“And Mary said; My soul doth magnify the Lord, and my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Savior”. (Luke 1:46-47) Mary’s soul, as ours always should, did not need the miracle of the virgin birth to magnify the Lord. She had more than likely stood in humility, awe and wonder of His glorious name before the message of that event was spoken to her, our Lord knows His children and sees our hearts better than we could ever hope to. Mary was not sinless, only Christ was born, lived and died without any sin, but she may have had something very few of us have had the blessing to experience, a life from early youth that sought to serve God in action and praise. She rejoiced in the knowledge that she was a child of God and praised His name even when the doldrums of life were present, when there was joy and happiness in the home, when there was sadness, Mary knew how to give praise.
I often hear people giving praise to others, whether it’s for doing a kind act or for a job well done, but who is the only one that is truly worthy of praise? When I hear the word praise, other meanings come to mind; glory, bless, extol, gratitude, honor and thanksgiving just to name a few. Praise is an expression of respect, and as an act of worship, it acknowledges the righteousness of God and gives Him the recognition He rightly deserves. Luke 19:40 says that if the people on that day had not given praise to our savior that “the stones would cry out.” We can glorify God through verbal expressions, dancing, clapping, lifting our hands to the sky and in so many numerous ways. Our Father in heaven loves to hear us praise his name, it draws us closer to Him, and when I think of all the wonderous things He has done in my life, why wouldn’t I want to thank Him and praise His name!
There are many wonderful examples of praise throughout the Bible, but one of the best places to find it is in the book of Psalms. In the Hebrew text psalms means “praises”, and here you will find literally hundreds of examples. Psalm 34:1-3, I will bless the Lord at all times; His praise shall be continually in my mouth. My soul shall make it’s boast in the Lord, the humble shall hear of it and be glad. O, magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt His name together.” At all times and continually do not mean when things are going well, but at all times, no matter the circumstances, not an easy task, but “Shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil?” (Job 2:10) Then, truly, the humble shall hear and be glad.
In 2nd Chron. 20, we can read how the armies of Ammon, Moab, and Mount Seir were coming to fight against the Israelites, how King Jehoshaphat feared for his people, called them together and fasted and prayed to the Lord for deliverance. God promptly answered their prayers and let the king know through the prophet Jahaziel that they had nothing to fear, the battle was God’s, not theirs. The Israelites praised God, and headed out to battle, not lead by their strongest men or even there finest chariots, but with their best singers, proclaiming loudly “ Praise the Lord, for His mercy endures forever.” God delivered on His promise, and His people praised Him before, during and after the battle, a great example of how we should confront difficult situations in our own lives, not relying on ourselves, not waiting until the last moment and deciding perhaps we should pray, but by first giving our Lord thanks for whatever He has planned for our lives, and praising His Holy name for whatever He allows to come our way.
It should go without saying that not only is it an honor and a privilege to praise the name of our Lord, but it should be the continuous desire of our heart. By starting each morning with praise from our lips, we begin afresh to recognize His love for us in ways that grow throughout the day. It is good to praise the Lord all the day and into the evening, no matter the circumstances, no matter the path that He has chosen for us that day, and if we start each morning giving thanks if just for waking us to search Him out, our day will be blessed. “Everyday I will bless you, and I will praise you name forever and ever.” (Psalm 149:2)
One of the great examples of praise to God comes from the book of Acts when Paul and Silas were imprisoned for casting a spirit out of a young slave girl. It was a spirit of divination, and when the spirit was cast out of her she no longer was able to make money for her master. Paul and Silas were beaten and thrown into jail, and what was there reaction, were they downcast and despondent? No. Acts 16:25, “But at midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God and the prisoners were listening to them”. They knew that all things come from God and there was a reason that they were in jail, and, as God so often does, He puts us in positions that we do not expect to show us something we will never forget. They were there to preach to the jailor and his family so that they would be saved. We can be sure that these two men were not singing and praising His name as they were being drug through the street to be thrown into the jail, that as soon as they got there they were overjoyed with the thought of being beaten, again, that time in bondage would be a good opportunity to ‘take a break’ and praise God. Perhaps though, as the evening came on, they remembered Psalm 141:1, “Praise ye the Lord, for it is good to sing praises unto our God; for it is pleasant, and praise is comely.”
It is important to take the examples that have been given to us in the Word of God and apply them to our lives, we must praise Him no matter the situation. In this instance it was not chastening from the Lord, (Heb. 12:11), but it can seem like it when troubles arise, when the circumstances are far from what we would choose, but these are the times when our Lord can seem closest to us, when we can feel His presence, when we know that nothing happens to us, His children, unless He allows it. It is easy to praise Him when things are going well, but when things get rough and bumpy, do you still give Him the glory, in sickness, knowing that one day we will never be sick again, at your job when it’s not going well, or when there are difficult times with the family, can you praise Him in everything. More so, do you want to, or is grumbly and despairing still the normal order of your life at these times, and you just figure He will forgive.
Since I’ve been saved my husband has had numerous close calls with death. The first was extremely hard on me emotionally, but each time something happens to him we both draw closer to the Lord and His wonderful mercies, and to each other. These “bumps” in the road are put there by God, and although we may never know why, these times have taught me to lean on His Grace all the more, so that I can praise His name always, no matter the situation. We should always praise Him, not just because it pleases Him, and ourselves, to do so but because He is worthy, worthy of all the praise, honor and glory that I can offer Him, and more.
“Let everything that has breath praise the Lord!” (Psalm 150:6)