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Greek Word Study - Praise

 Hesiod gave an interesting piece of ancient advice: "Praise a small ship, but put your freight in a large one."  It was his way of saying, "Pay lip service, but decline courteously."  The Greek word for this kind of insincere praise was aineo (ai NEH oh).

But in the Bible the word aineo always means to praise God in a good sense.  Typical is Psalm 63:5, "With singing lips I will praise you," or Psalm 146:1-2, "Praise the Lord, O my soul.  I will praise the Lord all my life."  This kind of lip service is a good thing.

There was even a special kind of sacrifice at the temple associated with this word aineo.  The thank offering of Leviticus 7 is literally a "sacrifice of praise" (v. 13) or a "sacrifice of praise for salvation" (v. 15)

God's people understood that sincere praise was even more acceptable to the Lord than the animals they sacrificed.  God himself said, "Do I eat the flesh of bulls or drink the blood of goats?  Sacrifice thank offerings to God" (lit. "sacrifice to God a sacrifice of praise" Psa 50:13-14).

Hosea called on his nation to give this sincere praise when he said, "That we may offer our lips as sacrifices of bulls"  (see NIV textual note for this literal translation of Hosea 14:2).

All of this was a prelude to the beautiful text of Hebrews 13:15.  "Let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise - the fruit of lips that confess his name."  With animal sacrifices forever gone, Christians still have this to offer God: a sacrifice of praise.

But let us never forget the danger lurking in the word aineo.  If it should ever be insincere, mere lip service, then it is no more than looking God in the face...and politely declining.