In Matthew 21:16, Jesus was quick to defend the children in the temple who were dancing and singing to Him. He blasted the criticizing Pharisees, saying, “Have you never read, ‘Out of the mouth of babes and nursing infants You have perfected praise’?” Notice that the praise Jesus referred to wasn’t just any praise. He qualified this praise: It was praise that has been perfected.
So, does that mean praise to God isn’t perfect on its own? Is it not sufficient to simply throw a party and celebrate and boast about the Lord? Actually, no…We could do everything that praise implies and still accomplish nothing more than to send up a bunch of imperfect noise! No doubt that is why in Amos 5:21-23 God called the Israelites’ praise “noise.” He said, “I hate all your show and pretense – the hypocrisy of your religious festivals and solemn assemblies…Away with your hymns of praise! They are only noise to my ears. I will not listen to your music, no matter how lovely it is.”
We are riveted, therefore, to search out what God considers as perfect praise. That is the only kind we can be certain He will accept from us. As He quoted Psalm 8:2, Jesus laid out three requirements for offering up perfect and acceptable praise to God.
First, Jesus said, “Out of the mouth…” During His Sermon on the Mount in Luke 6, Jesus had already taught an important insight about our mouths. He said, “…out of the overflow of his heart, his mouth speaks.” (Verse 45) He is telling us here that the first requirement for praise to be perfect is this: While praise is something that ultimately takes place on the outside of us through our mouths or some other body part, perfect praise always starts on the inside with a worshiping and passionate heart for God. God hated to hear the songs of Israel in Amos 5 because their praise did not spring from love for Him; their hearts were evil. They had “manifold transgressions and mighty sins.” (Amos 5:12 NKJ)
Next, Jesus said, “Out of the mouths of babes and infants…” The second requirement of perfect praise is that we approach Him as a little child. Please don’t assume that means we should act childishly. (Heaven knows we have enough childishness among church members and musicians already!) No, what God wants to see in us are certain child-like qualities. For instance, children are humble. Jesus said, “Whoever humbles himself like this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 18:4 NIV) Children are also very trusting. In the same way we must trust the God that we are praising, no matter what the circumstances.
There is one other child-like quality we must have, and that is total dependence. Little kids, especially infants, are helpless on their own. They must rely on someone else to do for them. That leads us to the third and final requirement for our praise to be perfect before Holy God. It’s summed up in one all-important word: “Out of the mouth of babes and infants, You…” The “You” Jesus was referring to is God Himself. “You have perfected praise.” We must depend on God to initiate and perfect our praise. David cried to God, “O Lord, (You) open my lips, and my mouth will declare your praise.” (Psalm 51:15)
It was God who put in the hearts of those little ones to dance around singing and celebrating their King Jesus in that temple. The Father was perfectly blessed by their praises because He set up that entire praise moment! It was a “slam-dunk.” There was no doubt their praise would be accepted by Him who matters most – our Audience of One.
- Excerpt from Week 2, Day 2 of Praise More Powerful: Insights to Transform Our Worship (c) 2006 by Dwayne Moore