Worship – BT1:  Old Testament Hebrew Words for Worship




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Worship – BT1:  Old Testament Hebrew Words for Worship



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YADAH (yaw-daw’):  to revere, worship, adore, praise, laud, give thanks, or confess (a) with the extended hand (b) like towdah, to “lift up holy hands unto the Lord” in the same manner as “physically throwing a stone or arrow at or away (c), or to bemoan by the wringing of the hands, or to cast or throw down (d).”  It carries the meaning of surrender as a young child says to a parent – “pick me up, I’m all yours.”  See Genesis 29:35; 2 Chronicles 7:6, 20:21; Psalms 9:1, 28:7, 33:2, 42:5, 11, 49:18; Isaiah 12:1. <Notes> a) the name of God, b) Hiphil and Hithpael forms, c) Qal form, d) Piel form.


Yadah in practice: I lift my hands to Him and list the ways I am surrendering myself to Him.  With my hands uplifted, I surrender to my God my spirit, soul, and body, totally committing myself to Him.


TEHILLAH (teh-hil-law’):  to praise, adore, or give thanks to God, to sing especially a spontaneous kainos/chadash completely-different-in-kind, superior “NEW song,” singing from a melody in your heart by adding words to it, a special kind of singing that is unprepared or unrehearsed. This brings tremendous unity to the Body-of-Christ.  It’s singing straight to God.  You can move into tehillah anytime. Singing it the second time would be zamar.  Is it true that “God inhabits the praises of His people” as we’ve often heard people say Psalms 22:3 means?  See note ‘a’ below for the answer.  God certainly has manifested Himself in the midst of such exuberant singing!  For verses of Hebrew tehillah praise, see Psalms 22:3, 34:1, 40:3, 66:2, 2 Chronicles 20:22.  For verse of Greek epainos praise see Ephesians 1:6, 12, 14; Philippians 1:11; 4:8; cf. 1 Peter 1:7.


<Notes> a) Psalms 22:3 in the Hebrew says:  “You [are] qadosh holy-set apart-pure, [You are] yashab continually sitting-on-a-throne/inhabiting-dwelling-in-a-house [?] [plural] praises of Israel.”  The Hebrew yashab as Qal, Active Participle is a simple, casual action of unbroken continuity in any tense but commonly in the present, as here.  Looking at the uses of this Hebrew verb, God “was from old and still is doing this [Psalms 55:19], and will be forever throughout all generations [Psalms 9:7, 29:10; 102:12; Lamentations 5:19] sitting in the heavens [Psalms 2:4], and sitting in Zion [Psalms 2:11] enthroned between the cherubim of the ark of the covenant in the Holy of Holies [1 Samuel 4:4; 2 Samuel 6:2; 1 Chronicles 13:6; 2 Kings 19:15; Psalms 99:1], sitting as king [Psalms 29:10] on a throne [Exodus 11:5, 12:29 of Pharaoh; Deuteronomy 17:8 of Israel’s kings; 1 Kings 1:13, 17, 20 of Solomon on David’s throne] as a place of just judgment [Psalms 9:7 of God; Psalms 122:5 of David’s judges] over any earthly calamity [Psalms 29:10].


Yashab also has the meaning of “abide, remain, stay, or tarry” or “dwell in as one’s abode, house, or home” and “even of as a dwelling for marriage,” much like the Greek word meno for “abide, remain connected to, or inhabit” does.  See A 11-21-2021 Vision about Meno abiding.  There are so many OT & NT references to God viewing His people as married to Him, part of a household, family, and home, so naturally in the OT where the people gathered before/with Him this was the temple.  Many texts correctly insert the verb [are] before the adjective qadoshholy-set apart-pure’ because to treat it as a predicate adjective.  The next [You are] is inserted because the verb yashab is in the 2nd person singular and it’s in the Active Participle “You are continually sitting.”


The next [?] insertion is where too many bibles get crazy!  It makes the most sense to insert [of the] because of the meaning of yashab regarding God from many other verses as “sitting on a throne, as a king, inside the His house or temple where He permanently dwells, inhabits, or dwells.”  Thus His ‘temple or house’ is the place “[of the] praises of Israel.”  Without the insertion you have:  “[You are] yashab continually sitting-on-a-throne/inhabiting-dwelling-in-a-house [plural] praises of Israel” which sounds very awkward, though some translations leave it alone like TPT, EHV, GNT, NIRV, and NIV.  Some try smooth it out by treating “[plural] praises of Israel” as an appositive telling us what kind of “House” God dwells in, so “God inhabits a house, [the] praises of Israel” interpreted as “God inhabits the praises of Israel” as with: KJV, AKJV, NKJV, ASV, BRG, GNV, MEV, WEB.


