defining worship 2.0

3 03 2010

Sometimes we miss the obvious in Scripture. God has to bonk us on the head through the Holy Spirit and we find truth that transforms our lives.

I had previously posted a definition of worship. I thought it was good, but I have a new simpler definition, which actually frees up an avenue to explore praise. (I’m actually working on posts for praise, but they aren’t ready to go yet.)

First, though, I’d like to show that God is awesome and how this has nothing to do with me being smart.

I asked God what it would take for me to get to another level of depth in my maturation process. One of the things that God told me to do was to pray Scripture after I read through it – every time. I also realized I don’t know much about the Law; so, I combined the two and started praying Psalm 119, which often asks for revelation of the Law.

After doing this God brought to my mind the Ten Commandments.

(There is no Hebrew equivalent of the English word “worship.” Translators have chosen to take the words that are more literally “bow down” and ” serve” and use the word “worship.”)

Exodus 20:3-5:

“You shall have no other gods before Me.

“You shall not make for yourself an idol, or any likeness of what is in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the water under the earth.

“You shall not worship them or serve them; for I, the LORD your God…

“Worship” shows up in verse 5 with the direct object “them.” The antecedent of “them” is “idol.” When observing the verses in context we see that God is comparing His position as God in their lives to idols/other gods.

It happened in a flash. God showed me something so simple: to worship is to declare something or someone god.

Whether we understand what worship looks like is not important in defining it. Worship is the internal or external manifestation that someone or something is our God.

false worship can teach us about true worship

26 08 2009

One of the problems with finding a definition from the Bible on “worship” is that there is no verse that says, “Worship is…” In order to build a good argument to support my definition I will write a few blogs on specific words translated “worship.”

(I must add that recent discussion has made me reconsider my definition, and I will add another post with changes to the definition in the near future.)

The first word I will break down is the Aramaic word sĕgid. It is translated “to worship or honor” and is only found in chapter three of Daniel.

Interestingly, chapter three is about false worship, but the image is very clear.  NASB, ESV and NKJV translate the word “worship.” Most instances in this chapter are connected with other words “fall down and worship” or “worship/serve your/my god.”

Serving someone often places a person in a humble position. It also communicates that the person or object is worthy of being served. Falling down before someone is a helpless position and communicates that the person may have control over the prostrate one.

The motivation for worship was was out of fear from being punished by the ruler. Can we say they had a heart of worship? No, it was more likely just an act of worship.

Daniel 3 shows connection between worship with servitude, and giving honor and respect. Also as we read verse 12 the act of worship was a specific action. It was not a lifestyle.

What we learn from this passage is that worship includes an act of submission.

defining worship

22 07 2009

Many definitions have been developed about worship, but when I read them I would come up with objections. After spending years musing worship, a semester researching in independent study, and hours studying worship and associated ideas within the Bible I landed on key ideas.

intentional – I liked the idea of worship as a lifestyle, but worship seemed connected to purposed actions.
response – It is a reaction to something preexisting for what it is or has done.
admiration – The responses considered worship were not rooted in ill thoughts or feelings.
anything – Anything can be worshiped. It is not limited to living beings or physical objects, one can worship a concept.
perceived or real – False worship exists, therefore, truth does not have to move someone to worship.

A good definition must be restrictive yet not too rigid. This definition was developed to be applicable to biblical Christian worship as well as any other form. When I put these ideas together my definition is:

Worship is an intentional response in admiration toward anything for what it is or has done whether perceived or real.

This definition excludes the idea of worship as a lifestyle, but does not prevent worship from pervading a person’s life. It also limits what actions are worship as they must be done in admiration and not from other thoughts or emotions such as terror or melancholy. The definition also allows for worship to be a label given to actions toward false gods as well as the True God.

Each aspect plays a key roll in focusing what is labelled worship. An action cannot be put in a category of worship without discovering its underlying roots. The 4 of the 5 aspects focus are rooted in the worshiper and help define whether an action is worship or not. Another aspect that seems to limit worship is that it seems only  connected with humans, angels and other “spirit” beings. I didn’t know how to put that animals and inanimate objects can’t worship God according to what is shown in Scripture.

Though I studied worship a lot it still seems to have an elusive quality. Defining worship is a life long proposition.

Does this definition seem helpful? Did I miss an aspect about worship?