This is a study to determine the Biblical definition of Praise and Worship. The King James Bible translates several “different” Hebrew and Greek words, all of which have different meanings, to the English word Praise and Worship. It is very important to our spiritual life that we know and understand these meanings, so that we are able to Praise and Worship God in spirit and in truth (John 4:24).
Here are the Hebrew words that the King James translated to Praise; yâdâh, hillûl, tehillâh, bârak, zâmar, hâlal, tôdâh, shâbach, mahălâl, and shebach, naw-saw’, naw-saw’.
These will be in the order of most occurring to least occurring.
nâśâ’ nâsâh, naw-saw’, naw-saw’, used 653 times in 610 verses.
A primitive root; to lift, in a great variety of applications, literally and figuratively, absolutely and relatively, lift up hands as a gesture of reverence and submission to, in prayer and in worship, either in private or in public.
1Ch 16:29 Give unto the LORD the glory due unto his name: bring an offering(nasa nasah), and come before him: worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness.
Lev 9:22 And Aaron lifted up(nasa nasah) his hand toward the people, and blessed(barak) them, and came down from offering of the sin offering, and the burnt offering, and peace offerings.
Job 22:26 For then shalt thou have thy delight in the Almighty, and shalt lift up(nasa nasah) thy face unto God.
Psa 28:2 Hear the voice of my supplications, when I cry unto thee, when I lift up(nasa nasah) my hands toward thy holy oracle.
Psa 63:4 Thus will I bless(barak) thee while I live: I will lift up(nasa nasah) my hands in thy name.
Psa 81:2 Take(nasa nasah) a psalm, and bring hither the timbrel, the pleasant harp with the psaltery.
Psa 86:4 Rejoice the soul of thy servant: for unto thee, O Lord, do I lift up9Nasa nasah) my soul.
Psa 96:8 Give unto the LORD the glory due unto his name: bring(nasa nasah) an offering, and come into his courts.
bârak, baw-rak’, used 330 times in 289 verses.
A primitive root; to kneel;praise toward God is seen in the physical posture of kneeling before God, also (by euphemism) to curse or blaspheme god.
to express adoration, allegiance and humble submission. Barak praise is also seen in blessing God through a submitted and surrendered framework of thinking and posture of heart.
Note: When God blesses us he is bestowing his favor. When we bless
someone or something in his name we are extending his favor.
In barak we offer humble and submissive praise. We recognize Him as our Lord
and kneel before Him. We bless God with our willing submission.
In the PSALMS we are instructed to BLESS (BaraK) GOD.
(At all times) Ps. 34:1 A Psalm of David, when he changed his behaviour before Abimelech; who drove him away, and he departed. I will bless the LORD at all times: his praise(barak) shall continually be in my mouth.
As Long as we Live Ps. 63:4 LIFT UP = NASA NASAH
From Day to Day Ps. 96:2
From this time forth and forever Ps. 145:1,2 :2 PRAISE = HALAL
At night in the house of the Lord Ps. 134:1
Forever and ever, every day Ps. 115:18 PRAISE = HALAL
Jdg 5:2 Praise(barak) ye the LORD for the avenging of Israel, when the people willingly offered themselves.
Psa 72:15 And he shall live, and to him shall be given of the gold of Sheba: prayer also shall be made for him continually; and daily shall he be praised(barak).
Psa 100:4 Enter into his gates with thanksgiving(todah), and into his courts with praise(tehillah): be thankful(yadah) unto him, and bless(barak) his name.
Psa 104:1 Bless(barak) the LORD, O my soul. O LORD my God, thou art very great; thou art clothed with honour and majesty.
Psa 104:35 Let the sinners be consumed out of the earth, and let the wicked be no more. Bless(barak) thou the LORD, O my soul. Praise(todah) ye the LORD.
ba^rak (by euphemism) to curse/blasphemy (God or the king, as treason):
Blasphemy is the act of insulting or showing contempt or lack of reverence for God, to religious or holy persons or things, or toward something considered sacred or inviolable. Some examples of blasphemy would be to advocate sin such as abortion and sodomy of which is predominate in the current news media and with some politicians. On a personal note, blasphemy can be committed by not considering God’s view before making a decision of importance (showing contempt or lack of reverence for God).
