"All the Nations will serve Him"

An Examination of the Worship Given to the Messiah in the Old Testament

Sam Shamoun

In the following articles:


We examined what the Hebrew Bible had to say regarding the work and Person of the Messiah and saw that the prophets, under the direct inspiration of the Holy Spirit, expressly taught that Yahweh’s Messianic King would be God incarnate. Here we want to see what the OT prophets taught regarding the honor and worship that will be given to the Lord’s Anointed by all the nations.

Before we begin our analysis of the data we do need to make an important observation and qualification at this point. The Hebrew words that we will be discussing in reference to the praise and honor given to the Messiah do not, in and of themselves, conclusively prove that he is God in human flesh since the very same verbs are often used in contexts where the recipients of such praise and honor are clearly not God. For instance, there are places in the Hebrew Bible where individuals receive kara’, shachah, and/or avad not because they are being worshiped as divinities but because of their status and/or rank, e.g. David gives shachah to Saul due to his position as God’s anointed king (cf. 1 Sam. 24:8; 25:23, 41; 28:14). More on these words below.

It is when we combine such passages with the explicit and unambiguous references to the Deity of the Messiah which are found throughout the Hebrew Bible (see the above articles for the details) that a case can be made that such praise and worship is given to God’s Anointed One in recognition and acknowledgement of his Divinity.

With the foregoing in perspective we can now proceed to the references themselves.

According to the following Psalm all the nations will worship and serve God’s Messianic King:

"The desert tribes will bow before him and his enemies will lick the dust. The kings of Tarshish and of distant shores will bring tribute to him; the kings of Sheba and Seba will present him gifts. All kings will bow down to him and all nations will serve him." Psalm 72:9-11

In the first line which mentions bowing Yahweh’s Anointed One is receiving kara’ from the peoples. The King is also given shachah ("bow down") and avad/abad ("serve").

What makes this rather intriguing is that all of these words are used in relation to the worship, service, and bowing that believers are to render to God.


"When Solomon had finished praying this entire prayer and supplication to the LORD, he arose from before the altar of the LORD, from kneeling on his knees with his hands spread toward heaven." 1 Kings 8:54 NASB

"Then, at the evening sacrifice, I rose from my self-abasement, with my tunic and cloak torn, and fell on my knees with my hands spread out to the LORD my God." Ezra 9:5

"All the rich of the earth will feast and worship; all who go down to the dust will kneel before him— those who cannot keep themselves alive." Psalm 22:29


"All the ends of the earth will remember and turn to the LORD, and all the families of the nations will bow down before him," Psalm 22:27

"All the nations you have made will come and worship before you, O Lord; they will bring glory to your name." Psalm 86:9

"Worship the LORD in the splendor of his holiness; tremble before him, all the earth." Psalm 96:9

"All who worship images are put to shame, those who boast in idols — worship him, all you gods!" Psalm 97:7


"Serve the LORD with fear and rejoice with trembling." Psalm 2:11

"Posterity will serve him; future generations will be told about the Lord." Psalm 22:30

"Worship the LORD with gladness; come before him with joyful songs." Psalm 100:2

Some of these terms even appear together in connection with the worship given to Yahweh. For instance, here are a couple of texts where believers are forbidden from rendering shachah and avad to any other god besides the one true God:

"You shall have no other gods before me. You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me," Exodus 20:3-5

"When the LORD made a covenant with the Israelites, he commanded them: ‘Do not worship any other gods or bow down to them, serve them or sacrifice to them.’" 2 Kings 17:35

In these next passages individuals give both kara’ and shachah to Yahweh:

"When all the Israelites saw the fire coming down and the glory of the LORD above the temple, they knelt on the pavement with their faces to the ground, and they worshiped and gave thanks to the LORD, saying, ‘He is good; his love endures forever.’" 2 Chronicles 7:3

"When the offerings were finished, the king and everyone present with him knelt down and worshiped." 2 Chronicles 29:29

"Come, let us bow down in worship, let us kneel before the LORD our Maker;" Psalm 95:6

Interestingly, there is a place in the Hebrew Scriptures where the people give obeisance (shachah) to both God and David, who functions as an OT type and shadow of the Messiah to come:

"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 29:20

Seeing that David prefigures his Son it is little wonder that the prophet Jeremiah could apply the name David to the Messiah and speak of a time when the Israelites would serve both the Davidic King and God:

"‘In that day,’ declares the LORD Almighty, ‘I will break the yoke off their necks and will tear off their bonds; no longer will foreigners enslave them. Instead, they will serve the LORD their God and David their king, whom I will raise up for them.’" Jeremiah 30:8-9

Putting it another way, the reverence and honor given to David and his sons foreshadowed the worship and praise that the Messiah would receive since all of these kings pointed to him in some sense. Israel’s kings were merely shadows of the Lord’s Anointed who is the reality that comes to fulfill and experience all of the promises and blessings that Yahweh gave to the house of David.

