Word Study: Worshipping שׁחה

Caucasian man on paddle board in ocean
Caucasian man on paddle board in ocean


Judges 7:15: “And it was [so], when Gideon heard the telling of the dream, and the interpretation thereof, that he worshipped, and returned into the host of Israel, and said, Arise; for the LORD hath delivered into your hand the host of Midian.”

One question I ask when I am interviewing pastors and worship leaders for my new book is “What did Gideon do when he worshipped God in Judges 7:15, that is how did he worship God? Gideon just had a miraculous answer to prayer standing there in the midst of the Midianite camp. He certainly didn’t let out a Pentecostal holler. I mean that would have awakened the entire Midianite camp and then he would have needed another miracle to get out alive. Did he whisper a “Praise the Lord?” He certainly didn’t start to play loud worship music. Then the Midianites would not only have lopped his head off for being the enemy but because they couldn’t stand that dablame modern Gospel music. He didn’t start to dance, then the Midianites would have freaked out and put him in a strait jacket.

Take everything you know about worship and praise in our modern context and tell me if any of these manifestations in our modern worship services would fit for Gideon standing with just his servant in the middle of the enemy camp when they were all asleep.

To many people worship is shouting, dancing, playing loud music with drums and guitars. It is being in a church or some place designated as a place of worship. It is a reading or following some liturgy. To be with just one other person, in the dead of night, in the middle of 100,000 sleeping enemy soldiers and hold a praise and worship session is not exactly the place where you would normally hold a worship service. Yet, that is exactly what Gideon did. He had his servant Purah with him, but there is not mention that Purah joined into this worship and praise session, so I assume this worship time was just Gideon and God.

Note, that it was a spontaneous worship. There were no rehersals, no sitting down and picking out the worship songs, no standing for 45 minutes until your legs give out. Gideon did not retreat back to the safety of his camp to worship. He did it right there smack dab in the middle of the Midianite camp while they all slept. What did he do that Bible calls worship. Some modern translations say he bowed down and worshipped or bowed down to worship. Some say he just praised the Lord.

The word in the Hebrew that is used is yishetahu which comes from the root word shachah. The lexicon and Strong’s concordance simply tells you that he bowed down or laid prostrate or paid homage. So according to that all he did was bow down or fall prostrate. I dealt with this word shachah at length in other studies. The word comes from a Semitic root meaning to swim, or be surrounded by water. In other words it is being surrounded by the presence of God. If you have even been surrounded by the presence of God you know you experience His holiness which is the word kodesh and has the idea of weightiness. The presence of God is sometime like a weight coming over you that you actually will fall to your knees or lay prostrate. This may be how a word for swimming ended up meaning to fall down and how that became associated with worship.

Be that as it may, there is one thing I discovered about this word worship recently as I continue to research it out. There is nothing that implies music, singing, dancing, praying, repeating the name of Jesus over and over, nothing to with reading Scripture, nothing to do with listening to a sermon, reciting liturgy, being in a church or even speaking.

In fact I am beginning to realize that worship has a lot more to allowing God to have His own way with us as we just sit back, kneel, fall prostrate or just stand with arms lifted letting him surround us with his presence and love. In is allowing God to feel pleasure in being with us.

I think when Gideon worshipped God in the middle of the Midianite camp, he just stood there or fall prostrate and said nothing but just let the Spirit of God surround him and enjoy just loving on Him and drawing pleasure from being close to Him.

As I research for my book on worship and praise I am beginning to realize that there are literally hundreds and thousands of ways one can worship God. I met a priest who is very skilled in wood working and He says He worships God or feels God’s pleasure as he works with wood. Eric Liddle in won a gold medal in the 1926 Olympics and who was portrayed in the movie Chariots of Fire said: “God made me for a purpose, but he also made me fast, and when I run, I feel His pleasure.”

For right now I conclude that worshipping God is doing whatever brings God pleasure. He gave all of us some ability or talents. When we use that for him, singing, playing an instrument, preaching, teaching, helping, serving, cooking, cleaning whatever it is we are good at, we are good at it because God gave us that ability and as a result He will draw pleasure in our using that ability in His name and allowing Him to surround us with His pleasure as we use that ability.

One thought on “Word Study: Worshipping שׁחה

  1. I appreciate the validation this study gives me. I am not a “whoopee” kind of worshiper. When I listen to artful instrumental music through my headphones is usually when I feel His presence the most. It’s like He is playing the music. He is the music, to me. I also find that it is an attitude more than anything else. It is an attitude of reverence and awe at our Maker and how He works in us and through all creation. In a sense, it seems we should always be worshiping Him and our attitude of worship can include most anything we do. I know I’m not stating anything new here, just sharing my thoughts in response to your study. Thank you.

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