Last month I did a post on the English word “worship”. Today we will look at the most common word for worship in the Old Testament. The main language used for writing the Old Testament was Hebrew and the most common Hebrew word for worship is shachah.
Shachah means to “bend or bow down; to prostrate oneself”.
The word shachah could mean either “worship” or to physically bow down depending on the context. For example, we find in Genesis 23:7 that Abraham “bowed” before the Hittites. In this case the context lets us know that Abraham was physically bowing as a respectful greeting. Just one chapter before, in Genesis 22:5, Abraham informs his servant that he and Isaac will go up on the mountain and shachah. In this case the context makes it clear that Abraham means he will worship.
For the Hebrew, there was a very close relationship between bowing and worshiping. The act of worshiping was in some way a type of bowing. So, what does this mean for us as we approach God in worship? Here are a few of my thoughts:
- Humility. Worship is fundamentally about humbling ourselves before an awesome God. We bow down because we are nothing compared to Him.
- Submission. Worship is about submission of ourselves to the goals and purposes of our King. Bowing before our King is a recognition not only of His superiority but also of His right to command us and our responsibility to obey.
- Physical Response. Worship is not just an inward heart response. Our hearts and our bodies are closely connected. When I physically bow it reminds and helps my heart to submit.
Take some time today and kneel down in humble submission to God. Don’t just kneel mentally, but truly get down and kneel before God. Offer yourself to Him to use as He pleases. That is true submission.
Question: Why do you think the Hebrews connected bowing with worshiping? Please leave a comment.
by Jerry Wyrick, President of Worship Arts Conservatory