It’s been a very long time since I’ve done anything from the Words Not Found in Scripture series. Recently I was inspired to write a little bit about the word Worship. In today’s Christian circles Worship is usually defined as “singing” or even specifically “corporate singing”. In our modern church meetings we usually have 30 minutes or so dedicated as a “worship service” where someone leads the church through a selection of songs to sing together.

Unfortunately, this is not worship as the scripture defines it. At least, it is not everything that is encompassed by the word worship. So, let’s get started on this word study.

The word worship occurs 182 times with 6 forms in the scriptures (worship, worships, worshiped, worshiper, worshipers, and worshiping). There are several words used to translate the word we use as worship (in the NASB).

The Old Testament

shachah (H7812)

Shachah occurs 173 times in the scriptures, it is a Hebrew word meaning “to bow down or prostrate”. 84 times it is translated as “worship”. 89 times as some form of bowing down, prostrating, or paying homage.

abad (H5647)

Abad occurs 289 times in the scriptures, it is a Hebrew word meaning “to work, serve”. 13 times it is translated as “worship”. 276 times it is translated as some form of work, serving, and even slave. It’s most common translation is a form of serve which occurs 200 times.

mishmereth (H4931)

Mishmereth occurs 78 times in the scriptures, it is a Hebrew word meaning “guard, watch, charge, function”. It is only translates as worship one time in the Old Testament, specifically in Nehemiah 12:45.

segid (H5457)

Segid occurs 12 times in the scriptures, it is a Hebrew word meaning “to do homage”. All of the instances occur in the book of Daniel. Only one time is it translated as “did homage” in Daniel.

athar (H6282)

Athar occurs 2 times in the scriptures, it is a Hebrew word that means “suppliant” or “an odor”.

If we’re just considering what the Old Testament says about worship we can see that worship has nothing to do with singing or music. Worship is prostrating yourself before YHWH and serving him. In other words, worship is about obedience, not about the emotional feelings you get while corporately singing before the Sunday morning sermon. But let’s take a look at the New Testament to see if we can add to this understanding.

The New Testament

The New Testament is much easier. The word worship occurs 69 times in the NASB

προσκυνέω (G4352)

Proskuneo occurs 72 times in the New Testament. It is by far the most common Greek word used to translate the word “worship”, sometimes being translated as “bowed down” or “prostrated”. However, it literally means to express in attitude or gesture your complete dependence on or submission to a high authority figure (which can be applied to humans, gods, angels, demons, etc).

σέβω (G4576)

Sebo occurs 10 times and means to express ones allegiance or devotion to a god, through gestures, rites, or ceremonies. It can also mean to have a reverent attitude towards human beings (or to show respect for someone). Many times sebo is translated as something like “God-fearing” or “devout”.

σεβάζομαι (G4573) & σέβασμα (G4574)

Sebazomai looks related to sebo, and literally means to show reverence. It only occurs in Romans 1:25.

Sebasma also looks related to sebo, and it literally means a devotional object (like statues, altars, etc). It occurs twice, in Acts 17:23 and 2 Thessalonians 2:4.

λατρεία (G2999) & λατρεύω (G3000)

Latreia occurs 5 times in the New Testament and means “service”. It is translated as worship twice.

Latreuo occurs 21 times and is the verb form, meaning “to serve”. It is translated as worship only 4 of those times.

θρησκεία (G2356)

Threskeia occurs only 4 times, it is often translated as “religion” but one time in Colossians 2:18 it is translated as “worship”. It literally means “expression of devotion to transcendent beings”.

This covers all the places where the word “worship” occurs in the NASB translation of the New Testament. I think the New Testament uses definitely add to our understanding from the Old Testament uses of the word. We see that “worship” is not just about service and obedience, but also about attitude or even a lifestyle. To show complete devotion to your god in attitude, service, obedience is the truest form of Worship.

That does not exclude singing corporately every Sunday morning before a sermon. However, it doesn’t necessitate it either. If you believe that you are obeying YHWH by singing in a corporate scenario, then you should definitely do that — remember, obeying YHWH is worship. But singing to YHWH is not the only form of worship and it’s not necessarily a form of obedience. Dancing could be worship, helping an elderly lady pay for her groceries could be worship, shoot, drinking alcohol could be worship! I would say that anything done out of a devotional attitude of service and obedience to YHWH is worship. But that doesn’t mean that the people who don’t do the same things as you are worshiping YHWH any less. They’ve just chosen to worship him in a different way or perhaps, he has asked them to obey him in a different way.