1Ki 21:10 And set two men, sons of Belial, before him, to bear witness against him, saying, Thou didst blaspheme(barak) God and the king. And then carry him out, and stone him, that he may die.
1Ki 21:13 And there came in two men, children of Belial, and sat before him: and the men of Belial witnessed against him, even against Naboth, in the presence of the people, saying, Naboth did blaspheme(barak) God and the king. Then they carried him forth out of the city, and stoned him with stones, that he died.
Job 1:5 And it was so, when the days of their feasting were gone about, that Job sent and sanctified them, and rose up early in the morning, and offered burnt offerings according to the number of them all: for Job said, It may be that my sons have sinned, and cursed(barak) God in their hearts. Thus did Job continually.
Job 1:11 But put forth thine hand now, and touch all that he hath, and he will curse(barak) thee to thy face.
Job 2:5 But put forth thine hand now, and touch his bone and his flesh, and he will curse(barak) thee to thy face.
Job 2:9 Then said his wife unto him, Dost thou still retain thine integrity? curse(barak) God, and die.
hâlal, haw-lal’, used 165 times in 140 verses.
A root word meaning causatively, to cause others to think or act in a certain manner. The first letter in this Hebrew word (from right to left) is a picture of a man with his arms raised up as pointing toward something of greatness. The second two letters are pictures of a shepherd staff which is used by the shepherd to move his flock toward a direction. When these two letters are combined the idea of causing others to look toward something is formed. In the context of praise worship Halal would mean to say or do something that will cause someone to praise God.
“Praise ye the lord” = Hallelujah
‘Hallelujah’ is comprised of two Hebrew words, namely ‘Hallelu’ and ‘Jah’.
‘Jah’ is pronounced ‘Yah’. It is a shortened version of God’s name – Yhwh.
‘Hallelu’ is another form of the Hebrew word ‘Hallal’, which means causatively. However, ‘Hallelu’ is the second person plural imperative form of this word. This simply means to act in a way that will cause other people to praise Yah.
The NIV therefore translates ‘Hallelujah’ as ‘Praise the LORD all you people’ and the KJV translates it as ‘Praise ye the LORD’. ‘Ye’ in old English is a plural word (‘thou’ being the singular equivalent). ‘Ye’ is never used with reference to only one person. It is always a plural word. If you were addressing only one person, you would say ‘thou’ instead. ‘Hallelujah’, in the orginal Hebrew is to act in a way that will cause a congregation or group of people to praise God.
Examples of “halal” in the Scriptures:
1Sa 21:13 And he changed his behaviour before them, and feigned himself mad(halal). (he caused them to believe he was crazy)
1Ch 23:5 Moreover four thousand were porters; and four thousand praised(halal) the LORD with the instruments which I made, said David, to praise(halal) therewith.(with musical instruments they caused others to praise God)
Psa 22:22 I will declare thy name unto my brethren: in the midst of the congregation will I praise(halal) thee. (he will cause others to praise God by declaring the name of God in the midst of the congregation)
Psa 150:1 (ALL) Praise(halal) ye the LORD.Praise(halal) God in his sanctuary: praise(halal) him in the firmament of his power. (cause God’s people to praise Him)
yâdâh, yaw-daw’, used 114 times in 111 verses.
YADAH (H3034) comes from two root words. YAD which means the open hand, direction, power. And AH which has reference to Jehovah. Together they are rendered Hands to God. Yadah is first used in Gen 29:35 And she (Leah) conceived again, and bare a son: and she said, Now will I praise the LORD: therefore she called his name Judah; and left bearing.
John Gill commentary: she had praised him before for looking on her affliction, and hearing her cries, and giving her one son after another; but now she determines to praise him more than ever, having a fresh instance of his goodness to her: the Targum of Jonathan adds this as a reason,”because from this my son shall come forth kings, and from him shall come forth David the king, who shall praise the Lord.”And why may it not be as well supposed that she had knowledge of the Messiah springing from him, which would greatly heighten and increase her joy and praise?
Yadah can be expressed by our intensive discontent or sorrow over something; confess.
