Psalm 48:1 “Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised in the city of our God, in the mountain of his holiness.”
What does it mean, ‘Great is the Lord…?’
How great your praise of God is will reflect how great your God is to you.
When God gives a commandment, we possess the ability to fulfill that commandment. God said to praise Him. That means we have the ability to praise Him. ‘Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised.’
‘Great’ means He’s got all the attributes of greatness, He’s wonderful, He’s kind, He’s loving, He’s my savior. ‘Greatly’ means I will praise Him with all I am because of His greatness.
Praise is a journey and the types of praise you give God come in stages. It’s a journey upward, like climbing a mountain. You have to praise your way up. There’s a bottom level praise, a middle, and a higher level praise. The higher you go, the most resistance you’ll get from the world, from the devil, and from your own flesh.
Prov 27:21 “As the fining pot for silver, and the furnace for gold; so is a man to his praise.”
This whole chapter of Proverbs is about building and maintaining character. Trials and troubles refine you. We are tried by fire and come out like gold. It’s not the trials and troubles of life that refine you so much as the praise and the way you act in the trials and troubles that actually refine you. When you go through stuff, the choices you make purify you.
‘Gold is tried by fire, great men by adversity.’ —Seneca
God is looking for true worshippers. He is looking for those who know Him in truth and in spirit. It’s necessary to have a revelation of His greatness. When you have this revelation, you will show forth that in praise.
When you’re going through stuff, the way you think about it and your godly attitude toward it is what actually refines you.
Psalm 34:1 “I will bless the Lord at all times: his praise shall continually be in my mouth.”
It’s a decision. Whatever is in the heart comes out the mouth. If praises are in your heart, they will come out of your mouth. At all times, praise has got to be in us. It doesn’t matter what is going on around you. It’s all based on the revelation of how great God is to you.
Psalm 9:1-2 “I will praise thee, O Lord, with my whole heart; I will shew forth all thy marvellous works. 2 I will be glad and rejoice in thee: I will sing praise to thy name, O thou most High.”
There must be a decision you make to choose to praise the Lord. You must condition yourself to see just how great God is. We can catch praise from what is going around you, but you must choose to throw it around as well.
Everybody gets set free when you praise God. That’s what happened with Paul and Silas. Their bonds were loosed and so was everyone’s around them.
When you hear, ‘God is great,’ you need to respond, ‘and greatly to be praised.’ I will praise the Lord. Let praising God be in your will.
Praise is a sacrifice.
David said, ‘Let the lifting up of my hands be as the evening sacrifice.’
Psalm 141:2 “Let my prayer be set forth before thee as incense; and the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice.”
‘Todah’ is extending your hands upward as a sacrifice of praise.
Psalm 50:23 “Whoso offereth praise glorifieth me: and to him that ordereth his conversation aright will I shew the salvation of God.”
‘Todah’ prepares you for salvation. This is submission. You can’t go anywhere in higher levels without submitting first.
‘Todah’ is extending your hands as far up as they can be extended as a peace offering. When the police say, ‘Stop’ and ‘Put your hands up,’ there is a reason for it. The purpose of putting up your hands is to show that you are disarmed and not attacking. It’s saying, ‘I’m not going to fight back. I surrender.’
Shaking hands has history. It used to be grabbing each other’s wrists to see whether there was a knife hidden. To bow, open your cape, and take off your hat shows there is no sword at your side and nothing hidden in your hat.
This is the first step in praise, submission.
To climb higher, with hands still lifted is ‘Yadah,’ meaning to rejoice and confess God’s attributes aloud. You turn your palms inward is to confess the attributes of God. It’s like physically expressing God’s attributes. You can’t confess God’s attributes without knowing who He is.
As you approach God, the revelation of who He is causes you to praise Him. Let your hands begin to show God that you surrender and that you know His awesomeness. He is holy and always right. He is a healer.
1 Tim 2:8 “I will therefore that men pray every where, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting.”
Lift your hands without doubting, without trying to get your own way, without anger or debating or arguing. When your hands are lifted there is surrender, worship, submission. There is no doubt or debate.
We were created and give Him praise for His own pleasure.
Rev 4:11 “Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.”
What do you do for His pleasure? What do you do for your pleasure? Playing the drums is fun, but is it really for His pleasure or your own? Praise is not for your pleasure. Do something for the pleasure of the Lord and the Holy Ghost will meet you there. It is fun to praise the Lord, but do it for Him.
