There is no Hebrew1 word meaning worship, in the sense that we’re familiar with in our culture today. From an Hebraic perspective, worship is the act of getting on your knees and placing your face down on the ground showing respect.
In our modern western culture worship is an action directed toward Elohim and Elohim alone. But this is not the case in the Hebrew Scripture. The word Shahhah - שָׁחָה is a common Hebrew verb meaning to prostrate oneself before another in respect, homage, submission, adoration etc. We see Moses doing this to his father-in-law in Exodus 18:7.
One of the Greek (New Covenant) words used for worship is προσκυνέω (pros-koo-neh’-o) meaning to kiss. So to worship is to adore from the heart. When we adore God, it is as if we are kissing Him. This puts our whole attention on Him which in turn ushers in His powerful presence. Worship is a lifestyle not an event. We were born to worship God.
When we are actively engaged in worship we have greater access to the heavenly realm, meaning we can move ourselves out of the inferior realm, where we pick up negative stuff, and enter in and stand in the glory realm engulfed in His presence.
Avodah - עֲבֻדָּה - from root Avad
- literally means service. It is a Hebrew word in the Bible whose root has three distinct yet intertwined meanings: work, worship and service.
The Hebrew verb Avad עָבַד, which occurs 289 times, predominantly in the qal form. The noun that shares the same root, Avodah - עֲבֻדָּה, occurs 145 times, making this word group a substantial theme in the Old Covenant. This is not even accounting for the substantive form Evad עָבַד, which occurs an additional 800 times.
The Avad עָבַד word group is translated throughout the English Old Covenant in 3 main ways:
Avad is often translated as service, where one submits oneself to the allegiance of another, whether a slave to a master (Exodus 21:6), a son to his father (Malachi 3:17) or a subject to a king (2 Samuel 16:19). For example, in 1 Kings 12, King Rehoboam is asked by the rebellious northern tribes to lighten the load his father Solomon has placed upon them. In return, they promise to serve (avad) him as king. In the end, Rehoboam refuses.
Avad can be translated as worship, either referring to the worship of YHWH (Joshua 24:14; Ezekiel 20:40) or the worship of idols (Exodus 20:5; Psalm 97:7; Joshua 23:7). When He calls Moses to lead His people out of Egypt, God gives Moses this promise: “When you have brought the people out of Egypt, you will worship [avad] God on this mountain” (Exodus 3:12).
Avad is also translated as work and is used in reference to vocations both secular (Exodus 5:18; Ezekiel 29:18) and sacred(Exodus 13:5; Numbers 3:8; Joshua 22:27) both paid (Genesis 29:27) and unpaid (Jeremiah 22:13). In Exodus 34:21, God gives further clarity to the 4th commandment regarding the Sabbath: Six days you shall labour [avad], but on the seventh day you shall rest; even during the ploughing season and harvest you must rest.
In some contexts the word, Avodah means work, as in to work in the field:
- Exodus 34:21 - when Moses renews the Covenant, God says; Six days you shall work (avodah) …
- Psalm 104:23 - Man goes out to his work, to his labour (avodah) until evening.
In other contexts, Avodah means worship, as in to worship God:
- Joshua 24:15 - ... but as for me and my household, we will serve (avodah) the Lord.
- Exodus 8:1 - This is what the LORD says; ‘Let My people go, so that they may worship (avodah) Me.’
Avodah suggests our work is a form of worship where we honour the Lord our God as we serve our neighbour.
When we worship, the presence of God and His Kingdom is released into the atmosphere. Worship, in whatever form; adoration from our mouths, dance, music, art etc., terrifies the demonic realm, for they can’t stand to be close to those who are truly engaged in worshipping God.
In small group settings for worship or in large church gatherings where there is no one to lead sung worship, then perhaps consider using iSing Worship. It allows you to lead worship with incredible flexibility as you can line up any part of the song that you would like to sing next, while the song is playing. For example, repeat a chorus, go back to the first verse, insert a quiet instrumental section so that you can say something, play a chorus with just the drums and so much more. It's just like having your own highly experienced band — complete with automatic lyric display!
We have used iSing Worship in both a church worship context and in a small group setting in our home, both were highly successful. It is truly worth checking out as there is an ever increasing number of worship titles available as well as seasonal lists too, check out the audio list or listen to the previews on Worship Lyric Videos.