  1. Can worship and priase not coexist? Songs of praise are a form of worship and adoration, just as in Psalms. The Palmists worship in the feilds by way of song, as the sheppards must keep a keen eye on the flocks.
    Why does “worship” have to be defined as a singular event?
    Worship services in the modern church consist in the aspect of “The services rendered in order to give God (Yaweh) i.e., Jesus priase and/or adoration, thanks and the Holy Spirit inspired and called ministers (sheppard) message/teachings that God (Eliohm, El Shaddai) impressed upon him to deliver to the flocks. I’m not sure the term used by other denominations (used this word as a general description, only), but the multiple denominational in doctrinal belief services I attend have never referenced the time we gather by any other name. The Worship Service is the tern is used to denote any time a group of like-minded people gather to worship, as a whole. Define what constitutes “worship’? The current SSM (S. Scott McClure) definition of worship is “Any time set aside to allow The Holy Spirit to dominate the control of, no matter what other events, labors, prior obligations and distractions are set aside for uninterrupted congregational devotion for the purpose of praise, prayer, learning, growing and adoration to God and God, alone inasmuch, using the remainder of time for as much personal interaction one feels he/she needs in private communion with God for as long as either the person (s) are led to spend and/or The Holy Spirit allows, in the worship rituals tarry.”
    I didn”t like Miram Websters definition. ..the conextual aspect was not descriptive and , by opinion, lacks justifiable syntax….I have to admit, as well, a bit of humor is something I truly believe God enjoys. …just look at the platypus!

    1. On a side note…the comparison of drinking as worship occurs almost every Sunday at NASCAR races…I tend to wonder, though,”Does the worship of Rev. Bud Weiser and the Ethyl Alcohol “spirits” place conviction on the members of “The Churh of Anheiser Busch” faithful followers and influence everyone at Talladega Superspeedway to always priase Dale Jr (the phatron saint of NNC the same llaboratory created “spirit” that instills pure, unfaltering hatred for Jeff Gordon? )

      Remember, drinking is not a sin,(fermented wines purified the water) the overindulgence that causes and altars the mind , is where it becomes a sin (gluttony) as the Bible stated several times to avoid association with drunkards. (I guess that means every mainstream sport, sports bar or Catholic social event is a no-no****disclaimer- In no way was that comment intended to raise the Caholic faith above the Episcopal faith, Presbyterian faith or any others that deny the over consumption of ETOH beverages to be compared direclty or indirectly to all other drunkards mentioned in the Bible**

      1. I don’t follow NASCAR, so I have no idea what you’re talking about :). Though, I have to say, overindulgence in alcohol, in my opinion, is not sin. I think that’s clear from the fact that Proverbs encourages us to drink to forget our sadness and Jesus himself gave a bunch of already drunk wedding guests even stronger wine.

        So, as far as I can tell, getting drunk isn’t sin, but leading a life of drunkenness is sin.

        1. Lew,
          I live in West Georgia, within driving distance of at least 7 tracks….I can’t help but love the sport….anyway, I enjoy adding “My own personal” brad of humor in discussions…I missed terribly, on that one but I hope the point was still understandable.
          The reason for the “singular event” comment falls back as a simple question to enhance the conversation, as I do know people that see them as separate events. it wasn’t intentionally meant for you, brother. I truly apologize if it came across as such.

        2. I disagree, respectfully. I have personally witnessed the impact intoxication has on people and the death it can result in. I had an uncle that was a HEAVY drinker. He was a joy to be around when he was sober, however…the “Spirits” that were in him, after a half gallon of 180 proof Golden Grain Liquor possessed him. He went from pleasant to disgusting and violent. I thank God, He gave up drinking and, sadly, 15 years too late, passed from liver cirrhosis. The damage had been done, was irreversible and took him away from us. I will now post several scriptures backing my point….and yours, as well. During my tenure as a paramedic, I worked countless vehicle crashes caused by drunk drivers. Two truly stand out in my mind. I live in a rural area of West Georgia, just about 5 miles from the Al/GA border from I-20. Living and growing up in such a rural (only 4 traffic lights), I have the pleasure and displeasure of caring for my towns folk. An incident on two separate occasions about 9 months apart, I worked two auto accidents at the EXACT same spot. The saddest thing, the same driver, extremely intoxicated, killed two people there. Steadman Rd., just behind West Haralson School , there is an oak tree stump that protrudes about 2 feet out of the ground. This stump is the epicenter of the deaths, This guy was driving home from a local bar…well…the ONLY bar in Tiny Tallapoosa, GA…He rounded the turn, lost control and ejected his passenger from the car. The passenger was his brother. His head was crushed upon striking the stump. The driver did about 9 months jail time and he was thrown a “Get out of the Tank” party. That very night, while on his way home, down the road described earlier…yes, and as we in Ga say,”Drunker than Cooter Brown-whoever he is”, lost control in the same curve, ejecting his passenger, sadly…his mother…causing her to sustain massive skull fractures. Her hair bow is still embedded in the stump, to this day. Needless to say…he still remains behind bars. I have countless other accounts of similar outcome. Heck, we even have an area nearby called “The Devils Kitchen” in Tallapoosa, GA., feel free to read about it in “The Encyclopedia of Haunted Placed” compiled by Jeff Belanger. I have three short stories published in that book, as I used to do paranormal investigation, as a hobby.

