Preparing for Battle
avid offered praise in his victory and found victory in praise. Either one invites or follows the other.
When David spoke to God with words of praise, God filled David with His words of truth and power. Again and again David went out to battle with a heart that knew and praised God - then walked off the field a conqueror. It is no wonder that David's praise contained powerful affirmations of the truths of the whole armor of God.
David wore God's spiritual armor; therefore, he could lay aside the physical armor offered him for his battle against Goliath, the champion of the Philistines. After all, no giant can stand against Christ the King, our champion.
Lord, I praise You. Fill me with Your truth and power. Teach me how to wear Your armor so that I may become victorious over the Goliaths of my life. Thank You.
Read Psalm 18.
1. You can see that triumphant armor throughout Psalm 18. Some of the parts of the armor are clearly identified; others are only implied. Indicate the part of armor referred to along side the corresponding verse.
2. As you looked at God through David's eyes, what did He show you about Himself and His loving care for you?
Read I Samuel 17:26-50.Study the basis for David's great victory over Goliath. Again notice God's (not Saul's) armor for David. All the parts are included in this passage, including the garment of praise.
3. Where do you find each piece of armor?
Read 2 Chronicles 20:1-22.The overwhelming military forces of Syria attacked God's people. Recognizing his desperate need, Jehoshaphat, king of Judah, turned to God in prayer and praise.
4. In verses 6 and 12, what does Jehoshaphat tell us about God?
5. What did Jehoshaphat know about himself?
6. With what words did God reassure Jehoshaphat and his people? Store them in your heart and mind for your own battles.
7. How did Jehoshaphat respond to God's encouragement? (v. 18)
8. Describe Jehoshaphat's battle plan. How did God's people prepare for victory? What did God accomplish on their behalf?
9. Are you facing a difficult battle this week? How can you apply Jehoshaphat's strategy to your own circumstance?
Read Psalm 150.
10. Write the opening three words of this psalm.
These three words come from a single Hebrew word: Hallelujah! Hallel means praise; Yah refers to Yahweh, our Lord. What is God showing you about praise in this psalm?
11. Look up the word praise in a concordance. Count all the times God tells you to praise Him. What does this tell you about God's wise, loving concern for you?
12. Recall the truths God has shown you about Himself Then write your own response to Him. Praise Him for all that He is to you. Thank Him for all that He has given and promised you. He loves to hear your words of praise and thanks because they open the door to your heart.
Putting on His Word
Ididn't feel like praising God this morning, but I did open my Bible. I read the words David prayed the day Saul searched his house to kill him. Not only did David feel the stab of rejection, he now had to flee to the wilderness, leaving his home, wife, and best friend. Did he have reason to praise God? Listen:
"But as for me, I shall sing of Thy strength;
Yes, I shall joyfully sing of Thy lovingkindness in the morning.
For Thou hast been my stronghold,
And a refuge in the day of my distress.
0 my strength, I will sing praises to Thee
For God is my stronghold, the God who shows me lovingkindness." Psalm 59:16-17
Suddenly my momentary struggles seemed mild. In the light of David's praise, I saw my sovereign King and understood why He reminds me more than 180 times to praise Him. He longs to meet my need, not His. Praise turns my heart to God, produces worship, and prepares me to receive everything He longs to give me.
When I praise Him with my will, I affirm the truths He has deposited in my mind. The truths I think and speak in praise open my spiritual eyes to God's glory. Seeing Him, I worship Him; for praise builds an attitude of trust, adoration, humility, and surrender, which releases God's resources into my life.
The meaning of praise. Since praise is the prelude to worship and victory, I need to appreciate its nature and make it part of my life. The Old Testament word translated "praise" stems from three different Hebrew words:
1. Shabah - to soothe and still as well as to praise and commend. It is usually an expression of praise to God for His mighty acts.
2. Halal - to praise, boast, rave, rejoice - boldly and often loudly. Today, whenever I sing "hallelujah" (Halal + Yahweh), I am summoning heavenly and earthly creatures to praise their Lord as did the seraphim in Isaiah 6.
Halal implies sincere, grateful, joyous appreciation for God and His great works - a praise which more often rose from the whole congregation than from a single person. It included choirs, musical instruments, singing, and dancing. Considered essential to formal public worship, halal praise must have been a time of joy, laughter, and wonderful fellowship with God and each other.
3. Yadah - to confess, praise, give thanks, or bring a thanksgiving offering. It usually expressed a person's public testimony of God's character, works, and active presence and help in his life.
Yadah praise naturally included thanks because, when I declare God's attributes and works, I plant thankfulness in my heart. Praise, therefore, produces an attitude of gratefulness and contentment.
The power of praise. Yadah praise played an impressive role in the history of God's people. Look back to the days of Jacob. Abraham's grandson bore 12 sons whose names still identify the tribes of Israel. When Leah, Jacob's unwanted wife, gave birth to their fourth son, she called him Judah, saying, "This time I will praise the Lord" (Genesis 29:35).
