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For the Glory of God

Recovering a Biblical Theology of Worship

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Current discussions about worship are often driven by pragmatics and personal preferences rather than by the teaching of Scripture. True worship, however, is a response to God's gracious revelation; in order to be acceptable to God, worship must be experienced on God's terms. In this volume, respected Old Testament scholar Daniel Block examines worship in the Bible, offering a comprehensive biblical foundation and illuminating Old Testament worship practices and principles. He develops a theology of worship that is consistent with the teachings of Scripture and is applicable for the church today. He also introduces readers to a wide range of issues related to worship.

For the Glory of God is illustrated with diagrams, charts, and pictures to help the Scriptures come alive for readers and make the concepts discussed understandable. It will benefit professors and students in seminary-level worship and Bible courses, pastors, and church leaders.

1. Toward a Holistic, Biblical Understanding of Worship
2. The Object of Worship
3. The Subject of Worship
4. Daily Life as Worship
5. Family Life and Work as Worship
6. The Ordinances as Worship
7. Hearing and Proclaiming the Scriptures in Worship
8. Prayer as Worship
9. Music as Worship
10. Sacrifice and Offerings as Worship
11. The Drama of Worship
12. The Design and Theology of Sacred Space
13. Leaders in Worship
Appendix A: Doxologies of the New Testament
Appendix B: Hymnic Fragments in the Pauline Epistles
Appendix C: Sunday Worship in Early Christianity


"Daniel Block is one of the most knowledgeable, thoughtful, and prolific teachers of the Old Testament writing today. In this important book, he turns his attention to the crucial question of worship. He rightly insists that the question is not whether we enjoy worship but rather whether God is pleased with our worship. He brings his impressive understanding of the Bible to bear on the question of proper worship. The result is an insightful study of worship that has practical implications for all. I especially recommend this volume for pastors and other church leaders."

Tremper Longman III, Robert H. Gundry Professor of Biblical Studies, Westmont College

"For the Glory of God returns consideration of Christian worship to its theological source: the Scriptures. There is no firmer starting point. Daniel Block believes that God is up to something in the twenty-first century and that worship is at the center of God's activity. We would do well to heed his advice to start at the source and to let Scripture guide us in worshiping God both within and without the walls of our church buildings. To read this book is itself an act of worship."

Clay Schmit, provost, Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary, Lenoir-Rhyne University

"This book is a scholar's gift to the church. Block brings his considerable expertise to the task of helping us all understand this most important activity of life--worship! His ability to analyze and synthesize the biblical texts is surpassed only by his passion in challenging us to fresh insights. Biblical scholars and theologians will appreciate his thorough study. Pastors and other worship leaders will wonder how they ever got along without it. We are all in his debt."

John H. Walton, professor of Old Testament, Wheaton College

"Vital and faithful worship practices are shaped by a wide variety of Christian leaders: pastors, musicians, artists, theologians, architects, prayer leaders, and more. Regardless of our role, we all are nourished and equipped through the gift of God's Word. How heartening it is that over the past several years biblical scholars have given new priority to helping us faithfully study and savor what the Bible says about worship. Daniel Block's evangelical, gospel-focused contribution to this conversation is both vigorous and accessible and will be useful in both academic and congregational settings."

John D. Witvliet, Calvin Institute of Christian Worship, Calvin College and Calvin Theological Seminary

"In this accessible, comprehensive resource, world-class Old Testament scholar Daniel Block presents a complete biblical theology for the worship of God. Although no one can hope to resolve every contemporary debate in the 'worship wars,' Block firmly grounds the practice of worship in the right place: the text of Scripture. With its careful exegesis of the Bible, clear understanding of ancient Near Eastern culture, and practical suggestions for the local church, For the Glory of God is destined to become an essential text for putting God at the center of worship."

Philip G. Ryken, president, Wheaton College

"For the Glory of God is the kind of work we have come to expect from Daniel Block. It is comprehensive in virtually every avenue: biblically, theologically, historically, and practically. Whether discussing ancient temple worship or the twenty-first-century church, Block provides insightful critique as well as sound counsel for the way forward into authentically faithful worship of the Triune God. The life of a believer who follows Jesus is to be a life of worship; this is a book that will help you walk that path. For the Glory of God is certain to have wide use in the academy, the church, and the lives of individuals--all for the glory of God and the good of the church."

