Summary: Tonight we want to slow things down a bit and take a look at the word worship. By looking at the word worship it will reveal some things about how we are to worship or what is involved in worship.
TEXT: Psalm 95:6
Tonight we want to slow things down a bit and take a look at the word worship. By looking at the word worship it will reveal some things about how we are to worship or what is involved in worship. So you could say that we will be doing a little more teaching that preaching if you can make that kind of distinction.
The English word worship comes from the old English word “weordhscipe” which was later shortened to “worthship.” It is concerned with the worthiness, dignity, or merit of a person or, as in the case of idolatry, a thing.
Worship, in the verb form, means the paying of homage or respect, and in the religious world the term is used for the reverent devotion, service, or honor, whether public or individual paid to God.
The Merriam-Webster dictionary lists the following 12 words as either similar words for worship or synonyms (equivalent terms) of worship; adore, admire, dote (admire), esteem, exalt, love, magnify, regard, respect, revere, reverence, & venerate (honor). This is what the English word worship means. It is the adoration, veneration, exaltation, and magnification of God. It is when we respect, esteem, love, admire, and even dote on God that we are worshipping Him. Quite obviously, worship is totally concerned with the worthiness of God, not the worthiness of the worshipper.
In the OT the one Hebrew word that is consistently used for the worship of God is “shachah.” It occurs 172 times in the 39 books of the OT. The KJV uses 9 different words or expressions in translating this word, “shachah,” the most frequent one being “worship.” But it is also translated as: to bow down, make obeisance (reverence), do reverence, fall down, prostrate, stoop, crouch, and beseech humbly.
Quite obviously, then, worship is more than an attitude; it is an attitude expressed, and the magnitude of the attitude determines the measure of the actions. A lukewarm heart cannot perform boiling hot worship, nor can a rebellious life revere God with any depth of sincerity.
What is going on in the heart will determine what goes on in the outward expression of worship. Maybe the reason our worship at times seems so dry is because something is wrong on the inside. For sure it can’t be God’s fault if our worship doesn’t seem exciting.
The Hebrew word “shachah” was used to describe Abraham’s reverent prostration before the three angelic visitors who came as God’s messengers to inform Abraham about the planned destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. As these angels approached Abraham, he prostrated himself completely and then further ministered to their needs temporal and social. That is called worship. Later when Abraham sent his servant, Eleazar, to find a bride for his son, the Scripture records, “he worshipped the Lord bowing himself to the earth” (Genesis 24:52), and again the Hebrew word is “shachah.”
This word is used to describe the action of the elders of Israel when Moses brought to them his first report that God was about to deliver them from the bondage of Egypt. We read, “and the people believed:…then they bowed their heads and worshipped” (Exodus 4:31). Surely worship should be a natural response to a promise of deliverance from bondage that has totally controlled our lives. Can you imagine how a person would worship who has been saved from the drug culture? It usually is uninhibited and filled with thanksgiving, for great deliverance often generates great worship!
Every use of the word “shachah” in the OT indicates action. They were doing something as an expression of an inner attitude or feeling, and their body was helping to exhibit their emotions. They not only said something, they did something. They were not merely thankful (an attitude), but they expressed their thanksgiving (an action). They worshipped in a way that they, others, and God knew they were worshipping.
We don’t seem to be grateful for what the Lord has done for us. We sing, we stand up but this is not much action. If we (myself included) are as excited as we say we are on the inside it sure isn’t being manifested on the outside. What is happening on the outside is not measuring up to what we say is going on on the inside. If what we are doing on the outside is a reflection of what is going on on the inside then maybe we have some work to do on the inside.
The most commonly used word for worship in our NT is “proskuneo” which is used at least 59 times. It means, “to kiss towards.” Some scholars say it means to kiss the hand in admiration, while others say it would better signify to kiss the feet in homage.
The NT work is far more descriptive than the Hebrew word. To the bowing is added kissing, and this requires contact. We can bow at a great distance, but kissing requires contact.