This seems to be a stretch from the context and other ways yashab is used in the OT.  Is the type of “house” really the main point of the verb yashab?  Isn’t it the action of the verb “sitting on a throne located in house where God permanently dwells?”  It makes more sense to simple insert [of the], so “God continually is sitting on a throne while permanently residing in a house [of/belonging-to] [the] praises of Israel.”  That’s where Jews went to praise God collectively!  The bigger understanding is:  “You . . . [are] continually sitting on the throne [in the Holy of Holies between the cherubim] while inhabiting or dwelling in Your house [of prayer and worship] [of/belonging-to] [the] praises of Israel” and this connects so well with the first part:  “You [are] holy-set apart-pure,” because God’s throne is in the Holy of Holies!  This also fits the Greek translation that makes the 2 associated parts also very clear.


In Psalms 22:3 the Greek says: “You [are] en ‘in, by, or with’ [plural] [the] Holies [as predicate adjective requiring the verb ‘are’ to be added], [You singular] actually, presently/ongoingly katoikeo ‘down-from-dwelling-into, inhabiting or settling down as a permanent residence or home in’ the [singular] epainosfitting or apt commendation, praise, or laudation’ [of] Israel.”  This very well could be saying 2 ideas:  The 1st idea:  “You [are] located-in [the] Holies” – that is “The Holy of Holies” special, separate, purified place behind the curtain in the temple, sitting between the cherubim of the ark of the covenant, in Zion as the holy city of Jerusalem, because there are so many references to this – followed by the 2nd idea of: “[You singular] actually, presently/ongoingly katoikeo ‘down-from-dwelling-into, inhabiting or settling down as a permanent residence or home in’ the [singular] epainos ‘fitting or apt commendation, praise, or laudation’ [of/belonging-to] Israel.”


Certainly, the temple is “My Father’s oikos inhabited-house/home/resident-dwelling-place, even of a household or family” [John 2:16] and “My oikos house that shall be called an oikos house of prayer” [Matthew 21:13; Mark 11:17; Luke 19:46 citing Isaiah 56:7 where the Hebrew bayith means “a dwelling habitation, even belonging to a household or family”].  The 2nd idea is dependent on the 1st idea:  God comes down from heaven to continually inhabit, settle down, or dwell in His house or temple where Israel gathers as a household/family in prayer with Him only because is sits on this throne between the cherubim of the ark of the covenant in the Holy of Holies, thus God is “located-in [the Holies].  The ‘household’ praises God in His house where He is enthroned in ‘the Holies.’


The Amplified Bible indicates these 2 ideas:  “You are holy, O You who are enthroned [in the holy place where] the praises of Israel [are offered].”  Similar is The New English Translation:  “You are holy; You sit as king receiving the praises of Israel.”  The Contemporary English Version also says:  “You are the holy God, ruling from your throne and praised by Israel.”  The Evangelical Heritage Version says:  “You are seated as the Holy One, praised by Israel,” and similarly is The Good News Translation and New International Version:  “You are enthroned as the Holy One, the One whom Israel praises.”  The Passion Translation comes close but adds words:  “I know that you are most holy.  You are God-Enthroned, the [singular] praise [like the Greek instead of the Hebrew plural ‘praises’] of Israel.” The Living Bible loosely translates:  “You are holy.  The praises of our father surrounded your throne.”


However, as mentioned above, there are a lot of bibles that try to say that God “inhabits or dwells, as in a house [IN or IN the midst of: JUB] or enthroned ON or UPON [NASB] or [sit as King’s UPON: ERV] the praises of Israel [or the praises are Your throne: EXB, ICB, NCV, and NLV]” without correctly perceiving the more natural connections of singular “Holy” and plural “Holies” and so many references to the temple that contains “the Holy of Holies” as God’s house/household where God’s people joined Him as a family.  Many that do make this mistake are patterned after the King James Version:  AKJV, NKJV, ASV, BRG, CSB, ERB, ESV, GNV, GW, HCSB, ISV, LEB, MEV, NOG, NLT, NRSV, OJB, RSV, VOICE, and WEB.  The Message Bible really takes liberty:  “You are indifferent, above it all, leaning back on the cushions of Israel’s praise.”


