One of humanity’s many responses to God’s revelation of Himself. The Bible recognizes that men and women also may be the objects of praise, either from other people (Prov 27:21; 31:30) or from God Himself (Rom 2:29), and that angels and the natural world are likewise capable of praising God (Ps 148). Nevertheless, human praise of God is one of Scripture’s major themes.
“Praise” comes from a Latin word meaning “value” or “price.” Thus, to give praise to God is to proclaim His merit or worth. Many terms are used to express this in the Bible, including “glory,” “blessing,” “thanksgiving,” and “hallelujah,” the last named being a transliteration of the Hebrew for “Praise the Lord,” The Hebrew title of the book of Psalm (“Praises”) comes from the same roof as “hallelujah,” and Psa 113-118 have been specially designated the “Hallel” (“praise”) psalm.
The modes of praise are many, including the offering of sacrifices (Lev 7:13), physical movement (2 Sam 6:14), silence and meditation (Ps 77:11-12), testimony (Ps 66:16), prayer (Phil 4:6), and a holy life (1 Pet 1:3-9). However, praise is almost invariably linked to music, both instrumental (Ps 150:3-5) and, especially, vocal. Biblical songs of praise range from personal, more or less spontaneous outbursts of thanksgiving for some redemptive act of God (Exod 15; Judg 5; 1 Sam 2; Luke 1:46-55, 67-70) to formal psalms and hymns adapted for corporate worship in the temple (2 Chron 29:30) and church (Col 3:16).
While the Bible contains frequent injunctions for people to praise God, there are also occasional warnings about the quality of this praise. Praise is to originate in the heart and not become mere outward show (Matt 15:8). Corporate praise is to be carried on in an orderly manner (1 Cor 14:40). Praise is also firmly linked to an individual’s everyday life (Amos 5:21-24).