Worship is a central theme throughout the Bible. In both the Old and New Testaments, believers are called to worship God in spirit and in truth. But have you ever wondered exactly how many times the words related to worship appear in the holy scriptures?
In this comprehensive article, we will examine the frequency that worship and related words are mentioned in the Bible.
If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer to your question: the word ‘worship’ and related words like ‘worshiped’ and ‘worshiping’ appear a total of 391 times in the Bible.
We will take an in-depth look at the context around worship verses, analyze the significance of worship, study the Hebrew and Greek words, and survey worship mentions throughout every book of the Bible.
Whether you are preparing a sermon, leading a Bible study, or just want to increase your scriptural understanding of worship, this article will provide key insights and statistics.
Defining Worship in the Bible
The Hebrew Word Shachah
The most common Hebrew word translated “worship” is shachah, which means to bow down or prostrate oneself. It is used over 170 times in the Old Testament and carries the meaning of showing reverence or honor.
Abraham first demonstrates shachah when he bows before the Hittites as he asks them to sell him land to bury Sarah (Genesis 23:7). Later, Moses and the Israelites shachah to thank God after defeating the Amalekites in battle (Exodus 17:13).
These examples reveal worship as an outward act of deep respect and gratitude.
The Greek Word Proskuneo
In the New Testament, the common Greek word translated “worship” is proskuneo. Derived from roots meaning to “kiss toward,” it denotes the act of prostration and kissing the hand of royal figures or the ground in front of them.
Proskuneo therefore signals an act of profound reverence, respect, and submission. When the magi see Jesus, they “bow down and worship (proskuneo) Him” (Matthew 2:11). The author of Hebrews uses proskuneo to distinguish Jesus above the angels (Hebrews 1:6).
True Worship Contrasted with Idolatry
Scripture often contrasts true worship of God with idolatry or false worship. For example, when Moses receives the Ten Commandments, the first law is to “have no other gods before me” (Exodus 20:3).
The prophets Isaiah and Jeremiah repeatedly warn Israel against drift into idol worship. Ezekiel includes lengthy passages on Israel’s idolatry as the reason for God’s judgment.
In the New Testament, Jesus affirms worshiping God “in spirit and truth” (John 4:24). Anything less falls into idolatry, exchanging the truth of God for a lie (Romans 1:25). Paul urges Christ-followers to offer themselves as “living sacrifices” to God (Romans 12:1).
True worship submits to God’s supreme worth through both inward disposition and outward action. Scripture outlines heartfelt awe, gratitude, praise, trust, obedience, and whole-hearted commitment to God as marks of genuine worship.
Worship Mentions by Testament and Genre
Worship in the Old Testament Books
The Old Testament contains numerous references to worship, especially in the books of Psalms and Isaiah. Key themes around worship include praising God, singing hymns, making music, dancing, bowing down, lifting hands, offering sacrifices, and gathering at the temple or tabernacle.
Some of the most well-known Old Testament passages about worship are Psalms 95-100, Psalm 150, and Isaiah 6.
Worship in the New Testament Books
While containing fewer direct references than the Old Testament, worship remains an important theme in the New Testament as well. Passages in the Gospels show Jesus being worshiped and describe the Magi worshiping the newborn Christ.
Acts depicts early Christians worshiping together in the temple, in homes, and in outdoor settings. The Epistles provide instruction on orderly worship gatherings, singing spiritual songs, living a life of worship, and avoiding idolatry.
Key New Testament verses on worship include Matthew 28:9, John 4:23-24, Acts 2:46-47, and Romans 12:1.
Worship References in the Poetic Books
The poetic books of the Bible (Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and Song of Songs) contain more than 500 references to worship. The book of Psalms alone has over 400 mentions of worship-related words and phrases.
Common themes in the poetic books include praising God joyfully, singing and shouting to the Lord, bowing down in worship, offering sacrifices of thanksgiving, and giving God due honor and reverence. Psalms 95-100 and Psalm 150 are especially rich with worship language and imagery.
Worship References in the Prophetic Books
Isaiah contains one of the most famous Old Testament passages on worship, Isaiah 6, which depicts Isaiah’s powerful vision of the Lord on his heavenly throne. The prophetic books are filled with calls to worship Yahweh alone, reject idolatry, and live justly.
They contain visions of future worship on Mount Zion when the nations will stream to the house of the Lord (Isaiah 2:2-3, Micah 4:1-2). Revelations pictures eternal worship around God’s throne, with angels, elders and living creatures singing “Holy, Holy, Holy” to the Lord.
Worship References in the Gospels and Epistles
The Gospels contain moving scenes of worship, such as the Magi bowing down before the infant Jesus (Matthew 2:11), the disciples worshiping Jesus after his resurrection (Matthew 28:9), and the Samaritan woman declaring Jesus a prophet (John 4:19).
