Terms for Movement in the Old Testament

Featuring Worshipedia Posted on April 27, 2010

Biblical worship is active worship, involving movements of the body as well as of the lips, to express both submission to the covenant God and exultation in his presence. To observe the festivals of the Lord, one must “go up” or ascend (Isaiah 2:3; Psalms 24:3; 122:4) to the sanctuary of Yahweh, enter his gates or courts, or go to his altar (Isaiah 1:12; Psalms 43:4; 96:8; 100:4; 118:19–20). In the sacred courts worshipers might be seen “walking around” Zion or its altar (Psalms 48:12; 26:6; 56:13). Processions into the sanctuary (Psalm 68:24) may have featured movements of the ark as the symbol of the Lord’s “going up” (Psalm 47:5) to ascend his throne in Zion, the King of Glory “coming in” to his sanctuary (Psalm 24:7–10). At such times of victory, worshipers would clap their hands (Ps. 47:1), and even the rivers are urged to clap (Ps. 98:8) their figurative hands. It was an honor for tribal dignitaries to lead a procession (“cause to move slowly,” Psalm 42:4; “rule, govern,” Psalm 68:27). The celebrants might wear special adornment or vesture (Psalms 29:2; 96:9), perhaps a reference to the fine linen garments of the priests (Exodus 39:27–29; 1 Chronicles 15:27; 2 Chronicles 5:12).

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