One of my favorite ways to study the Bible is using Quickverse's word search. My dear husband showed me how to enter a word with a star (for example: lov*) and find all the instances of the words love, loving, loves, lovingkindness, and loved. And the search box tells neat statistics. There are 744 occurrences in 648 verses of the words for love. I was surprised to discover that the first use of the word "love" does not occur until the story of God telling Abraham to sacrifice his son, Isaac. Genesis 21:1 "Take now your son, your only son whom you love, Isaac...and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I tell you." And I was also surprised to see the word, "worship" also making its debut here in this same story just a few verses later, Genesis 21:5 "Stay here with the donkey (Abraham is speaking to his servants) and I and the lad will go yonder and we will worship and return to you." Abraham proclaims in these instructions that he believes God will resurrect or resuscitate Isaac. I word searched "worship" and discovered that it occurs 112 times in 107 verses.
Can the word, "love" be substituted for worship? Is worship love? Or, is love something that compels us to worship? "Worship" is a church word that is hard to wrap my mind around. How would I explain worship to a child? What does worship mean exactly? Looking through the verses where the word, "worship" occurs, I see half of the verses seem to be warnings what NOT to worship. For example, in Exodus 20:5 "You shall not worship them (idols) or serve them, for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, on the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me.
Wow---another rabbit trail. Is this verse saying that you either worship God or you hate Him? Maybe that is why God commanded us to love the Lord our God with all our heart and mind and soul and spirit and energy in order to save us from ourselves.
As Christians we take such comfort from the promises that in the future, as Psalm 66:4 says: "All the earth will worship Thee and sing praises..." So what is worship? What does it look like? Is worship love, awe, reverence, respect, admiration and obedience?
Psalm 95:6 "Come let us worship and bow down. Let us kneel before the Lord our Maker--for He is our God and we are the people of His pasture, sheep of His Hand..."
This reminds me of a wonderful analogy someone sent me recently which helped put into words my attitude as a mom of sons in the military. How some are sheep, and some are wolves, and some are sheepdogs. I will double check the author and names and reprint it next. I hope it encourages other parents and spouses of our military and policemen.