Transfixed in Praise

Transfixed in Praise

Recently I’ve been reading Holy Roar, by Chris Tomlin and Darren Whitehead. It is a fairly simple book which looks at seven Hebrew words which are translated “praise” in our English versions of the Bible. When I started reading the chapter entitled, “The Position of Praise,” I made the assumption they would talk about bowing. However, I was only partially correct.

The word this chapter of the book examines is barak, which does mean to kneel, but it also means to bless God, praise, salute and thank. The authors state this is a form of praise that springs from thanksgiving, and gives the connotation of “falling to your knees in adoration and gratitude.” It implies humility.

When we have looked at the topic of gratitude in past articles, we have mentioned that the foundation of giving thanks is humility. We do not give someone thanks for things to which we feel entitled. In fact, a lot of the reasons we fail to be grateful enough to God and to others is because we have begun to feel entitled and proud, as if we are owed the blessings we take for granted.

The authors tell us that Psalm 100:4 says:
Enter his gates with thanksgiving
And his courts with praise (tehillah);
Give thanks to him and praise (barak) his name.

This is one of the places in scripture where we see the tie between praise and thanksgiving, and the word barak links them even closer together. The key to the presence of God is a humble spirit (the Lord is close to the humble) which pours forth gratitude and praise for what God has done, and who He is.

What really grabbed me in this chapter was when they explained that scholars believe that the original context of this word does not merely mean to physically bow down, but to bend low while still fixing ones; eyes on the king. As they put it, “To barak is to be transfixed.” Wow! Isn’t that the definition of true worship—to have our eyes, our hearts, our minds transfixed on the Lord with adoration and gratitude? It is a lowliness of spirit, a humility of heart, while filled with laser-focused adoration for the Lord.

They went on to look at Psalm 103:12, 20-22, and how often barak was used. When I read that familiar Psalm with the new eyes of one who has a better grasp on the content of that word, it really transformed my understanding of the Psalm. When I read it as a prayer, that He would cause me to be transfixed at His name, for all He’s done, and that all in heaven and earth would also be transfixed in worship, it take on great power. Let’s see what happens when you read it:

Praise (barak) the Lord, my soul;
all my inmost being praise his holy name.
Praise (barak) the Lord, my soul,
and forget not all his benefits…
Praise (barak) the Lord, you his angels,
you mightly ones who do his bidding
who obey his word.
Praise (barak) the Lord all his heavenly hosts,
you his servants who do his will.
Praise (barak) the Lord, all his works
everywhere in his dominion.
Praise (barak) the Lord, my soul.

Let’s allow this idea to sink into our minds and hearts until we can come into His presence with a sense of barak—a lowliness in our estimation of ourselves, a deep gratitude for all He has done for us being expressed in our praise, and a focus on Him so transfixed as to be transforming in our relationship with Him and our worship of Him.

by Sheri Cook, Director of Special Ministries