Worship is more than a song

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Today discussion is on what the Bible says about worship. Is worship what many Christians portray it to be. . . a list of songs sung at the introduction of church services? Or, is worship much more than a song?

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If you ever had a discussion with another Christian about worship, what are you usually talking about? The modern day Christian in America will usually identify and describe worship as the music played at the beginning of church services and the expression/reaction of God people to that music. That is why you get comment like: Worship as awesome today. Or, I like the pastor and his preaching but the worship was not what I expect. Or, I am looking for a more engage and musically diverse worship service, because I am not into the old school hymnals. The purpose of today’s teaching is to set our minds correctly, on biblical teaching regarding worship. Let us look at what God says, first.

What does God say?

Exodus 20:4–6 NIV
“You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments.
First signs of worship
Service of first man in Eden (Gen 1:26-30; 2:15)
Cain and Abel in their offering (Gen 4:3-4)
Time of Enosh (Gen 4:25-26)
Noah building altar (Gen 9:20)
Testing of Abraham (Gen 22:3-5)

Scholars define worship as:

Worship is the reverential response of creation to the all-encompassing magnificence of God1
1 Esau McCaulley, “Worship,” ed. Douglas Mangum et al., Lexham Theological Wordbook, Lexham Bible Reference Series (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2014).
Expression of reverence and adoration of God. . . Throughout the biblical period listening to God’s Word, prayer, and sacrifice constituted the essence of worship1
1 Walter A. Elwell and Barry J. Beitzel, “Worship,” Baker Encyclopedia of the Bible (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1988), 2164.

How did they come up with those definitions?

OT words indicating worship

 (ḥāwâ). vb. to bow down, worship. Refers to bowing down in an act of worship, reverence, or respect. (Exodus 20:5)
 (hālal). vb. to praise. The act of listing and celebrating the positive attributes or actions of someone (often God). (Ps 113:1-3)
tĕhilâ). n. fem. praise, praise song. Refers often to the praise or adoration due to God alone. (Isa 61:11)
(qārab). vb. draw near, approach. Refers to moving in the direction of someone or something, or to bringing something near, including bringing an offering to God. (Lev 1:2; Num 16:9)
(rûm). vb. to lift up, exalt. Often used to describe the raising of a person’s or God’s status due to an accomplishment or attribute. (Isa 2:11-12)
(zāmar). vb. to sing, play an instrument. Refers to playing an instrument, often a stringed one, or to singing in the context of worship. (Ps 138:1)
(ʿābad). to work, serve, worship. Refers to any regular task or work carried out, as well to worship or service done for God or other deities. (Exodus 20:5)
1 Esau McCaulley, “Worship,” ed. Douglas Mangum et al., Lexham Theological Wordbook, Lexham Bible Reference Series (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2014).

NT words indicating worship

(proskyneō). vb. to bow down, worship. To bow down before a human as a sign of respect or before a divine figure as an act of worship. (Jn 4:20-24; Rev 4:10-11; 1 Cor 14:25)
(eulogeō). vb. to bless, praise. Describes the act of showing gratitude to God or receiving favor from God. (Lk 1:64; Matt 14:19)
(eulogētos). adj. masc. blessed, praiseworthy. Describes one who is blessed or praiseworthy. (2 Co 11:31)
(sebō). vb. to worship. Refers to respect shown to humans or to ceremonial acts of devotion to a deity. (Acts 13:43)
(thrēskeia). n. fem. ritual act of devotion for a divine being. Refers typically to external ritual acts that display commitment to a god. (Jas 1:27)
(kamptō). vb. to bow. Refers to bowing as a sign of religious devotion. (Rom 11:4)
  (doxazō). vb. to praise, glorify. Refers to the act of praising or glorifying God. (1 Cor 6:20; Rom 12:1)
1 Esau McCaulley, “Worship,” ed. Douglas Mangum et al., Lexham Theological Wordbook, Lexham Bible Reference Series (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2014).


Is worship more than the songs you sing on Sunday? Yes! As Romans 12:1-2 shows, worship is offering yourself as a living sacrifice. This does not mean singing a collection of songs for 30 minutes, while raising your hands and crying. It includes that and more because worship is truly offering yourself, meaning the entirety of your life to the service of the One, True, Magnificent Creator of all things.
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