Daniel L. Akin, president, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, Wake Forest, North Carolina

"In For the Glory of God, Daniel Block brings his theological and biblical expertise to bear on Christian worship. Block provides a thorough review of the Old and New Testament evidence, and his applications are informed by a wide variety of Christian forms and theologies of worship, ranging across the history of Christianity and denominational variations. Sometimes provocative but always informative, this work should form the starting point for the study and especially the practice of that most important of purposes for which God created us."

Richard S. Hess, Earl S. Kalland Professor of Old Testament and Semitic Languages, Denver Seminary

"Daniel Block's book is truly a tour de force on the theology and practice of worship. Featuring rich exegetical and theological insight, Block's analysis of key biblical texts challenges the contemporary church to think more biblically about the nature of true worship and to establish practices of worship that are rooted in Scripture."

Carol M. Kaminski, associate professor of Old Testament, Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary

"Daniel Block's For the Glory of God is a study of worship that seeks a biblical theology and eschews mere pragmatism: Christian worship involves reverence, homage to the true God, and obedient response to revelation. After a prefatory chapter on biblical method, the study begins with God, our object of worship, who is paradoxically the initiating subject of all. The author moves through the human mandate to worship, daily and family life, ordinances (sacraments), the written Word, prayer and music, the aspects of self-offering and drama, and sacred space, to a final chapter with some helpful pointers for those who lead worship (not simply those who lead in music!). Readers will be surprised to encounter a Baptist scholar who espouses weekly celebration of the Lord's Supper, the use of religious images, and the practice of prostration, by way of his thick readings of Scripture. Especially helpful is Block's close attention to both Testaments and to the debates of church history--though the Western church is better covered than the East. Here is a conscientious scholar with a pastor's heart, whose work will benefit worshipers in general and church leaders in particular, even those who do not agree with all of his conclusions."

Edith M. Humphrey, F. Orr Professor of New Testament, Pittsburgh Theological Seminary

"This is an amazing volume. The author is a seasoned and celebrated Old Testament scholar who has managed to write an encyclopedic and in-depth biblical theology of worship that covers virtually every conceivable element of the topic. At the same time, he has written this book in a way that speaks understandably to contemporary issues in the church. He draws from a wealth of personal history and scholarly acumen. This will be a key resource for scholars, pastors, and lay people for decades to come."

Richard E. Averbeck, professor of Old Testament and Semitic languages and director of the PhD program (theological studies), Trinity Evangelical Divinity School

The Author

  1. Daniel I. Block
    Greg Halvorsen Schreck

    Daniel I. Block

    Daniel I. Block (DPhil, University of Liverpool) is Gunther H. Knoedler Professor Emeritus of Old Testament at Wheaton College in Wheaton, Illinois. He lectures and preaches around the world and is the author of numerous books, including For the...

    Continue reading about Daniel I. Block


Christianity Today 2015 Book Award Winner
One of
Worship Leader Magazine's "Best of 2014" Editor's Picks

"This splendid volume is the culmination of an entire career of studying worship in the Old Testament context. What generations of students have learned from Block's teaching is now available to all: the rich mosaic of experiences in Israel (and the church) that define us as humans. He explains how worship is done with pastoral sensitivity, theological insight, and the wisdom of a man whose life reflects the virtues he describes."

Gary Burge,

Christianity Today

"A useful book for libraries and readers in the Calvinist, evangelical, and free church tradition. . . . Recommended. Upper-division undergraduates, graduate students, professionals, and general readers."

J. W. Wright,


"Perhaps the most important dimension of Block's work is that he is willing to look to the OT to find models for Christian worship, although he frequently finds himself turning to the NT. . . . This is a worthwhile volume that will promote reflection on living a holy life in the world in conversation with G-d and with other human beings."

Marvin A. Sweeney,

Catholic Biblical Quarterly

"A study of worship rooted in biblical theology. . . . Especially helpful is Block's close attention to both Testaments. The insights of his investigations, especially in the First Testament, demonstrate the results of outstanding scholarly research. . . . There are areas of Block's work that are especially welcome, notably in the chapters exploring Music and Drama. It is most useful to have within the covers of one book such comprehensive coverage of these essential and so easily misunderstood aspects of Worship. . . . This is an important, thoughtful, and scholarly addition to the field of Biblical-Theological studies and its impact on Christian Worship."

Harvey Richardson,

Expository Times

"Students at a succession of theological schools have benefited from Block's careful, biblical, and deeply respectful presentation of a biblical theology of worship. . . . The strength of this single volume is its combination of biblical theology and a keen heart for authentic worship. Any pastor will be exhilarated by its content, educated by Block's scholarship, and made more competent and equipped to be faithful as a leader in Christian worship."

