So What Does Hallelujah Mean Anyway?

It’s Sunday. You probably went to church, and you probably sang the word “Hallelujah” several times. Obviously, it is a word of praise, but what does it really mean?

You might be surprised to find out that it is actually something like a little sentence in Hebrew. It is a combination of two words, hallal and Yahweh. The second word is obviously the name for God. The first word means “to praise,” and the particular form in this word, hallelu, is a second person plural imperative (meaning it is a command to a group of people) that literally means, “Praise!” Thus, hallelujah means, “Praise the Lord, you people!”

We can go a bit deeper, though. To praise someone or something is more than just to think good things about them. I’m afraid that many times, our praise and worship may be limited to “God, you rock!” in more biblical language. Actually, to praise someone is to highlight their virtues or achievements or to thank them for what they have done. The important point is that praise is focused on the superior qualities of something or someone.

Looked at that way, we have a lot to praise God for. He is, after all, superior in every way! So the next time you sing “Hallelujah,” keep two things in mind: first, it is a word of exhortation to your fellow believers. You are encouraging them to join you in praising God. Second, think about what you are praising Him for. Is it His patience, His grace, His love, His omnipotence, omniscience, omnipresence, or any other attribute? What has God done, or who is God, that He is worthy of praise? When you focus on that, you can truly sing Hallelujah!

So what are some of the things that you have praised God for lately? Leave them in the comment box. Beyond taking a moment to praise God, which is always biblical, others may be encouraged to see how God is working in people’s lives.

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