Bev as Έḇeḏ
I never thought I could understand, much less internalize, or even have an interest in reading esoteric scholarly writings. In the words of my daughter, “Mom, it’s just boring.” Over the years, I’ve discovered that what I once thought of as boring… like reading the Old Testament… is really because I didn’t understand the meaning behind the words. Remember when you were a kid and you thought the children’s shows were fantastic and they held you enthralled for hours? On the other side of the coin do you remember that when your parents wanted to watch the news, you thought it was boring?
Teenagers still roll their eyes when their parents talk about something that they think is boring.
My first encounter with reading something that was beyond my normal reading level was when I read “Approaching Zion” by Hugh Nibley some 30 years ago. Many people think Nibley is hard to understand. Funny thing is that when taken one sentence at a time AND retaining your place in his various digressions or stories, a person can keep hold of the thread of his thought and it is mind blowing. He is a brilliant scholar and a genius. Reading his book created a paradigm shift in my spiritual thinking. It also showed me that I could probably read anything written and learn something from it. I began a lifelong love of following LDS scholarly writings.
So What the Heck Does Έḇeḏ Mean?
Jennifer C. Lane, in her essay entitled “Worship: Bowing Down and Serving the Lord,” found in “Ascending the Mountain of the Lord: Temple, Praise, and Worship in the Old Testament” a book of scholarly essays presented at the 42nd Annual Brigham Young University Sidney B. Sperry Symposium, describes Worship as a Way of Life: The Example of the Servants (p 132).
I don’t know about you but I have a hard time coming to grips with the idea of a servant bowing down to his master. In modern society the idea of bowing down and submitting oneself to the will of another rubs you the wrong way. Of course this is a cultural bias, coming out of a time where slavery was practiced, even embraced, as a way of life, any outward display of servitude seems degrading.
Hopeful and Inspiring Models of Servanthood
Lane finds a very positive status of a servant in examples found in the Old Testament, our current course of study in Sunday school this year. These examples can show us how we can live in a “true relationship with God.” I became intrigued that I might actually learn something from that ‘boring Old Testament.’
The Meaning of Έḇeḏ
The Hebrew word for servant ‘eḇeḏ “generally expresses the position of a human being before God,” and it can also describe the servant who is an instrument in the Lord’s hands to accomplish his work and bring about his righteousness.
One phrase in my patriarchal blessing says “Sister Beverly, I bless you that you shall have a determination in your heart to ever serve the Lord… to bring to pass much righteousness upon the earth…” Hmmmm, interesting, me a servant. Give Service. To Serve… Servant. Hear me thinking?
Christ Our Exemplar as Servant
Lane says, “The image of the Suffering Servant describes the redemptive role of Christ in the prophetic writings of Isaiah.” The role of servant singles out one who has a specific task to perform. “This principle —namely, the honor of being chosen, obedient, and working as representatives of God, that of being ‘eḇeḏ in the Old Testament, describes the one who lives in the true relationship with God —always obedient, always on the Lord’s errand.”
We should ask as Paul, “Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?" (Acts 9:6)
Lane says “We do not need to have a messianic or prophetic mission in life in order to worship the Lord as his servants. In fact, recognizing that we all are called to be servants but given different missions is a humbling and also equalizing vision that can free us from envy, resentment, pride, or any desire to boast or compare.”
Worship is Something that We Do
Worship is something that we do and that we are in a relationship with the one we are worshiping. Understanding the Hebrew Old Testament vocabulary usage of the verbs hwh (bow down) and āḇaḏ (serve) that are often translated as “worship” shows they describe the physical expression of a relationship of submission to authority.
Now, I don’t know about you, but that concept or image doesn’t sit well with me. Yet upon further pondering, my bowing my head in prayer, and in the temple, it is a beautiful thing to me. So rather than it being about what “I” think, or what “I” feel, understanding worship in reality, becomes a positive uplifting way of life expressed by the physical actions of bowing down or serving. So, Bev, get over it... bow down... be humble.
Ye Are Not Your Own
The thought as expressed by Paul in 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 “Ye are not your own…for ye are bought with a price” explains that “since we belong to the Lord through the purchase price of the blood of Christ, we should not bow down and serve anyone else.”
In Psalms 5:7, “But as for me, I will come into thy house in the multitude of thy mercy: and in thy fear will I worship toward thy holy temple,” Lane illuminates, “All lands and all people were invited to be the Lord’s servants and to come before his presence in his holy house to worship and to praise. “Bowing down’ and “serving” the Lord in the contest of temple worship is a commandment, but it is also an expression of love and gratitude for our redemption.”
I LOVE GOING TO THE TEMPLE