I used to wonder at the reaction of people when I mentioned that
they should listen to praise tapes when they were in depression or when
they had spiritual problems. The reaction I got was just a blank
stare to a "Sure, whenever I get time." I almost gave up suggesting it
to them in disgust. Then I realized that the main reason that Christians
don't listen to praise tapes or even sing praises to God, or even say
a simple Hallelujah from time to time, or even just mention that name
that has the power of the universe in it, Jesus, is because they don't
realize the power in praise.
Without going to a deep study, I direct as many as will listen to
Psalms 149 as the prime example of the power in praise. I'm beginning to
see that it was no accident that Psalm 150 followed Psalm 149. Take time
to read them and you will understand what I'm saying. It doesn't matter
whether you follow the methods outlined by the Psalmist in these two chapters
or not. But understand that the songs in your hymnals were written
by people who went through testings that would daunt many of us and cause
us to give up.
The history of many of the songs in itself is a study that
is worthwhile. But the thing to notice that one of the most prolific
writers of hymns of praise was Fanny Crosby, a woman born blind, who had
the whole world to overcome. For her, the whole world was a dangerous
place in which to live. Yet, this woman wrote about how close Jesus
was to her, and how much God was protecting her, and how much he loved her.
There was not one song of sorrow which came from her pen. How could she
do that, we might ask.
First, I think that she and others could do it because, in the time
of their testing, they really surrendered their all to God and got to know
Him on a plain that most of us never get to know Him: as a loving Father
who ever loves and cares for His own, as a God who delights in His people.
Another reason I think that they could praise Him is they found
a depth of His mercy they wouldn't have found if they had lived their lives
the way they were going before they experienced the deep, heart-wrenching
sorrow or problem or guilt and then met Him as the answer to that problem.
Finally, I think they wrote praises because they discovered
something we, who live normal lives, so often forget. There is power in
praise to God. There are few things that satan hates more that to hear
Christians praise God. This is because Praise to God brings God into the
situation with all the power of the universe at His disposal, and He can
do something about the situation to either reverse it, heal the sick, or
anything if He wants to. It causes the foundations of satan's kingdom to
shake when Christians praise. He will do almost anything to discourage a
Christian to the point that he will give up and not avail himself of that
soul lifting, heart filling act of praise to God.
Then, we have the examples of what praise along with the word of
God can do in Psalms 149: 7-9. It can "execute judgment on the nations."
Some people have compared the nations with the kingdom of satan, and I won't
argue with that, but it can also show up the nations of the world that don't
know about praising God that they need to get close to God. It can "punish
peoples". Again, some people compare that with our warfare with demons and
how powerful it is in defeating them. That's possible, too. This
writer has read of circumstances where people were literally punished by
God because a praiser was faithful in praising God. And it can bind their
kings with chains (compare this with Revelation 20: 1-3), and their nobles
with fetters of iron (compare that with Matthew 18:18). Finally, praise
gives us the power to execute judgment on these kings and nobles of the
kingdom of darkness, usually to command them to leave a person alone and
they have to obey. And the Psalmist promises that ALL the saints have this
honor to use this power.
O, that more saints would begin to avail themselves of praise.
Praise when you don't feel like it and continue until you do feel like it.
Praise is a matter of the will and not the feeling as so many of the
Psalms state it: "I WILL praise the Lord," in whatever circumstance the
writer found himself.
Then finally the Psalmist can't contain his joy any longer and
ends with "Hallelujah!"