My dear friend, Sommer Derickson, is back with us to talk about what it means to extol God for this week’s edition of Word Nerd Wednesday.
Extol: build up
from the Hebrew salal: to lift up, cast up
Sing to God, sing in praise of his name, extol him who rides on the clouds; rejoice before him–his name is the LORD.
And one shall say,
“Heap it up! Heap it up!
Prepare the way,
Take the stumbling block out of the way of My people.”
Honestly, extol, is a pretty simple word. It comes from the Hebrew salal (סָלַל) which means to cast up or to lift up. It is laudatory praise; it is exclaiming good things about God.
In Psalm 68:4, the psalmist calls believers to “Sing to God, sing in praise of his name, extol him who rides on the clouds; rejoice before him–his name is the LORD.” In this verse, and in others, salal becomes sōllū, which means to build up, or even heap up.
The practice of extolling the Lord includes singing to God, singing praises about Him, recognizing His place of sovereignty, rejoicing before Him, and doing all of this with clear mention of His name, the LORD.
To Extol God is Commanded
Given this pretty clear definition, I wanted to explore the implications of the act of extolling. First I will give you a few more texts which command believers to extol the Lord and then I will posit an interesting way to use this edge of the sword of truth, God’s word.
Let it be known that I am not a trained theologian, but I do think there is something worthwhile to grasp here that doesn’t go against a proper view of God.
Here are a few other verses calling us to extol the Lord, emphasis added:
1Praise the LORD, all nations!
Extol him, all peoples!
2For great is his steadfast love toward us,
and the faithfulness of the LORD endures forever.
Praise the LORD!
Psalm 145:1-6 (NIV)
1I will exalt you, my God the King;
I will praise your name for ever and ever.
2Every day I will praise you
and extol your name for ever and ever.
3Great is the Lord and most worthy of praise;
his greatness no one can fathom.
4One generation commends your works to another;
they tell of your mighty acts.
5They speak of the glorious splendor of your majesty—
and I will meditate on your wonderful works.
Psalm 117 (ESV)
So we lift Him up with our words. We speak highly of Him who sits highly. We recognize our lowly selves and his high perfection of glory. In this we have an incredible and sacred opportunity, to pave the road to God for ourselves and for others.
Isaiah 57 is a passage that talks about Israel’s defiance against God and their rebellion. But in the middle of the passage, in verse 14, God offers a hopeful solution to backsliding Israel. Thankfully, this solution also applies to us and our own communities of backsliders.
Verse 14 says, “And one shall say, “Heap it up! Heap it up! Prepare the way, Take the stumbling block out of the way of My people.” The word here is actually sōllū, extol.
Extolling God Increases our Relationship
Extolling the LORD with our specific words, in forms of writing, song, and oration, builds up a way of “access” to relationship with God. This is not to say that God is inaccessible without words of praise, but instead to highlight the fact that high praise and laudatory words draw others to investigate God and develop relationship with Him. We even see this theme in Psalm 145 above when the good words about God are spoken, the next generation is taught of his glorious splendor.
Isaiah 57:15 takes an even more interesting turn:
“For thus says the High and Lofty One
Who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy:
“I dwell in the high and holy place,
With him who has a contrite and humble spirit,
To revive the spirit of the humble,
And to revive the heart of the contrite ones.”
Relate this to when Psalm 68:4 says “extol him who rides on the clouds.” This is a figurative way of speaking to God’s highness, his loftiness, moreover his sovereignty over the earth and the ways of all life.
While God is the perfection of holiness and far above all human beings, he yet welcomes the contrite and humble spirits into His presence. He dwells as King with those who humbly recognize their natural fallings and His natural perfection of good. And in this perfection, while these humbly dwell with him, they are revived.
Become Humble and Contrite by Extolling God
Now we know how to dwell in Him, as Christ commands. We dwell in God through humility and contrition. And how do we gain humility and contrition in our hearts? By extolling God. Our words, songs, writings, orations, and testimonies describing God’s character build up the way of contrition and humility directly into God’s presence.
Consider your own times of backsliding, or even mere distance, from God. What brought you back? For me, it has always been songs that sing of who He is. God of all creation. Maker of Heaven and Earth. The Lamb upon the throne. The lowly infant King. It is in reflection of His magnitude that I realize how wrong I have been and how necessary it is to return to Him.
Oh soul, extol the Lord. Sing of His wonderful name and His deeds among your people. Through humility and contrition, be brought high by the road your words of praise build up. Then, Oh soul, sing louder to build up a road for others.
Sommer holds a degree in music from Wheaton College, Wheaton, IL, where she also studied composition and communications. She has produced and recorded two CD’s of original works, featuring her skills as a singer-songwriter. They can be purchased here:
She has written musical scores for both plays and movies and directed a variety of plays and musicals during her 6 years as a K-12 music educator and high school choir director. She especially loves writing wedding processionals for her friends.
Over the past 19 years, Sommer has led worship in a wide variety of contexts including large non-denominational churches, home gatherings, Army chapel services, youth groups, children’s services, women’s Bible study programs, a Baptist church in Rome, Italy and many more. Each context has brought her into more discussion amongst friends and colleagues as to what worship really means. Her study of worship began with a desire to choose good worship songs as a teenager and has now become a lifelong inquiry.
Sommer’s most recent project, writing the musical score for the independent film, “The Circle,” finished this past summer. (Connect here.) https://www.facebook.com/christcompanyresources/?fref=ts She is now focusing on mothering three incredibly cute children, loving and encouraging her dear husband, drinking the perfect amount of coffee, and rotating her chores at reasonable intervals at her home in Concord, North Carolina.
She attempts to create beauty occasionally at her blog Naphtalia. https://naphtalia.wordpress.com/
She does not tweet on the twitter or snap on the chat or do cool-kid type things, mostly because she’s trying to make an espresso before her children wake from their naps.
Should you wish to connect further, feel free to comment below and she will respond accordingly.
Linking Up With
For more encouragement please join the discussions on these fabulous blog link ups – Suzanne Eller, Thought Provoking Thursday, Susan B. Mead, Faith Filled Friday, Grace and Truth, Faith and Fellowship Friday, Grace and Truth Friday, Good Morning Monday, Soul Survival, Monday Musings, Rah Rah Link Up, Tell His Story, Woman to Woman Wednesday, Women With Intention Wednesday, Sitting Among Friends, Testimony Tuesday, Planting Roots, and Fresh Market Friday.