Where do you suppose the creator of the universe goes to hang out? Does God seek out the company of people? Is God even interested in whether or not someone knows and hungers for His companionship? Why would He pay any attention to sinful mankind? And is there something we can do to help bring ourselves into relationship with Him?
Psalm 22 contains a lament by David in which he expresses his trust in God even though he has apparently been rejected by Him. The first verse of this Psalm is quoted by Messiah Jesus in the Gospel of Matthew as He hung on the cross:
“My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? Why are thou so far from helping me, and from the words of my roaring?”
David is expressing a deep hunger for his God who doesn’t seem to be near and doesn’t seem to be listening. But is God far away?
In verse 2 David continues with this:
“O my God, I cry in the daytime, but thou hearest not, and in the night season, and am not silent.”
But David is not without hope. In the very next verse he writes this for us:
“But thou art holy, O thou that inhabitest the praises of Israel.”
Here David make a startling observation. The holy God of Israel inhabits the praises of His people! Can this be true, and what does it mean to have God inhabit praises? Can praises really be the key to a connection to the LORD?
First, let’s explore the word praises which in Hebrew is the word Tehillah which means praise; a song or hymn of praise; or renown, fame, and glory. What can we learn about this word from its ancient Hebrew pictograms?
Remember, the ancient letters are pictograms that are content-driven. The LORD intends for us to understand their meanings. They tell us a story. Tehillah is spelled Tav Hey Lamed Hey.
Tav is the picture of crossed wooden sticks and means a sign, to seal, or to covenant.
Hey is the picture of a man with outstretched hands to the heavens and means to look, to behold, or to pay attention to what follows.
Lamed is the picture of the shepherd’s staff and means to control, to have authority, or the voice of authority.
Hey, again, is the picture of a man with outstretched hands to the heavens and means to look, to behold, or to pay attention to what follows.
In these a picture is given that points us to Messiah and what He has done:
From the Tav we learn that praise is focused on the covenant that was established at the cross by Messiah.
From the Hey we can see that praise means to look up to God at the cross.
The Lamed explains that we are to praise the shepherd who is our authority.
And finally, the second Hey reminds us to pay attention to what He will do.
And just what will Messiah do?
David understands that the LORD inhabits this picture of praise. What does it mean to inhabit the praises of Israel? Inhabit is the Hebrew word Betach and means a place of refuge. This is a place of safety and security where one dwells with assurance and with confidence.
Can we learn more about this word by examining its pictographic letters? Will they also point us to Messiah? Betach is spelled Beyt Tet Chet.
Beyt s the picture of the tent and means the house, the family, or the dwelling place and is the first letter in the Torah that identifies the Son of God.
Tet is the picture of the coiled snake and means to surround, to encircle, to ensnare, to entwine, or to entrap.
Chet is the picture of the fence and means to separate, to cut off, a private place, a place of refuge, a sanctuary, or an inner room.
Here we find in the Beyt that inhabit means that we are talking about the family or the home.
In the Tet, we are reminded that inhabit means to surround or to encircle and include.
The Chet shows us that inhabit is about a private place, a refuge or a sanctuary.
This is quite amazing. Inhabit contains in its pictograms the idea of surrounding and separating the house or dwelling place and making it a secure place of refuge. And about whose house is David writing?
Each of the Hebrew letters is also a number that contains meaning according to how that number is found throughout the scripture. The meanings that are found in the numbers for Betach confirm to whom David is referring.
Beyt is the number 2 and means God the Son or the Living Word.
Tet is the number 9 and indicates an evaluation followed by judgement.
Chet is the number 8 and refers to a new beginning.
David began this Psalm discouraged and feeling far from his God, but the content in the letters and numbers for inhabits the praises of Israel will give him great comfort.
The Holy One of Israel is reminding David that He has made a Covenant with him. He is the Shepherd who surrounds His people and secures them in His sanctuary. He is not far away, He is waiting to provide a new beginning. All He needs is for us to praise Him.