Our English word “worship” is short for “worthship”. It refers to “a state or quality of being worthy” (Webster). It can also refer to “The performance of devotional acts in honor of God or deity” (Webster). When we worship, we are saying that God is worthy of such praise, honor and devotion. In the book of Revelation, the twenty-four elders fall down and worship God (the Father) saying “Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honor and power: for thou has created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created” (Rev. 4:10-11). They also fall down before the Lamb and worship saying “Thou art worthy… for thou wast slain, and has redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people and nation… worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honor, and glory, and blessings… Blessing and honor, and glory, and power be unto Him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever” (Revelation 5:9, 12-13).
We sing the song, Worthy Art Thou. Consider the words: “Worthy of praise is Christ our Redeemer; worthy of glory, honor and pow’r! Worthy art Thou!… Worthy art Thou! Worthy of riches, blessings and honor, worthy of wisdom, glory and pow’r! Worthy of earth and heaven’s thanksgiving, Worthy art Thou!… Worthy art Thou!” Do you feel this way? Good worship flows from a grateful heart.
The primary Hebrew word for worship means “to worship, prostrate oneself, bow down” (Vine’s). “The act of bowing down in homage is generally down before a superior or a ruler” (Vine’s). Bowing before Him was a posture of submission.
We sing a song, We Bow Down. Consider the words: “You are Lord of creation and Lord of my life, Lord of the land and the sea. You were Lord of the heavens before there was time, and Lord of all lords you will be! We bow down and we worship you, Lord. We bow down and we worship you, Lord. Lord of all lords you will be!” Is He truly the Lord of your life? He asks, “Why call ye Me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?” (Luke 6:46).
The primary Greek word means to “kiss toward”. “The word sprang from the fact that in ancient times the worshipper would kiss the hand or feet of the object of his devotion, or possibly kiss the ground before him. Some ancients are known to have thrown a kiss
to their deity. The word expresses an act of veneration” (Gary Workman, What is Worship?, The Restorer Feb./Mar. 1993, p. 3). The word in general usage means “to make obeisance, do reverence to” (Vine’s).
The Bible speaks of ‘vain worship’ (Matt. 15:8-9) and ‘will worship’ (Col. 2:23); However, proper worship consist of: (1) The right object (John 4:24; Acts 10:25-26; 14:11-18; Revelation 19:10; 22:8-9); (2) The right attitude (Psalm 51:17; John 4:24 cf. Joshua 24:14 and 1 Corinthians 14:14-15; Luke 18:9-14); (3) The right action (John 4:24; cf. 17:17; Leviticus 10:1-2; Hebrews 11:4 cf. Romans 10:17); (4) A right standing before God (Proverbs 15:8; 28:9; Isaiah 1:15; 1 Timothy 2:8; 1 Peter 3:7).
Worship is distinguished from general life. All of life should be lived to the glory of God (Matt. 5:16; 1 Cor. 6:20; 10:31). All of life is to be in service to God, but not all service is worship. Worship acts are depicted as distinct from general life (Genesis 22:5; Judges 7:15; 1 Samuel 1:19; 2 Samuel 12:20; Matthew 2:11-12; John 4:20-21; 12:20; Acts 8:27-28; 24:10-11). Brother Workman has written, ‘worship has always been an overt act rather than a continued attitude or relationship… It requires specific action. It has a starting place and a stopping place. It is not an ongoing state” (ibid, p. 4). In figurative language the Bible tells us that our lives should be a living sacrifice in His service (Romans 12:1-2). Yet, all of life is not worship. Worship has to do with specific acts distinct from general life.