9 Ways We Make Worship All About God

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“I’m coming back to the heart of worship, and it’s all about you, Jesus”.

I remember when this worship song took the world by storm in the late 1990’s.

We all echoed it’s message: It’s not about the instruments, the cool riffs, or the band. It’s about Jesus.

Person with hands raised outside looking at sky

I was struck by that same message this morning, 21 years later, as I read Psalm 145.

Worship isn’t about me or how it makes me feel

It’s true that when we truly worship God in Spirit and in truth, we will enjoy His love and joy splashing back on us.

But the way worship feels to us shouldn’t be our motivation for worship.

This is why, when I lead worship, I try very hard to choose songs that talk more about who God is than about what I will do for Him.

Worship isn’t about me, what I’m doing, what I want, and about how I feel.

Worship goes beyond scratching the surface

Over the past two years, Good Morning Girls has spent the summer reading through the Psalms, one chapter a day.

And in a few short days, we’ll finish by reading Psalm 150.

What has stood out to me over and over again, in reading these Psalms is how specific they are in talking about the amazing things God has done.

Worship several millennia ago and worship in 2020 is very different!

Worship in the book of Psalms goes into incredible detail about how God created the world, delivered the Israelites from their enemies time and time again, and the incredible miracles He did for them in the desert.

Worship in 2020 tends to generalize: “God is good, amazing, and great”.

But how?

What has He done for us specifically? What are His attributes…specifically? Who is He…..specifically?

Even in my morning prayer I tend to find myself generalizing my worship, and repeating the same phrase in the same order every morning.

“Lord, I love you and I worship you, you are great and awesome and so worthy of praise.”

It falls off my tongue in trite, generalized terms.

How is He great? What makes Him awesome? Why is He worthy of praise, what has made Him worthy?

When we start asking these probing questions, it moves us from speaking learned, rehearsed phrases that we tend to mindlessly repeat all of the time.

It jolts us back into consciousness, and forces us to think about specific ways God IS, God HAS DONE.

Now our heart and mind are unified, engaged, and worship goes much deeper than mere trite words, over-used phrases, sanitized and Christianized expressions, and carefully crafted lyrics.

9 Ways We Make Worship All About God

It’s said that in the Hebrew language, Psalm 145 is an acrostic poem.

It was crafted in couplets, 22 in all, each starting with a letter of the alphabet, just like Psalm 119 only much shorter.

In this acrostic, we find 9 words that describe worship and as we read through each of these 21 verses, we see the true meaning of worship.

1. Extol

“I will extol You, my God, O King; and I will bless Your name forever and ever.”

Extol, ruwm. This is a word we don’t use anymore; but in the Hebrew it means to lift up, to be put on high, to raise up.

When thinking about this word extol, I thought about those people in my life that I highly respect and how I relate to them.

I think about my behavior around them and my care to show them the respect they have earned from me. Do I relate to God in the same way?

Am I careful to show Him the same care and respect that I show to these people?

2. Bless

“Every day I will bless You, and I will praise Your name forever and ever.”

When we think about blessing, we most often think about God blessing us. But how do we bless God? Bless, barak.

That’s kind of a funny question when you think about it in the context of blessing that we think of today.

When we think about blessing, we think about God giving us material blessings, positive outcomes, happy circumstances… all things that we can’t give to God.

When I looked up the meaning of the Hebrew word for bless, I discovered it actually means to kneel or salute.

It a sign of respect and honor, ensuring that the one we’re kneeling before is at a higher stature than we are.

This actually transforms my thinking of blessing.

Something good happens to us and we say, “Wow! I am blessed!” But what if good things happening to us isn’t a sign of a blessing?

What if blessing is so much more than a bonus on our paycheck or getting our dream job?

What if it is so much more than the ability to afford a new car or moving to a better part of town.

What if it means that as we kneel before Him, He causes us to rise above?


3-4. Praise & Declare

“One generation shall praise Your works to another, and shall declare Your mighty acts.”

Praise shabach, to boast or congratulate; to address in a loud tone.

Declare nagad, to acknowledge, to report, to make known.

This is where worship begins to scratch beneath the surface of Christianese and get a lot more specific.

What exactly has God done?

You don’t even have to sing it! Worship isn’t limited to music and poetry, or even stanzas: 2 verses, a chorus, and a bridge.

I love the imagery in this verse.

It points back to the command in Deuteronomy 6:7.

“You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up.”

When we sit with our children and we talk about the amazing works of God: both what we read in the Bible and what He’s done in our life, we’re worshiping!

Testify to your children. Revelation 12:11 speaks of the power of our testimony.

This is boasting in God, it is setting Him on high in their lives, it is creating respect for Him in their hearts.

And I love the part about a “loud tone”.

You know, our demeanor when we talk with our kids about God will reflect in their own heart.

If we talk about him in apathetic, subdued tones, don’t be surprised if they related to God in an apathetic and subdued way.

But if we talk about the works of God in a loud tone, animated and excited; they will catch that excitement about God as well!

Worship in Spirit and in truth comes from the very depths of our heart – but we must first be willing to dig beneath the nicely crafted words that we are familiar and comfortable with and go deeper.

Much deeper.

5. Meditate

“I will meditate on the glorious splendor of Your majesty,
And on Your wondrous works.”

I kind of like that in the King James Version, this verse says, “I will speak of the glorious honour of thy majesty…”

Meditate siyach. When we think of meditation, most often we think of someone centering themselves.

Meditation is often thought of someone being quiet and emptying their mind so that they can feel at peace.

But siyach couldn’t be any more opposite than this!

