What is the difference between praise and worship?

Oleh: Tom
February 10, 2011

For so long in churches praise and worship have been stereotyped as ‘praise being the fast songs, and worship being the slow songs’. I don’t know about you but this has never sat right with me – because sometimes I feel like I am praising even during slower songs at church and worshiping in parts of the faster songs. There has to be a better way of describing the difference between praise and worship.

Let’s take a quick look at a couple of verses that mention praise and worship, then we will discuss them as well as a few dictionary definitions to try and find the difference between praise and worship – when we look at it from a music perspective in church.

The Difference Between Praise And Worship – Verses On Praise:

By Him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, this is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name.Hebrews 13:15

Sing to him, sing praise to him; tell of all his wonderful acts.1 Chronicles 16:8-10

Then David said to the whole assembly, “Praise the LORD your God.” So they all praised the LORD, the God of their fathers; they bowed low and fell prostrate before the LORD and the king. 1 Chronicles 29:19-21

The trumpeters and singers joined in unison, as with one voice, to give praise and thanks to the LORD. Accompanied by trumpets, cymbals and other instruments, they raised their voices in praise to the LORD and sang: “He is good; his love endures forever.” Then the temple of the LORD was filled with a cloud. 2 Chronicles: 5:12-14

You can see from these 4 verses how large the scope of what praise really is. We have:

  • A sacrifice of praise
  • Singing
  • Telling of his wonderful acts
  • Bowing – being prostrate
  • Musical instruments

That is from4 verses on praise. However praise is mentioned 351times in the Bible and gives us a lot more ways to praise God. The reason for this is because of our English language. The english language has one word, praise, for 7 Hebrew words – each giving a different definition for praise. They are:

  • Hallal: “to laud, boast, rave, to celebrate” – It is used approximately one hundred times in the Old Tes tament.
  • Yadah: “to worship with extended hands, to throw out the hands” – It is used over ninety times in the Old Testament. (Yad means “hand.”)
  • Barak: “to bless, to declare God the origin of power for success, prosperity, and fertility” – It is used approximately seventy times in the Old Testament as praise to God.
  • Tehillah: “to sing or laud” – It is derived from hallal and is generally accepted to mean “the singing of hallals.” It is used over fifty times in the Old Testament.
  • Zamar: “to pluck the strings of an instrument, to praise with song” – It is used almost exclusively in the Psalms and occurs approximately forty times in the Old Testament.
  • Todah: “to extend the hands in thanksgiving, a thank-offering” – It is used only a few times when trans lated “praise” but occurs many other times in connection with thanksgiving.
  • Shabach: “to commend, address in a loud tone, to shout” – This is the exclamatory form of praise in a special sense and is found only about seven times in the Old Testament.

You will notice ‘Yadah’ which actually means to worship with extended hands. Does this mean that worship as we know it is actually just a form of praise?

As we continue to discuss the difference between praise and worship lets take a look what the Bible has to say about worship.

The Difference Between Praise And Worship – Verses On Worship:

Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice,acceptable to God, which is your spiritual act of worship.Romans 12:1

Then the man bowed down and worshiped the LORD.Genesis 24:25-27

God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth.”John 4:23-25

I guess when we are looking at the difference between praise and worship from a worship service perspective that praise seems to be more an outward showing with hands raising, clapping, dancing, bowing and singing. Whereas worship is something much deeper. It is where we are offering our bodies, and ourselves, giving them to God to have his way.


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