praises of Israel”.
What does the use of the word “inhabit” in this passage mean? Well, it means
• to dwell, remain, sit, abide
• to sit, sit down
• to be set
• to remain, stay
• to have one's abode
In other words, God ‘dwells in’, ‘remains in’, ‘sits at’, ‘abides in’ and ‘has His abode in’ the praises of His people. How awesome is that?
Let us take a look at Psalm 22: 3 in four different translations, just to get a flavor of what God is saying here: NLT: “Yet you are holy. The praises of Israel surround your throne.” RSV: “Yet thou art holy, enthroned on the praises of Israel.” NIV: “Yet you are enthroned as the Holy One; you are the praise of Israel.” NRSV: “Yet you are holy, enthroned on the praises of Israel.”
Praise is so important in our walk with the Lord that He expects us to praise Him at all times, and in all circumstances. The Bible tells us in 1 Thessalonians 5:18 “In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you”.
But why would God expect this of us?
There are at least 2 reasons:
• God has the complete picture. We only see in part. God sees the end from the beginning. We must trust him ENOUGH to know that He is good all the time. That His thoughts towards us are of good not of evil.
• Secondly, whatever it is it would work together for our good because Romans 8:28 tells us “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” The NCV puts it this way “We know that in everything God works for the good of those who love him. They are the people he called, because that was his plan”; while the NLT says “And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them”.
Job was a hero of praise. Even when he lost all his children and everything he owned – including his stupendous wealth – he still praised the Lord. The Bible tells us of Job’s reaction to his loss in Job 1: 20-22 as follows, “Job stood up and tore his robe in grief. Then he shaved his head and fell to the ground before God. He said, “I came naked from my mother’s womb, and I will be stripped of everything when I die. The LORD gave me everything I had, and the LORD has taken it away. Praise the name of the LORD!” In all of this, Job did not sin by blaming God.” And in Job 13:15, Job says concerning the Lord his God “Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him: but I will maintain mine own ways before him.”
Job could praise God in the face of such adversity for several reasons including:
• He trusted God – He said “though he slay me yet will I trust him”
• He knew that God had a purpose for what he was going through and that it would work out for his good: “when he hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold”When was the last time, you gave God thanks for your adversity? Learn to praise Him in every situation. Although you can pray amiss however, you can never praise amiss!
Another hero of praise is Horatio Spafford, the writer of the hymn “It Is Well With My Soul”
James Mumford unfolds the story behind the famous hymn of trust, It Is Well, as follows: This hymn was written by a Chicago lawyer, Horatio G. Spafford. You might think to write a worship song titled, 'It is well with my soul', you would indeed have to be a rich, successful Chicago lawyer. But the words, "When sorrows like sea billows roll ... It is well with my soul”, were not written during the happiest period of Spafford's life. On the contrary, they came from a man who had suffered almost unimaginable personal tragedy. Horatio G. Spafford and his wife, Anna, were pretty well-known in 1860’s Chicago. And this was not just because of Horatio’s legal career and business endeavors. The Spaffords were also prominent supporters and close friends of D.L. Moody, the famous preacher. In 1870, however, things started to go wrong. The Spaffords’ only son was killed by scarlet fever at the age of four. A year later, it was fire rather than fever that struck. Horatio had invested heavily in real estate on the shores of Lake Michigan. In 1871, every one of these holdings was wiped out by the great Chicago Fire. Aware of the toll that these disasters had taken on the family, Horatio decided to take his wife and four daughters on a holiday to England. And, not only did they need the rest -- DL Moody needed the help.
He was travelling around Britain on one of his great evangelistic campaigns. Horatio and Anna planned to join Moody in late 1873. And so, the Spaffords travelled to New York in November, from where they were to catch the French steamer ‘Ville de Havre’ across the Atlantic. Yet just before they set sail, a last-minute business development forced Horatio to delay. Not wanting to ruin the family holiday, Spafford persuaded his family to go as planned. He would follow on later. With this decided, Anna and her four daughters sailed East to Europe while Spafford returned West to Chicago. Just nine days later, Spafford received a telegram from his wife in Wales. It read: “Saved alone.”
On November 2nd 1873, the ‘Ville de Havre’ had collided with ‘The Lochearn’, an English vessel. It sank in only 12 minutes, claiming the lives of 226 people. Anna Spafford had stood bravely on the deck, with her daughters Annie, Maggie, Bessie and Tanetta clinging desperately to her. Her last memory had been of her baby being torn violently from her arms by the force of the waters. Anna was only saved from the fate of her daughters by a plank which floated beneath her unconscious body and propped her up. When the survivors of the wreck had been rescued, Mrs. Spafford’s first reaction was one of complete despair. Then she heard a voice speak to her, “You were spared for a purpose.” And she immediately recalled the words of a friend, “It’s easy to be grateful and good when you have so much, but take care that you are not a fair-weather friend to God.”
Upon hearing the terrible news, Horatio Spafford boarded the next ship out of New York to join his bereaved wife. Bertha Spafford (the fifth daughter of Horatio and Anna born later) explained that during her father’s voyage, the captain of the ship had called him to the bridge. “A careful reckoning has been made”, he said, “and I believe we are now passing the place where the de Havre was wrecked. The water is three miles deep.” Horatio then returned to his cabin and penned the lyrics of his great hymn.
The words which Spafford wrote that day come from 2 Kings 4:26. They echo the response of the Shunammite woman to the sudden death of her only child. Though we are told “her soul is vexed within her”, she still maintains that ‘It is well.’ And Spafford's song reveals a man whose trust in the Lord is as unwavering as hers was. His worship does not solely depend on how he feels. “Whatever my lot”, he says, come rain or shine, pleasure or pain, success or failure, “Thou hast taught me to say/“It is well, it is well with my soul". Nor does his worship centre on himself He focuses on what God has already done. O the bliss of this glorious thought / My sin ... is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more) and what God will do in the future (“Lord, haste the day when my faith shall be sight / The trump shall resound and the Lord shall descend”). In fact, Spafford’s worship brings us back to the bottom line: at the end of the day, come hell or high-water, it is “this blessed assurance” that holds us fast.