Can you see how the Greek and Hebrew texts can say different things and how so many bibles can even change the meaning of these so we end up with so many different doctrines – see Bible Info?  Many charismatic churches quote this verse to say “God inhabits the praises of His people” to justify LONG worship services, but is that what the text really says?  Definitely not explicitly!  Certainly, God’s Holy of Holies in Israel’s temple was His dwelling place and house.  It was also where Israel gathered as a family or household to meet Him in prayer and worship, and many times God manifested Himself to them right then and there.  However, there were many times God said their actions in the temple were in vain because it was just lip-service.


However, NOW the house of God or dwelling place is in Christian hearts by the Holy Spirit, and “wherever 2 or 3 gather in My name/authority,” Jesus said in Matthew 18:20, “there I am IN the midst of you.”  It doesn’t take much to be a ‘family or household together WITH God.’  Now, God is “enthroned in” our hearts, for “the kingdom of God is inside you” – see Kingdom – BT1.  In a church service, God is “enthroned or inhabits/dwells in a house” ONLY because Christians are there with God inside them!  The church is NOT the building, but “the called-out ones.”


So, is it really true that “God is enthroned or dwells/inhabits in/on/upon the praises of God’s people” as if “the praises were His throne?”  The text doesn’t say this, though it sure sounds like a neat idea!  Certainly as we “perserchomai/eggizo draw near/close-beside God” – a Hebrew idiom for worshipful, listening proseuche conversational-prayer – He will likewise “draw near/close-beside us” per James 4:8.  There are other verses like Ephesians 5:19 and Colossians 3:16 that imply a “filling-to-completion [and overflowing] by the Spirit” that “allows the logos message of Christ dwell in us richly” when we share together in Body-Ministry “psalms, hymns, and Spirit-kind-of odes (spontaneous psalms or hymns by the Spirit).  We also see “singing and praying” closely associated in Acts 16:25 and James 5:13, even in tongues per 1 Corinthians 14:14-15.


The Lord did show me that AS we express our love to Him we become receptive to His Unconditional-Love for us and so we begin to experience more of Him and we feel more ‘in love’ with Him, just like this happens in a marriage relationship.  However, that doesn’t mean He just showed up because we praised Him, or decided to set up His throne among us or somehow “on top of our praises” – like it could ever hold Him!  This is very transactional, conditional, and manipulative on our part!  He “never left us” but is “always with us” as so much of the NT emphasizes!  Prayer and worship is not somehow ‘wooing’ God to come to us, but moving ourselves closer ‘in awareness’ or ‘acknowledgment” – another meaning of ginosko experiential, relational knowing – to God who is already “within us, closer than our breath” by “opening the eyes and ears of our heart,” as NT often prays per Acts 26:18, 27; Ephesians 1:18; and Revelation 3:18, to eido mentally ‘see’ to perceive/know and genuinely, experientially, relationally epiginosko know this to be true.  It already is true, but we have to get past gnosis informational-knowledge in our head from the bible!


Tehillah in practice:  A “NEW song” is singing (a) spoken praise (b) – see Spontaneous Music – BT7!  This can be done in the Spirit (c) or by the mind’s understanding (c). Out of the 7 Hebrew and Greek words for worship, tehillah is the only praise that scripture says God inhabits, the kind that is spontaneous praise and worship. Consequently, this is where prophetic words are sung.  Corporate worship is one thing but wait until you experience tehillah praise!  It is purely orchestrated and conducted by the Spirit alone – an awesome experience indeed. Only anointed musicians can enter into this type of praise, and only if God is making a point of showing up. Generally, only the anointed will be able to feel this move of God.  This is exactly what I’ve experienced as a musician many times – and what I want much more of through this BLOG website, and the reason you should read about “might and power” skill vs. “by My Spirit” anointing! <Notes> a) like zamar, b) like halel, which is yadah, towdah, and shabach combined, c) in tongues vs. the mind’s ‘fruitful’ productivity – 1 Corinthians 14:14-15.


