Hâlal

Larry BruceWorship CornerLeave a Comment

Let them praise his name with dancing
and make music to him with timbrel and harp.

Psalm 149:3

Well, we are nearing the end of “wedding season.” I suspect that many of us have attended at least one this summer or have one coming up. Weddings are usually (hopefully) very celebratory events, where friends and family gather to witness a long awaited union, share a meal, dance, laugh, and be festive to the point of foolishness. This setting has roots in Scripture as Jesus salvages a wedding feast that has potentially run dry, literally and figuratively. In his first public miracle, he turns water into wine, allowing the celebration to continue as desired.

This scene is where we find understanding for the second Hebrew word translated into praise: hâlal (haw-lal’). This word is right at home in feasts and celebrations as it means to boast, rave, shine, celebrate, and be clamorously foolish. If this sounds too far from worship, be reminded that this is the primary Hebrew word for praise, and where we derive the biblical word hallelujah

The image and symbolism of the bride is used throughout Scripture to depict God’s elect, His church, those whom He has redeemed back to himself through Christ. In the last chapters of the Book of Revelation, we see the New Jerusalem and that feast is described for us as Christ, the bridegroom is united with the bride and the feast begins. 

We often refer to our corporate worship as a foretaste of the feast that is to come. This is especially so as we celebrate the Lord’s Supper. As such, our worship can also be, at times, clamorous, celebratory, and even foolish as we break through the customs and norms that hold us back from raising a true HALLELUJAH to our King. Psalm 149 sets the scene perfectly: “Let them praise (hâlal) his name with dancing and make music to him with timbrel and harp” (Ps 149:3). There’s nothing static about the use of hâlal in Scripture: it’s a dance floor, and you’re being called out.

Hâlal.

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