What is Worship?

For some Christians, worship is singing and praising. But for others, it is praying to God. In the Scriptures, worship is not about praying, singing or praising but rather, it is being humble and obeying Him.

True worship is not about a display using the flesh but in Spirit obeying the Truth. In this post, we will explore what worship means from Scripture.

Worship is humbleness before God

And he said to Him, “All these things I will give You if You will fall down and worship me.” Then Jesus said to him, “Away with you, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the LORD your God, and Him only you shall serve.’ ”

Matt 4:9-10

In the temptation of Jesus, satan wants Him to fall down and worship him. While bowing down or falling down before someone seems to be just a physical action, it is actually an outward sign of showing reverence and humbleness. Bowing down itself does not constitute ‘worship’ which is reserved only for God, as we can see how Abraham bowed before the people of the land (Gen 23:12) and Jacob bowed before Esau (Gen 33:3). There is no problem bowing before men out of respect (1 Sam 24:8) but certainly not before lifeless idols (Lev 26:1). While Abraham, Jacob, David and many others in Scripture bowed before men, they never worshiped them.

And they clothed Him with purple; and they twisted a crown of thorns, put it on His [head,] and began to salute Him, “Hail, King of the Jews!” Then they struck Him on the head with a reed and spat on Him; and bowing the knee, they worshiped Him.

Mark 15:17-19

The soldiers who crucified Jesus worshiped Him by bowing the knee as a mockery. We discussed in an earlier post that humbling before God is denying ourselves and taking up our cross daily and following Jesus Christ. Hence, true worship is not merely bowing down but with reverence and humbleness before God.

Worship is obedience to God

He answered and said to them, “Why do you also transgress the commandment of God because of your tradition? For God commanded, saying, ‘Honor your father and your mother’; and, ‘He who curses father or mother, let him be put to death.’ But you say, ‘Whoever says to his father or mother, “Whatever profit you might have received from me [is] a gift [to God]”– then he need not honor his father or mother.’ Thus you have made the commandment of God of no effect by your tradition. Hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy about you, saying: These people draw near to Me with their mouth, And honor Me with [their] lips, But their heart is far from Me. And in vain they worship Me, Teaching [as] doctrines the commandments of men.’

Matt 15:3-9

When Jesus rebuked the scribes and Pharisees for nullifying the commandments of God using traditions of men, He quoted prophet Isaiah, comparing their disobedience to God’s commandments as worshiping in vain.

And he said to Him, “All these things I will give You if You will fall down and worship me.” Then Jesus said to him, “Away with you, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the LORD your God, and Him only you shall serve.’ ”

Matt 4:9-10

Back to the temptation of Jesus, when satan wants Him to fall down and worship, He responds by saying, ‘You shall worship the LORD your God, and Him only you shall serve’.

… do not inquire after their gods, saying, ‘How did these nations serve their gods? I also will do likewise.’ “You shall not worship the LORD your God in that way …

Deut 12:30-31a

In the above passage from the law, we can see how God is using serving synonymous to worship.

Then you shall say to Pharaoh, ‘Thus says the LORD: “Israel [is] My son, My firstborn. So I say to you, let My son go that he may serve Me. But if you refuse to let him go, indeed I will kill your son, your firstborn.” ’ ”

Exod 4:22-23

This is also why God never used ‘worship’ but ‘serve’ since worshiping God is serving Him.

Worship in Spirit and Truth

God [is] Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.”

John 4:24

When Jesus said we must worship the Father in spirit, He wants us to worship not in flesh, that is, putting a display before others.

Take away from Me the noise of your songs, For I will not hear the melody of your stringed instruments.

Amos 5:23

In other words, all the outward signs that we can do with flesh like bowing down, praising, singing, praying does not automatically constitute worship unless we do it truthfully from our heart. We must rend our hearts, and not our garments to put a display before others (Joel 2:13).

Conclusion

Worship is humbleness before God. It is obedience to Him. Worship is a whole heart-ed devotion to God for serving Him.

Jesus said to him, “‘You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is [the] first and great commandment.

Matt 22:37-38

God knows our needs even without praying to Him for it (Matt 6:32). Nor can we praise Him more perfectly even with all the modern instruments when compared with babies (Matt 21:16). While all these can be used to ask God or praise for what He had done in our lives, true worship is not putting a display in our flesh but humbling before God in spirit and obeying Him.