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Garry continued his series looking at the Sabbath this morning (when we finally managed to overcome various technical problems!) He looked at two similar words which are also connected to praise: shabach & shebach.

Shabach means to praise, to celebrate and shout, to shout in triumph. It’s used in Ps 63:1-3 and in Ps 106:47, where it is translated ‘glorify‘ or ‘glory‘ and in Ps 145:4 where it is translated ‘commends.’ It has the idea of jubilation, the crowd going wild, the kind of excited praise which would see a crowd climb on tables or chairs! Usually, this kind of praise comes as we recognise what God has done for us and we declare God’s power and confess His supremacy, rejoicing in all He has done.

Shebach is a quieter, more reflective praise, with the word only being used in Daniel 2:23 and 4:24. It is the kind of praise where we whisper our love for God or simply talk quietly. It’s the kind of praise that comes as we rest in God’s presence like a child snuggling on a father’s lap, as we become aware of His song over us and delight in us. (Zeph 3:17)

Both types of praise are necessary, and whilst it is easy at times to overflow with praise, more often than not we must choose to worship God. There are many occasions when we will not particularly feel like praising Him (any more than we leap out of bed every day with great enthusiasm… some days our beds have a great pull on us!) We have to learn to choose to praise Him, and this is where the connection with the Sabbath comes in.

One of the purposes of the Sabbath is to change our focus from ourselves to God. Gathering together is an important aspect of this and an important aspect of praise. Heb 10:24-25 reminds us that we can spur one another to love and good deeds; we can ‘incite’ one another to praise and this becomes infectious! We are called to encourage one another, and this means coming alongside each other to spur each other on. Ps 122:1 talks of rejoicing and being brightened when we exhort each other to go to God’s house. It’s not easy during this period when we cannot gather physically, but we can still inspire and encourage each other to praise and our collective gatherings are still important as we shift our focus firmly onto God.