To extol is to praise with great enthusiasm, to praise with a passionate or consuming interest.
What a great word. Doesn’t it sound like fun?
I can almost picture the one extolling.
He’s cheering loudly after his favorite team won the Super Bowl.
She’s clapping madly after her child rides a bike without training wheels.
You can’t extol quietly. You can’t extol from a recliner.
It begs for expression. It virtually explodes.
When my kids were younger, they feigned embarrassment every time I attended their school functions and extolled them from the crowd. Whether my son was launching himself in the pole vault or my daughter was singing her heart out in the choir concert, they always heard my hollers and cheers.
King David wrote in Psalm 34, “I will extol the LORD at all times; his praise will always be on my lips.”
David didn’t simply talk about extolling the Lord. He exemplified it. He once danced so vigorously out of love for God that his wife was disgusted by his undignified display.
Look again at that verse and David’s level of engagement. “I will extol the LORD at all times; his praise will always be on my lips.” Psalm 34:1 NIV
Didn’t David ever focus on caring for his high maintenance wife, commanding his mighty men, or ruling his kingdom?
Obviously he was not suggesting he praised God 24/7, 365. Instead he was declaring his commitment to extol God in happy times and sad times, busy times and boring times, winning times and losing times.
Offering praise was not tied to circumstances or feelings. David didn’t say great things about God only when his life overflowed with blessing.
Praise was always on his lips.
Always praising makes perfect sense to Job. In the first chapter of the book of Job, he “fell to the ground in worship.” The tragic events that drove him flat on his face make his reverent act appear counterintuitive, if not completely illogical. As he lay prostrate before the Lord he said, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart. The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away; may the name of the LORD be praised.” (Job 1:21 NIV)
Job didn’t praise God because of his circumstances; he grieved deeply as a result of them. And yet praise was on his lips at an excruciating time.
Job worshiped God in spite of his circumstances. Praise was prompted from his understanding of who God is, not his experience of what God had or had not done for him.
David and Job teach us to lift our eyes from the bad news and focus on the Good News at all times.
Extolling the Lord in the worst of times may not sound like cheering and clapping, but proclaiming His goodness, majesty and power in the dark will chase away shadows of defeat.
Extolling God brings victory.
Psalm 34:1-8 NIV
1 I will extol the Lord at all times;
his praise will always be on my lips.
2 I will glory in the Lord;
let the afflicted hear and rejoice.
3 Glorify the Lord with me;
let us exalt his name together.
4 I sought the Lord, and he answered me;
he delivered me from all my fears.
5 Those who look to him are radiant;
their faces are never covered with shame.
6 This poor man called, and the Lord heard him;
he saved him out of all his troubles.
7 The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear him,
and he delivers them.
8 Taste and see that the Lord is good;
blessed is the one who takes refuge in him.