Front Page
Series Contents
Series Theme:  Worship



































1. Introduction
2. Inward & Outward Worship
3. Individual & Corporate Worship
4. Real & Ritualistic Worship
5. Conclusions
6. Applications











































1. Introduction
2. Inward & Outward Worship
3. Individual & Corporate Worship
4. Real & Ritualistic Worship
5. Conclusions
6. Applications




























1. Introduction
2. Inward & Outward Worship
3. Individual & Corporate Worship
4. Real & Ritualistic Worship
5. Conclusions
6. Applications



































1. Introduction
2. The Verses
3. Conclusion

4. Application


Title:   4. Further Considerations of Old Testament Worship


Each of these pages form part of a series of Worship Seminars. To that end we hope that they will be used to stimulate worship and not merely provide information.

1. Introduction

We now go back into the Old Testament to consider further the things we find there in respect of worship. We have noted before some of the verses we will use, but we use them here to point out particular characteristics or styles of worship. Seeing them again in a specific context will clarify the points being made. We consider here the different ways or types of worship:


2. Inward & Outward Worship

a) Inward Worship

1. Inward worship may be considered the automatic response of the heart.
2. It may come in response to direct revelation of God that is spontaneous, or it may come as the outcome of purposeful outward worship, i.e. as you purpose to worship and start to express the form of worship, it becomes real and you actually do worship.
3. An example of the former that we've observed is Moses bowing in worship before the revelation of the Lord – Exo 34:5-8 (Page 1)
4. This is worship of the heart revealed then by the outward action.
5. There are time when, because of the circumstances, it will remain an inward thing with little outward expression (see Gideon in Judges 7 in the following section).

b) Outward Worship

1. Inward worship cannot perhaps always be automatically expected, for it comes from revelation, and so the Old Testament shows that the Lord gave Israel instructions for sacrifice and praise which must surely have been intended to release true worship.
2. It is clear however, that sometimes that became ritual with little meaning, as we have see in Jeremiah's prophecy – Jer 7:1-4
3. Although the word 'worship' is not used, when King Asa called the people together (see 2 Chron 15 below), their attitude and actions must constitute this 'bowing down' that we have considered.
4. Similarly when Jehoshaphat called a fast (see 2 Chron 20 below) that must have constituted this 'bowing down'.

2 Chron 15:8-12
He repaired the altar of the LORD that was in front of the portico of the LORD's temple. Then he assembled all Judah and Benjamin and the people from Ephraim, Manasseh and Simeon who had settled among them, for large numbers had come over to him from Israel when they saw that the LORD his God was with him. They assembled at Jerusalem in the third month of the fifteenth year of Asa's reign. At that time they sacrificed to the LORD seven hundred head of cattle and seven thousand sheep and goats from the plunder they had brought back. They entered into a covenant to seek the LORD , the God of their fathers, with all their heart and soul.


1. Without doubt, sacrificing to the Lord, covenanting with the Lord and giving their hearts to the Lord, are all clear expressions, put together like this, of a bowing down before the Lord.
2. That bowing down may not be physical but it was clearly spiritual at the least.
3. This is worship!

2 Chron 20:3,4
Alarmed, Jehoshaphat resolved to inquire of the LORD, and he proclaimed a fast for all Judah. The people of Judah came together to seek help from the LORD; indeed, they came from every town in Judah to seek him.


1. If, as we've observed, ‘worship' comprises bowing down in reverence to God, this proclaiming a fast and coming and wholeheartedly seeking the Lord as a people, must surely constitute ‘worship'.
2. If that is so, then bowing-down-the-heart-before-God activities, such as fasting and seeking God, must fall under the heading of worship.
3. To reinforce this suggestion, we noted that on the first page, that worship is associated with the 'fear of the Lord', having that awesome respect for God. Jehoshaphat clearly shows that he has that, in that he knows that only the Lord can help them, and in his prayer that follows he affirms God's greatness:

2 Chron 20:6
"O LORD, God of our fathers, are you not the God who is in heaven? You rule over all the kingdoms of the nations. Power and might are in your hand, and no one can withstand you


this is clearly that awesome reverence of God that constitutes true worship


3. Individual and corporate worship

a) Individual Worship

This is simply where we see an individual respond in worship to a revelation, something they realise about the wonder of the Lord

Gen 24:26,27

Then the man bowed down and worshipped the LORD, saying, "Praise be to the LORD, the God of my master Abraham, who has not abandoned his kindness and faithfulness to my master.


Abraham's servant worshipped. This involved bowing down and acknowledging the wonder of God's goodness.

Exo 34:8
Moses bowed to the ground at once and worshiped.


1. Moses worshipped at the revelation of the Lord to him, and bowed down.
2. He also asked for God's presence and help as part of that worship.

Judges 7:15
When Gideon heard the dream and its interpretation, he worshipped God.


1. Gideon has just heard a prophetic dream about his victory.
2. His automatic response is to worship the Lord, then and there, in the middle of the night in the middle of the enemy camp!
3. It is an acknowledgement of the wonder of God's goodness towards him, a spontaneous acknowledgement of God's greatness and majesty.
4. Almost certainly it is in inward worship with little outward expression.

b) Corporate Worship

This is where a number of people come together to purpose to worship God

Exo 4:31
And when they heard that the LORD was concerned about them and had seen their misery, they bowed down and worshipped


1. Moses told the people about God's promise of deliverance from Egypt.
2. Collectively they bowed down and worshipped.
3. It was a spontaneous response to the wonder of God's goodness to them.

