What is Worship? Yadah

Yadah is a Hebrew word that invites us to raise our hands in thanksgiving. On Thursdays I have been posting on the meaning of various words related to worship.  Here is a complete list of the words we are studying:

Worship Terms

Worship – What is the meaning of the English word “Worship?”
Shachah – The primary Hebrew word for worship
Proskuneo – The primary Greek word for worship
Halal – A Hebrew word for crazy exuberant praise
Shabach – A Hebrew word for loud praise
Tehillah – A Hebrew word for song of praise
Zamar – A Hebrew word for making music accompanied by strings
Yadah – A Hebrew word for extending the hands in thanksgiving and praise
Towdah – A Hebrew word for a thanks offering
Barak – A Hebrew word for kneeling before God in humble submission

Hidden Meaning in Psalm 100:4 - See how understanding these words enhances the meaning of this popular praise verse.

In this post I will continue the study of worship terminology by looking at the Hebrew word Yadah. This post is a rewrite of a post from 2013 titled Seven Hebrew Words That Will Enhance Your Worship: Yadah.


Definition of Yadah from Bible Hub

Meaning of Yadah

According to LexiConcordance.com Yadah means

literally to use (that is, hold out) the hand; physically to throw (a stone, an arrow) at or away; especially to revere or worship (with extended hands); intensively to bemoan (by wringing the hands)

Translation Problem

It is used almost exclusively in the Bible to mean praise and thanksgiving. Yadah occurs 114 times in the Old Testament and nearly 100 of those occurrences are translated to mean praise or thanksgiving.

Oh give thanks (yadah) to the Lord, for he is good;
for his steadfast love endures forever! 1 Chronicles 16:34

So why is a word that literally means “to extend the hand” translated to mean praise and thanksgiving?  This is because the Hebrew language is much more concrete in its use of words.  It is likely that the practice of extending the hands in praise and worship was so much a part of Hebrew culture that they began to use the word to mean “praise” more often than they used it to mean “extend the hand”.

What Can We Learn From This?

How can this help us in worship?  I think it is essential for us to recognize that we are physical beings and our outward action impact our inward spirit.  Of course our inward spirit is more important than any outward actions, but God has made us in such a way that we cannot easily separate the two.

Our physical and spiritual parts are connected in such a way that our actions can change our hearts and our emotions can affect our actions.  Check out this article on posture psychology, for instance.  According to this article, researches have found that it is difficult to be happy while frowning or sad while smiling and that certain postures open us up emotionally and others close us down.  Our emotions are tied to our muscles.


Praise God through singing!

All this to say, take a posture in worship that reflects what you are singing or praying.  It will enhance your worship.  Try joining the ancient Hebrews and raise your hands when praising or thanking God.  When we take an open posture, our emotions also open up.

Some of you are afraid of what others might think, so first give it a try in private.  Try praising God with hands crossed in front of you and head down.  Then try it with arms wide open and head raised to God.  You will feel different.

Don’t restrict your worship to only your mind.  Engage your body and emotions and Yadah God today!

Question:  Why are some of us so afraid to use our body in worship?  How have you overcome this fear?  Please leave a comment.


by Jerry Wyrick, President of Worship Arts Conservatory


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