Lev 5:5 And it shall be, when he shall be guilty in one of these things, that he shall confess(yadah) that he hath sinned in that thing:
Yadah can also be expressed by our intensive thank-ful-sgiving:
1Ch 16:4 And he appointed certain of the Levites to minister before the ark of the LORD, and to record, and to thank (yadah) and praise (halel) the LORD God of Israel.
Yadah is an outward reflection(hands extended towards God) of our most intensive emotional state concerning God. An example would be our public proclamation (water baptism) of the spiritual work God has done in our hearts.
Examples of Yadah in the Scriptures:
Psa 100:4 Enter into his gates with thanksgiving(todah), and into his courts with praise(tehillah)): be thankful(yadah) unto him, and bless his name. (This is 1 systematic method of preparing to worship/enter God’s presence. 1 Chronicles 16:1-10)
Psa 67:3 Let the people praise(yadah) thee, O God; let all the people praise(yadah) thee.
tehillâh, teh-hil-law’, used 57 times in 57 verses
Tehillah is derived from the word halal and means “the singing of halals, to sing or to laud; perceived to involve music, especially singing; hymns of the Spirit. To cause someone to praise God by singing combined with musical instruments.
Examples of Tehillah in the Scriptures:
Psa 34:1 A Psalm of David, when he changed his behaviour before Abimelech; who drove him away, and he departed. I will bless the LORD at all times: his praise(tehillah) shall continually be in my mouth.
Psa 34:2 My soul shall make her boast(halal) in the LORD: the humble shall hear thereof, and be glad.
Psa 33:1 Rejoice in the LORD, O ye righteous: for praise(tehillah) is comely for the upright.
Psa 40:3 And he hath put a new song in my mouth, even praise(tehillah) unto our God: many shall see it, and fear, and shall trust in the LORD.
Psa 51:15 O Lord, open thou my lips; and my mouth shall shew forth thy praise(tehillah).
zâmar, zaw-mar’, used 46 times in 42 verses.
A primitive root (perhaps identical with H2168 through the idea of striking with the fingers); properly to touch the strings or parts of a musical instrument, that is, play upon it; to make music, accompanied by the voice; hence to celebrate in song and music: – give praise, sing forth praises, psalms.
Examples of Zamar in the Scriptures:
1Ch 16:9 Sing unto him, sing psalms((zamar)) unto him, talk ye of all his wondrous works.
Psa 30:4 Sing(zamar) unto the LORD, O ye saints of his, and give thanks(yadah) at the remembrance of his holiness.
Psa 33:2 Praise(yadah) the LORD with harp: sing(zamar) unto him with the psaltery and an instrument of ten strings.
Psa 47:6 Sing praises(zamar) to God, sing praises(zamar): sing praises(zamar) unto our King, sing praises(zamar).
Psa 47:7 For God is the King of all the earth: sing ye praises(zamar) with understanding.
tôdâh, to-daw’, used 32 times in 30 verses.
From Yadah; properly an extension of the hand, that is, (by implication) avowal, or (usually) adoration; specifically a choir of worshippers: – confession, (sacrifice of) praise, thanks (-giving, offering).
A sacrifice of thanksgiving offered physically in praise & prayer by outstretched arms, palms upward. To confess: sin, one’s need for God & deep gratitude. To both offer& to expect to receive. Todah is an outward physical offering that reflects an inward posture of the mind and heart. We offer “Todah” unto the Lord as sacrificial praise & thanksgiving.
Examples of Todah in the Scriptures:
Jon 2:9 But I will sacrifice unto thee with the voice of thanksgiving(todah); I will pay that that I have vowed. Salvation is of the LORD.
Psa 147:7 Sing unto the LORD with thanksgiving(todah); sing praise upon the harp unto our God:
Jos 7:19 And Joshua said unto Achan, My son, give, I pray thee, glory to the LORD God of Israel, and make confession(todah) unto him; and tell me now what thou hast done; hide it not from me.
Psa 42:4 When I remember these things, I pour out my soul in me: for I had gone with the multitude, I went with them to the house of God, with the voice of joy and praise(todah), with a multitude that kept holyday.
Psa 56:12 Thy vows are upon me, O God: I will render praises(todah) unto thee.
