What does Hallelujah mean

by Nathan Howard

“Hallelujah is one of the most commonly used praise words today. Even many unsaved (non-christian) people use the word as an expression of joy. The word is also used in other faiths as well as christianity to mean “praise God!”, but what does the word really mean to God?

The word hallelujah is a hebrew word meaning praise God, its greek equivalent (used in the new testament) is Allelujah. Sometimes in this silly english language of ours, words aren’t really very descriptive. For example we only have one word for snow (you know… that white cold stuff that falls from the sky). But eskimos have many different words for snow because they have to describe it in different forms all the time. They have different words for snow when it’s falling, snow when its just fallen, snow that has hardened, snow that is mushy, snow that is dirty, snow that is from salt water, snow from fresh water and so on….

The same is true of the Hebrew language and the words that Israel uses for praise. We just have one english word for praise and just like the word we have for snow, it isn’t really very descriptive of the subject. Praise to God has even more diversity than snow. The hebrew word Hallelujah is in fact made up of two Hebrew words: ‘Hallel’ and ‘Jah’. The second of these words, ‘jah’, means God as in the word ‘Yahweh’. So this indicates that the praise is directed to God personally. The first of these words, ‘hallel’, is one of at least seven hebrew words used to describe praise.

As with any praise to God, it must be lived as well as spoken. You can’t say “Praise God” with one breath and go and murder someone in the next minute! So the word Hallel indicates a lifestyle of LOVE. Just the same as a couple in love don’t really care what people around them think about how they are holding hands or hugging etc, if you are really praising God out of a love attitude (hallel), then you just won’t care what anyone thinks or what you look like when you are doing it. You might dance, you would certainly sing, you would probably be shouting and clapping your hands. You might even be crying when you do it! This is what happened to king David in 2Sam 6:14. He was so overjoyed that the presence of the Lord (the ark) was back in Israel that he didn’t even care what his wife thought about his praise!

I would encourage you to not limit your ‘love expression’ to God by what others think. Don’t limit it to a musical style. Don’t even limit your praise to Him by a body position. When we talk and get excited about people we use body language to express ourselves. Just like the psalmist said: “All that is within me give him praise” – PS 103. Let everything you have give the Lord the praise he deserves! Don’t hold back on loving your heavenly Father and giving Him Hallelujahs!”

I really like the description of what Hallelujah means, praise God with such love & totally complete abandon that we don’t care what other people think because we are so in love with God.