Table Talk Column with Brendan Prout
Even with the most recent scholarship, the best English language versions, the best software and lexicons, there is still so much lost in translation when we delve into the original languages of the Bible, where every word reveals the richness of God’s creative expression and remarkable depths of His love.
As we journey into 2020, let us become captured afresh by the beauty of God’s Word preserved for us through the ages. For those of us given stewardship of the privilege of ministering to God in song and leading others to worship Him through music and the arts, let us hold in highest regard the meaning of the words of worship in the original Hebrew and Greek languages. These words tend to go far beyond their simplified translations into English versions: like shabach, found in Psalm 63:3, which means “to say with great volume;” and yahah (Psalm 33:2) that means “to praise while using your hands;” and gol (Psalm 95:1) – “to vocalize like thunder;” and patsach (Psalm 100:1), which tells us worship is to be delivered “like an explosion of sound.” These scriptural words tell us a great deal about the immense possibilities of worship expressions and the desired heart condition God wants from His people.
The VOICE That Knows
Our own differing opinions about what worship should look like and sound like can be put to the side when we read about how God wants to be worshiped, for His is the opinion that truly matters, which He expresses quite clearly through the words of the Bible. The understanding of His heart for His worship only comes when His people spend serious time in His Word to hear His voice.
“The understanding of His heart for His worship only comes when His people spend serious time in His Word to hear His voice.”
Over 103 words for worship used 130 times in the Bible [if you do a search online or query scholars you’ll find all kinds of numbers from five to 509, to 8,629] describe in various illustrative ways just what God would like His worship to be like. In view of this, our challenge should not be to find out how loud we can turn our sound system volume up to, but to earnestly seek how to turn up the volume of the hearts of the people in our churches. And if I’m doing the math right (out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks), then that would result in the resoundingly loud praise that God desires.
Lives That Sing
Let’s not lose sight of the fact that God is after our hearts first and foremost, and that out of the overflow of our heart, not only our music but our very lives would sing loudly of His immense worth, with our words and actions sounding forth boldly and distinctly of the greatness of Jesus Christ.
That is worship worthy of the Father, the Son Who is King of Heaven, and the Holy Spirit.
Select Words of Worship in the Bible:
Shabach: to say with great volume
Yahah: to praise while using your hands
Gol: to vocalize like thunder
Patsach: worship is to be delivered “like an explosion of sound.”
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Author Brendan Prout's long-term goal is to continue raising up and training ministry leaders, providing them with the necessary tools to become effective communicators of the gospel and facilitators of worship from a Biblical perspective. He aims to lead a faith community that is oriented towards God, focusing on glorifying Him and expressing the love of Christ through practical actions.