Psa 100:1 A Psalm of praise(todah). Make a joyful noise unto the LORD, all ye lands.
Psa 100:2 Serve the LORD with gladness: come before his presence with singing.
Psa 100:3 Know ye that the LORD he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.
Psa 100:4 Enter into his gates with thanksgiving(todah), and into his courts with praise(tehillah): be thankful(yadah) unto him, and bless his name.
Psa 100:5 For the LORD is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations.
shâbach, shaw-bakh’, used 11 times in 11 verses.
A primitive root; properly, to address in a loud tone, i.e. (specifically) loud; figuratively, to pacify (as if by words)–commend, glory, keep in, praise, still, triump
Shabach: To Commend; To address in a loud tone; To pacify with words
Shabach praise toward God is seen in loud audible expressions of adoration and worship toward God. To boast, clap and make noise. It can also involve pacifying someone with soothing or powerful words. It invites / challenges others to join in the praise. Shabach praise is testimonial as it commends God for who He is, what He has done, what He is doing and what He will do.
Examples of Shabach in the Scriptures:
1Ch 16:35 And say ye, Save us, O God of our salvation, and gather us together, and deliver us from the heathen, that we may give thanks(yadah) to thy holy name, and glory(shabach) in thy praise(tehillah).
Psa 63:3 Because thy lovingkindness is better than life, my lips shall praise(shabach) thee.
Psa 106:47 Save us, O LORD our God, and gather us from among the heathen, to give thanks(yadah) unto thy holy name, and to triumph(shabach) in thy praise(tehillah).
shebach, sheb-akh’, used 5 times in 5 verses.
(Chaldee); corresponding to H7623; to adulate, that is, adore: – praise.
Dan 2:23 I thank thee, and praise(shebach) thee, O thou God of my fathers, who hast given me wisdom and might, and hast made known unto me now what we desired of thee: for thou hast now made known unto us the king’s matter.
Dan 4:34 And at the end of the days I Nebuchadnezzar lifted up mine eyes unto heaven, and mine understanding returned unto me, and I blessed the most High, and I praised(shebach) and honoured him that liveth for ever, whose dominion is an everlasting dominion, and his kingdom is from generation to generation:
Dan 4:37 Now I Nebuchadnezzar praise(shebach) and extol and honour the King of heaven, all whose works are truth, and his ways judgment: and those that walk in pride he is able to abase.
hillûl, hil-lool’, used 2 times in 2 verses.
From Halal (in the sense of rejoicing); a celebration of thanksgiving for harvest: – merry, praise.
Lev 19:24 But in the fourth year all the fruit thereof shall be holy to praise(hillul) the LORD withal.
Jdg 9:27 And they went out into the fields, and gathered their vineyards, and trode the grapes, and made merry(hillul), and went into the house of their god, and did eat and drink, and cursed Abimelech.
mahălâl, mah-hal-awl’, used 1 time in 1 verse.
From Halal; fame: – praise.
Pro 27:21 As the fining pot for silver, and the furnace for gold; so is a man to his praise(mahalal).
With the above original Hebrew words and their definitions we get a clear view of how King David was told by God to setup the praise/worship service of the Tabernacle in 1Chro. 16. In 1Chro. 16 below, I have replaced the King James translated English words with the original Hebrew. This will enable us to understand exactly how God told King David He wanted His people to praise and worship Him.
1Ch 16:1 So they brought the ark of God, and set it in the midst of the tent that David had pitched for it: and they offered burnt sacrifices and peace offerings before God.
1Ch 16:2 And when David had made an end of offering the burnt offerings and the peace offerings, he (Barak) the people in the name of the LORD.
1Ch 16:3 And he dealt to every one of Israel, both man and woman, to every one a loaf of bread, and a good piece of flesh, and a flagon of wine.
1Ch 16:4 And he appointed certain of the Levites to minister before the ark of the LORD, and to record, and to (Yadah) and (Halal) the LORD God of Israel:
1Ch 16:5 Asaph the chief, and next to him Zechariah, Jeiel, and Shemiramoth, and Jehiel, and Mattithiah, and Eliab, and Benaiah, and Obededom: and Jeiel with psalteries and with harps; but Asaph made a sound with cymbals;
1Ch 16:6 Benaiah also and Jahaziel the priests with trumpets continually before the ark of the covenant of God.
