The Essence of Worship

If you’ve been following me for any length of time, you know that I’ve written blogs about worship. I’ve always had an interest in understanding worship and throughout the years, God has taught me many things in His Word and through my experiences as a worship leader and director about what worship is and what it isn’t. More so, what it isn’t.

I’ve had the desire for a while to write more extensively about it and so begins that process with this post. I’ll begin a study in the Word of God about worship and before you close me out, let me assure you, it’s not about religion. It’s actually about how our worship of God or anything or anyone else can shape our lives for the good or not so good. It’s about the heartbeat of God for all of our life, not just a religious duty, but the essence of our lives toward Him and how we relate to our world.

So I invite you to sit back and take in all the wonder of His Word and let’s see what we can discover about the essence of worship!

Teach me Your way, O Lord;
I will walk in Your truth;
Unite my heart to fear Your name.
Psalm 86:11

There are so many voices about the subject of worship these days. Many in the church, worship worship or expressions of worship. With that, the spirit of confusion darkens the door of the church and we can be found becoming worshipers of idols instead of worshipers of God.

Over the years the Holy Spirit has taught me much about worship from the Word of God and I want to share some of that with you this month. I believe that God is very serious about rightly dividing His Word. I’m not saying I have it all figured out by any means, I simply want to present the Word of God to you and give you the opportunity to consider what God has to say about worship.

When you do a Google search on the word “worship” this is what comes up in the images:

We see beautiful photos of believers with outstretched hands in one accord “worshiping” God. And usually this is what we attribute to worship, and it is…an “expression” of worship to God. But have you ever wondered what the “essence” of worship is?

Through my years as a worship leader, the Lord taught me about worship and our expressions of worship to Him but I’ve also learned what worship is not. It’s not a slow song, it’s not even our hands lifted. Yes, it is what our lifted hands represent that is worship, and that is “surrender to God”. When we lift our hands we are saying, “God I surrender myself, (my will) to You and look to You for my life!” When we bow on our knees or lay prostrate we are saying to God that He is everything and that we bow our lives to follow Him and give up our own will to do His.

I want to show you a scripture that I believe, among many I’ll share today, is the essence of worship. Acts 13:22: “And when He had removed him, He raised up for them David as king, to whom also He gave testimony and said, ‘I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after My own heart, who will do all My will.’”

At the beginning of that scripture you see the words, “And when He had removed him.” Removed who? The scripture before speaks of King Saul. After God had removed King Saul, He raised up David. If you study King Saul’s life and “worship” to God, it was filled with doing things his own way and not following God’s commands or directions. (See 1 Samuel Chapters 9 – 16)

Meanwhile David was out in the fields faithfully shepherding his father, Jesse’s sheep and living a life of worship to God.

Photo by Mohamad Babayan on Unsplash

We notice in the scripture in Acts 13 that God called David “a man after His own heart”. We’ve heard that expression many times in the church, but what does it mean to be a person after God’s own heart? I believe that very scripture tells us what it means: “He gave testimony and said, ‘I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after My own heart, who will do all My will.’”

A person after God’s heart will do all His will. Throughout the Old Testament we see the people of God constantly breaking His commands. A people who, like us before we came to know Jesus, could not obey His law or do His will. He was grieved for generations because He could not find many who would do His will. But, in David, He found a man after His own heart who would do all His will.

I believe this very thing was the essence of David’s worship to God. Think about it: If David was a king who had set up 24/7 giving of thanks and praise to God; what we call worship, which he did, but was a disobedient son, that worship would have been null and void and a screeching noise in God’s ears:

Though you offer Me burnt offerings and your grain offerings,
I will not accept them,
Nor will I regard your fattened peace offerings.
Take away from Me the noise of your songs,
For I will not hear the melody of your stringed instruments.
But let justice run down like water,
And righteousness like a mighty stream.
Amos 5:22-24 NKJV

God wanted His people to live in righteousness and justice but instead, they chose to go their own way into disobedience and rebellion. Although they had a form of godliness with their sacrifices and worship, they denied its power (2 Timothy 3:5.) The power of godliness is humility and obedience. Samuel the prophet, speaking by the Spirit of God, told King Saul in 1 Samuel 15:22-23:

So Samuel said:

“Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices,
As in obeying the voice of the Lord?
Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice,
And to heed than the fat of rams.
For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft,
And stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry.
Because you have rejected the word of the Lord,
He also has rejected you from being king.”

We can see, just from these few scriptures that God is not looking for a sacrifice or a song, per se. He is looking for our heart of obedience and surrender of our lives to Him, to do His will.

Keep an eye out for next week’s study on the Essence of Worship with The Things We Call Worship.

Let Christ be glorified in all,


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