As Christians, we often want to comprehend the Bible better. One way to do that is to know several Hebrew words. Understanding original Hebrew terms helps us to have a direct connection with the language in which the entire Old Testament was written. This in turn will result in better interpretation and application of scripture. There’s one Hebrew word we should get to know: Shabach. So what does it mean?
Shabach means to praise or give adoration to God loudly. It’s a form of unrestrained praise and adoration to God, especially when He has done something. This form of praise is meant to be shouted or said with a loud voice for all to hear. Often, Shabach is accompanied by dance or musical instruments, especially when done as a victory celebration.
Unpacking the Meaning of Shabach
According to the Lexicon Hebrew dictionary, Shabach means to praise, laud, or address in a loud tone. A good example of how it’s used in everyday life can include cheering for your favorite football team or having a spirited discussion with a friend.
In the biblical context, Shabach means shouting praise to God for everything He has done and continues to do. Often, we praise (Shabach) God after He has done a good thing, such as healing or earning a promotion at work. However, several scriptures emphasize the importance of praising God in all circumstances. For instance, in Psalm 34:1, David reminds us we should praise God through the good times and bad. His praise should always be on our lips, meaning every day, no matter our circumstances.
What Can We Learn From The Word Shabach?
Shabach Invites God’s Presence
When the Ark was brought into Solomon’s temple, the singers raised their voices in praise to the Lord, and the temple was filled with clouds, which is a sign that God was in their midst (2 Chronicles 5). So when we praise loudly, we invite God’s presence.
In Ephesians 5:19, Paul explains that we can praise by singing and making music from our hearts to the Lord. He also mentions three types of songs: psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Paul notes all styles of music can be used to praise and honor God as long as He is the focus.
Singing praise to God has a profound effect. Paul and Silas sang hymns in prison. Not only did the doors open, but everyone’s bonds were untied. In addition, the jailer and his family became believers in Jesus Christ. Praising God loudly (Shabach) and singing hymns in prison caused those around them to take notice and listen (Acts 16:25). This story of Paul and Silas shows that when we praise with a sincere heart we invite God to move powerfully in our lives and to those around us.
In the Old Testament, when an enemy nation threatened Judah, King Jehoshaphat used praise as a weapon. He had the Levites lead the way, singing songs of praise to Almighty God, which led to Judah’s enemies being defeated (2 Chronicles 20:22). So praising God with music and song can be our spiritual weapon against the enemy and a way to invite God to fight our battles.
Loud Praise Affirms That God Is Truly Deserving Of Admiration
One common theme in the book of Psalms is praising God. In fact, the word praise appears around 245 times in the Bible and half of that count comes from Psalms. The shortest chapter in the Bible, Psalm 117, has only two verses, yet mentions the word praise twice. Psalm 150, the last chapter, mentions the word praise (Shabach) 13 times.
Psalms of praise, also called hymns, portray the author’s offering of direct admiration to God and encourage us to praise God for who He is and what He has done. For instance, in Psalm 147, the author praises God for several things, such as healing the brokenhearted, preserving Israel, sending rain, and granting peace. But above all, we praise because He is worthy of praise (Psalms 145).
What’s reiterated in Psalms is that even when the psalmists expressed doubt, pain, fear, anger, or sorrow in their songs, they often ended the laments with praise. The Bible also commands that we praise God: “Let everything that has breath praise the Lord” (Psalm 150:6) because it facilitates access to God (Psalm 22:3; 100:4). When we engage in loud praise (Shabach), we often communicate a deep reverence and acknowledgment of God’s greatness, goodness, and worthiness.
Loud Praise Is Associated With Victory Celebration
The story of Joshua leading the Israelites to bring down the walls of Jericho is a powerful account that demonstrates the power of loud praise. God gave Joshua specific instructions on what needed to be done to cause the walls of Jericho to collapse so that the Israelites would claim the city. It took a loud shout for the walls to fall (Joshua 6:1–27).
When the walls of Jerusalem were dedicated, the people weren’t quiet. In fact, the songs and praise were so loud that “the sound of rejoicing in Jerusalem could be heard far away” (Nehemiah 12:43). They sang praise with musical instruments such as cymbals, harps, and lyres (verse 27).
And when the Ark of the Covenant of the LORD came into the camp, all Israel shouted so loudly that the earth shook.” (1 Samuel 4:5) In Psalm 71:23, we read how God rescued David from all his enemies, including King Saul, and he declares, “My lips will shout for joy when I sing praise to You.” Psalm 100 calls believers to “Shout for joy to the Lord” and “give thanks to him and praise his name.”
Several scriptures point to using instruments such as tambourine, pipes, trumpet, and harp to praise God (Psalm 81:2; 98:5; 4:1; 55:1; 67:1; 76; Habakkuk 3:19). In the Old Testament, instrumental musical accompaniment was a common part of worship and praising God. All these instruments exude loud sound.
So, using instruments and loud praise has a foundation in biblical traditions and creates an atmosphere of joy. So, Shabach can be done with joy (Isaiah 12:6), especially when we lift our voices and express gratitude with all our heart and strength.
As believers, we know we should praise God in all circumstances. The Bible is full of examples demonstrating the power of praise as a form of worship, thanksgiving, celebration, and expressing joy, which can incorporate singing, dance, and musical instruments. We do not praise God to change our circumstances; we praise Him because He is worthy of our praise. When we understand the power of praise, every spoken word of admiration to God becomes more than a mere acknowledgment, it becomes a Shabach.