It means to speak, to muse, to mutter, to declare, pray, sing, and ponder.

In this verse, David is talking about how he thinks on, talks about, ponders on, muses about, prays about, and sings about the incredible works of God.

And when we read the Psalms, we see the writers get very specific about these things.

They don’t generalize: “God, your works are awesome and you do amazing things!”

We have Psalm 8, Psalm 18, and Psalm 78 to mention just a few Psalms that go into great detail about the amazing works of God.

6. Speak

“Men shall speak of the might of Your awesome acts, and I will declare Your greatness.”

Speak, in this verse, is a different Hebrew word than meditate or declare. It is amar and it means to boast, act proudly, or to call out.

Even declare in this verse is different, than the word declare we looked at in number 4. This is the beauty of the Hebrew language, it is so rich and deep!

Declare in this verse is caphar and it means to number or to count.

The image I get in this verse is my son excitedly telling me something that happened to him that day; barely able to catch his breath and counting off on his fingers.

He’s boasting, he’s proud of what happened, he’s numbering off each event.

And this is how we should talk about God!

Excited. Proud. Barely able to catch our breath with anticipation and joy. Counting off all of the amazing things He’s done for us each day!

7. Utter

“They shall utter the memory of Your great goodness…”

Once again, we get the richness of the Hebrew language.

Who knew there were so many ways to talk about speaking! Utter here doesn’t just mean to speak.

It is the Hebrew word naba and it means to gush, to pour or flow out, to bubble up. It also means to belch.

You sort of get this picture of someone completely incapable of restraining themselves.

They can’t help but talk about the goodness of God.

It just flows out of them. It bubbles over like fizzy soda when you shake the bottle. It “belches” out uncontrollably.

We’re so in love with Jesus, like a girl coming home on her first date with the guy of her dreams, that we gush about him every chance we get!

8. Sing

“…And shall sing of Your righteousness.”

I actually think it’s very telling that all of the words to describe worship until now have been speaking, and we’ve only just now come to the word “sing”.

Do you find that interesting?

Maybe worship isn’t just musical after all! Maybe music, singing, playing an instrument, is only one part of worship and we’ve been missing all the rest.

And even this word for sing isn’t limited to notes and a pretty voice.

So, if you’re thinking to yourself that you can’t sing, so you’re off the hook for this one – think again!

The Hebrew word for sing here is ranan and it means sing, to cry out, to shout, to give a ringing cry in joy.

So if you can’t sing, you can shout.

9. To make known

“To make known to the sons of men His mighty acts, and the glorious majesty of His kingdom.”

I really like the Hebrew word here yada.

It is a word soaked in intentionality and careful practice. When you look up the word in the Strong’s Concordance, you get quite a list of meanings and descriptions for this simple word of four letters.

In short, it means to learn, to know, to become acquainted with; to know by experience, but also to cause to know, to be instructed.

You get the picture of a student and instructor.

I actually get two images in my mind: I am the student, and God is my instructor. He is making Himself known to me.

I am learning about Him, becoming acquainted with Him, getting to know Him by experience.

But also, my children, my neighbors, and all those I come in contact with are my students and I’m the instructor.

I am causing them to know God.

I am making Him known to them. I am helping them become acquainted with Him and sharing with them my experiences.

You first have to have gone through the first picture to get to the second.

As a homeschool mom, I have learned very quickly that I can’t teach what I don’t know very, very well.

I can’t just skim the subject material and present it to my kids.

They will inevitably ask a question that probes way deeper than what I learned when I just skimmed the information.

When I’m preparing a lesson, I have to anticipate their questions, which forces me to dig down really, really deep and know the material enough that I can answer their questions with confidence.

This requires an intimate knowledge of what I’m teaching.

And believe me, I am as much in school right now as they are!

And it’s the same way with making God known. We can’t make known what we don’t already intimately know ourselves.

Dear sister, who knew this simple Psalm of praise could be so convicting!

I will be completely honest and say that when I measure myself against these 9 Hebrew words for worship that I come up pretty short.

I don’t always do very well at excitedly shouting the amazing works of God.

I often speak in generalities and pat Christian phrases. But I am working on changing that.

I want my kids to feel the excitement of my words.

I want that passion to pour out over them and soak them with deep respect and honor for God.

I want to carefully instruct them in the ways of God: as both a student at the feet of Jesus and as their mom who teaches them intentionally to walk in the ways of God.

What word stood out to you the most today?

This post is part of the Blogging Through the Bible series with Good Morning Girls

3 Characteristics of a Person of Integrity

How to Keep a Steady Heart in Times of Crisis

3 Promises for Those Who Study the Works of God

43 Life-Changing Verses About the Bible from Psalm 119

5 Ways to Respond When You’re Under Attack

Are You a Burned Out Christian?

A Christian Response to Crisis

More articles on worship

Resources for Worship

Live Worship – eBook

5 Day Quiet Time Journal – Worship vols 1 & 2 – Free Download

Blog Posts

9 Hebrew Words for Worship

9 Ways We Make Worship All About God

How to Live a Life of Worship

7 Weapons for Spiritual Warfare

How to Use Worship As a Spiritual Weapon

This is What is Wrong With Worship Today

5 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Joke About Worship

3 Ways Our Worship Turns to Witchcraft

How Should Worship Look Differently After Quarantine?

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  1. Rosilind this was such a great lesson and it reminded me of a time when I was telling a friend about Jesus. She said wow you get so excited when you talk about Him! She was right I did! I haven’t been that excited in a long time. I don’t even go out much so I’m not in contact with too many people. So how do I get that excitement back and where do I find others I can share it with?

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