Biblical Theology of Worship

National Association of Christian Ministers Summary Series: Theology

By Michael Mooney, NACM Exec. Elder

I want to emphasize that is post is a “little” (a small amount of information) from the Bible in reference to the subject of our modern term “praise and worship.” My purpose here is to describe the many “postures of worship” described in Scripture.


Jesus says, “the hour comes, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeks such to worship him.” (John 4:23.) 

The key word in this text is “worship.”  This word becomes important to Christians because Jesus gives a description of acceptable worship.  Because this seems to be so important to God, it is necessary that those who are interested in pleasing him must understand some of the implications surrounding this thing that God desires. 

Jesus describes what kind of worship the Father desires, the kind that is done in “spirit and in truth.”  Simply put, Jesus is saying that we can not worship without doing it in sincerity, and in the truth that has been revealed in Scripture.  For example, we can worship Baal in sincerity but not in truth because he is a false god.  Let’s consider a few pictures the Bible gives us of people worshiping in “sincerity.” 


How about the lifting of hands during a worship service? #


-> Lift up your hands in the sanctuary, And bless the Lord. (Psalm 134:2)


-> I will bless You while I live; I will lift up my hands in Your name. (Psalm 63:4)


-> Let my prayer be set before You as incense, The lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice. (Psalm 141:2)


-> My hands also I will lift up to Your commandments, Which I love, And I will meditate on Your statutes. (Psalm 119:48)


-> I spread out my hands to You; My soul longs for You like a thirsty land. Selah (Psalm 143:6)


-> My eye wastes away because of affliction. Lord, I have called daily upon You; I have stretched out my hands to You. (Psalms 88:9)


-> Hear the voice of my supplications, when I cry unto thee, when I lift up my hands toward thy holy oracle. (Psalm 28:2)

Notice in this verse describes the lifting of hands and crying out to God.  This sounds rather emotional, doesn’t it?


-> Envoys will come out of Egypt; Ethiopia will quickly stretch out her hands to God. (Psalm 68:31)


-> Paul says, I desire therefore that the men pray everywhere, lifting up holy hands. (1 Timothy 2:8)


How about clapping hands? #


-> Let the rivers clap their hands; Let the hills be joyful together before the Lord, (Psalm 98:8)


-> Oh, clap your hands, all you peoples! (Psalm 47:1)


What about shouting?  

Below are verses that demonstrate shouting to God during singing and worship services.


-> Shout joyfully to the Lord, all the earth; Break forth in song, rejoice, and sing praises. (Psalm 98:4)


-> Shout to God with the voice of triumph! (Psalm 47:1)


-> Let all those rejoice who put their trust in You; Let them ever shout for joy, because You defend them; Let those also who love Your name Be joyful in You. (Psalm 5:11)


-> Be glad in the Lord and rejoice, you righteous; And shout for joy, all you upright in heart! (Psalm 32:11)


-> Sing to Him a new song; Play skillfully with a shout of joy. (Psalm 33:3)


-> Make a joyful shout to God, all the earth! (Psalm 66:1)


-> Sing aloud to God our strength; Make a joyful shout to the God of Jacob. (Psalm 81:1)


-> Oh come, let us sing to the Lord! Let us shout joyfully to the Rock of our salvation. Let us come before His presence with thanksgiving; Let us shout joyfully to Him with psalms. (Psalm 95:1,2)


-> With trumpets and the sound of a horn; Shout joyfully before the Lord, the King. (Psalm 98:6)


-> Make a joyful shout to the Lord, all you lands! (Psalm 100:1)



What about dancing? #

-> Let them praise His name with the dance; Let them sing praises to Him with the timbrel and harp. (Psalm 143:9) #


-> Praise Him with the timbrel and dance; Praise Him with stringed instruments and flutes! (Psalm 150:4)

The timbrel is an early creation of the drum, and guitars certainly apply to “stringed instruments.”


What about falling to the floor in worship? #

-> Now when He had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each having a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. (Revelation 5:8)


-> Then the four living creatures said, “Amen!” And the twenty-four elders fell down and worshiped Him who lives forever and ever. (Revelation 5:14)


What about singing repetitious songs? 

God does not seem to ever get tired of this tune…!


-> The four living creatures, each having six wings, were full of eyes around and within. And they do not rest day or night, saying: “Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, Who was and is and is to come!” (Revelation 4:8)


I hope that this will prove to be useful information in your studies of God’s word.