Worship Defined

As Christians, we can become very involved in the experience of “worship.” We go to church and sing the songs we like, listen to the music we like, and sit through sermons we like. Then we leave and say that we have worshiped God. But have we? What is worship, anyway?

The Old Testament word translated in the Bible as “worship” means “to prostrate” or “do reverence.” It is sometimes translated as “bowed,” even in the direction of other people. In the New Testament, the Greek word used most often for “worship” carries the idea of a dog kissing his master’s hand in anticipation of receiving attention or a handout. Specifically, it means “to fawn or crouch to.” Doesn’t that paint a descriptive picture in your mind? Simply put, worship is recognizing the greatness of someone. Worship for God should then be based not only on what God has done for us, but who He is.

So, specifically how does God want us to worship? Well, how about starting with publicly giving glory to God? David declared that all nations will come before God and glorify His name (Psalm 86:9). Proclaiming the impeccable character of God before anyone who will listen gives Him the glory He deserves. Worship is therefore much more than quiet meditation on God. Maybe that is why David also called for God’s people to praise Him with all kinds of instruments, including tambourines and cymbals (Psalm 150). Yes, that’s right, tambourines and cymbals. Can you imagine introducing those two theologically sound instruments into many of our Bible-believing churches?

Many, of course, refuse to recognize and worship the great name of God. However, this is only a temporary state. Every person will ultimately bow to Jesus, God in the flesh, recognizing his glory as God. In writing to the Philippians, Paul prophesied that “at the name of Jesus every knee should bow…and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord” (Philippians 2:10-11). So, the choice is clear. You praise God now or you praise Him later.

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