I was already working on this post and then my pastor did his Sunday service on the topic! What a jerk… j/k. He is great. Hear his message here or read my short spill. I first learned this in middle school from a cheesy song, called 7 ways 2 Praise, by an artist named Carmen. If you want a laugh, here’s a link to his song.
I’ve jumped around and visited a lot of dominations over the years and what I noticed was:
- The Methodists like bowing their hearts in silence; judging clapping.
- The Baptists like instruments; judging raised hands.
- The Church of Christ like singing; judging instruments.
- The non-denominationals like to raise their hands; judging bowing.
Personally, I’m most comfortable with bowing my heart in reverence. But which of these is the right way? Remember that our goal is to follow Jesus, not denominations or the traditions of men. Let’s look at how the original language of the Bible describes worship.
The Hebrew language is more advanced than English, so translation in our Bibles is not always the best description of what is truly being described. In the original Hebrew, the word worship has seven different words to our one word.
1. Halel – to rave, boast, celebrate
(these 3 definitions being defined as wild, extravagant, furious or boisterous sound and dance, so that everyone knows about it; praise for the fulfillment of a promise)
2. Yadah – to acknowledge in public; with extended hands
(this is raising your hands in worship; the act of acknowledging God in your conversations, by acknowledging God’s extended hand in your life; or reaching out, giving, to someone in need)
3. Barak – to bless by kneeling
(an outward sign of an inward expression; a way to outwardly express surrender or reverence to a mightier power; being humble and always giving glory to God)
4. Zamar – making music to God with instruments; striking with the fingers
(this is worship with instruments and voice through hymns, songs and poems to encourage one another in God’s truths, and give praise to God; using our talents for his glory)
5. Shabach – to address in a loud tone; to shout
(a loud and overpowering outward sign that you know your God is good and that He will keep his promises; bursting forth with testimony)
6. Towdah – to lift hands in adoration, or acceptance, or thanks for things not yet received; or even a confession, or sacrifice
(like a child lifts his hands, asking a parent to hold them, out of desire to be closer; to adore, or to give thanks; a sacrifice of praise; sacrificing self to follow his laws)
7. Tehilah – exuberant singing; singing of halel’s; hymns of the spirit
(worship that is unrestrained by practice, memorization, or old songs. worship that flows up, out of your heart, because of what he has done for you)
So which of these is the right way to worship?
Any of them! As long as you are worshipping God, you are good! But all seven of these are ways that God gives us to praise him, so why wouldn’t we hear him and use them all? Do we love our spouse, or friends, with just one love language? No! We love them with gifts, words of encouragement, acts of service, quality time, and physical touch. They need all of these; and if we truly love our spouse, we are willing to do all of these in the name of love. Why then would we hold back any form of love or worship for our God? You can take this love language test and find out what ways you predominantly show love to your spouse and others, but that doesn’t mean that we never show the other forms of love to them. It’s okay for a person (or denomination), a part of Christ’s body, to be better at a specific function than another, but we all need to be able to work together in unity, and accept that each of these ways is correct, and learn to grow into them and worship God in all the ways he wants.
“love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength. This is the first commandment.” – Mark 12:30
Can we love God with all our strength by bowing, or by singing alone? No. Let us make God our victor, not some football team on Saturday. This is the one and only command: Love God. Loving others is not something we can do, until we love God. All the commands of God are summed up in this one: Love Him first.
