The stimulus for Worship
Worship is mentioned a lot in scripture. It is something that we are expected to do as Christians, but there are many events around us that are branded as worship and there is a general misunderstanding about what worship of God actually is. This completes a study on worship by looking at what stimulates worship. It looks at the effect of praise on worship and worship on praise. It looks at the effect of God’s presence and at the effect of what God does on the hearts who have learned to value Him.
Worship and Praise: Is there a difference?
Worship and praise are often mentioned together and separately in the Bible. Usually they do go together in our practical experience we might find it hard to have one without the other.
We have already seen that worship is when we are completely absorbed with the Person of God. It is Him of whom we are in awe and this results in our lives being completely focussed on reflecting His character and glorifying Him in all that we do and say.
Praise is as a result of what God has done. We rejoice in what God has done and praise Him for it. Praise will lead a worshipper to worship, but it may also result from worship. The result of worship is that we fall down before God in awe. No words are appropriate and often when faced with the glory of the Presence of God what people have said has not always been appropriate. On the Mount of Transfiguration Peter said something because he felt he should and God spoke from the cloud to tell him to exalt Christ alone saying “This is my beloved son, hear him”. The effect of the Presence of God upon many prophets was that they fell before Him and so will it be with us as we joyfully worship from our hearts the Almighty God who made us and has become our heavenly Father through His great love for us.
When King Hezekiah reopened the temple that King Ahaz had shut up, there was a resulting time of great rejoicing in Jerusalem.
“And king Hezekiah and the princes commanded the Levites to sing praise to Jehovah with the words of David, and of Asaph the seer. And they sang praises with gladness, and bowed their heads and worshipped” (2 Chronicles 29:30).
“And all the congregation worshipped, and the singers sang, and the trumpeters sounded, all the time until the burnt-offering was finished. And when they had ended offering the burnt-offering, the king and all that were present with him bowed themselves and worshipped. And king Hezekiah and the princes commanded the Levites to sing praise to Jehovah with the words of David, and of Asaph the seer. And they sang praises with gladness, and bowed their heads and worshipped” (2 Chronicles 29:28-30).
Here they began with praises from glad hearts and this caused them to worship. The worship then led them to burst out with greater praise. The two were linked but one was internal to each one in their consciousness of God and the other was external as they spoke and sang glorifying God together. Praise is the result of worship. And the praise of one Christian will spark the worship in another. This chorus of praise stirred up by worship will echo round heaven for eternity as every heart of angel and man responds to each other and the leadership of Christ.
“All the earth shall worship thee, and sing psalms unto thee: they shall sing forth thy name. Selah.” (Psalm 66:4).
So worship is our internal awe, reverence and love for God. Praise is the outward expression resulting from a worshipful heart.
Praise can be spoken and sung, but worship is the obsession of our spirits and the longing of our hearts for God. “As the hart panteth after the water-brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God” (Psalm 42:1). This is the true spirit of worship.
God’s Presence (and the actions that demonstrate His presence) stimulate worship
God’s presence always induces worship in the hearts of those that love Him.
“And the people believed. And when they heard that Jehovah had visited the children of Israel, and that he had seen their affliction, then they bowed their heads and worshipped” (Exodus 4:31).
“And all the people saw the pillar of cloud standing at the entrance of the tent; and all the people rose and worshipped, every man at the entrance of his tent” (Exodus 33:10).
“And Jehovah came down in the cloud, and stood beside him there, and proclaimed the name of Jehovah. And Jehovah passed by before his face, and proclaimed, Jehovah, Jehovah God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abundant in goodness and truth, keeping mercy unto thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but by no means clearing the guilty; visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, and upon the children's children, upon the third and upon the fourth generation. And Moses made haste, and bowed his head to the earth and worshipped” (Exodus 34:5-8).
“And all the children of Israel saw how the fire came down, and the glory of Jehovah upon the house, and bowed themselves with their faces to the ground on the pavement, and worshipped and thanked Jehovah: For he is good, for his loving-kindness endureth for ever” (2 Chronicles 7:3).
“Let us go into his habitations, let us worship at his footstool” (Psalm 132:7).
“Thou art the Same, thou alone, Jehovah, who hast made the heaven of heavens, and all their host, the earth and all that is therein, the seas and all that is therein. And thou quickenest them all; and the host of heaven worshippeth thee” (Nehemiah 9:6).
“For we are the circumcision, who worship by the Spirit of God, and boast in Christ Jesus, and do not trust in flesh” (Philippians 3:30). God is present in the hearts of every Christian and thus worship should be the result of everyone who meets them. “But if all prophesy, and some unbeliever or simple person come in, he is convicted of all, he is judged of all; the secrets of his heart are manifested; and thus, falling upon his face, he will do homage to God, reporting that God is indeed amongst you” (1 Corinthians 14:24-25).
