2 Chronicles 20:21-22 “After consulting the people, Jehoshaphat appointed men to sing to the Lord and to praise him for the splendor of his holiness as they went out at the head of the army, saying:
“Give thanks to the Lord,
for his love endures forever.”
22 As they began to sing and praise, the Lord set ambushes against the men of Ammon and Moab and Mount Seir who were invading Judah, and they were defeated.”
Jehoshephat sought the LORD because the vast army was way more than he could handle. He gathered all the people and God spoke instruction and victory through Jehaziel in verses 12-17. After this meeting, all the people followed Gods instruction and went to watch at the edge of a gorge where the enemy was gathering – verses 19-20. Now Jehoshaphat appoints men to sing AND praise God. With their faces towards a massive enemy army, their eyes, hearts and voices lifted to God; not in despair, but in Jubilation – Praising God for the splendor of His holiness – ‘He is Good,’ and ‘His Love endures forever.’ Now the Word says AS they began to sing AND praise. The singing was not what God required – but praise. Singing isn’t worship – praise is worship. 20:19 said after God spoke through Jahaziel that they ‘praised the LORD, the God of Israel, with a very loud voice.’
In our churches today, we sing songs to God, and about God – but the enemy is silenced and the attack destroyed when praise becomes the driving force for singing. So now a nation is facing either demise or a miracle from God. As they sang AND praised, God moved. God confused the enemies and they turned on each other. There is no battle that the LORD cannot intercede for us. But why doesn’t He? Could it be that going through the motions isn’t good enough. Singing songs on Sunday morning doesn’t have great impact as long as our attention is fixed on the enemy. I cannot give the enemy the glory of being terrified when God’s promise is contested. I can go to God and praise Him for who He is and even if disaster comes; the LORD will be with me. Jesus is looking for those who will worship Him in ‘Spirit and in Truth,’ John 4:24.
I have a mental picture of a child who is constantly playing with their favorite toy and ignoring their father. When it’s time to eat; they play, asked to clean up; they play. The child is completely absorbed by the toy. But then the father gets a little attention; only when another child threatens to steal the toy – then the child runs to the father to keep the toy. If it breaks – Daddy is there to fix it. But the fathers instructions are ignored and He is all but forgotten as long as they have that toy – Their real God. The father is never praised for theperson He is. He is a tool and only loved when something more beloved is threatened.
God isn’t asking us to just sing songs so our problems go away, but to praise Him for who He is alone. The interpretation of the mental picture is that our life and the cares of it are like our favorite toy. We can get so wrapped up with ourselves that we ignore God. We have this gift called ‘life’ as a gift and promise for God; but we are not to worship the toy – but the giver. God is the giver. Jesus said, ‘Whoever wishes to save their life will lose it; but whoever loses their life for my sake, will find it.’ Luke 9:24. When all of our attention is give to our lives and problems and God only plays the role of ‘Fixer and Saver’ when we decide; He takes the backseat to the true object of worship – Our life and it’s problems. God becomes a tool, not the object of worship. The praise of God silences the enemies, but we cannot praise Him because that is our way of manipulating God to act on our behalf. We must have an attitude of praise no matter what. Praise is our eternal mode. So now; when problems come we must not be distracted from praise and turn to despair, but we must consider our life nothing and praise Him for ‘He is great, and greatly to be praised’ -Psalm 145:3. Praise is the strategy for God’s plan!
Prayers of petition are good. We can boldly approach God with need, but this boldness is found in an abandoned life and faith in God’s plan. I need to embrace this more and let go of control in my life and ministry. This is also a great application for worship services. I get so upset sometimes when people don’t seem to enter in and participate. But the solution isn’t to get them to sing songs and through them find praise; but to help people find a source of praise and launch into worship in the attitude of praise. I’ve got to help identify these things and with God’s help; lay a strong foundation for life changing praise to flow.
God, work on my heart. Show me more how to praise You for You, not just what You do and can do. When the source of praise is what you do for ME; will praise die on bad days? Teach me to praise You for You in the way Paul and Silas did – naked, beaten and in chains. I know You move when I forsake all for the sake of Your glory. Amen.