Clapping is a declaration of freedom, a noise, a sound of snapping of chains. It’s about being delivered. Chains and shackles were part of Israel’s history, but then they became their own nation. They had a shout and a clap of victory before the battle even started.
When you clap your hands, you beat the evil out of the air.
Judah always went first in the desert. ‘Judah’ means praise. The Levites were behind Judah. When praise goes forth the presence of God was soon to follow. Praise went first, then the presence of God.
‘Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise.’
Psalm 96:4 “For the Lord is great, and greatly to be praised: he is to be feared above all gods.”
Psalm 145:3 “Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised; and his greatness is unsearchable.”
‘Hallal’ means ‘to be clear,’ ‘to shine’ ‘to be clamorously foolish’ or ‘to rave as if a madman,’ ‘to make oneself ridiculous.’ This is a crazy kind of praise. You can’t get to this place if culture is in your way.
David went to hide in the city of Gath. The people found out and he feigned himself mad.
1 Sam 21:13-15 “And he changed his behaviour before them, and feigned himself mad in their hands, and scrabbled on the doors of the gate, and let his spittle fall down upon his beard. 14 Then said Achish unto his servants, Lo, ye see the man is mad: wherefore then have ye brought him to me? 15 Have I need of mad men, that ye have brought this fellow to play the mad man in my presence? shall this fellow come into my house?”
The word for ‘mad’ was ‘hallal’ and he left all self behind.
We are to be a ‘hallal’ kind of people. This was instituted and proclaimed by David.
When David brought back the Ark of the Covenant, he took off his royal robe and went crazy in praise. His wife, the daughter of Saul, thought he didn’t look royal. David’s response to her was, ‘This is only the beginning.’
2 Sam 22:4 “I will call on the Lord, who is worthy to be praised: so shall I be saved from mine enemies.”
Psalm 22:22 “I will declare thy name unto my brethren: in the midst of the congregation will I praise thee.”
Psalm 117:1 “O praise the Lord, all ye nations: praise him, all ye people.”
Psalm 119:164 “Seven times a day do I praise thee because of thy righteous judgments.”
Psalm 150:6 “Let every thing that hath breath praise the Lord. Praise ye the Lord.”
They brought fire into the Holy Place. The fire had to come from the Altar of Sacrifice. If you brought any other kind of ‘fire’ it was strange and unacceptable. Deal with your sin first and make peace with God. All those things that keep you from ‘hallal’ praise have to be dealt with first.
The fourth stage of praise is ‘Barak’ which deals with giving ourselves away and death to self. It is the last level before entering into spiritual warfare. Past this point, you engage the enemy. You’ve got to get rid of flesh first or you will be defeated and suffer loss. This stage is very, very important. The body language of this phase is to kneel in respect. It is also to bow and is a way to bless. It is surrendering everything to God, all of me, and praising just God.
Psalm 26:12 “My foot standeth in an even place: in the congregations will I bless the Lord.”
When it is time to pray, people will kneel. It is showing respect and honor to God. If you don’t do that, you will not get far in spiritual warfare. By yourself, the devil is more powerful than you. There is one greater than the devil. Even the smallest angel in heaven is more powerful than the devil because of his connection with the Almighty.
To get the victory, clothe yourself in humility. Get clothed with Jesus Christ.
The devil understands the principles of God. He wants you to get a little more of yourself. You’ve got to die if you want to win the battles in high places. You might not have victory because you’re still alive.
You can mix the kinds of praise together.
Psalm 28:2 “Hear the voice of my supplications, when I cry unto thee, when I lift up my hands toward thy holy oracle.”
Psalm 95:6 “O come, let us worship and bow down: let us kneel before the Lord our maker.”
Psalm 63:4 “Thus will I bless thee while I live: I will lift up my hands in thy name.”
‘I will die to self while I bless you.’ Be alive, but die. God is great and greatly to be praised. Only a dead man or woman can do all that we do in the Lord.
More Questions for Personal or Group Study:
- Have you ever been to watch a big game, football, basketball, etc? How was your experience? How did the people around you act when their team was winning? How did you act?
- What are some of the biggest miracles you or someone you know have ever experienced?
- Read Psalm 3:1-3. What was David’s response to trouble and people trying to discourage him? How is the Lord your shield, your glory, and ‘the lifter up of your head?’
- What did you learn and how can you encourage someone else by today’s message?
Excerpted from a sermon preached by Pastor Anthony LoCascio.
For the full YouTube audio/video, click here.