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Monday, January 30, 2012

Expressions of Worship

Expressions of Worship

How does the Bible describe worship?

Two words, one Hebrew and one Greek, are translated as "worship" in the Bible.

In the Old Testament:

"I bowed my head and worshiped the Lord and blessed the Lord." Genesis 24:48 (ESV)

WORSHIP: shaha (to depress, to prostrate)

Our English word, depress, means to press down, to let fall or lower. It commonly now is used to describe longlasting sad and lethargic emotions.

Prostrate literally means to throw down. It describes a person with face on the ground in humble adoration. It can also describe someone utterly exhausted, lying flat on the ground.

In the New Testament:

"The hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth." John 4:23-24 (ESV)

WORSHIP: proskyneo (to fawn or crouch to, to prostrate oneself); from pros (toward) and kyon (a dog, "hound")

Both words translated as worship mean to physically put oneself lower, to crouch or kneel or bow or lie flat on the ground.

Even with a limited search of the Bible, looking only for these words, there is a rich description of what worship looks like, and what worship includes. Here is a quick list of some of these wonderful descriptions:

  • With a bowed head, remembering God's love and faithfulness
  • With a joyful offering
  • With fear and a sacrifice
  • With songs of His salvation and strength
  • With songs of joy and thanksgiving, bowing and kneeling down
  • With songs of fear and wonder
  • With hands lifted and heads bowed
  • With fasting, mourning, confession and praise
  • With sorrow and loss
  • With praise for his glory, strength and holiness
  • With knowledge, in spirit and truth
  • With conviction of sin, falling on the ground
  • With submission, falling on the ground

At its core, worship literally means to bend or bow low to the ground, demonstrating submission and dependence upon God. But worship involves not only the body and mind, but the heart and voice, hands and feet. Worship is meant to be an all-encompassing expression of love and thankfulness, joy, fear, sacrifice, singing, bowing, kneeling, hands lifted, sorrowful confession, praise and knowledge of the Most High.

Here are some great verses to memorize and meditate upon:

With a bowed head, remembering God's love and faithfulness

"The man bowed his head and worshiped the Lord and said, “Blessed be the Lord, the God of my master Abraham, who has not forsaken his steadfast love and his faithfulness toward my master." Genesis 24:26-27 (ESV)

With a joyful offering

"I bring the first of the fruit of the ground, which you, O Lord, have given me.’ And you shall set it down before the Lord your God and worship before the Lord your God. And you shall rejoice in all the good that the Lord your God has given to you and to your house." Deuteronomy 26:10-11 (ESV)

With fear and a sacrifice

"You shall fear the Lord, who brought you out of the land of Egypt with great power and with an outstretched arm. You shall bow yourselves to him, and to him you shall sacrifice." 2 Kings 17:36 (ESV)

"I, through the abundance of your steadfast love, will enter your house. I will bow down toward your holy temple in the fear of you." Psalms 5:7 (ESV)

With songs of His salvation and strength

"Sing to the Lord, all the earth! Tell of his salvation from day to day. Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous works among all the peoples! For great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised, and he is to be held in awe above all gods. For all the gods of the peoples are idols, but the Lord made the heavens. Splendor and majesty are before him; strength and joy are in his place. Ascribe to the Lord, O clans of the peoples, ascribe to the Lord glory and strength! Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name; bring an offering and come before him! Worship the Lord in the splendor of holiness; tremble before him, all the earth; yes, the world is established; it shall never be moved. Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice, and let them say among the nations, - The Lord reigns! - Let the sea roar, and all that fills it; let the field exult, and everything in it! Then shall the trees of the forest sing for joy before the Lord, for he comes to judge the earth. Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures forever! Say also: “Save us, O God of our salvation, and gather and deliver us from among the nations, that we may give thanks to your holy name, and glory in your praise. Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel, from everlasting to everlasting!” Then all the people said, “Amen!” and praised the Lord." 1 Chronicles 16:23-36 (ESV)