The wise men on seeing God’s gift of His Son: “And having come into the house they saw the little child with Mary his mother, and falling down did him homage. And having opened their treasures, they offered to him gifts, gold, and frankincense, and myrrh” (Matthew 2:11).
“And he said, I believe, Lord: and he did him homage” (John 9:38).
God can also make His Presence known through the reading of His written word just as much as through His spoken word.
After reading the Law to the remnant that returned from the captivity: “And Ezra blessed Jehovah, the great God; and all the people answered, Amen, Amen! with lifting up of their hands; and they bowed their heads, and worshipped Jehovah with their faces to the ground” (Nehemiah 8:6).
“And they stood up in their place, and read in the book of the law of Jehovah their God a fourth part of the day; and a fourth part they confessed, and worshipped Jehovah their God” (Nehemiah 9:3).
There are many other scriptures where God’s presence has resulted in worship. This should be a constant feature of our lives as we are indwelt by God’s Holy Spirit and therefore know God as not only being everywhere in His creation but most especially within us.
One final point to make is that worship is from our spirit. It doesn’t involve words or songs (more on this later), but is the movement of the heart. In most cases where it is mentioned in the Bible it is where someone falls on their face and worships. No words are mentioned, no hymns are sung only a heart overwhelmed with the Presence of God bowed before Him.
God’s actions also result in worship from those that love Him. This because everything He does both demonstrates His presence and also some attribute of His Person that creates awe in those who see it. When we see His wisdom in evidence if just causes us to wonder at the One who, in His great power, has done everything on our behalf.
When God gave David the just recompense of his sin: “Then David arose from the earth, and washed, and anointed himself, and changed his clothing, and entered into the house of Jehovah and worshipped; then he came to his own house and required them to set bread before him, and he ate” (2 Samuel 12:20).
God’s blessing results in worship: “And now, behold, I have brought the first of the fruits of the land, which thou, Jehovah, hast given me. And thou shalt set it down before Jehovah thy God, and worship before Jehovah thy God” (Deuteronomy 26:10).
The commitment of God to helping Joshua resulted in worship: “And he said, No; for as captain of the army of Jehovah am I now come. Then Joshua fell upon his face to the earth, and worshipped, and said to him, What saith my lord unto his servant?” (Joshua 5:14).
And when God confirmed to Gideon that He would help Him: “And it came to pass when Gideon heard the telling of the dream and its interpretation, that he worshipped. And he returned into the camp of Israel, and said, Arise; for Jehovah hath given into your hand the camp of Midian” (Judges 7:15).
When God said they would have a victory without even having to fight: “And Jehoshaphat bowed his head with his face to the ground; and all Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem fell down before Jehovah, worshipping Jehovah” (2 Chronicles 20:18).
As a result of people seeing God’s faithfulness to Israel: “Thus saith Jehovah, the Redeemer of Israel, his Holy One, to him whom man despiseth, to him whom the nation abhorreth, to the servant of rulers: Kings shall see and arise, princes, and they shall worship, because of Jehovah who is faithful, the Holy One of Israel, who hath chosen thee” (Isaiah 49:7).
After calming the storm: “But those in the ship came and did homage to him, saying, Truly thou art God's Son” (Matthew 14:33).
As a result of His sacrifice on the cross to save us: “How much rather shall the blood of the Christ, who by the eternal Spirit offered himself spotless to God, purify your conscience from dead works to worship the living God?” (Hebrews 9:14).
So, the consciousness of God’s Person, whether through a consciousness of His presence or through something He has done stimulates greater worship from our hearts with a lasting effect on our conduct.
The presence of God and the demonstration of His holiness in judgement will result in worship from every being in heaven. The elders and angels rejoice to worship and glorify God.
“And when the living creatures shall give glory and honour and thanksgiving to him that sits upon the throne, who lives to the ages of ages, the twenty-four elders shall fall before him that sits upon the throne, and do homage to him that lives to the ages of ages; and shall cast their crowns before the throne, saying, Thou art worthy, O our Lord and [our] God, to receive glory and honour and power; for thou hast created all things, and for thy will they were, and they have been created” (Revelation 4:9-11).
“And the twenty-four elders and the four living creatures fell down and did homage to God who sits upon the throne, saying, Amen, Hallelujah” (Revelation 19:4).
“And all the angels stood around the throne, and the elders, and the four living creatures, and fell before the throne upon their faces, and worshipped God” (Revelation 7:11).
“And the twenty-four elders, who sit on their thrones before God, fell upon their faces, and worshipped God” (Revelation 11:16).
Let us do so as well and find our true purpose and satisfaction in worshipping in His Presence.