          Anyway, It is my personal conviction that God placed in my heart many years ago that STRONG beverages are the worst…even if not a sin, if used in moderation (non-mind altering) limits. I admit, freely, prior to being placed under conviction…I have been so ‘Hammered” I dove home and never remember it, I have made a fool of myself all because of “Beer Goggles” make ugly and fat women appear like….well…Ugly Fat women with …name change “Moral Standards Goggles” altering the perception. .

          As far as your aspect, Yes, wine was used…main reason was the poor water quality. Fermentation processes are controlled by the maker. I truly believe, the comon “wine” the vast majority drank was of very low alcohol content, in contrast, a 180 proof distilled liquor is 90% ETOH by volume….comparison…the common wine has an ETOH content of a range around 3% to 45% by volume. The amount of intoxicating Ethyl in it is controlled by the amounts of sugar and yeast introduced at certain stages of fermentation. A stronger wine has more sugar and yeast added between fruit pulp sedimentation removal and with each additional step, Ethyl levels are increased.

          1 Corinthians 6:9-10 ESV ( 1 Cor 5:11 is a near facsimile)
          Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God

          Ephesians 5:18-20 English Standard Version (ESV)
          18 And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, 19 addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, 20 giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ,

          Proverbs 23:21 ESV
          For the drunkard and the glutton will come to poverty, and slumber will clothe them with rags

          Proverbs 20:1 ESV 20 helpful votes
          Wine is a mocker, strong drink a brawler, and whoever is led astray by it is not wise. ( Personally, I see this as “Wine can cause one to be a brawler if over consumed…)

          Galatians 5:19-21 ESV 19
          Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.

          Isaiah 5:11 ESV
          Woe to those who rise early in the morning, that they may run after strong drink, who tarry late into the evening as wine inflames them!

          Isaiah 5:22 ESV
          Woe to those who are heroes at drinking wine, and valiant men in mixing strong drink,

          Romans 14:21 ESVs
          It is good not to eat meat or drink wine or do anything that causes your brother to stumble

          Matthew 11:19 ESV
          The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Look at him! A glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ Yet wisdom is justified by her deeds.” (Lew, is this one verse you made reference to? Here is the entire passage…..

          Matt 11:16 “To what shall I compare this generation? It is like children who sit in marketplaces and call to one another, 17 ‘We played the flute for you, but you did not dance, we sang a dirge but you did not mourn.’ 18 For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they said, ‘He is possessed by a demon.’ 19 The Son of Man came eating and drinking and they said, ‘Look, he is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners.’ But wisdom is vindicated by her works.”
          ( I see this as people seeing with their minds, it is human to draw conclusions in order to “present something to others, in order to cause doubt”..Chirst, a drunkard? John, a demon possessed man?…very doubtful, as “wine” for general purpose consumption was just fermented enough to inhibit bacteria growth, as well as, “wine” also fresh juice from the vine….this aspect is probably unintentionally overlooked, just due to the common concept of wine)

          20 Noah, a man of the soil, was the first to plant a vineyard. 21 He drank some of the wine, became drunk, and lay naked inside his tent. 22 Ham, the father of Canaan, saw his father’s nakedness, and he told his two brothers outside. 23 Shem and Japheth, however, took a robe, and holding it on their shoulders, they walked backward and covered their father’s nakedness; since their faces were turned the other way, they did not see their father’s nakedness. 24 When Noah woke up from his wine and learned what his youngest son had done to him, 25 he said: “Cursed be Canaan, The lowest of slaves, shall he be to his brothers.”
          ( It appears that Noah awoke to a horrid hangover, as he cursed the slaves and was possibly embarrassed as well, when he eventually found out just how “tore up. from the floor up” he became, as to wind up neekid as a wee baby…I resemble that remark, from hangovers and parties in the distant past…as I awoke naked, in bed with a horrid headache and blamed everyone but myself for the embarrassment I caused myself)

          Lew, again, thanks for your input….I truly enjoy hearing your perspective…ever so skewed, it may be ( just joking)

        3. Maybe, a different view on interpretation of the Proverbs verse:
          Proverbs 31:6-7 (NASB)

          6 Give strong drink to him who is perishing,
          And wine to him [a]whose life is bitter.
          7 Let him drink and forget his poverty
          And remember his trouble no more.