"Shout for joy to God, all the earth; sing the glory of his name; give to him glorious praise! Say to God, - How awesome are your deeds! So great is your power that your enemies come cringing to you. All the earth worships you and sings praises to you; they sing praises to your name. - Selah - Come and see what God has done: he is awesome in his deeds toward the children of man." Psalms 66:1-5 (ESV)

With songs of joy and thanksgiving, bowing and kneeling down

"Oh come, let us sing to the Lord; let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation! Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving; let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise! For the Lord is a great God, and a great King above all gods. In his hand are the depths of the earth; the heights of the mountains are his also. The sea is his, for he made it, and his hands formed the dry land. Oh come, let us worship and bow down; let us kneel before the Lord, our Maker! For he is our God, and we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand." Psalms 95:1-7 (ESV)

With songs of fear and wonder

"Oh sing to the Lord a new song; sing to the Lord, all the earth! Sing to the Lord, bless his name; tell of his salvation from day to day. Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous works among all the peoples! For great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised; he is to be feared above all gods. 6 Splendor and majesty are before him; strength and beauty are in his sanctuary. Ascribe to the Lord, O families of the peoples, ascribe to the Lord glory and strength! Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name; bring an offering, and come into his courts! Worship the Lord in the splendor of holiness; tremble before him, all the earth!" Psalms 96:1-9 (ESV)

"They sing the song of Moses, the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying, - Great and amazing are your deeds, O Lord God the Almighty! Just and true are your ways, O King of the nations! Who will not fear, O Lord, and glorify your name? For you alone are holy. All nations will come and worship you, for your righteous acts have been revealed." Revelations 15:3-4 (ESV)

With hands lifted and heads bowed

"Ezra blessed the Lord, the great God, and all the people answered, - Amen, Amen, - lifting up their hands. And they bowed their heads and worshiped the Lord with their faces to the ground." Nehemiah 8:6 (ESV)

With fasting, mourning, confession and praise

"Now on the twenty-fourth day of this month the people of Israel were assembled with fasting and in sackcloth, and with earth on their heads. And the Israelites separated themselves from all foreigners and stood and confessed their sins and the iniquities of their fathers. And they stood up in their place and read from the Book of the Law of the Lord their God for a quarter of the day; for another quarter of it they made confession and worshiped the Lord their God...You are the Lord, you alone. You have made heaven, the heaven of heavens, with all their host, the earth and all that is on it, the seas and all that is in them; and you preserve all of them; and the host of heaven worships you...You have kept your promise, for you are righteous...you are a gracious and merciful God...You have been righteous in all that has come upon us, for you have dealt faithfully and we have acted wickedly...Our kings, our princes, our priests, and our fathers have not kept your law or paid attention to your commandments and your warnings that you gave them." Nehemiah 9:1-34 (ESV)

With sorrow and loss

"Job arose and tore his robe and shaved his head and fell on the ground and worshiped. And he said, - Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord. - In all this Job did not sin or charge God with wrong." Job 1:20-22 (ESV)

With praise for his glory, strength and holiness

"Ascribe to the Lord, O heavenly beings, ascribe to the Lord glory and strength. Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name; worship the Lord in the splendor of holiness." Psalms 29:1-2 (ESV)

With knowledge, in spirit and truth

"You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth." John 4:22-24 (ESV)

With conviction of sin, falling on the ground

"If all prophesy, and an unbeliever or outsider enters, he is convicted by all, he is called to account by all, the secrets of his heart are disclosed, and so, falling on his face, he will worship God and declare that God is really among you." 1 Corinthians 14:24-25 (ESV)

With submission, falling on the ground

"The twenty-four elders fall down before him who is seated on the throne and worship him who lives forever and ever. They cast their crowns before the throne, saying, - Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created." Revelations 4:10-11 (ESV)

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