Barak (baw-rak’):  To bless (a) by kneeling or bowing (b). To give praise, salutation, and reverence to God as an act of adoration.  It implies continually and consciously giving place to God, blessing the Lord, extolling virtue. There is a sense of kneeling and blessing God as an act of adoration. <Notes> a) Piel, Niphal, Pual, and Hithpael forms, b) the primitive root, Qal and Hiphil forms.


Barak in practice: To bow, kneel or to do this with the intent in my heart that He is my KING and I yield to HIM. I am acknowledging Him as KING and GOD. Sing the scripture Psalm 103, which tell us how to bless the Lord and then goes on to enumerate His blessings:  unconditionally-loving kindness, satisfaction redemption, honor, and renewal. We bless the Lord by remembering all of these things.


Halal (haw-lal’):   As a primitive root it means to be clear (a); to shine, figuratively of God’s favor (b); to flash forth light (c); to praise, boast, glory or commend (d); to make a show or appear foolish or absurd or even mad, even through clamorous noise of celebration (e).  See 1 Chronicles 16:4, 23:5, 30, 25:3, 29:13, Nehemiah 12:24.  This word appears over 110 times in the OT! <Notes> a) originally of sound, but usually of color – I’ve often seen colors in visions of music, b) Qal form, c) Hiphil form, d) Qal, Piel, Pual, Hithpael forms, e) Poel and Hithpoel forms.


Halal in practice:  This combines the spoken praise of yadah, towdah, and shabach.


Towdah (to-daw’):  To give worship by the extension of the hand (a) in adoration or confessional agreement with what has or will be done according to God’s promises. Specifically, this can refer to a choir, line, or company of worshipers. This word is commonly found in connection with sacrifice – applying the giving of thanks or praise as a sacrifice, i.e., a thank-offering, before reception or manifestation of our request. This is thanking God for something that I don’t yet have in the natural realm. This form of praise goes in operation just because God’s promises are true. <Notes> a) like yadah.


Towdah in practice:  Declare, “Father, I thank YOU that YOUR promises are TRUE.”  As we raise our hearts and hands in praise to the Lord, it involves a sacrifice, especially if one is very sick in the body. The fleshly mind would fight and ridicule this particular action, but there is great exercise of trusting-relying-faith in towdah as praise. The lifting of the hand symbolizes confessional agreement. The right hand symbolizes my confessional agreement/covenant with my Father.  As I go through bible verses for logos messages and especially His prophetic rhema words to me, God is eido mentally ‘seen’ extending His right hand to me. That’s this covenant. When He extends His right hand to me, He’s saying to me – “ALL THAT I AM IS YOURS,” and when I extend my right hand to Him, I am saying “All that I am is yours and I confessionally agree with what You are saying.” It is the ‘sacrifice’ that God honors through performing a miracle in our lives. The attitude for towdah is:  I’m thanking God. I’m confessionally-agreeing with God that it is as He says. I don’t care what the situation looks like. I’m agreeing with what His logos message or rhema words say.  Example:  “Father, I thank You that I am healed.”  See Psalm 42:4, 50:23; Jeremiah 17:26.


Zamar (zaw-mar’):  To ‘sing’ with the use of instruments, i.e. to psalm, strike with the fingers. To make music, which can also be accompanied by the voice.  It is one of the musical verbs for praise in the book of Psalms.  It carries the idea of making music in praise to God as in Psalm 92:1. The word zamar also means to touch the strings, and refers to praise that involves instrumental worship as in Psalm 150.  This word is usually translated “sing praises.”  There is much written in the BLOG about instrumental worship being anointed, prophetic, and spontaneous, even if there is no vocal accompaniment.  See those links!


Zamar in practice:  This is likely the attitude and practice of singing and playing the Psalms.


Shabach (shaw-bakh):  to soothe, stroke or pet, still, or pacify (a); to laud, praise, commend, boast in, congratulate (b) by addressing in a loud tone, by a loud adoration or shout!  This word implies that testimony is praise. The phrase “shout unto the Lord” can be understood as the action of shabach. It is not just being loud!  I’ve seen a lot of Worship-Teams think that playing louder is better, that it stirs the congregation up to be more fervent towards God.  It may work for some, but others see it as a manipulating “fleshly” gimmick, and those with hearing aids are simply overwhelmed – they can’t hear a word sung!  Instead you should have the attitude of putting your whole being into it, an attitude of being totally uninhibited.  I’ve heard some prophetic worship leaders correctly hear/speak about this during worship – see Media-BT2.  See Psalm 117:1, 63:3-4. <Notes> a) Piel and Hiphil forms, b) Piel and Hitpael forms.