          I tend to see this as purely medicinal, in perspective. As a paramedic, I have cared for many terminal cancer patients in near iritractable pain, Verse 6 is rather clear in the medicinal use of “Strong Drink” (as in reference to more intoxicating to drink than common wine) to dull the pain of whatever disease/ailment present. By all means, give the suffering as much as can be tolerated. I know, It was NOTHING for me to start initial pain management care to my suffering patients above the normal dosage of narcotic anagesics, depending on the narcotic to be administered….I’d get them “drunk” as well….I see no difference here.

          “wine to whose life is bitter” – This, again, is used medicinally. Probably to relax them, as a benzodiazapine type drug works…Ethyl Alcohol (ETOH) is a central nervous system depressant, therefore, seems logical, if administered carefully, would help the “bitter” person become relaxed but not intoxicated.

          7 drink to forget poverty and remember troubles. no more…
          This is a bit more taboo,just by the nature, however, the use is still as medicine. When ETOH is given to the person that is in need, the person will insure that only enough is administered to attain the goal at hand. In this case, give the needy enough medicinal wine, as to help them slumber slowly for sleep, thus, for the duration the wine keeps them at a peaceful, restful state, with the hope this period of deep rest to calm the troubled . This, in fact, is very similar to modern treatment of depressed/anxious patients. Poverty, in this case, is more than likely in reference to the actual physical state of a body “to forget the pain from an “impoverished” or exhausted physical state, inasmuch, providing needed rest and recovery to even further, help relieve the troubled mind.

          A paramedics “strong drink” that a patient would be given is either a narcotic analgesic such as. Dilaudid (hydromorphone). Morphine, Demerol (mepredine) , Fentanyl or for those that need a sedative to relax them or induce sleep, Medications in the Benzodiazapine family would be more applicable. Drugs such as (weakest to strongest) Valium, Ativan, Xanax or Versed would be administered to achieve the therapeutic goal….these drugs, as well, are just synthetic medications to treat and attain a desired outcome. These modern drugs are by physicians order only and are among the highest abused of the Federal Controlled medications….MUCH harder to obtain, therefore, harder to abuse, in contrast, to the hundreds of modern ETOH containing beverages, essentially, legalized central nervous system depressants that are the most abused drugs that can be purchased at a gas station.

          My verdict: Proverbs 31:6-7 – the use of medicinal (extra strength or regular strength) ethyl alcohol containing beverages (aka “strong drink” and “wine”) are , in my unwavering opinion, for medicinal use to treat conditions that, in that time period, were proven to serve a purpose, excluding abuse and/or recreational use). “Strong Drink” was given to serve two purposes: 1) to help mask/alleviate pain and induce sleep in chronic/dying persons 2) act as an anti anxiety/severe physical fatigue/mental anguish/insomniac medicine for sleep induction

          1. I would agree, that this is for medicinal purpose. So my position stands. It is not sin to get drunk, but to live a life of drunkenness. Celebration is another allowed way to get drunk, which is why Jesus made the best/strongest wine after the wedding guests had already drank the good stuff. And it’s why YHWH himself encourages people who are too far from the temple, to sell their tithe and buy a feast, including strong drink, to celebrate him in his name (Deuteronomy 14:24-26).

            1. First, let me, again, say…Lew,I enjoy having conversation with you. It is so nice that we can agree, disagree without anger and enjoy another opinion.

              The last verse in the scriptures you quoted , however, is an assumption of what the “strong drink” they purchased. I feel that they are simply celebrating God’s blessings to be able to attain the items, thus, celebrating God’s blessings by having a feast. I still can’t see where it is implied that they became intoxicated while partaking in the feast. I have debate with Christian friends, even my own pastor, about what “wine” is. I honestly believe it was a wine with the lowest alcohol content. Just enough to be a purification agent. Proclaiming to be a Christian, knowing what effects intoxication, as a whole, has on people. I mentioned in a prior comnent the comparison/contrasts of my uncle, sporting event patrons and me, as well, and the “inhibitions” it releases from sobriety does. I have even witnessed professed Chrisrians intoxicated act as if they could care less and see no difference between them and the town drunkard. This is where the terms “If he/she is a Christian, the woods are full of them” and “You can’t be a Saint and be a drunkard at the same time, as the liar within is dominant”

