What Does Psalm 113:2-3 Teach Us About Praise and Worship?
Updated: Oct 3, 2022
"Let the name of the Lord be praised, both now and forevermore. From the rising of the sun to the place where it sets, the name of the Lord is to be praised." Psalm 113:2-3 (NIV Study Bible)
If you are looking for a Bible verse on praise and worship, consider Psalm 113:2-3. Why? First, the Psalmist clarifies when and where Christians are to praise the Lord. Second, it challenges you to think about how praise and worship of the Lord can change your life.
What is the Theme of Psalm 113?
I was in a Discipleship class recently, and Psalm 113 was one of our discussion topics. So before looking specifically at verses two and three, let's think about the general theme of Psalm 113. What's it all about?
Nancy deClaisse-Walford, in her Commentary on Psalm 113, captured the essence of what it's all about. She said, "Psalm 113 is a hymn calling a community of believers to praise a transcendent God who cares enough for humankind to look down, reach down, and raise up the poor and needy of the earth. The answer to the question, 'Who is like the Lord our God?' can be nothing more and nothing less than, 'No one.'"
Doesn't that show God in His true light? The One and Only God, our Heavenly Father, cares about the poor and needy of the earth. That's every one of us! We are all "poor and needy" because of our sins.
When we realize that we are poor and needy and that God cares enough to raise us up, it's natural that we would offer praise and worship to the Lord. But what do we mean by these two terms?
What is the Difference Between Praise and Worship?
In the past, I just thought of praise and worship as the same thing...two different words with the same practical meaning. However, I noticed a few things as I began to study and contemplate Psalm 113:2-3.
Psalm 113:2-3 uses "praised" two times but does not mention worship;
In the Concordance of the New Inductive Study Bible, "Praise" is listed 10 times as a noun (signifying acclamation, honor) and 12 times as a verb (extol, glorify);
Exciting note: Psalm 113:2-3 is not listed as a Bible verse related to praise in the New Inductive Study Bible Concordance;
Worship (bow, revere) is listed nine times in the same New Inductive Study Bible Concordance;
Therefore, the Bible uses both terms with different references in the scriptures.
Although many of us have used praise and worship interchangeably, they appear different. Consider how praise and worship may be different and the importance of each:
God wants us to put praise first in our praise and worship hierarchy. The Psalmist is clear that the Lord is to be praised every moment of our day (now and forever), no matter where we are (from the east to the west).
Praising God--first, not second-- reminds me of another hierarchy in Proverbs: "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding" Proverbs 9:10.
We offer praise first (as with fear) as a way of humbling ourselves to The Almighty God and acknowledging who God is and what He has done for us.
But what do we DO, specifically, that qualifies as praise? Here's a simple example:
"Praise the Lord. Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; His love endures forever." Psalm 106:1
For me, giving thanks to the Lord is something I can do any time of day, no matter where I am. All it takes is a conscious effort to keep God at the forefront of my mind and then thank Him; that is, praise Him.
In short, praise is conscious creation. It's like a conversation that you initiate--with respect--and then wait for a response. When God responds to your praise, that's when authentic worship begins!
How is Worship Related to Praise?
Let's be honest; the line that separates praise from worship is fuzzy (at best). As this post is a Bible Study, you are reading my own struggles with the distinction between praise and worship in definitional terms.
Depending on the verse, whether for praise or worship, you can see that the same description applies to both equally well! It's enough to make a person throw their golf clubs! See Christian Golf: Play It Where It Lies if you relate to throwing golf clubs.
So here's what I have concluded about the relationship between praise and worship: First, defining praise and worship of God is like trying to describe God. The result will always fall short.
Second, worship is our response to God after He responds to our praise. Here's a personal example...
A Personal Example of Praise and Worship
Many years ago, I completed my pilgrim "Walk to Emmaus." As four of us men were driving back home, we were each sharing our individual praises for what God had done for us. Since each of us was a university professor or administrator, the praise was very cognitive...intellectual. Stuffy?
And then...as if God was actually listening to our praises, He painted the MOST MAGNIFICIENT FULL RAINBOW right in front of our car heading back to Laredo, Texas.
Now our praises became WORSHIP! We began singing, shouting, and dancing in our car seats like a bunch of drunks on a Friday night bar hop. But this was no altered state of consciousness from drugs or alcohol. On the contrary, this was pure JOY that naturally produced worship!
There is no way I could "define" that experience; however, you will understand worship once you experience God's response to your praise.
Worship is a Byproduct of Praise
Worship is a natural byproduct of praise. As we offer God the praises He rightly deserves, we are transformed into the recipient of His blessings. We become more aware of His presence in our life. We see glimpses of His love in beautiful sunsets, sunrises, and the flowers blooming outside the kitchen window.
Offer praise to God, and you'll begin to see every imaginable reflection of His grace and compassion in all its glory. At that moment, there will be no doubt about who is responsible for those feelings of joy you can't contain!
As you acknowledge God for all He has done (praise), He will respond with extraordinary experiences that will change the quality of your life...forever. Worship will just happen in the twinkling of an eye.
Psalm 113:2-3 teaches us to praise--give thanks--to the Lord always and everywhere.
Although not mentioned in this Psalm, talking about praise without worship is like talking about peanut butter without je_ly. The two just go together.
It's hard to see the definitional distinctions between praise and worship: one overlaps the other almost perfectly. But, on the other hand, it's easy to see why praise and worship are used interchangeably.
However, if we praise Him first, like initiating an email, text, or phone call, He will knock your sox off when He responds. This is because God always gives us more in return than we give Him.
Worship becomes the natural byproduct of God's response to our initial praise.
Both praise and worship can be done alone or with others. You can praise God when you begin your jog on a summer morning, but you'll worship Him at mile 10 when He offers you a cool tailwind!
Finally, I praise God for allowing me to write this Bible Study, "What Does Psalm 113:2-3 Teach Us About Praise and Worship?" I worship Him for turning my confusion into hearing Him say, "Keep writing!"
Discipleship Class, August 21, 2022
Lesson: Acclaim Our Gracious God
Series: Worship in the Psalms
Teacher: Mike Nezbit