Acts highlights times of corporate worship among new believers in Jerusalem, while the Epistles provide guidance on orderly worship gatherings (1 Corinthians 14), avoiding idolatry (1 John 5:21), and living all of life as an act of worship (Romans 12:1).
Key Worship Stories and Verses
Moses and the Israelites Worship God after Crossing the Red Sea
One of the most iconic worship stories in the Bible is when Moses and the Israelites praised God through singing and dancing after He miraculously parted the Red Sea, allowing them to escape from the Egyptians (Exodus 15:1-21).
This beautiful, spontaneous worship came from a place of overflowing gratitude and awe of God’s power and redemption. Their worship was filled with rejoicing and thanksgiving for the mighty hand of the Lord who fought for their deliverance (Exodus 15:6).
Jesus Teaches the Samaritan Woman about Worship
In John 4:19-24, Jesus has a transforming encounter with a Samaritan woman at Jacob’s well, revealing to her that He is the Messiah. Jesus tells her that true worshipers will worship God in spirit and in truth, for God is spirit.
So worship is not confined to a physical location or bound by rituals, but flows from a heart aligned with the truth of who God is. This was a radical concept, with implications that worship is about intimacy with God, not just formalities.
The freedom and wonder of relational worship moved the woman to leave her water jar and declare to her village, “Come, see a man who told me all that I ever did. Can this be the Christ?” (John 4:29).
Jesus Receives Worship as the Son of God
There are several instances in the Gospels where Jesus accepts and encourages worship, affirming His divine identity as the Son of God. When Jesus appears to the disciples after His resurrection, Matthew 28:17 says “they worshiped Him.”
In John 9, after Jesus heals a blind man and reveals Himself as the Son of Man, the healed man says “Lord, I believe” and worshipped Him (John 9:38). When Jesus walked on water, the disciples cried out “Truly you are the Son of God” and worshipped Him (Matthew 14:33).
Jesus’ acceptance of worship communicated His oneness with the Father and sparked worship as the appropriate response to meeting the living God face-to-face.
Heavenly Worship Described in Revelation
The apostle John gives us a breathtaking glimpse of glorious heavenly worship in the book of Revelation. Gathered around God’s throne were the four living creatures and twenty-four elders, singing praise to the Lord unceasingly (Revelation 4:8-11).
There are also scenes of countless angels, and every creature in heaven and earth, worshipping the Lamb who sits on the throne (Revelation 5:11-14). The beauty of this worship goes beyond what words can express.
It portrays the infinite worth of God and the worship He is due for His salvation and redemption. Our earthly worship should resonate with and anticipate the cosmic, resplendent worship that will surround the throne forever.
Applying Bible Verses on Worship Today
Personal Worship Habits to Cultivate
Developing personal worship habits, such as daily Bible reading, prayer, and praise, helps us connect with God on a deep level (1 Chronicles 16:11). Setting aside quiet time to read Scripture allows God to speak to us and transforms our minds (Romans 12:2).
Lifting our voices in praise and petition aligns our hearts with God’s purposes (Psalm 100:4). As we cultivate these private practices, our passion for Jesus grows.
Excellent online resources like BibleGateway.com make God’s Word accessible for personal worship. Mobile apps like YouVersion offer encouragement through reading plans and verse of the day features that remind us of God’s promises.
Preparing Our Hearts Rightly for Corporate Worship
When believers gather, unity and sincerity magnify corporate worship (1 Corinthians 14:26). As Paul urged, we must lay aside pride and consider others’ needs above our own (Philippians 2:3). Making things right through forgiveness and reconciliation removes relational barriers between us and God, and between believers (Matthew 5:23-24).
Seeking God’s heart in Scripture powerfully focuses our minds. The Passion Translation’s Psalm 95:1-2 calls us to “Come before him with great joy! Break forth into thankful songs and sing praises to the Lord with music.”
As we prepare our hearts, joyful songs and gratitude make way for authentic shared worship.
Guarding Against Idolatry in the 21st Century
Subtly but surely, modern idols like wealth, fame, technology, or career ambitions may achieve greater devotion than God in our lives. But Scripture clearly prohibits idolatry, jealousy, and false worship (Exodus 20:1-6).
Excellent resources like Tim Keller’s book Counterfeit Gods thoughtfully exposes these pits.
The antidote to idolatry is treasuring Christ above all else (Hebrews 12:2). Purposeful repentance and receiving God’s grace to walk another way opens a path to genuine Kingdom worship that outshines earthly allurements (2 Corinthians 7:8-10).
By taking up our cross daily, following Jesus eclipses counterfeit distractions (Luke 9:23).
In summary, words related to worship occur nearly 400 times across the Old and New Testaments. God has consistently called His people to worship Him alone throughout history. As we have seen, true worship focuses on God’s character and redemptive work.
It also transforms our lives when we apply worshipful attitudes and practices. This overview of worship references in scripture provides helpful insights into this important biblical theme. May it inspire deeper reverence and awe as we worship the Lord with our whole hearts.