The Light of Christ Journey

Encouraging people on their journey with Christ

The first Biblical usage of the word worship occurs in Genesis 22. There Abraham tells his servant that he and Isaac are going farther up the mountain to worship. The Hebrew word used for worship here is shachah.[1] This word means to “bow down.” It is used in Genesis 18 when Abraham bows in front of the Lord, who has come to tell him that Sarah will have a child. Here this word connotates that Abraham was physically bowing low.

Bowing Down Describes Worship

It was common to bow before ancient kings to show respect. Since the Lord is more significant than any earthly ruler, He deserves our humble reverence. Thus, in worship, we bow down both physically and mentally. One way we humble ourselves and bow down is by laying aside our will for the will of the Lord. [2]

We see Abraham doing what God tells him to do by going to sacrifice Isaac on the mountain. Isaac was the son that Abraham waited over twenty years for and was born only through an act of God. As a good father, Abraham would not want to harm his son. Yet, we see Abraham acting on God’s instructions immediately.

We may wonder how Abraham can tell his servant that he and Isaac will worship God. How could he worship a God who required his son’s life? Abraham trusted God and could set aside his will for God’s will. His worship was a result of his love relationship with God.

True Worship Begins in the Heart

True worship begins in the heart, not with a ritual. We sing, listen to Scripture and a sermon, and pray in a Sunday morning worship service. But we must be careful not to confuse outward rituals with worship from the heart. These external rituals may result from a worshipping heart, or they may be only a ritual.

Jesus tells us that we must worship in spirit and truth. John 4: 23 But the time is coming—indeed it’s here now—when true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth. The Father is looking for those who will worship him that way. [3] It is the attitude of the heart, not the external trappings of worship that the Father desires. Our hearts must be in a “bowed down” position; we must humble ourselves before the Lord.

Even the Psalmist knew this connection between worship and bowing down. Psalm 95:Come, let us worship and bow down. Let us kneel before the Lord, our maker, 7for he is our God.[4] While we don’t always physically bow down in worship today, we should always bow emotionally and spiritually. To hear more about the first Biblical usage of the word worship, listen here:

[1] Strong, J. (1995). In Enhanced Strong’s Lexicon. Woodside Bible Fellowship, H7812.

[2] Carpenter, E. E., & Comfort, P. W. (2000). In Holman treasury of key Bible words: 200 Greek and 200 Hebrew words defined and explained (p. 214). Broadman & Holman Publishers.

[3,4] Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation, Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. 

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