The central person in the Bible is God, and the fundamental truth is that God alone deserves our worship and praise. Scriptures that demonstrate this truth are not hard to find. However, we often overlook the words of the Bible itself as a primary way to engage and communicate with God.
“Worship and praise” is sometimes used together today as a shorthand for singing contemporary songs of worship and praise to God. I enjoy these kinds of songs as much as traditional hymns. I have noticed, though, that we often miss the opportunity to use the actual words of scripture in our praise and worship, our prayers and service to God.
Worship and praise are not quite the same
Worship and praise are not the same thing in scripture, though there is a lot of overlap. Not all worship is praise, as there are other ways to worship God such as through giving, lamenting, serving, etc. Likewise, not all praise is worship. We can praise other people for their loyalty, faithfulness or other good qualities. But if I had to point to a difference between worship and praise, I would say praise is a way to elevate God and lift up our hearts, voices, hands and spirits to him, while worship is a way to honor God and humble ourselves, to bow down, to revere and fear and serve him wholeheartedly.
Praise is a way to elevate God and lift up our hearts, voices, hands and spirits to him, while worship is a way to honor God and humble ourselves, to bow down, to revere and fear and serve him wholeheartedly
If you are a worship leader it’s important to sing, pray and recite words of scriptural truth in leading God’s people. The scriptures and bible verses that follow will be helpful for you in doing this. These are also useful for further study, meditation and for times of personal devotion and worshipping God.
Instead of giving a commentary on each scripture, I recommend you read the verse(s) and meditate on them. In some places I provide links for further exploration of these words and ideas.
Yahweh appeared to Abram and said, “I will give this land to your offspring.”
He built an altar there to Yahweh, who had appeared to him. He left from there to go to the mountain on the east of Bethel and pitched his tent, having Bethel on the west, and Ai on the east. There he built an altar to Yahweh and called on Yahweh’s name.
The man bowed his head, and worshiped Yahweh. He said, “Blessed be Yahweh, the God of my master Abraham, who has not forsaken his loyal love and his truth toward my master. As for me, Yahweh has led me on the way to the house of my master’s relatives.”
God spoke all these words, saying, “I am Yahweh your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.
“You shall have no other gods before me.
“You shall not make for yourselves an idol, nor any image of anything that is in the heavens above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: you shall not bow yourself down to them, nor serve them, for I, Yahweh your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, on the third and on the fourth generation of those who hate me, and showing loyal love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments.”
Deuteronomy 10:12-13, 20-21
Now, Israel, what does Yahweh your God require of you, but to fear Yahweh your God, to walk in all his ways, to love him, and to serve Yahweh your God with all your heart and with all your soul, to keep Yahweh’s commandments and statutes, which I command you today for your good?
You shall fear Yahweh your God. You shall serve him. You shall cling to him, and you shall swear by his name. He is your praise, and he is your God, who has done for you these great and awesome things which your eyes have seen.
1 Chronicles 16:23-31 (Psalm 96)
Sing to Yahweh, all the earth! Display his salvation from day to day.
Declare his glory among the nations, and his marvelous works among all the peoples.
For great is Yahweh, and greatly to be praised. He also is to be feared above all gods.
For all the gods of the peoples are idols, but Yahweh made the heavens.
Honor and majesty are before him. Strength and gladness are in his place.
Give to Yahweh, you relatives of the peoples, give to Yahweh glory and strength!
Give to Yahweh the glory due to his name. Bring an offering, and come before him.
Worship Yahweh in holy attire.
Tremble before him, all the earth. The world also is established that it can’t be moved.
Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice! Let them say among the nations, “Yahweh reigns!”
Rejoice in Yahweh, you righteous! Praise is fitting for the upright.
Give thanks to Yahweh with the lyre. Sing praises to him with the harp of ten strings.
Sing to him a new song. Play music skillfully with a shout of joy!
I will bless Yahweh at all times. His praise will always be in my mouth.
My soul shall praise Yahweh. The humble shall hear of it and be glad.
Oh magnify Yahweh with me. Let’s exalt his name together.
Oh come, let’s sing to Yahweh. Let’s shout aloud to the rock of our salvation!
Let’s come before his presence with thanksgiving. Let’s extol him with songs!
For Yahweh is a great God, a great King above all gods.
In his hand are the deep places of the earth. The heights of the mountains are also his.
The sea is his, and he made it. His hands formed the dry land.
Oh come, let’s worship and bow down. Let’s kneel before Yahweh, our Maker,
for he is our God. We are the people of his pasture, and the sheep in his care.
Yahweh reigns! Let the peoples tremble.
He sits enthroned among the cherubim. Let the earth be moved.
Yahweh is great in Zion. He is high above all the peoples.
Let them praise your great and awesome name. He is Holy!
The King’s strength also loves justice. You establish equity. You execute justice and righteousness in Jacob.
Exalt Yahweh our God. Worship at his footstool. He is Holy!
Moses and Aaron were among his priests, Samuel was among those who call on his name.
