Billy Bray was an eccentric preacher of old. He was known for spontaneously breaking out in song and dance (not unlike David, 2 Samuel 6:14). A lot of people didn’t know what to make of him, was he a raving loony or was this genuine joy in the Lord? When people complained of his over-enthusiasm, he declared, ‘if they put me in a barrel, I’d shout “praise the Lord!” through the bung-hole.’ Whatever you make of him, you can’t question his heart for the Lord and His glory!

I can’t help feeling in our day and age that we really don’t glorify God as we ought. He’s the Author of Life, and King of the Universe, we’re to love Him with all our hearts, souls and minds (Mark 12:30), to offer up to Him ‘a sacrifice of praise’ (Hebrews 13:15), but too often we’ve got our eyes set on ourselves and the things of this world, not turning heavenwards in humble adoration. We don’t render the honour due His name. Read these words from a long-dead saint:

‘O thou adorable Lord Jesus, what should we talk of, or think of, or write of, or glory in but thy blessed self, who art altogether lovely! … If we are so happy in his love when we cannot see him, oh! what shall we be when we are made like him and shall see him as he is?’

Richard Conyers in a letter to the Countess of Huntingdon

Or from a guy who was martyred for his faith in Christ Jesus — how’s this for a heart for God?

Jim Elliot quote

‘… to gaze and glory and give oneself again to God — what more could a man ask? Oh, the fullness, pleasure, sheer excitement of knowing God on earth! I care not if I never raise my voice again for Him, if only I may love Him, please Him. Mayhap in mercy He shall give me a host of children that I may lead them through the vast star fields to explore His delicacies whose finger-ends set them to burning. But if not, if only I may see Him, touch his garments, and smile into his eyes — ah then, not stars nor children shall matter, only Himself.

O Jesus, Master and Centre and End of all, how long before that glory of Thine which has so long waited Thee? Now there is no thought of Thee among men; then there shall be thought for nothing else. Now other men are praised; then none shall care for any other’s merits. Hasten, hasten, Glory of Heaven, take Thy crown, subdue Thy kingdom, enthrall Thy creatures.’

Words found in Jim Elliot’s diary after his death in 1956 at the hands of the Waodani, who later en masse professed this same faith in Jesus

People praising God in the Bible

Do you know what’s better even than the great praises of history? People praising God in the Bible — that which the Holy Spirit has breathed through the hearty, characterful turn of phrase of His chosen instruments, giving us an eternal witness that will not fail to supercharge the very depths of our hearts (Hebrews 4:12).

What follows is an assortment of the prayers, songs and praises of various men and women in the Old Testament. It’s my prayer that these Bible verses will help arouse the affections of your heart to likewise delight in praising the Lord. You can echo these biblical songs and praises of old, or come up with your own — add your name to the long list of enthusiastic worshippers of the Most High God, from when Abram ‘called upon the name of the LORD, the Eternal God’ (Genesis 21:33), to Jacob worshipping ‘as he leaned on the top of his staff’ (Genesis 47:31), to the Ethiopian eunuch who ‘went on his way rejoicing’ after discovering ‘the good news of Jesus’ (Acts 8:35, 39), to Paul and Silas praising God at midnight in a prison cell (Acts 16:25), to the twenty-four elders bowing down before the throne (Revelation 4:10-11).

It’s often best to simply let scripture speak for itself, which is what I’ve tried to do here. Hence this isn’t a usual article!

Let’s start with Moses and the Israelites after deliverance out of the clutches of Pharaoh, they rejoice simply using possessive pronouns:

‘He is my God, and I will praise him’

Exodus 15:2

Miriam chimes in:

‘Sing to the LORD, for he is highly exalted’

Exodus 15:21

Moses saw the danger of not worshipping God as we ought, exhorting Israel to ‘hold fast to him [for] He is your praise; he is your God’ (Deuteronomy 10:20-21). Moses resolves to shout it out:

‘I will proclaim the name of the LORD. Oh, praise the greatness of our God!’

Deuteronomy 32:3

Much later on, we get a Deborah and Barak duet:

‘With song I will praise the Lord, I will sing; I will make music to the LORD’

Judges 5:3

And we see Naomi’s friends praising the Lord together:

‘Praise be to the Lord who this day has not left you without a kinsman-redeemer’

Ruth 4:14

Hannah switches from third-person to second:

‘My heart rejoices in the LORD … there is no-one holy like the LORD; there is no-one besides you.’

1 Samuel 2:1-2

And then one of the most enthusiastic worshippers of all-time, David, joins in the pantheon of praise:

‘The LORD lives! Praise be to my Rock! Exalted be God, the Rock, my Saviour!’