– Jehoshaphat bowed down with his face to the ground, and all the people of Judah and Jerusalem fell down in worship (barak) before the Lord. Then some Levites from the Kohathites and Korahites stood up and praised (yadah) the Lord, the God of Israel, with a very loud voice (shabach). – 2 Chron. 20:18-19
– Praise (zamar) him with the sounding of the trumpet, praise him with the harp and lyre, praise him with timbrel and dancing, praise him with the strings and pipe, praise him with the clash of cymbals, praise him with resounding cymbals. – Ps. 150:3-5
– Awake, my glory! Awake, lute and harp (zamar)! I will awaken the dawn. I will praise (zamar) You, O Lord, among the peoples; I will sing to You among the nations. – Ps. 57:8-9
– Come, everyone! Clap your hands! Shout to God (shabach) with joyful praise! – Ps. 47:1
– Cry aloud and shout for joy (shabach), O inhabitant of Zion, For great in your midst is the Holy One of Israel. – Is. 12:6
– Come, let us worship and bow down (barak). Let us kneel before the Lord (barak) our maker – Ps. 95:6
– … Giving them a garland instead of ashes, The oil of gladness instead of mourning, The mantle of praise (tehillah) instead of the spirit of fainting, So they shall be called oaks of righteousness… – Is. 61:3
– I will bless the Lord at all times; His praise (tehillah) shall continually be in my mouth. – Ps. 34:1
– Now when they began to sing and to praise (tehillah), the Lord set ambushes against the people of Ammon, Moab, and Mount Seir, who had come against Judah; and they were defeated. – 2 Chron. 20:22
– Sing to the Lord a new song (tehillah), for he has done marvelous things – Ps. 98:1
– Sing to the Lord a new song (tehillah); sing to the Lord, all the earth. – Ps. 96:1
– Sing to the Lord a new song (tehillah), his praise from the ends of the earth – Is. 42:10
– Then the Lord said to Joshua, “See, I have delivered Jericho into your hands, along with its king and its fighting men. March around the city once with all the armed men. Do this for six days. Have seven priests carry trumpets of rams’ horns in front of the ark (of the covenant promise)… When the trumpets sounded (zamar), the army shouted, and at the sound of the trumpet, when the men gave a loud shout (shabach), the wall collapsed; so everyone charged straight in, and they took the city. – Josh. 6:2-4,20
– One generation shall praise (shabach) your works to another, And shall declare Your mighty acts. – Ps. 145:4
– Oh, clap your hands, all you peoples! Shout to God (shabach) with the voice of triumph! – Ps. 47:1
– So all Israel brought up the ark of the covenant of the Lord with shouts (shabach), with the sounding of rams’ horns and trumpets, and of cymbals, and the playing of lyres and harps (zamar). – 1 Chron. 15:28
– and of those who will bring the sacrifice of praise (towdah) into the house of the Lord – Jer. 33:11
– Let them sacrifice thank offerings (towdah) and tell of His works with songs of joy (zamar). – Ps 107:22
– Sing to the Lord with thanksgiving (towdah). – Ps. 147:7
– Let us come before Him with thanksgiving (towdah) and extol him with music and song (zamar). – Ps. 95:2
– I will praise you as long as I live, and in your name I will lift up my hands (yadah). – Ps. 63:4
– As long as Moses held up his hands (yadah), the Israelites were winning, but whenever he lowered his hands, the Amalekites were winning. – Ex. 17:11
– Thus all Israel brought up the ark of the covenant of the Lord with joyful shouting (shabach), to the sound of horns, trumpets, and cymbals, and the music of harps and lyres (zamar). But as the ark of the covenant of the Lord was entering the City of David, Michal, daughter of Saul, looked down from her window, and when she saw King David leaping and dancing – 1 Chron. 15:28-29 (We are the new ark; we now hold the spirit of God in us. Our body is the temple. Music is used to bring up the praise and worship thats held within us)
– Make known His deeds among the peoples! Sing to Him, sing psalms to Him! Talk of all His wondrous works (yadah)! – 1 Chron. 16:8-9
– After this I heard what sounded like the roar of a great multitude in heaven shouting: Hallelujah! Salvation and glory and power belong to our God – Rev. 19:1
– The twenty-four elders and the four living creatures fell down (barak) and worshiped God, who was seated on the throne. And they cried: Amen (so be it), Hallelujah (praise God)! – Rev. 19:4
– God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth. – John 4:23 & 24 (no longer just with an outward sign of praise, but with the inward change brought on by the holy spirit)
– I appeal to you therfore, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. – Rom. 12:1 (there is a physical way to worship and a spiritual way to worship)
– May the God of steadfastness and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Romans 15:5
– be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another with Psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with all your heart, always and for everything giving thanks in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God the Father. – Gal. 5:18-20 (as always, the spiritual is more important than the physical. The goal is to worship God with our hearts and our lives, as a living sacrifice. Worshipping God first with your strength, mind, and soul, keep moving the worship up and into your heart)
How do we praise God?
- with others
- with the spirit of God in you
- with everyday life
- with rehearsed song
- with new song
- with sacrifice
- with instruments and voice
- with every part of your being (clapping, dancing, talents, job, everything!)