I have been asked the question, “What is the difference between praising, worshipping, and glorifying God?” These words are often used interchangeably, but is it right to do so? This is a great question, for we always want to make proper use of Bible words.
In the English language, these words are interchangeable. In fact, one of the definitions of the word glory is “worshipful adoration or praise.” It doesn’t get much more interchangeable than that! However, a close study of the words reveals some differences in the meanings that are worth noting.
The word worship is the broadest of these three terms, so let’s begin with it. The English word worship comes from the Anglo-Saxon word weorthscype (worthship). Thus, inherent in the word “worship” is the idea of worth. The primary word used for worship in the Old Testament is shachah, which means “to bow down or prostrate.” The primary word used in the New Testament is proskuneo, which means “to kiss the hand toward.” Worship, then, is the act of bowing down and offering adoration to that which we deem worthy. Worship is an act or expression of honor, reverence, or homage towards God. It is not something we do all the time (unconsciously or unintentionally) by virtue of the fact we are living sacrifices (Romans 12:1). Worship is something that we do purposefully (Genesis 22:5; John 4:23-24).
The word praise comes from the Latin word pretium, which means price or value. Originally, the English word meant to set a price on something (think of the word appraise or to get an appraisal). The word has come to mean commending the worth of something or expressing approval or admiration for something. As such, praise is when we commend the value and worth of God (appraising God) for His deeds or His character. “Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised; and His greatness is unsearchable … Praise Him for His mighty acts; praise Him according to His excellent greatness!” (Psalm 145:3; 150:2). God is to be praised in our worship: “Sing to the Lord a new song, and His praise in the assembly of saints” (Psalm 149:1). However, it is fitting for praise to be a part of our daily conversation with others: “From the rising of the sun to its going down the Lord’s name is to be praised” (Psalm 113:3).
The word glorify means to magnify; to make bigger or to extol. In the Bible, the word deals primarily with brightness, brilliance, or splendor. “The city had no need of the sun or of the moon to shine in it, for the glory of God illuminated it. The Lamb is its light” (Revelation 21:23). As a verb, it means to emphasize the beauty, majesty, preeminence, and splendor of God’s greatness and authority. This can be done by our praise and worship (Psalm 29:2). However, God is also glorified (seen as possessing greatness and authority) by His creation (Psalm 19:1), by our good works (Matthew 5:16), and by obedience (John 17:4).
These three words can be used interchangeably. We are praising and glorifying God when we worship Him. However, God can and should be praised (valued, approved) and glorified (magnified, lifted up) outside of our assemblies. Are you praising and glorifying God in your daily life?