Sometimes, during worship, the leader starts singing words that aren’t part of the song. I don’t know how to follow along if I don’t know the words. Why do they do this?
Jehoshaphat sent choirs ahead of his army to sing praise the Lord “in the splendor of his holiness.” Jehoshaphat’s army didn’t even engage in the fight. At the sound of the Lord’s war song, the enemy was defeated! That must have been some song! I wonder how it goes.
Tehillah Praise: a spiritual song or hymn of praise, a spontaneous or unrehearsed expression of praise, to spontaneously sing
Tehillah praise is divinely inspired song, or a “song in the spirit.” Tehillah praise is the invitation to sing along with God’s song; to sing the very song that Jesus is singing as The Holy Spirit reveals His song to us. Scripture often refers to Tehillah Praise as “His” praise or “Your” praise, implying that God is actually the one singing, not just the recipient of our praise. Tehillah praise, therefore, is a spirit or a divine mantle of praise with which God clothes us (Isa. 61:3).
Instances in scripture that record the singing of a “new song” most often refer to Tehillah praise (Ps. 40:3, Ps. 149:1). Tehillah praise is very often unrehearsed. The Holy Spirit reveals heavenly words or melodies to us in worship that are totally new to us. When this happens, it is entirely appropriate for us to sing spontaneously, impulsively and immediately, without reservation and without rehearsal. Tehillah praise is a real-time, spiritually-downloaded song.
Tehillah praise is also sometimes a war song, or a song by which God delivers his people (1 Chron. 16:35).
When Jehosaphat faced the Ammonites and Moabites, the armies of Israel were overwhelmingly outmatched. As Israelite singers began singing Tehillah praise (2 Chron. 20:22), the Lord fought in their behalf and won a great victory. Scripture says that God is “awesome in praises” (Ex 15:11). Tehillah praise is singing along with God’s awesome praises; and the Lord’s enemies destroy each other and run screaming when God sings.
So when we are worshipping together and the leader starts singing things that are new and spontaneous, sing along with whatever words and melody come to you. The Holy Spirit is singing and inviting us to sing along. And, who knows, enemies we didn’t even know we had may slay one another as we sing.