2 Samuel 22:47

And then again to Asaph & co., David declares:

‘”Praise be to the LORD, the God of Israel, from everlasting to everlasting.”
Then all the people said, “Amen,” and, “praise the LORD.”‘

1 Chronicles 16:36

Solomon gets the trumpeters and singers in on the act:

‘They raised their voices in praise to the LORD and sang:
“He is good; his love endures forever.”‘

2 Chronicles 5:13

Jehoshaphat sets men at the head of the army to sing God’s praises:

‘Jehoshaphat appointed men to sing to the LORD and to praise him for the splendour of his holiness … singing “Give thanks to the LORD, for his love endures forever.”‘

2 Chronicles 20:21

Hezekiah’s Levites:

‘…sang praises with gladness and bowed their heads and worshipped’

2 Chronicles 29:29

And a bunch of Levites with funny names, even after the destruction of the temple, could still say:

‘Blessed be your glorious name, and may it be exalted above all blessing and praise’

Nehemiah 9:5

In Ezra:

‘And all the people gave a great shout of praise to the LORD’

Ezra 3:11

Going way back to Job, having lost most of his stuff and even his beloved children:

‘The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away; may the name of the LORD be praised’

Job 1:21

And so we come to the Psalms — hear David again:

‘I will praise you, O LORD, with all my heart … I will be glad and rejoice in you; I will sing praise to your name, O Most High’

Psalm 9:1-2

The sons of Korah use emotion and poetry in their famous number one, ‘As a deer pants for streams of water’:

‘Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him,
my Saviour and my God.
My soul is downcast within me;
therefore I will remember you’

Psalm 42:5

Here they are again with another chart-topper:

‘I will perpetuate your memory through all generations, therefore the nations will praise you for ever and ever’

Psalm 45:17

And again — not sure if this is all from the same EP, album? — they’re not holding it back:

‘Clap your hands, all you nations, shout to God with cries of joy. How awesome is the LORD Most High!’

Psalm 47:1-2
David from a cave

David, hiding in a cave, worships:

‘I will praise you, O LORD … be exalted, O God, above the heavens; let your glory be over all the earth’

Psalm 57:9, 11

Dave again, in intimate words from the heart:

‘Because your love is better than life, my lips will glorify you’

Psalm 63:3-4

This one’s anonymous, so I guess you can make it your own!

‘Let me live that I may praise you’

Psalm 71:14

Enter Asaph, another one whose heartfelt praise can’t fail to stir even the coldest soul, and remind us that our God is the ‘father of the fatherless and a defender of widows’ (Psalm 68:5):

‘May the poor and needy praise your name’

Psalm 74:21

And from another anonymous masterpiece, a simple plea:

‘Let me live that I may praise you’

Psalm 119:175


‘I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made’

Psalm 139:14


‘Let every creature praise his holy name for ever and ever’

Psalm 145:21

How about this for gospel truth? ‘In that day you will say:’

‘I will praise you, O LORD. Although you were angry with me, your anger has turned away and you have comforted me. … Sing to the LORD for he has comforted me. … Sing to the LORD, for he has done glorious things; let this be known to all the world.’

Isaiah 12:1, 5

Daniel, after he had a vision from God:

‘I thank you and praise you, O God of my fathers’

Daniel 2:23 (but worth reading the whole thing: Daniel 2:19-23)

Nebuchadnezzar, ruler of much of the known world, a tyrannical monster of a man who thought nothing of chucking men alive into fiery furnaces, but whose conversion story is up there with Paul’s:

‘I, Nebuchadnezzar, raised my eyes towards heaven … I praised the Most High; I honoured and glorified him who lives forever. … Now I praise and exalt and glorify the King of heaven, because everything he does is right and all his ways are just [‘just’ here including letting Neb turn insane and start eating grass like a cow].’

Daniel 4:34, 37

Jonah, in the belly of a fish:

‘I, with a song of thanksgiving, will sacrifice to you’

Jonah 2:9

Micah (whose name means ‘who is like Yahweh’):

‘Who is a God like you, who pardons sin and forgives…?’

Micah 7:18

Habakkuk, despite having a name that sounds like something terminal, says:

‘Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will be joyful in God my Saviour.’

Habakkuk 3:17-18 (the writer of Amazing Grace, John Newton, preached on these very verses the Sunday after his beloved wife Mary died)

A message from Zephaniah to the Daughter of Zion (i.e. Israel, the Church):

‘Be glad and rejoice with all your heart’


‘The LORD has taken away your punishment …
The LORD, the King of Israel, is with you …
He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you [wow!] with singing. I will gather you; at that time I will bring you home. I will give you honour and praise among all the peoples of the earth …
Says the LORD.’

Zephaniah 3:14-20

To the Daughter of Zion again:

‘Shout and be glad, O Daughter of Zion. For I am coming, and I will live among you, declares the LORD.
Many nations will be joined with the LORD in that day and will become my people. I will live among you and you will know that the LORD Almighty has sent me to you. …
Rejoice greatly, O Daughter of Zion! Shout, Daughter of Jerusalem! See your King comes to you, righteous and having salvation, gentle and riding on a donkey.’

Zechariah 2:10-12; 9:9

We had enough reason to praise the LORD before the coming of Christ, but that last line gives us reason to be blown over by the lovingkindness (an old word William Tyndale invented because the English word love doesn’t get across the full meaning of the Hebrew chesed) of our glorious triune God; so, finally, let’s bring in the New Testament, listen to the words of our Saviour, Jesus Christ, in the garden on the night when He was to die for us:

‘Father, glorify your Son that your Son may glorify you.’

John 17:1

I’ll leave it there.

These verses are just a sample of the many marvellous words of praise directed to God from the people of the Old Testament (despite barely calling on the vast treasure troves of praise in the New). What do they all show? Whoever you are, wherever you are, whatever you are, you can and must praise God — until ‘one day every knee will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father’ (Philippians 2:10-11). Amen to that! Till that day when we praise God anew in glory, may we never cease from joining our hearts and our voices as one in praising Him.