Shabach in practice:   I will testify and proclaim with an unashamed, loud voice the GLORY, TRIUMPH, POWER, MERCY, and Unconditional-LOVE OF GOD!


Selah:  This is another word possibly used for praise. Many will tell you it means to pause and reflect. This word is found in the Psalms of David and the book of Habakkuk.  Scholars have speculated its meaning since 270 B.C., when the OT was translated into Greek.  Since the Psalms were actually songs set to music, many conclude that selah are simply directions to musicians. They feel that selah was not a sung word at all. Rather, it told musicians to play louder or faster, reprise a verse, etc. But a Jewish expert, Suzanne Haik-Vantoura, offers a different, more fitting view. Her book, The Music of the Bible Revealed, written in French, states that selah was not an instruction. In fact, she concludes that it is part of the lyrics. Though she gives no formal definition for the word, she believes that, like “Amen” at the close of a prayerselah stressed the importance or reality of what was said. Personally, I believe this is where the Lord could come in to reveal what He was saying in the music through prophecy, logos messages of wisdom or knowledge. That is why no one can figure out what it really means. However we know that the musicians were all anointed and prophetic!  So this only makes sense to me.


Selah in practice:   I always have felt it a little strange that during prayer in many churches, the keyboardist feels the need to fill in the silence with some kind of quiet music.  Maybe silence is exactly what we need to hear the “still, quiet voice” of the Lord (a).  There has been much written in the Knowledge page about “being still (or quiet) to experientially, relationally yada/ginosko know the Lord” (b). This element is also present in devoted, patiently-waiting, watching, listening, worshipful, proseuche conversational-prayer.  Privately and in assembly, we shouldn’t be afraid (or too quickly bored) to “be still and quiet” before the Lord so that we can actually hear directly-spoken prophetic rhema words from Him! <Notes> a) 1 Kings 19:11-13, b) Psalms 46:10.






As Christian musicians, would it hurt us to lovingly lift our hands up to our heavenly Father like a little child wants to be picked up?  Will we surrender to the Lord?  Will we adore and give thanks to Him?  Do we believe that God will actually inhabit the “new song” tehillah praise that is done spontaneously from the heart unto the Lord?  This is where anointing and prophecy happens!  Will we be humble enough to bow or kneel before His throne?  Do we have the faith to thank God ahead of time for His promises to listen to our prayers and to care for us, even if we feel terrible and it’s a sacrifice to do so?  Will we strike (percussion) or pluck to psalm for the Lord, whether we sing or not?  Will we shout unto the Lord?  Will we even jump up and twirl unto the Lord?  Will we be still and reflect on God’s goodness?  The Jews sure could teach Gentile Christians a thing or two about worshiping the Lord – it’s a shame many don’t know who the Lord is!  What I see throughout all these words is the attitude of the heart, which is what the Lord is looking at anyway.  If we get this right before God, the bodily manifestations will naturally reflect this with love, joy, and peace!





Lord, I lift up my hands to You like a little child wanting you to hold me in Your arms.  I stick out my right hand in confessional agreement with You!  I need Your comforting love, wisdom, and strength!  I surrender every part of myself to You.  As a priest you called me to be, I give You the sacrifice offerings of thanksgiving and praise.  I will sing and even “pluck or strike the strings” of my heart unto You, even while playing an instrument as with a Psalm, even spontaneously as a “new song,” even prophetically, and even in tongues – all as You anoint me by Your Holy Spirit.  I know that You “oppose the proud but give grace to the humble.”  Therefore I will also bow or kneel down in surrender to You as I adore, salute, laud, boast-in, commend, extol, exalt, revere, glorify, praise, bless, or in other ways worship You.  I will even jump, twirl, and dance in celebration with shouts of joy to You!  I will even be still and silent and patiently wait for You in worshipful, conversational-prayer to reveal Yourself so that I may experientially know You.  You can see that I completely surrender my pride and inhibitions as a sacrificial offering to You!




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Spiritual Education, Worship, Worship Music, Hebrew words for worship of God, God inhabits the praises of His people, Christians are NOW the Temple of God, The throne of God is within Christians

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