The Choirmaster: How Praise is Linked to Victory

After outlining all the desperate straits that he and his countrymen are in, the book of the prophet Habakkuk ends on an extremely interesting and unusual note. The last verse says this:

“God, the Lord, is my strength, and He makes my feet like hinds’ feet, and He makes me to walk upon my high places.
For the choirmaster. With my string-music.”

“For the choirmaster. With my string-music.” Nowhere else in the Bible is this phrase found except at the beginning of Psalms. It seems to be in the wrong place. Why does he say that, right at the end? The clue might be in the Hebrew meaning of the word we translate as “choirmaster”…

In the Hebrew, the word for choirmaster, מנצח (menatzeach) is a very interesting one

The root word is נצח which also is connected to ideas of eternity (netzach) and victory (nitzachon). It can also mean to shine or be bright, to be perpetual, famous or lead. It is this last sense in which we understand that Habakkuk is referring to a leader of music. Another clue we have is that the sentence beforehand is mentioned two other times in the Bible; once in Psalm 18, when David sings of his need and his trust that God will rescue him from his enemies. The second time it appears is in 2 Samuel 22, which is that same Psalm, written in the context of the unfolding history of Saul and David’s difficult story.

Habakkuk refers back to David’s song of confidence in God, written in times of trouble. Both he and David have understood the importance of the kind of trust that can sing and make music in praise to God, even while the situation looks bleak.

David begins his Psalm by addressing the choirmaster or leader (the menatzeach) and sets out to praise with song, declaring his certainty in God’s victory on his behalf. Habakkuk ends with that idea, and adds “with my stringed instruments” or “string-music”, for praise can be at its most powerful when sung in the dark, and most terrifying to the enemy.

In contrast with what some people imagine, God does not demand our praises because he is insecure or a megalomaniac, rather it is rightful and fitting. Praising God lifts our eyes to where our help truly comes from. In praise, our resolve can be strengthened and our confidence in God boosted, as we remember who He is and what He can do. Our hearts can become full again of gratitude instead of anxiety and fear, and gratitude is one of the best weapons that there is against temptation and the victim mentality which leads us into a sense of wrongful entitlement. Our faith can rise, and our willingness to wait patiently for God’s help expands. Instead of slipping into idolatry as we grasp at straws, we once again see our good Father God, and put our hand safely in his.

It was not for nothing that God appointed worshipers to lead into battle. It is no coincidence that the idea of the word for the leader of worship is connected with victory. When we find ourselves in trouble and cannot see our way out, we can join David and Habakkuk in confidently singing songs of praise and trust in the dark, that God will overcome our enemies and ultimately lead us out in victory.

With the high praises of God in our mouth

Then Jehoshaphat bowed his head with his face to the ground, and all Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem fell down before the Lord, worshiping the Lord.

And the Levites, of the Kohathites and the Korahites, stood up to praise the Lord, the God of Israel, with a very loud voice.

And they rose early in the morning and went out into the wilderness of Tekoa. And when they went out, Jehoshaphat stood and said, “Hear me, Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem! Believe in the Lord your God, and you will be established; believe his prophets, and you will succeed.” And when he had taken counsel with the people, he appointed those who were to sing to the Lord and praise him in holy attire, as they went before the army, and say,

“Give thanks to the Lord,
    for his steadfast love endures forever.”

And when they began to sing and praise, the Lord set an ambush against the men of Ammon, Moab, and Mount Seir, who had come against Judah, so that they were routed. (2 Chronicles 20:18-22)

Several times in Scripture we see the principle that praise and worship goes first into battle.

It’s a powerful and physical demonstration of trust in God, and faith that the victory is in His hands. In a similar way we see that when the tribes we ready to move camp, the tribe of Judah had to go first. Judah means “praise”.

The people of Israel arose and went up to Bethel and inquired of God, “Who shall go up first for us to fight against the people of Benjamin?” And the LORD said, “Judah shall go up first.” (Judges 20:18)

We have seen a huge breakthrough in the number of Israelis following our outreach media, with almost a third of a million now subscribing to our Hebrew language YouTube channel!

We raced past the 100,000 milestone back in March 2024, and the numbers have almost tripled now in just four months. At the moment we have just passed 325,000 subscribers. We know many more are watching our videos without taking the step of subscribing, which means about half a million people—a huge proportion—of all Hebrew speakers are watching our videos about Jesus.

While one in five people in the world speak English, only 0.6% speak Hebrew. There are some 9 million Hebrew speakers globally, and of course most of them live in Israel. It’s astonishing to us, and we give glory to God. Most of them are not believers (yet) but they are willing to watch all the videos we make about Jesus, and to publicly subscribe to the channel. In addition, there are many more who watch anonymously, without making the publicly visible commitment of subscribing. Hundreds of thousands watch and are engaged with our videos regularly, but a huge 60-80% of them (depending on the video) are not subscribers.

A third of a million Israelis are now subscribed and watching our evangelistic videos on a regular basis!

A milestone in Israel! 100,000 subscribed to Messianic YouTube channel, igod

Worship brings the breakthrough

So now the updated statistics for our Hebrew language channel, igod, are as follows:

328,000 subscribers

484 videos in the Hebrew language

Over 68 million views in total

We must confess we did wonder whether there was some peculiar thing with the internet happening. Were there bots or fake accounts falsely inflating numbers? But an examination of the people subscribing showed us two interesting facts:

  1. The people were genuine. They were real YouTube accounts, many of whom were following other religious Israeli channels as well as ours.
  2. Many subscribed to our channel after watching our worship music videos.

 It was worship that brought the breakthrough! There are few things more powerful than praise. We have produced many music videos now with worship songs performed in both Hebrew and Arabic, as well as some original songs crafted by members of our own team here at ONE FOR ISRAEL. Our unity is also a very powerful spiritual weapon: Where there is unity, there God commands His blessing. Unity among believers always precedes revival.

Also in Arabic

A milestone in Israel! 100,000 subscribed to Messianic YouTube channel, igod

Our Arabic outreach ministry, Eternal Moments (لحظات أبدية), also produces a lot of media for the Arabic speaking world. There are two million Arabic speakers in Israel today, most of whom are Muslims and a fraction are from Catholic or Eastern Orthodox Christian backgrounds. Our Arabic ministry team reaches out to them in videos which explain the words of the prophets, and what they taught about the Messiah. Whether people have come from an Islamic or a nominal Christian background, this reaches everyone! Our Arabic channel, حظات أبدية, currently has 10,500 subscribers and our videos on that channel have been seen over a million and a half times, with over 1,738,704 views.

Unlike Hebrew, Arabic is spoken in many other countries, all over the place. Some 372.7 million people speak Arabic as their mother tongue, and it’s another very strategic language for outreach.

We have had responses from all over the Muslim world, and perhaps surprisingly, many from Gaza. Several people have left Islam, decided to follow Jesus, and have been baptized there.

Our Arabic outreach team is doing all they can to support them even as the war rages on. God is not limited by borders as we are, and neither is YouTube!

What’s great is that we can do subtitles and share some of these videos between the channels, allowing Hebrew speaking Israelis to hear an ex-terrorist talking about how he came to love Jesus as we translate the Arabic to Hebrew… and Arabic speakers can watch the testimonies of Israeli Jews who have come to believe Jesus is the Messiah. We also do many music videos in all three languages—a blessing to the whole earth.

Praise God together with us for these victories! He is working powerfully here in Israel in our days, and the truth about Jesus is going viral all over the world.


Photo by John Price on Unsplash

Show the world you are One for Israel!

Order your 2024 ONE FOR ISRAEL

Prayer calendar