Thus, the Hebrew prophets taught that the Messiah will be shown the very honor and reverence which believers are to render unto God!

As renowned Messianic Jewish scholar Dr. Michael L. Brown put it:

… Many times in the psalms, the Lord and His anointed king are described in equally exalted terms, and similar reverence is required for both. Consider these following clear parallels (which I have translated for greater clarity): In Psalm 83:18, God is "the Most High over all the earth," while in Psalm 89:28, it is the Davidic king, designated significantly as "firstborn," who has been appointed "the most high of the kings of the earth." In Psalm 86:9, "all nations will bow down" to the Lord, yet in 72:11, the foreign kings will bow down to the Davidic king. First Chronicles 29:20 is even more to the point: "They [i.e., the people] bowed down and did obeisance to the LORD and to [David] the king." So also in Psalm 2:11 and 100:2, the rulers and peoples are exhorted to worship/serve the Lord, while in 18:44{43} and 72:11, it is the Davidic king whom they must worship/serve.

Both God and his anointed king are worthy of praise (see Ps. 67:4{3}, where the peoples are called on to extol God, and 45:17[18], where it is the king whom they will extol forever), and both are clothed with "glory and honor" (cf., e.g., Ps. 96:6 with 21:6{5}). Of the royal king it can be said, "All kings will bow down to him and all nations will serve him" (Ps. 72:11); for "I will appoint him my firstborn, the most exalted [‘elyon] of the kings of the earth" (Ps. 89:27[28]). "I will set his hand over the sea, his right hand over the rivers" (Ps. 89:25[26]), and "I will establish … his throne as long as the heavens endure" (Ps. 89:29[30]). "Therefore the nations will praise [him] for ever and ever" (Ps. 45:17[18]).

God’s "son," the Davidic king, was quite an exalted figure! Is it any wonder that Scripture declares that in the Messianic era the people "will serve the LORD their God and David their king" (Jer. 30:9)?

Let me state these facts again clearly: According to the Hebrew Bible, the Davidic king was called God’s son and firstborn, and he was described as begotten by God. He was to be praised, extolled, served, and adored. How much more could this be said of the supreme Davidic king, the Messiah, the ultimate "Son of God"? … Even if you didn’t understand that the Messiah was both divine and human (and therefore, in praising and adoring him we really are praising and adoring God), you would still need to recognize that every major Hebrew word for worship, praise, service, adoration, and obeisance that is used in the Bible with reference to God is also used with reference to the Messiah, the Davidic king. These are indisputable facts. (Brown, Answering Jewish Objections to Jesus: Theological Objections [Baker Books, Grand Rapids MI, 2000], Volume Two, 3.3 God doesn’t have a son., pp. 40-41; underline emphasis and comments within curly brackets mine)

Dr. Brown, in a footnote, mentions some of the Hebrew verbs used in reference to the honor and worship given to both God and the Messianic King:

59. Key verbs would include ‘avad (serve; worship); hishtahavah (do obeisance to; to bow down before); yadah (praise); Aramaic pelah (worship). (Ibid., p. 273)

With the above in mind it shouldn’t come as a surprise to find Jesus (whom both Christians and Muslims agree is the long-awaited Messiah) receiving the very exact same worship and service that his Father receives:

"And again, when God brings his firstborn into the world, he says, ‘Let all God's angels worship him.’ … But about the Son he says, ‘Your throne, O God, will last for ever and ever, and righteousness will be the scepter of your kingdom. You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness; therefore God, your God, has set you above your companions by anointing you with the oil of joy.’" Hebrews 1:6, 8-9

"And when he had taken it, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb. Each one had a harp and they were holding golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. And they sang a new song: ‘You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because you were slain, and with your blood you purchased men for God from every tribe and language and people and nation. You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God, and they will reign on the earth.’ Then I looked and heard the voice of many angels, numbering thousands upon thousands, and ten thousand times ten thousand. They encircled the throne and the living creatures and the elders. In a loud voice they sang: ‘Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise!’ Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all that is in them, singing: ‘To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be praise and honor and glory and power, for ever and ever!’ The four living creatures said, ‘Amen,’ and the elders fell down and worshiped." Revelation 5:8-14

After all, didn’t Jesus plainly say that all must honor him in the same exact way that they honor his Father?

"Moreover, the Father judges no one, but has entrusted all judgment to the Son, that all may honor the Son JUST AS they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father, who sent him." John 5:22-23

It is rather unfortunate that Muslims do not see how their denial of the Divinity of Jesus conflicts with their belief in his Messiahship since both the Hebrew Bible and the Christian Greek Scriptures expressly bear witness to the Messiah being God in the flesh, one single Person who is both divine and human, and therefore worthy of worship and praise.

Further Reading


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