“From the lips of children and infants you have ordained praise because of your enemies, to silence the foe and the avenger.” (Psalms 8:2)
Recently, during a devotional time with my husband, we read Psalm 8 and were refreshed as we were reminded of the effectiveness the tool of praise provides in silencing the voice of our adversary. Are there seasons in your life when you battle more deeply with thoughts that are not congruent with God’s truth about you? For me, the battleground of my mind is my most difficult struggle! Have you found that our enemy is incredibly knowledgeable of exactly the thoughts that can take you from the mountaintops to the valley in expedient fashion? Well, we then are well-acquainted with one another’s battles. Let’s look at Psalm 8:2 as we examine how to silence the voice of our enemy.
As my husband and I talked through the scripture reference above, we found greater understanding in working with the phrase from a different vantage point. By reading the second portion of the verse first and then coming back to the beginning of the verse, it was more evident to us why God has ordained praise. Accordingly, the verse reads like this, “Because of your enemies, to silence the foe and the avenger, you have ordained praise from the lips of children and infants.” Wow! Likewise, there is much more to praise than a part of our Sunday worship services. Praise is one of the tools in God’s arsenal which He has provided for us to successfully battle the Enemy. Historically, in the times of Israel’s battles, the Levites (those who lead praise), were sent out into battle ahead of the troops. Why would a team of singers and musicians be sent out onto the battlefield, you ask? Me too! The Israelites learned that praise was the most effective weapon against their enemies. Conversely, when praise did not precede war, the outcome for Israel was not a favorable one. Worship has an amazing ability to set our thoughts and hearts aright, thereby more securely positioning us for God to work in us and through us, regardless of our circumstances.
How is praise defined? The Dictionary states that “Praise” is the act of expressing approval or admiration, the offering of grateful homage or song as an act of worship, a hymn of praise to God. Through the concordance, we are given additional imagery to help us understand praise. Strong’s Concordance defines “Praise:” to hold out a hand, to revere or worship with extended hands, to make confession, and to give thanks. Do you ever find yourself thinking thoughts like, “Well, I just don’t feel like praising God, after all, I am really down right now with the circumstances in my life?” David, the Psalmist, was well-acquainted with depression and feeling low, as evidenced in the Psalms. Listen to his remedy for coming up out of the miry pit of despair? “Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise Him, my Savior and my God.” (Psalm 42:5-6) Did you notice the word, “Praise” in David’s way out of his soulish anguish? Also, was it evident that David had to speak to his mind, his will, and his emotions (i.e. the parts of our soul) and thereby make a choice to praise God?
From Scripture, we have many references to the ways in which David expressed praise. Similar to the definitions of praise above, David is described as praising God with extended hands, with song, with verbal confession, and with thanksgiving. These are some of the ways in which David expressed his approval and admiration for God. It was through his choice to praise, that his soul was brought-up from low places. In my own life, praise is not always the result of feeling like expressing it. Frequently, it is a choice even when I don’t “Feel like it.” Interestingly though, during difficult times, I have noticed that while praise seems rote at first, as I continue thanking God for His former faithfulness to me, singing to Him, raising my hands, and even dancing before Him, His Spirit floods my soul and gives me better perspective on my circumstances and more importantly, who He is in the midst of my difficulties. Additionally, the thoughts that have brought me down are exposed in His presence, and I am better equipped to silence the mouth of the Avenger through praise to God. May your own heart be strengthened as you choose to praise God, and in that spirit of praise, may you see the voice of your foe silenced and your soul filled with hope and overflowing joy in our Lord.
“My soul is downcast within me; therefore, I will remember you from the land of the Jordan, the heights of Hermon, from Mount Mizar.” (Psalms 42:6).
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