After four centuries of slavery in Egypt and a miraculous deliverance, God's people failed miserably in the wilderness - a consequence of their complaining attitude (the opposite of praise). For 40 years they attended God's school of faith, worship, love, and obedience where they learned to trust and love God. Then, on graduation day, they crossed the Jordan and entered the Promised Land. Led by praise, they triumphed and gained new territories as long as they remembered that sin blocks divine power. When they forgot God's lesson in obedience taught at Ai (Joshua 7), both praise and power crumbled.
Years later, praise won a dramatic victory through Jehoshaphat. God's faithful king trusted, obeyed, and acknowledged his utter weakness. Make Jehoshaphat's prayer your model for praise, faith, and humility:
"0 Lord, the God of our fathers, art Thou not God in the heavens? And art Thou not ruler over all the kingdoms of the nations? Power and might are in Thy hand so that no one can stand against Thee. Didst Thou not, 0 our God, drive out the inhabitants of this land before Thy people Israel, and give it to the descendants of Abraham Thy friend forever? 0 our God, wilt Thou not judge them? For we are powerless before this great multitude who are coming against us; nor do we know what to do, but our eyes are on Thee." (2 Chronicles 20:6-7, 12)
God responded with immediate assurance of victory. The next day, a team of worshipers led Jehoshaphat's army to the battlefield. Singing and praising God, they shouted, "Give thanks to the Lord, for His lovingkindness is everlasting" (2 Chronicles 20:21). While they sang and praised with uninhibited enthusiasm, God Himself ambushed their enemy and won the war (v. 22).
Praise produces purity. Praise brings double victory; it not only defeats the enemy, it purifies and prepares me for ever greater triumphs. When I praise God, His presence and character become increasingly real. As I "behold" His glory through the eyes of the Spirit, I am transformed! (2 Corinthians 3:18)
Just as praise purifies, so also complaint defiles. The Israelites in the wilderness complained to Moses about their treatment under God's protection. Their grumbling expressed lack of trust, ignorance of God's character, and an attitude of rebellion. Like yeast, this kind of unbelief spreads to all it touches.
Their murmuring differed from David's transparency before God. In his pain, David cried out in distress, and God heard his voice (Psalm 55:16-17). Where else could he go with his aching heart but to the One who had power to heal and save?
David set his eyes on the all-sufficient God, not on the circumstances. His words sprang from a heart of faithfulness, not resistance, to the ways of God. In God, he found cleansing and could conclude his prayer with hope: "Cast your burden upon the Lord, and He will sustain you: He will never allow the righteous to be shaken.... I will trust in Thee!" (vv. 22-23)
Single-hearted praise. It is easy to praise God when I see His goodness and feel His presence, but it takes faith to praise Him in times of darkness, loneliness, frustration, and failure. Yet, when I least feel or deserve His loving presence, I most need to praise Him.
The sacrifice of praise flows, not from joyful hearts, but from hearts that know God and long for deeper relationships with their King. These are the "pure in heart," and they shall see beyond all the earthly obstacles to God and His invisible Kingdom (Matthew 5:8). When I choose to love God with all my heart, God's unseen realities become more real than the visible world. When I praise Him for what I neither see nor feel, my King makes those heavenly realities effective in and through my life.
Praise focuses my heart on God. This focus acts like a camera lens set for the horizon - the distant lights of His eternal plan become clearer than the immediate circumstances that crowd me. As I make Him my focal point, the confusions of my life begin to make sense.
My Shepherd promised to complete the work He began in me (Philippians 1:6). Therefore, He trains me to trust when I see no results, to hope when everything falls apart, to endure when the days grow unbearable, and to praise when I feel broken and rejected.
All through this process of sanctification, He reminds me that I have died, my self-life was crucified with Jesus. Like David, I am learning to sing, "I have set the Lord continually before me; because He is at my right hand, I will not be shaken" (Psalm 16:8). Hallelujah!
"Let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that give thanks to His name." (Hebrews 13:15)
Wearing His Wardrobe
David's praise sprang from personal experience of the Shepherd's love and power. Read his words of praise. Let them flow through your mind and touch your heart with their truth. Make them your own as you speak them back to God.
Delight in God's names. Each new day brings fresh needs and new ways of discovering God's sufficiency. Do you need direction? He is your Shepherd who shows the way. Do you need peace and purity? He who lives in you is your Peace and Righteousness. Do you need a friend? He is the one Friend who always understands, cares, and acts on your behalf. Praise Him, and you will not only know Him, but also who you are in Him.
Sing praises to Him. Most find it easier to memorize songs than Scriptures. Songs affirm the truths I need to remember. They deepen my awareness of God's unceasing love. During sleepless nights, they soothe me with His presence while they silence Satan's scheme to disturb my thoughts and disrupt my peace in Jesus.
Cultivate the habit of seeing God everywhere. Let His creation remind you of His wonderful attributes. Trees point heavenward in praise of their Maker. Flowers display His love for beauty. Mountains manifest His eternal majesty and crashing waves shout of His power. Ask Him for eyes to see, a heart to enjoy and words to praise God for all that He is to you.
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