My elderly mother, Rose, due to failing health, had been moved from her assistant living apartment to a nursing home. I went to visit her as often as I could.
During one visit, I noticed that even a slight touch to her skin caused her pain. This was concerning to me and I mentioned it to the nurse. A few days later we learned that she had been transferred by rescue squad to the Emergency Room. She was placed in ICU due to being septic. Her catheter had not been kept clean and now poison from her bodily fluids were racing through her causing vital functions to shut down. We kept a vigil at the hospital with constant prayers. She seemed responsive at times so our hopes increased that she would recover. After six days in ICU she was moved to a regular room.
Our family members had been notified of the situation, and my twin sister flew in from North Carolina. She arrived on the seventh day, which was a Sabbath, and we went together to her room. It was surprising to see Mom alert and talkative. We decided that we would cheer her up by singing hymns beginning with the ones we knew well – “I Love to Tell the Story”, “What a Friend We Have in Jesus”, “How Great Thou Art”, etc. We didn’t always know all the verses but that didn’t matter. She was resting comfortably and listened as we sang. We continued for a little over an hour. The minute we stopped our mother took a quick short breath – her last. She passed away in front of us. We were stunned as we thought she was on the road to recovery. But thinking back on that moment, what a wonderful, peaceful way to die listening to praises to our Creator Lord.
I read a daily devotional by Esther Parkins* about her mother lying in a hospital room in Sunyani, Ghana. She had been in a coma for 15 days. The sad news of this pastor’s wife reached some church choir members attending the annual choir rally in the city. They decided to march around the hospital building as the children of Israel did to bring down the enemy’s stronghold in Jericho. There were over one thousand choristers who participated in this march singing beautiful music. After the seventh time, they stood still and sang an additional seven hymns and all shouted in unison, “Amen!” That instant, her mother sneezed, marking the start of her recovery process. She lived an additional 25 years, traveling around the country with her husband doing missionary work.
With these two examples, God received the praise and acted in very different ways. With my mother, He laid her peacefully to her rest in the grave. Esther’s mother’s life was restored, and additional years were added to her life.
It is amazing what praise can do. Yet another example comes to us in 2 Chronicles 20 where King Jehoshaphat realized that a great multitude (from the Moabites and Ammonites) was marching to fight against Judah. He proclaimed a fast throughout the land and prayed. A message from the Lord came to Jahaziel, a Levite, stating,
“Listen, all Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem and King Jehoshaphat: Thus, says the Lord to you, “Do not be afraid and do not be dismayed at this great horde, for the battle is not yours but God’s.” v. 15
They rose up early in the morning and went out into the wilderness. And this is the amazing part of the story:
“And when he had taken counsel with the people, he appointed those who were to sing to the Lord and praise Him in holy attire, as they went before the army, and say, “Give thanks to the Lord, for His steadfast love endures forever.”
And when they began to sing and praise, the Lord set an ambush against the men of Ammon, Moab, and Mount Seir, who had come against Judah, so that they were routed” (2 Chronicles 20:21-22).
The Lord not only spared them from defeat and killed the enemies, He rewarded their trust and praise with great spoils – so much that they were three days in taking (see v. 25). They returned to Jerusalem with harps, lyres, and trumpets, to again express their joy and praises to the Lord.
There are many reasons we should sing praises to the Lord. Here is only a short list:
He is worthy of all honor and praise and glory
o “As He had traveled toward Jerusalem, the multitude had spread their garments in the way and had strewn His path with palm branches, and they had proclaimed His praises, singing, “Hosanna to the son of David.” Though the rejoicing ones had not dared to carry their acclamations to the very gate of the temple, fearing the priests and rulers, the children had taken up the song, and were praising God in the temple, shouting, “Hosanna to the son of David” (FH 104.2).
Helps us realize our need for humility
o “The Lord Jesus came to the world to live the life that it will be for the interest of every being on earth to live – that of humble obedience. Those to whom Christ has given a probation in which to form characters for the mansions He has gone to prepare are to enter His life example. If they are indeed learners in the school of Christ, they will not exalt themselves because they are possessors of houses and lands, because the Lord has in His providence lent them His goods to trade upon” (CTr 244.2).
Lifts our spirits away from complaining and negativity
o “The people of Nazareth often heard His (Jesus) voice raised in praise and thanksgiving to God. He often held communion with heaven in song, and all who were associated with Him, who often complained of their weariness of labor, were cheered by the sweet melody that fell from his lips. His praises seemed to drive away the evil angels and, as incense, filled the room with sweet fragrance.” CTr 244.3
Makes the enemy flee
o “These exercises drive back the power of Satan. They expel murmuring and complaints, and Satan loses ground.” Manuscript 24, 1898 (CTr 244.5)
Allows God’s blessing to flow over our lives giving us refreshment
o “When others are impatient, fretful, and complaining because self is not subdued, begin to sing some of the songs of Zion. While Christ was working at the carpenter’s bench, others would sometimes surround Him, trying to cause Him to be impatient, but He would begin singing some of the beautiful psalms, and before they realized what they were doing, they had joined with Him in singing, influenced, as it were, by the power of the Holy Spirit which was there” (Adventist Home, p. 443.1).
Invites His Presence even in the darkest places
o “The apostles suffered extreme torture because of the painful position in which they were left, but they did not murmur. Instead, in the utter darkness and desolation of the dungeon, they encouraged each other by words of prayer, and sang praises to God because they were found worthy to suffer shame for His sake…With astonishment the other prisoners heard the sound of prayer and singing issuing from the inner prison” (AA 213.214).
Allows miracles to happen
o “About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them, and suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken. And immediately all the doors were opened, and everyone’s bonds were unfastened” (Acts 16:25-26).
Yes, whether it be life or death situations, a Sabbath worship service, or even a song sung while we do our daily chores, singing praises uplifts our spirits. However, we praise Him not for selfish reasons, but we praise Him for WHO HE IS! The Great I AM! Let our hearts and minds be filled with praise just as John wrote in Revelation 5:12:
“Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing!”
Karen M. Phillips is happily married to her husband, John, and enjoys spending time with her children and grandchildren. She is a Human Resources Manager, an ASI Mid-America Officer, and a Bible teacher. Together they support their world-wide ministry – HeReturns. She writes from Omaha, Nebraska, USA.
1) Esther Joyce Parkins, “In His Presence” (Idaho: Pacific Press Publishers, 2018).