              Another example is when Christ questions “saving the best wine” at the wedding. This is an example of the selfishness by keeping the best, sweet tasting for the host and serving the lesser drink, otherwise.I have two uncles that, as a hobbyist, make home made wine. I sampled several different wines made from several different fruits. The best quality, (and the wine he kept for himself) sweetest wine was made from, all things, crabapples, a sour and the most bitter of apples and the least desired of his makes was what he gave away. Still, in no way, is wine, as a drink with a meal, meant to be used as an intoxicant (or as the recommend portion of fruit for its nutritional value…more bad humor).
              Lew, I hope you have a very blessed day and, again, allowing for great discussions. I have learned so much and gained so many perspectives. Thank you

              1. Scott,

                Correct, the Deut. verse doesn’t imply intoxication, just celebration with wine and/or strong drink (which is not wine). Strong drink, by comparison, has to have a higher alcohol content than wine, otherwise it doesn’t make sense to have it on the list of things to buy. It would be like saying, “go buy yourself soda or carbonated drinks”.

                Jesus gave intoxicated wedding guests the “good stuff” — red the verses clearly. The host is surprised that Jesus is giving the “good stuff” to the guests, because usually you’d only give the guests the “good stuff” before they’re intoxicated, then you switch to the nasty stuff once they’re drunk enough to not notice. So, by logical deduction, the guests were already drunk and Jesus was handing them the “good stuff”. If intoxication is a sin, then you have to have a problem with Jesus.

                Also, YHWH uses diluted wine as negative example of their sin in Isaiah 1:22. So, I would say that your assumption that their wine was weak, is simply wrong.

                I’ve researched this topic to death. Drinking alcohol and even getting intoxicated is not a sin, but living a lifestyle of drunkenness is. And to suggest that the alcohol content of wine and strong drink in the scripture is low, is simply ignoring the plethora of scripture teaching otherwise.

              2. as an aaddendum:

                2 On the third day there was a wedding at iCana in Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. 2 Jesus also was invited to the wedding with his disciples.3 When the wine ran out, the mother of Jesus said to him, “they’re have no wine.”4 And Jesus said to her, “Woman, lwhat does this have to do with me? mMy hour has not yet come.” 5 His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.”6 Now there were six stone water jars there nfor the Jewish rites of purification(diluting wine), each holding twenty or thirty ogallons.17 Jesus said to the servants, “Fill the jars with water.” And they filled them up to the brim. 8 And he said to them, “Now draw some out and take it to the master of the feast.” So they took it. 9 When the master of the feast tasted pthe water now become wine, and did not know where it came from (though the servants who had drawn the water knew), the master of the feast called the bridegroom10 and said to him, “Everyone serves the good wine first, and when people have drunk freely, then the poor wine. But you have kept the good wine until now.”11 This, the first of his signs, Jesus did at Cana in Galilee, and manifested qhis glory. And rhis disciples believed in him.
                The master of the feast seems to be perplexed that since he provided the feast, and having tasted the wine beforehand, this wine was of higher quality. He now feels he gave his best and thought he was given the same. In essence, had his feelings hurt, not realizing he had actually been witness to a miracle.
                There is no mention to or insinuates intoxication, just the depiction of a need and the need being met by the miracle of water to wine. Just as I “drink” and love freshly made real lemonade….I don’t drink Mike’s Hard the same aspect,the best wine is sweet and has a pleasing scent and taste. It is ok to drink either, as so long as you don’t get drunk.
                You and I realize that there was no way to stop the natural fermentation of grape juice, therefore, it was an intoxicating drink. I just truly believe that drinking for the intention of intoxication is when it becomes an issue. I’m not gonna quote a ton of Old Testament scriptures, as you and I already know the text…but I have quoted quite a bit of New Testament that can’t be refuted. I suppose, just because of seeing what alcoholism does by bearing witness to people Ioved dearly, I am jaded.

    2. Of course Worship and Praise can co-exist. The point of this post is to point out the fact that “Worship” is found in scripture as it is used in today’s vernacular. That is, Worship is not defined as “singing” but it encompasses so many things, which I would broadly define as “those things we do for YHWH”.

      You asked, ‘Why does “worship” have to be defined as a singular event?’ — I never said that it does, in fact, I would argue quite the opposite.

      1. Understood and agreed. I apologize for misinterpretation of your intended purpose!

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