1Ch 16:7 Then on that day David delivered first this psalm to (Yadah) the LORD into the hand of Asaph and his brethren.
1Ch 16:8 Give (Yadah) unto the LORD, call upon his name, make known his deeds among the people.
1Ch 16:9 Sing unto him, (Zamar) unto him, talk ye of all his wondrous works.
1Ch 16:10 (Halal) ye in his holy name: let the heart of them rejoice that seek the LORD.
1Ch 16:11 Seek the LORD and his strength, seek his face continually.
1Ch 16:12 Remember his marvellous works that he hath done, his wonders, and the judgments of his mouth;
1Ch 16:13 O ye seed of Israel his servant, ye children of Jacob, his chosen ones.
1Ch 16:14 He is the LORD our God; his judgments are in all the earth.
1Ch 16:15 Be ye mindful always of his covenant; the word which he commanded to a thousand generations;
1Ch 16:16 Even of the covenant which he made with Abraham, and of his oath unto Isaac;
1Ch 16:17 And hath confirmed the same to Jacob for a law, and to Israel for an everlasting covenant,
1Ch 16:18 Saying, Unto thee will I give the land of Canaan, the lot of your inheritance;
1Ch 16:19 When ye were but few, even a few, and strangers in it.
1Ch 16:20 And when they went from nation to nation, and from one kingdom to another people;
1Ch 16:21 He suffered no man to do them wrong: yea, he reproved kings for their sakes,
1Ch 16:22 Saying, Touch not mine anointed, and do my prophets no harm.
1Ch 16:23 Sing unto the LORD, all the earth; shew forth from day to day his salvation.
1Ch 16:24 Declare his glory among the heathen; his marvellous works among all nations.
1Ch 16:25 For great is the LORD, and greatly to be (Halal): he also is to be feared above all gods.
1Ch 16:26 For all the gods of the people are idols: but the LORD made the heavens.
1Ch 16:27 Glory and honour are in his presence; strength and gladness are in his place.
1Ch 16:28 Give unto the LORD, ye kindreds of the people, give unto the LORD glory and strength.
1Ch 16:29 Give unto the LORD the glory due unto his name: (Nasa Nasah) an offering, and come before him: worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness.
1Ch 16:30 Fear before him, all the earth: the world also shall be stable, that it be not moved.
1Ch 16:31 Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice: and let men say among the nations, The LORD reigneth.
1Ch 16:32 Let the sea roar, and the fulness thereof: let the fields rejoice, and all that is therein.
1Ch 16:33 Then shall the trees of the wood sing out at the presence of the LORD, because he cometh to judge the earth.
1Ch 16:34 O give (Yadah) unto the LORD; for he is good; for his mercy endureth for ever.
1Ch 16:35 And say ye, Save us, O God of our salvation, and gather us together, and deliver us from the heathen, that we may give (Yadah) to thy holy name, and glory in thy (Tehillal).
1Ch 16:36 (Barak) be the LORD God of Israel for ever and ever. And all the people said, Amen, and (Halal) the LORD.
1Ch 16:37 So he left there before the ark of the covenant of the LORD Asaph and his brethren, to minister before the ark continually, as every day’s work required:
1Ch 16:38 And Obededom with their brethren, threescore and eight; Obededom also the son of Jeduthun and Hosah to be porters:
1Ch 16:39 And Zadok the priest, and his brethren the priests, before the tabernacle of the LORD in the high place that was at Gibeon,
1Ch 16:40 To offer burnt offerings unto the LORD upon the altar of the burnt offering continually morning and evening, and to do according to all that is written in the law of the LORD, which he commanded Israel;
1Ch 16:41 And with them Heman and Jeduthun, and the rest that were chosen, who were expressed by name, to give (Yadah) to the LORD, because his mercy endureth for ever;
1Ch 16:42 And with them Heman and Jeduthun with trumpets and cymbals for those that should make a sound, and with musical instruments of God. And the sons of Jeduthun were porters.
1Ch 16:43 And all the people departed every man to his house: and David returned to (Barak) his house.