“Praise the LORD! I will praise the LORD with my whole heart, in the assembly of the upright and in the congregation” (Psalm 111:1).
The English word “hallelujah” is a transliteration of 2 Hebrew words, hallelu and Jah. The 1st word, hallelu, is the 2nd person imperative of “praise.” The 2nd word, Jah, is the short form of Yahweh – God’s name. So, when we say, “Hallelujah!” we are exhorting everyone to join us in praising Yahweh.
To shout, “hallelujah” is like standing in front of all false gods and boldly saying, “Not you, Molech!” “Not you, Baal!” “Not you, Dagon!” “Not you, Artemis!” “Not you, Zeus!” “But to Jah, and Jah alone, I give praise.”
So, the next time you sing “Hallelujah” pause for a split second between hallelu and Jah and say it like a name. We praise you . . . Jah! You are above all gods Jah! Join me, all you heavenly hosts, and praise Jah!
The psalmist teaches us to hold back nothing when we sing.
Are your praises whole-hearted? What good is half-hearted praise? Half-hearted devotion is no devotion; half-hearted worship is no worship This is why John Calvin translated the phrase “whole heart” as “sincere heart.” It is not just 100% of the heart but the heart of integrity. There should be no divisions in one’s heart.
And just when you might suspect, this is a declaration of private praise as he refers to his own “heart,” the psalmist reminds all his readers that his praise is for “the assembly of the upright and in the congregation.” His whole worship is best served in the confines of the assembled body.
What a reminder for us! Corporate praise is better than individual praise. Public praise trumps private praise. Why? Let me give you 2 reasons.
First, corporate praise is better than individual praise because God set up the church. If God thought our private praise was a better use of our time, He wouldn’t not have set up an assembled group of saints and called it the church and commanded them to assemble for the purpose of worship (Hebrews 10:24-25). If none of that was necessary, He would have left it all up to us to praise Him on our own time. But he did not leave us as Lone Rangers. We are corporate worshippers.
Second, corporate praise is better than individual praise because that is what heaven is all about. That really is heaven’s activity (Revelation 5). Sure, we will do other things, but we will all be doing it for the purpose of glorifying Him. Corporate praise is better because that is what we see people doing in heaven.
The psalmist doesn’t want His praise to be only between him and God; he wants it public. It is much better to praise God in the company of the like-minded. That is the psalmist’s declaration. He is assuming the role of a worship pastor and calling everyone to praise God.