Differences between praise and worship

praise and worshipTo give praise means to speak well of someone or something, to express admiration, to greet, to complement, to congratulate, to applaud, to brag about, to exalt. To worship means to express reverence, to have a feeling of reverent admiration, to prostrate oneself before an object of adoration, to venerate.

Worship is a higher form of praise. In general, we begin with praise and then enter into worship. The word worship means to appreciate the value of something and respond appropriately to this value.

Worship is above all, an attitude of the heart. It is a reverent occupation of the human heart toward its creator. Worship begins with an interior contemplation of the heart, a deep meditation of the greatness and dignity of God. Worship is an intense admiration for God and an inner feeling of reverence and respect to the all-powerful God.

Worship also expresses the overflowing of the previously mentioned, spontaneously flowing thoughts and emotions. They should not be “pumped” or forced out. Our cup, as that of David must overflow with joy.

Finally, worship is the pouring forth of the soul in profound expressions of reverence, admiration, amazement and adoration.

The first biblical references to worship

One of the principles of biblical interpretation is the “law of first mention”, according to which the first mention in the Bible of any subject gives us a clear indication of its meaning and importance, wherever it occurs in the Bible. It is the key to the understanding of the meaning of this word or subject in the entire Bible.

The first mention of the word worship is in Genesis 22:5.

And Abraham said to his young men, “Stay here with the donkey; the lad and I will go yonder and worship, and we will come back to you.” (Genesis 22:5)

The word used here is shachah, which means “to prostrate oneself before, to bow down with humble reverence, respect and honor.” We will now examine some of the implications of this first mention of worship.

God commanded Abraham to be a worshiper

Praise and worship are not options that we decide whether to practice or not according to our own tastes. God commanded His people to praise and worship Him. When the Bible says, “praise the Lord”, this is not a suggestion or a request, but a commandment. There are no exceptions. Any and every child of God must praise and worship God.

Abraham responded in obedience

This obedience was an essential element of his covenant relationship with God. Abraham and God had entered into a covenant that demanded absolute obedience and total commitment of Abraham to God. God was testing the sincerity and integrity of Abraham’s commitment. He demanded the sincerity and integrity of Abraham’s commitment. He demanded the sacrifice of that which Abraham considered most precious: his promised son Isaac.

Worship is costly

This act of worship would cost Abraham his best and most precious possession. It had to really be “a sacrifice of praise” (Hebrews 13:15). A life of worship demands everything that we are and possess (Romans 12:1, 2). It is necessary that there be a total surrender of our ego to God so that we can become true worshipers. David also understood this principle when he said, “should I offer to God that which cost me nothing.” (2 Kings 24:24 – paraphrased)

Worship is an act of faith

Every step that Abraham took on that day was a step of faith. While he climbed Mount Moriah, knowing that God had demanded the offering of his beloved son, he knew by faith, that somehow he and Isaac would return together (Genesis 22:5).

Worship – surrender of the ego

Abraham was not only prepared to offer up Isaac, but he was also prepared to offer his own plans, desires, ambitions and will for the future. His future was unavoidably tied to his son. He was the one that God had promised and through which all the promises of the covenant would be fulfilled. To surrender him in obedience meant to surrender the expectation of everything for which he hoped and dreamed. Abraham not only surrendered Isaac but he surrendered all that he was and all that he had.

We can never enter into true worship until there is a total surrender of our ego to God. Our ego always imposes itself on our worship; therefore, we must surrender it completely to God.

Praise glorifies God

The high price that Abraham paid in worship glorified God. A normal reaction would be, “how great and glorious must be the God for whom Abraham was willing to sacrifice his beloved son in order to offer worship in obedience and faith!” God said, “Whoever offers praise glorifies Me.” (Psalm 50:23). Every true act of worship glorifies God.

The worshiper is also blessed

God’s answer to the active worship of Abraham indicates His great pleasure and desire to bless all worshipers.

And said: “By Myself I have sworn, says the LORD, because you have done this thing, and have not withheld your son, your only son — blessing I will bless you, and multiplying I will multiply your descendants as the stars of the heaven and as the sand which is on the seashore; and your descendants shall possess the gate of their enemies. In your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed, because you have obeyed My voice.” (Genesis 22:16-18)

The story of Mary, who anointed the feet of Jesus with precious perfume, is a beautiful symbol of worship (John 12:3). John tells us that later she “dried his feet with her hair.” Imagine the sweet fragrance that must have remained in her hair. Wherever she went, people would be aware of the sweet scent. This is also true of worshipers. Their lives carry a sweet fragrance wherever they go. It is the fragrance of the presence of the Lord!