“Come, everyone! Clap your hands! Shout to God with joyful praise! (Ps. 47:1 NLT)”
My Grandfather loved praise and worship music. At the age of 81 he stood in the back of our little church and would clap his hands to every song that was played. Of course my grandfather had no rhythm and managed to clap completely off beat at all times. As hard as it may have been to be standing next to him, his intention was understood. In the Bible we find clapping mentioned 9 times (all old-testament). all of these occurrences are are some combination of the four hebrew verbs used to express the “striking” of something (macha, naka, saphak, taqa) and the Hebrew word for “hand” (kaf). Essesntially it means the striking of hands, or clapping. 5 of the 9 times we see these combinations, clapping has a negative connotation. These five places use the clapping of hands to show anger, scorn, and disgust (Job 27:23; 34:37, Lam. 2:15; Ezek. 25:6; Nahum 3:19). We still see this today when we make a bad choice or do something we might consider stupid, we clap our hands in disgust. The other four uses however, are meant to show joy, celebration, and praise (2 Kings 11:12; Ps. 47:1; 98:8; Isaiah 55:12). Two of these passages speak of nature giving praise by clapping it’s hands through rivers and trees. How majestic is our God that “all the trees of the field will clap their hands” along with the rivers? If we remember in Luke, Jesus rebukes the Pharisees complaining about the disciples displaying joyful and loud behavior as Jesus cam into town. He said that if these people become silent then surely the stones will cry out in praise. The simple act of placing two hands together repeatedly has such a wide range of meaning. It is one of the first things we learn to do as babies and symbolically is the last moment before life’s curtain call. Let our challenge this month be to realize that if we don’t praise our Creator and Savior that the trees, rivers, mountains, and rocks will. So clap your hands; applaud God’s majesty and greatness, even if it is out of rhythm like my grandfather, as long as it is from your heart.