“O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory above the heavens. From the lips of children and infants you have ordained praise because of your enemies, to silence the foe and the avenger” (Psalm 8:1-2, NIV).
Throughout the years, particularly in Charismatic circles, we’ve heard the phrase “praise and worship is warfare.” Incidents like Joshua’s invasion of Jericho and Jehoshaphat facing the forces of Ammon, Moab, and Edom would lead people to believe that. As God would then strike out against His enemies, they would meet with sure defeat.
As spectacular as those displays were, it’s a retreat from the true purpose of praise: that being to honor, exalt, and lift up the name of the Lord. There is no other reason than to place God front and center, in the highest place, with the highest praises. He alone deserves to be extoled by His people.
But, there are certain undeniable benefits to praising God. A life of praise keeps our attention where it belongs: on Him. It keeps our hearts in the right place, desiring His ways not the world’s. It helps us focus on the blessings of being His children versus the curses of sin and bondage. And in no small way, praise unleashes the power of God in our lives.
The word praise in this passage comes from the Hebrew word oz which means “loud, mighty, power, strength.” In another translation, we see this passage saying “…from the mouth of infants and nursing babes You have established strength” (NAS). David understood that when we praise God by faith, He releases His strength and tells the devil to “Shut up!”
The summer of 2001 was a season I would like to forget. It was an emotional and challenging time. We had interpersonal problems on our staff, our senior adults pastor died of a stroke, and he was quickly followed by our worship pastor who had brain cancer. At the same time, my sister developed cancer as well, and this all led into the deadly attacks of 9/11. We experienced warfare on all sides, feeling totally surrounded, and close to defeat. But we learned some important lessons in the heat of battle:
- Praise Him in the midst of the valley
- Praise Him because He deserves it
- Praise Him loudly, drowning out the enemies’ lies and accusations, causing him to flee
- Praise causes us to recognize that God is with us in the battle
- Praise Him after He sees you through