Friday, July 9, 2021

Worship Workshop Session 1: Defining Worship

Worship Workshop: Session 1:
Defining Worship


Words for Worship

The English word we use for worship is defined as

The reverent love and devotion accorded a deity, an idol, or a sacred object.

The ceremonies, prayers, or other religious forms by which this love is expressed.

Ardent devotion; adoration.


Hebrew Words for worship

The principal OT word is שָׁחָה, shāḥāh, “depress,” “bow down,” “prostrate” as in Ex 4:31, “bowed their heads and worshipped”; used 94x.[1]

Other Hebrew Words translated worship

סָגַד, ṣāghadh, “prostrate,” occurring in Isa 44:15, 17, 19; 46:6, but rendered (EV) “fall down.” In Dnl 2:46; 3:5, 6, 7, 10, 15, 18, 28, it (Aram. סְגִד, ṣeghidh) is “worship” (EV), 7 t associated with “falling down” and 5 t with “serve.”

The OT idea is therefore the reverential attitude of mind or body or both, combined with the more generic notions of religious adoration, obedience, service.[2]

Greek Words For Worship

In the New Testament the Greek word us most often (59 x) is προσκυνέω, proskunéō, “kiss [the hand or the ground] toward,” hence often in the oriental fashion bowing prostrate upon the ground. It is to render homage to men, angels, demons, the devil, the “beast,” idols, or to God. It is rendered 16 t to Jesus as a beneficent superior; at least 24 t to God or to Jesus as God. The root idea of bodily prostration is much less prominent than in the OT. It is always translated “worship.”

Next in frequency is σέβομαι, sébomai, “venerate,” Its root is σέβας, sébas, “fear,” but this primitive meaning is completely merged into “reverence,” “hold in awe”: “In vain do they worship me” (Mt 15:9, etc).

λατρεύω, latreúō, is “serve” (religiously), or “worship publicly,” “perform sacred services,” “offer gifts,” “worship God in the observance of the rites instituted for His worship.

The NT idea of worship is a combination of the reverential attitude of mind and body, the general ceremonial and religious service of God, the feeling of awe, veneration, and adoration.

Examples of Worship

What type of worship is shown in these Old Testament examples?

Genesis 8:18–22 And Noah went forth, and his sons, and his wife, and his sons' wives with him: Every beast, every creeping thing, and every fowl, and whatsoever creepeth upon the earth, after their kinds, went forth out of the ark. And Noah builded an altar unto the LORD; and took of every clean beast, and of every clean fowl, and offered burnt offerings on the altar. And the LORD smelled a sweet savour; and the LORD said in his heart, I will not again curse the ground any more for man's sake; for the imagination of man's heart is evil from his youth; neither will I again smite any more every thing living, as I have done. While the earth remaineth, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease. (Family Worship)

Genesis 24:26–27 And the man bowed down his head, and worshipped the LORD. And he said, Blessed be the LORD God of my master Abraham, who hath not left destitute my master of his mercy and his truth: I being in the way, the LORD led me to the house of my master's brethren. (Personal, private, spontaneous worship)

Psalm 95:1–6 O come, let us sing unto the LORD: let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation. Let us come before his presence with thanksgiving, and make a joyful noise unto him with psalms. For the LORD is a great God, and a great King above all gods. In his hand are the deep places of the earth: the strength of the hills is his also. The sea is his, and he made it: and his hands formed the dry land. O come, let us worship and bow down: let us kneel before the LORD our maker.

Psalm 42:4 When I remember these things, I pour out my soul in me: for I had gone with the multitude, I went with them to the house of God, with the voice of joy and praise, with a multitude that kept holyday. (Corporate worship, worship with others in God’s house.)

Tabernacle and Temple Worship

The most public and recognizable worship in the OT was carried on in the Tabernacle and in the Temple. What were the elements of worship in the Old Testament House of God?

2 Chronicles 7:4–6  Then the king and all the people offered sacrifices before the LORD. And king Solomon offered a sacrifice of twenty and two thousand oxen, and an hundred and twenty thousand sheep: so the king and all the people dedicated the house of God. And the priests waited on their offices: the Levites also with instruments of musick of the LORD, which David the king had made to praise the LORD, because his mercy endureth for ever, when David praised by their ministry; and the priests sounded trumpets before them, and all Israel stood. (Sacrifice and praise, with singing and instrumental music.)

1 Chronicles 16:35–36 And say ye, Save us, O God of our salvation, and gather us together, and deliver us from the heathen, that we may give thanks to thy holy name, and glory in thy praise. Blessed be the LORD God of Israel for ever and ever. And all the people said, Amen, and praised the LORD. (Prayer and Praise)

(Not in the temple but associated with the rebuilding of the temple and the wall around Jerusalem) Nehemiah 8:5-8 And Ezra opened the book in the sight of all the people; (for he was above all the people;) and when he opened it, all the people stood up: And Ezra blessed the LORD, the great God. And all the people answered, Amen, Amen, with lifting up their hands: and they bowed their heads, and worshipped the LORD with their faces to the ground. Also Jeshua, and Bani, and Sherebiah, Jamin, Akkub, Shabbethai, Hodijah, Maaseiah, Kelita, Azariah, Jozabad, Hanan, Pelaiah, and the Levites, caused the people to understand the law: and the people stood in their place. So they read in the book in the law of God distinctly, and gave the sense, and caused them to understand the reading. (Reading, interpreting, and applying God’s word.)

New Testament Worship

How did they worship in the New Testament according to these scriptural examples?

Acts 2:46–47 And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart, Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved. (In unity and fellowship around a meal and or Lord’s supper and  Praise.)

Acts 5:42 And daily in the temple, and in every house, they ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Christ.

Acts 20:20–21 And how I kept back nothing that was profitable unto you, but have shewed you, and have taught you publickly, and from house to house, Testifying both to the Jews, and also to the Greeks, repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ. (Teaching and preach Jesus Christ.)

Acts 12:5 Peter therefore was kept in prison: but prayer was made without ceasing of the church unto God for him. (Prayer)

1 Corinthians 16:1–2 Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I have given order to the churches of Galatia, even so do ye. Upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him, that there be no gatherings when I come. (Giving, offering, tithes, to the Lord’s work.)

Hebrews 2:12 Saying, I will declare thy name unto my brethren, in the midst of the church will I sing praise unto thee.

Hebrews 13:15 By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name. (The Sacrifice of Praise, thanksgiving.)

Colossians 3:15–16 And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. (Singing Psalms, hymns and spiritual songs.)


After reading the preceding Old and New Testament scriptures, where and when is it appropriate to worship God?

Is it okay to neglect one place or one form of worship or should I stive to incorporate them all in my life?

Read Hebrews 10:24–25 And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.

Can a person fully worship the Lord and not consistently attend His House? (No, corporate worship is one of the highest and most important forms of worship God has given us.)

After studying these scriptures about worship what are some things that I might need to apply, change or focus on in my own worship?


There are many aspects of worship from prayer to praise to preaching but the first and primary aspect of worship is drawn from its definition. Worship means to bow down before God, to humble ourselves and show reverence to our Creator, Lord and Redeemer.

May we never forget the One into whose house we have come. 

[1] Philip Wendell Crannell, The International Standard Bible Encyclopaedia, 1915, 1–5, 3110.

[2] Philip Wendell Crannell, The International Standard Bible Encyclopaedia, 1915, 1–5, 3110.

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