What Is Worship?

Biblical Authority Devotional: Praise God, Part 2

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Worship occurs when we reverently serve the Lord. Chuck McKnight, AiG–U.S., explains why worship is so much more than many realize.

Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. (Romans 12:1, NASB)

Today’s big question: what is worship?

In the previous devotional, we looked at what worship is not—it is not merely singing with the congregation. Worship is a living sacrifice of our whole beings. But what exactly does that mean? And how do we apply this concept in our daily lives?

To find the answer, we must look at how worship is used in Scripture. This study quickly becomes a more complicated venture when we realize just how many different words are translated as “worship.” The Bible contains at least three Hebrew words and at least seven Greek words that have been rendered “worship” in English. And at least nine other words in both languages include the concept of worship within them.

Clearly, the Bible has a lot to say on the subject of worship. Space prevents us from examining every instance here, although you might want to conduct a word study on your own. For now, we will just consider four of the most frequently occurring words—two Hebrew and two Greek—that the Bible uses in reference to worship.

The first two we will examine are the Hebrew word shâchâh and its Greek equivalent proskuneō. Both words literally mean “prostrate” or “bow down.” This sense of worship carries the idea of complete submission to God. It is a matter of coming before Him in humility to acknowledge Him as the ultimate authority over your life.

Oh come, let us worship [shâchâh] and bow down; let us kneel before the Lord our Maker. (Psalm 95:6, bracketed information added)
And thus the secrets of his heart are revealed; and so, falling down on his face, he will worship [proskuneō] God and report that God is truly among you. (1 Corinthians 14:25, bracketed information added)

Next, we will look at the Hebrew word ‛âbad and the Greek word latreuō. These literally translate as “serve.” This particular aspect of worship seems to be almost entirely forgotten today. We are to worship God by being His servants.

Serve [‛âbad] the Lord with gladness; come before His presence with singing. (Psalm 100:2, bracketed information added)
Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship [latreuō], with reverence and awe. (Hebrews 12:28, ESV, bracketed information added)

Worship involves first humbling ourselves before God. Then, in reverence and awe, we must offer ourselves as living sacrifices, totally dedicated to His service. We worship God by serving Him (Luke 1:74) and one another (Galatians 5:13).

Today’s big idea: we worship God through humility and service.

What to pray: ask God to make you a servant dedicated to doing His will.


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