What is Worship? Zamar

Zamar is a Hebrew word that reminds us that God loves instrumental praise. 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 Zamar. This post is based on a post I wrote in 2013 titled Seven Hebrew Words That Will Enhance Your Worship: Zamar.


Definition of Zamar from Bible Hub

Meaning of Zamar

According to Zamar means

properly to touch the strings or parts of a musical instrument, that is, play upon it; to make music, accompanied by the voice

Translation Problem

Zamar is similar to Tehillah in that it is a musical term of praise. Notice that it is a word referring to using stringed instruments to accompany vocal praise. God not only loves vocal praise but instrumental as well! As we saw with Tehillah, it is difficult for translators to capture all of the nuances of a word when they change it to English. With Zamar we learn that instrumental music is mentioned in the Bible more often then you might expect - hidden behind a simple word like "praise" or "sing" might be images of a person singing while accompanied with a stringed instrument.

What Can We Learn From This?

Zamar reminds us that God not only loves our verbal praise but also our instrumental praise.  As an example, notice the use of Zamar in Psalm 71:22.

I will also praise you with the harp
for your faithfulness, O my God;
I will sing praises (zamar) to you with the lyre,
O Holy One of Israel.


Praise God through singing!

How can we apply this to our worship?

I think one of the most misunderstood times of worship are the musical interludes – those times when the instruments play and the rest of the congregation listens.  Here are some suggestions on how to use those times to worship God:

  • Offering.  If you are one of the instrumentalists, then use the interlude as your personal offering of praise to God.  This is not a time to show off but rather a time to offer to God a gift of praise through your instrument – a time to zamar God.  Play with excellence, but play it to God, not to the people.
  • Meditate.  If you are not playing a musical instrument then don’t zone out during the instrumental times of praise.  Use those times to meditate on God.  Allow the music to draw you closer to God.
  • New Song.  Allow your own song to soar up to God on the wings of the music.  Consider freely singing your own praise to God.  Allow the Spirit of God to touch your heart and voice, and sing out the praise that is in your heart using whatever notes come to you.

God loves music, even instrumental music. 

by Jerry Wyrick, President of Worship Arts Conservatory


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