Worship is Not Just a Song: Part 1

“Oh come, let us sing to the LORD! Let us shout joyfully to the Rock of our salvation. Let us come before His presence with thanksgiving; Let us shout joyfully to Him with psalms. For the LORD is the great God, And the great King above all gods. In His hand are the deep places of the earth; The heights of the hills 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. Today, if you will hear His voice: Oh, sing to the LORD a new song! Sing to the LORD, all the earth. Sing to the LORD, bless His name; Proclaim the good news of His salvation from day to day.” – Psalm 95:1-7, Psalm 96:1 

Worship is one of the issues that keeps on appearing throughout the scriptures, from beginning to end. The above verses alone use eight different verbs to describe worship. But let’s take a minute just to focus on three verbs that describe worship in the scriptures; the verb H.L.L. (“Halel – to praise, shout both in joy and in terror) appears 165 times in the Tanach (Old Testament) alone, with most appearances being in the Psalms. The second verb is H.V.H (“Hishtachaveh” – to bow down, worship, declare, make known) appears 173 times in the Tanach and the third verb, SH.I.R. (“Shira – to sing), appears 166 times and refers to lyrics and to melody.  From these three verbs alone we have over 500 references that describe worship, and this is without taking into account other verbs such as “shout”, “thanksgiving”, “kneel”, “bless” and more that push the total references of worship to well over one thousand.

So why do I want to emphasis this point? Because if this issue appears so many times in God’s word and in different ways, then it indicates the importance of worship to God Himself. Worship is an inseparable part of God’s character, through it He wants to allow us to hear His heartbeat and learn of the centrality and importance of worship in His eyes.

Many times in our congregations we encounter the term “praise and worship”, which can generally describe the first portion of our weekly services at our congregations or home meetings; a time of praising, glorifying and thanksgiving. A time of giving God honor, surrendering ourselves to Him and worshipping Him – a sign of self-cancellation; we are nothing and He is our all in all.

It is interesting to note the first use of verb H.V.H (to worship, bow down) in the Bible – at the binding of Isaac, where the act of worship is the binding of Isaac itself. Worship is inseparably connected to sacrifice, the root being K.R.V. from where we get a number of words:  First, from K.R.V. we get the word “Krav”which means “battle” or “war”, a situation where two apposing sides fight against each other with the goal of subduing the other in order to win something. When we think about great battles, or about war in general, in order for one side to prevail it must penetrate into enemy territory and has to come into direct contact with that enemy in order to conquer it.

Secondly, K.R.V. means “to approach”, “to come near”, “to be close to something”, and thirdly K.R.V. also describes the inner most part: the stomach, the inner organs, the gut.

When we observe what a sacrifice actually was in the Tanach, it was usually about burning the inner parts of the animal, and through sacrificing these parts the person/people would receive reconciliation with God and encounter His Spirit as the cloud would fill the tabernacle and God’s Spirit would descend and dwell amongst them.

In understanding the meaning of these words we can grasp a deeper understanding of what sacrifice is all about – it is about giving up something, handing something over in order to draw near, ultimately coming closer to God. Worship is exactly the same, it is giving God something in order to come nearer to Him. While the temple was still standing the sacrificial animals were supposed to be perfect animals without blemish, that the person would sacrifice in order to draw near to God as an individual and indeed the people of Israel as a whole.

Nowadays there is no temple that can be erected by man since we are God’s dwelling place as is written in 1 Corinthians 3:16 and we do not offer up sacrifices like in the past, as stated in Hebrews 13:15: “Therefore by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name”. It is interesting to note that “fruit” in Greek refers to fruit that was just recently picked, that is ripe and ready to be eaten, good fruit fresh off the tree. From this we can understand that the fruit of our worship needs to be the best fruit that we can give.

In the book of Leviticus we see that the sacrifice was accepted in God’s eyes only if it was perfect. Men could not bring a sacrifice that they didn’t want or didn’t need, He commanded to bring the best that they had, and to bring the sacrifice with a willing and cheerful heart. Also today, as worshippers, we should be giving God our best, and with gladness. Worship is the offering that we need to give God as a sacrifice from our inner parts, the most intimate and honest place within us, in order to draw near to Him and enter into the most inner place of His presence.

In summary, we can see that the issue of worship is important and central to God and therefore it appears so many times and in various ways in the scriptures. As we will touch on in the next installment of this article, our whole being and indeed all of creation focuses on this issue of worship as we are an inseparable part of the ongoing war between God and Satan, between worshipping and surrendering to the kingdom of light or the kingdom of darkness. Worship is directly connected to sacrifice, this is the sacrifice that we can give God today in order to draw near to Him, and it should come from our inner, most intimate part in order to bring us into an intimate encounter with the living God.

This article originally appeared on Out of Zion, May 6, 2016 and reposted with permission.