John 4:23 But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him.
In 1991, after singing the part of the Moor of Venice in the opera Otello, Plácido Domingo received the longest standing ovation on record, 80 minutes. Would you call such acclamation worship? Was it excessive?
It is easy to start thinking that worship is as common as singing, but worship is incredibly special. According to the Bible, it should be reserved for the response of human souls towards their Maker. That’s it. God and God only deserves this unique reverence and adoration.
We are not to worship another human, no matter how impressive in talent, beauty, intellect, wealth, or power. The commander of a great army does not deserve our worship. Neither does the winner of a world class prize nor the receiver of thunderous applause. We are not to worship a loved one, whether spouse, child, parent, boss, mentor, or friend. Confucianism has it wrong. We are not to worship our ancestors.
We are not to worship an angel, no matter how bright or rare, no matter how insightful the angel is into the future, no matter how accustomed he is to heavenly scenes.
We are not to worship a piece of art, whether visual or performed. In other words, we are not to get carried away. A piece of art should not be the focus of a rite.
We are not to worship nature, whether sun, star, or scene, whether fish, fowl, or fauna. The Creator deserves our worship. The thing created never does.
The Hebrew word for worship is easy enough to translate, but it is linguistically unique. Scholars are not in agreement how to explain it. It may be an unusual four letter root, or it may be formed in a one-of-a-kind stem. In any case, when someone worships in the Hebrew Bible, even the word seems to jump off the page.
The misuse of worship, idolatry, also has a special designation in Hebrew. Idolatry is not called simply ra, (“evil”) in Hebrew. It is called hara, (“the evil”). The misuse of worship is as singled out as the right use of worship.
One of the most special things about worship is what happens to you when you do it. You may be healed or encouraged, you may find peace or joy or the fear of the Lord. You will certainly never be the same.