Exo 33:10
Whenever the people saw the pillar of cloud standing at the entrance to the tent, they all stood and worshipped, each at the entrance to his tent.

Notes :

1. This is a sort of combination of individual and corporate worship.
2. It was individual in that each person did it at the door of their tent.
3. It was corporate in that all over the camp people were doing it.
4. It was an acknowledgement of the greatness of God's presence coming into their midst in the form of the pillar of cloud at the Tabernacle.

2 Chron 7:3
When all the Israelites saw the fire coming down and the glory of the LORD above the temple, they knelt on the pavement with their faces to the ground, and they worshipped and gave thanks to the LORD, saying, "He is good; his love endures forever."


1. This was the dedication of the first Temple, the one built by Solomon.
2. As they completed it in accordance with the instructions given to Solomon, the glory of the Lord's presence filled the Temple.
3. In a spontaneous acknowledgement of the Lord's holiness and greatness, the people bowed down in awesome worship.

2 Chron 29:27-29
Hezekiah gave the order to sacrifice the burnt offering on the altar. As the offering began, singing to the LORD began also, accompanied by trumpets and the instruments of David king of Israel . The whole assembly bowed in worship, while the singers sang and the trumpeters played. All this continued until the sacrifice of the burnt offering was completed. When the offerings were finished, the king and everyone present with him knelt down and worshipped.


1. This is a classic instance of corporate, planned worship involving offerings, singing and music.
2. The event was the rededication of the Temple to the Lord.
3. It appears that, as they did that, the reality of the wonder of the Lord came on both people and king and they all bowed down and worshipped.
4. They were acknowledging God's holiness (in the offerings) and wonder (in the singing) and greatness (as they bowed down)

Neh 8:6
Ezra praised the LORD, the great God; and all the people lifted their hands and responded, "Amen! Amen!" Then they bowed down and worshipped the LORD with their faces to the ground.


1. The Law was being read in the freshly re-established Jerusalem.
2. As Ezra read it, the wonder of the Lord and the holiness of His Law struck the people and their spontaneous response was to bow down and worship.
3. It was a collective, corporate response of worship.



4. Real and ritualistic worship

We need, before we finish with the Old Testament, to pause and examine the difference between real, genuine, heart worship, and that which was mere ritual.

We have already seen a number of instances of real, heart-felt, spontaneous worship.

Now we will see examples that were far from that.

1 Sam 15:30,31
Saul replied, "I have sinned. But please honor me before the elders of my people and before Israel ; come back with me, so that I may worship the LORD your God." So Samuel went back with Saul, and Saul worshipped the LORD.


1. Saul has just badly failed the Lord.
2. It would appear that Saul's desire to worship was more for show than anything else and nowhere in what follows was there an indication that he had a real faith; in fact quite the contrary.
3. This seems purely an act to appease the people. Ritual without reality!

2 Kings 17:32,33

They worshipped the LORD, but they also appointed all sorts of their own people to officiate for them as priests in the shrines at the high places. They worshipped the LORD, but they also served their own gods in accordance with the customs of the nations from which they had been brought.


1. This is in the ‘northern kingdom' when Assyria has deported Israel and replaced the people with foreigners.
2. Because these people did not worship the Lord in His land, lions started killing them.
3. Recognizing that there was a god to appease, the Assyrians sent one of the Israelite priests back to the land to conduct worship that was more appropriate.
4. Thus, for superstitious reasons, they appear to worship the Lord but the reality is obvious – they are merely doing this alongside their own false worship and so it is not real!

Jer 7:1-4
This is the word that came to Jeremiah from the LORD: "Stand at the gate of the LORD's house and there proclaim this message: " `Hear the word of the LORD, all you people of Judah who come through these gates to worship the LORD. This is what the LORD Almighty, the God of Israel, says: Reform your ways and your actions, and I will let you live in this place. Do not trust in deceptive words and say, "This is the temple of the LORD, the temple of the LORD, the temple of the LORD!"


1. We have noted these verses before but they bear considering again.
2. The people came to the Temple to worship the Lord but the motivation was superstition – “if we do this, we can get God to do that…”
3. In fact their hearts were far from the Lord and so it was merely empty ritual.


5. Conclusions

1. Inward and Outward worship

inward worship is real, an expression of the heart.
outward worship can be
mere show with little meaning
a means towards the reality of real worship.

2. Individual and Corporate worship


Individual worship, as observed,

  • tends to be real, heart worship
  • yet there are instances when individuals are simply ‘putting on a show'
Corporate worship, as observed,
  • can be real heart-worship, a real response to God's greatness, holiness or goodness
  • can be simply a ritual, a means (in the eyes of the ‘worshippers' at least) is appeasing God and getting Him on their side.

    3. Real and Ritualistic worship
Real worship is that which comes
  • from a heart desire after God
  • out of revelation of the presence, power, greatness, goodness and holiness of God 

Ritualistic worship is that which is simply done for show to try to manipulate God.



6. Applications:

To apply some of these things, can we ask ourselves the following:

  • Is what I do on a Sunday a genuine heart response to my awareness of God's greatness, His goodness and His glory?
  • Do I do things (read, pray, etc.) that develop that awareness of the Lord?
  • Does the 'Sunday Service' lead me into a place where my heart is moved and stirred to real, genuine worship, where I want to bow down in adoration and submission to God?