They called on Yahweh, and he answered them. He spoke to them in the pillar of cloud.
They kept his testimonies, the statute that he gave them. You answered them, Yahweh our God.
You are a God who forgave them, although you took vengeance for their doings.
Exalt Yahweh, our God. Worship at his holy hill, for Yahweh, our God, is holy!
Shout for joy to Yahweh all you lands!
Serve Yahweh with gladness. Come before his presence with singing.
Know that Yahweh is God. It is he who has made us, and we are his.
We are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.
Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise.
Give thanks to him, and bless his name.
For Yahweh is good. His loyal love endures forever, his faithfulness to all generations.
Psalm 118:1, 24, 28-29
Give thanks to Yahweh, for he is good, for his loyal love endures forever.
This is the day that Yahweh has made. We will rejoice and be glad in it!
You are my God, and I will give thanks to you. You are my God, I will exalt you.
Oh give thanks to Yahweh, for he is good, for his loyal love endures forever.
In that day you will say, “Give thanks to Yahweh! Call on his name! Declare his doings among the peoples! Proclaim that his name is exalted! Sing to Yahweh, for he has done excellent things! Let this be known in all the earth! Cry aloud and shout, you inhabitant of Zion; for the Holy One of Israel is great among you!”
The Lord said, “This people draws near with their mouth and honors me with their lips, but they have removed their heart far from me, and their fear of me is a commandment of men which has been taught.”
Ezra blessed Yahweh, the great God. All the people answered, “Amen, Amen,” with the lifting up of their hands. They bowed their heads, and worshiped Yahweh with their faces to the ground.
Stand up and bless Yahweh your God from everlasting to everlasting! Blessed be your glorious name, which is exalted above all blessing and praise! You are Yahweh, even you alone. You have made heaven, the heaven of heavens, with all their army, the earth and all things that are on it, the seas and all that is in them, and you preserve them all. The army of heaven worships you.
Daniel 3:12-14, 28
There are certain Jews whom you have appointed over the affairs of the province of Babylon: Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. These men, O king, have not respected you. They don’t serve your gods, and don’t worship the golden image which you have set up.”
Then Nebuchadnezzar in rage and fury commanded that Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego be brought. Then these men were brought before the king. Nebuchadnezzar answered them, “Is it on purpose, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, that you don’t serve my god, nor worship the golden image which I have set up?”
Nebuchadnezzar spoke and said, “Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who has sent his angel and delivered his servants who trusted in him, and have changed the king’s word, and have yielded their bodies, that they might not serve nor worship any god, except their own God.”
The devil took him [Jesus] to an exceedingly high mountain, and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. He said to him, “I will give you all of these things, if you will fall down and worship me.” Then Jesus said to him, “Get behind me, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and you shall serve him only.’”
Those who were in the boat came and worshiped him, saying, “You are truly the Son of God!”
As he was now getting near, at the descent of the Mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works which they had seen, saying, “Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven, and glory in the highest!”
Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe me, the hour comes, when neither in this mountain, nor in Jerusalem, will you worship the Father. You worship that which you don’t know. We worship that which we know; for salvation is from the Jews. But the hour comes, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father seeks such to be his worshipers. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.”
He said, “Lord, I believe!” and he worshiped him.
They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen
Therefore I urge you, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service.
Therefore, receiving a Kingdom that can’t be shaken, let’s have grace, through which we serve God acceptably, with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire.
Through him, then, let’s offer up a sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of lips which proclaim allegiance to his name
The four living creatures, each one of them having six wings, are full of eyes around and within. They have no rest day and night, saying, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God, the Almighty, who was and who is and who is to come!”
When the living creatures give glory, honor, and thanks to him who sits on the throne, to him who lives forever and ever, the twenty-four elders fall down before him who sits on the throne, and worship him who lives forever and ever, and throw their crowns before the throne, saying, “Worthy are you, our Lord and God, the Holy One, to receive the glory, the honor, and the power, for you created all things, and because of your desire they existed, and were created!”
I heard every created thing which is in heaven, on the earth, under the earth, on the sea, and everything in them, saying, “To him who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb be the blessing, the honor, the glory, and the dominion, forever and ever! The four living creatures said, “Amen!” Then the elders fell down and worshiped.”
He said with a loud voice, “Fear the Lord, and give him glory; for the hour of his judgment has come. Worship him who made the heaven, the earth, the sea, and the springs of waters!”
They sang the song of Moses, the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying, “Great and marvelous are your works, Lord God, the Almighty! Righteous and true are your ways, you King of the nations. Who wouldn’t fear you, Lord, and glorify your name? For you only are holy. All the nations will come and worship before you. For your righteous acts have been revealed.”
The twenty-four elders and the four living creatures fell down and worshiped God who sits on the throne, saying, “Amen! Hallelujah!” A voice came from the throne, saying, “Give praise to our God, all you his servants, you who fear him, the small and the great!” I heard something like the voice of a great multitude, like the voice of many waters, and like the voice of mighty thunders, saying, “Hallelujah! For the Lord our God, the Almighty, reigns!