Ethan the Ezrahite: Praise strongly “breaking forth!”

In leading worship this weekend, I thought about the text in Psalm 89 because we were singing “Stand up and Give Him the Praise,” a song you may know! This song incorprates some of Psalm 89.

Did you know that a man named Ethan wrote Psalm 89?

Today, we will take a look at Ethan the Ezrahite.

Who is like You, LORD God Almighty: Mi chamocha Adonai Elohei Tzva’ot

Ethan the Ezrahite wrote:

“O LORD God of hosts,
Who is mighty like You, O LORD?
Your faithfulness also surrounds You.
You rule the raging of the sea;
When its waves rise, You still them.” Psalm 89:8-9

Psalm 89 8 9 Ethan

Stand up and Give Him the Praise

Do you know this praise song?

Who is like the LORD?

There is no one!

Who is like the LORD, He is strong and mighty!

Who is like the LORD?

He is worthy!

Stand up and give Him the praise!

Praise the LORD, Praise the LORD, our God is worthy of glory! From the rising of the sun, to its going down, the Name of the LORD is to be praised!

Here is a recording of it by Paul Wilbur from his Shalom Jerusalem album:

“Stand up and Give Him the Praise” by Paul Wilbur

Ethan the Ezrahite

Many Psalms are attributed to King David, but this particular Psalm was written by a much lesser known Levite, a man named Ethan the Ezrahite.

Ever heard of him?

Ethan as an Ezrahite comes from a Hebrew root word “zerah” meaning “arising” or “breaking out.” It has the connotation of strength: “strongly breaking forth.” It is thought the Psalmist Ethan is of the lineage of Zerah, dating back to the second son of Judah and Tamar as recorded in Parashat Vayeshev: Genesis (Bereshit) 38:27-30. His name is also mentioned in the Chronicles:

“The sons of Zerah were Zimri, Ethan, Heman, Calcol, and Dara—five of them in all.” 1 Chronicles 2:6, emphasis added

Ethan: A Wise Man

The Bible does not give us very many clues about Ethan’s life, but there are just enough to give us a picture of a wise man. King Solomon was granted wisdom, but King Solomon was compared to Ethan the Ezrahite in wisdom. This paints the picture that Ethan was certainly ranked among the wisest in the land, just a little beneath Solomon.

“And God gave Solomon wisdom and exceedingly great understanding, and largeness of heart like the sand on the seashore. Thus Solomon’s wisdom excelled the wisdom of all the men of the East and all the wisdom of Egypt. For he was wiser than all men—than Ethan the Ezrahite, and Heman, Chalcol, and Darda, the sons of Mahol; and his fame was in all the surrounding nations.” 1 Kings 4:29-31, emphasis added

Ethan had a reputation. He was known as a wise man, and as a psalmist, he would have been poetic and quite possibly a musician. He was passionate about the God of Israel and his Psalm resounds with exalting praise for the Creator of the heavens and the earth. Ethan emphasizes YHVH’s matchless strength and the enormity of His reign. Intriguingly, Ethan was inspired to write prophetically as Psalm 89 also has messianic tones. The psalmist is not afraid to addresses life’s difficulties: Ethan is secure knowing that the LORD is Almighty and unrivaled, but he is not afraid to ask those questions:

“How long, LORD?
Will You hide Yourself forever?” Psalm 89:46

The power of language

Ethan the Ezrahite used language to bring glory to God.

Do you write for His glory?

Do you use your speech and your language to find ways to exalt His name and testify of His goodness?

Words are so incredibly powerful: so much so, that by the Word spoken, the world came into existence.

We must allow the Holy Spirit to influence our speech and writing and all levels of communication so that we, like Ethan, can bring enduring glory to our King.

May praise break forth!

Ethan called upon the Name of the LORD to praise Him for all He has done! The very meaning of Ethan’s name invites us to allow praise to break forth from our lips! May we be inspired today to praise the Most High God, the King of all kings, the LORD God Almighty – ADONAI ELOHEI TZVA’OT without reservations, without anything coming between our worship.

Be set free from your apprehensions.

Don’t worry about what others will say.

Your job, follower of Messiah, is to worship in Spirit and in Truth, with all you have in your being. As other psalmists once wrote:

“My heart is overflowing with a good theme;
I recite my composition concerning the King;
My tongue is the pen of a ready writer.” Psalm 45:1

Maybe God has called you to be a sanctified songwriter.

May He wants you to engage in demonstrative praise – to help others also experience freedom in worship.

Whatever ministry is bubbling up inside of you, whatever the Holy Spirit (Ruach haKodesh) is bringing out to your attention, pursue God passionately!

Let praises ring!