Tuesday, April 5, 2011

What is Worship?

“Histachevah” The Hebrew term translated worship means ‘to bow down, prostrate oneself.’
Genesis 24:26
          Then the man bowed low and worshiped the LORD.
Genesis 18:1-2
          Now the LORD appeared to him by the oaks of Mamre, while he was sitting at the tent door in the heat of the day.  And when he lifted up his eyes and looked, behold, three men were standing opposite him; and when he saw them, he ran from the tent door to meet them, and bowed himself to the earth,
Exodus 34:8
          And Moses made haste to bow low toward the earth and worship.
          It was a common practice in the Ancient Near East to bow before guests, strangers, royalty, and deity in order to show respect.  This word, histachevah, is not really a definition of worship but more of an expression of it.  The worshiper portrays himself in a humbled and lowly position in order to portray the worshiped one as exalted and above him, in a pictorial sense.  There are many words used in conjunction with the word worship in the Old Testament:  to serve, sacrifice, bow, and others.  There are examples of bowing, or prostrating oneself, before others throughout the Old Testament.
Genesis 19:1
          Now the two angels came to Sodom in the evening as Lot was sitting in the gate of Sodom. When Lot saw them, he rose to meet them and bowed down with his face to the ground.
Genesis 42:6
          Now Joseph was the ruler over the land; he was the one who sold to all the people of the land. And Joseph's brothers came and bowed down to him with their faces to the ground.
The Greek word, proskuneo, means ‘to kiss toward, kiss.’  The idea behind this is that one would prostrate themselves before the feet of another and kiss their feet or the ground before them.  The New Testament uses this word only with God the Father or the Son as the sole object of worship. 
Luke 7:37-38
          And behold, there was a woman in the city who was a sinner; and when she learned that He was reclining at the table in the Pharisee's house, she brought an alabaster vial of perfume, and standing behind Him at His feet, weeping, she began to wet His feet with her tears, and kept wiping them with the hair of her head, and kissing His feet, and anointing them with the perfume.

The English word for worship is simply “worth-ship” and means ‘to honor, revere, esteem as one worthy of the highest respect.’  The object worshiped should be the object that has the greatest value, importance, and goodness.
Next Blog: Why Worship?

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