You’ve probably heard this word before. You may even have sung this word. But do you know what it means? Do you know its history? Because let me tell you, it’s an incredibly beautiful and inspiring word!
Hosanna in the highest!
If you had asked me yesterday what this word means, I would have hemmed and hawed and said I thought it probably means “praise.” But I didn’t really know.
Well, now I do and I love it!
First, some interesting trivia about the word. It was originally Hebrew, then translated into Greek, then eventually English. When translating from Greek to English, the writers basically sounded it out and put English letters to the Greek sounds. What’s really cool, is that the Greek writers did the same thing! They took the sounds of the Hebrew word and put Greek letters to it! So the words in each language are very similar and sound very similar, too!
Ok, ok, but what does it mean?
In Hebrew, the word means “Help!! Save me!!” There is urgency associated with it. Imagine you get pushed into the pool and you don’t know how to swim. You go under and as your head bobs back up above the water, you scream, “Help!! Save me!!” That’s… Hosanna! Help me!! I need you! I need you to save me! Now! There’s a desperation with it.
It’s used only once in the Old Testament, in the context of being saved and delivered from enemies.
Psalm 118:25 Save now, I pray, Oh Lord; O Lord, I pray, send now prosperity.
Notice the word now! Save us NOW, Lord! Hosanna! Deliver us now! Hosanna!
You may be thinking that the Hebrew definition doesn’t really fit the way we use or sing the word now. (To be honest, I never hear people actually using this word… but I’m going to start and you probably will want to also, by the time you get to the end of this post!)
There was a shift in the meaning of the word as we get into the New Testament. The word Hosanna is used when Jesus rode the donkey into Jerusalem. The people of Jerusalem believed that Jesus was coming to save them! They saw him as their savior and king! As they shouted Hosanna – it was not just a cry of help us now, deliver us now, but an acknowledgment of the One who was coming to save and deliver them! They recognized who Jesus was! They recognized him as the One who saves!
Imagine the same story from earlier, someone pushes you into the pool and you can’t swim. As your head bobs up from under the water, you see the lifeguard coming. You shout, “Save me now! Help me now!” but with hope, because you see the one coming who is going to save you. You shout, but with the recognition that you are about to be saved! You shout but you know you are being rescued! Hosanna! The lifeguard is coming to save you! Hosanna! You will be saved! Hosanna! Thank you, lifeguard!!
And so the people of Jerusalem shouted! Hosanna! Save us now! Hosanna! You are the Savior! Hosanna! Deliver us now! Hosanna! You are the deliverer! Shouts of expectation! Shouts of hope! Shouts of declaration – The Savior is here! The King has come!
What a beautiful word!
We can shout it, too!
Hosanna! Jesus, save me now! Hosanna! Jesus, You are the one who saves! Hosanna! Deliver me now! Hosanna! You are the one who comes to deliver me, now! You are here to deliver! Hosanna! You are here to save! Hosanna!
I challenge you to add this to your prayer today! As you pray for the same things you’ve prayed for before, shout Hosanna! The time is now! Hosanna, Jesus come now! Hosanna! Jesus, you are here with me now! You are powerful! You do what you say You will do! Do it now! Hosanna!
May you be so blessed!
Hosanna! Our God is the God of now!