R. Albert Mohler Jr.,

Preaching (Annual Survey of the Year's Best Books for Preachers, 2014)

"This is not a book you will read in one sitting. These are ideas to reflect on again and again. Those involved in any aspect of liturgical ministry will benefit from the ideas developed here."

Dianne Bergant, CSA,

The Bible Today

"A number of factors make For the Glory of God an engaging and challenging read for pastors and lay people alike. Attitudes and expressions of worship often originate out of reactions to culture and differing worship experiences (whether positive or negative). In this refreshing work, Block calls the reader to consider carefully what the Bible itself communicates regarding worship. His opinions are insightful and his handling of Scripture is generally comprehensive, though weighted toward the Old Testament. . . . He recognizes that his is one of many voices on this topic and invites readers to think deeply on matters of worship."

Nick Bugos with Scott Horrell,

Bibliotheca Sacra

"Do you get frustrated at the shallowness of some contemporary evangelical worship? Do you need help understanding a full-orbed biblical view of worship and communicating such a view to the people to whom you minister? If so, [this] is a book you should read. . . . Each chapter of Block's book begins its biblical theology of the theme under discussion by starting with the OT, and rightly so. . . . Another strength is the way the material is arranged. Since each chapter tackles a specific element of worship, the book is almost a collection of biblical theologies of worship that helps us think biblically-theologically about each worship theme. This makes it a great reference resource for those needing to think carefully about a certain aspect of worship. . . . A superb resource for helping the church think biblically about worship in light of the entire canon of Scripture, and I highly recommend it."

Grant Gaines,

The Gospel Coalition

"Daniel Block stands among the finest evangelical Old Testament scholars in our day, and this work on worship reflects his stature, his scholarship, and his heart for the church's faithfulness. . . . [The subjects] are full of exegetical work and reflect the author's deep and careful reading of the Old Testament in particular. And here lies the great strength of the book: giving the OT its full weight in discussions of Christian worship. . . . I have not seen another work on Christian worship from an evangelical perspective that has so much exegetical patience and authority undergirding it, and certainly none that has offered a full voice to the OT. Block has drunk deeply from the wells of OT studies and here offers some wonderful and useful reflections on the central activity of the Christian community: worshipping God."

Joshua Moon,

Southeastern Theological Review

"Surely those committed to the core Reformation principle of sola scriptura will want to develop a theology of worship that flows organically from the totality of what the Bible teaches. What we need is a work from a scholar with a profound understanding of the Old Testament and how it applies to modern Christians. Ideally, such a work would reflect the wisdom gained from decades of committed worship with God's people. It would seek to reform our practices to bring them into greater conformity with God's Word, and it would be crafted with clear prose that is a delight to read. For the Glory of God is that book. . . . This volume is overflowing with extraordinary biblical insights presented in a clear and balanced manner. I picked up this volume expecting to learn a little bit more about worship. I put it down knowing the Lord and his Word better. What more could one ask? This is not only the finest book that I have ever read on worship, it is one of the best Christian books I have read in the past several years. I could not recommend this work more highly."

David A. Booth,

Ordained Servant Online

"If you are called of God to a ministry position in the local church, this is a book that you should read. The strength of the book is the author's thorough and balanced treatment of Scripture. But it is not merely a book for theologians. Instead, its value is as wide as its subject. . . . The book is replete with frequent and helpful outlines that provide structure for the content. . . . The book is a worthy read for all believers to study and enjoy. Many sections stand out, but the chapter on 'Family Life and Work as Worship' is worth the price of the book. Parents and pastors should read and apply these lessons in our families and churches. The book is a call to genuine, God-focused, Christ-honoring, Bible-affirming worship. His call is timely and needed. May its plea be heard."

Deron J. Biles,

Southwestern Journal of Theology

"In this comprehensive treatment of biblical worship, Block has added a significant voice to the conversation that ought to surround the work of the church today. . . . [Block's] technique is effective, as each idea works its way through the OT, the NT, and a practical application for today. In this theological discussion, Block successfully balances both corporate worship and the worship of everyday life. . . . For any minister . . . who desires to lead a congregation in biblically faithful, holistic worship, the book is accessible and helpful. As a textbook for seminarians, it is extensive in the area of the OT. . . . It is certainly valuable for the professor of worship, with many important insights that will be helpful in expanding classroom material. The illustrations, tables, and appendices are interesting and useful."

Dinelle Frankland,

Stone-Campbell Journal

"Block brings his OT expertise and encyclopedic knowledge of the biblical world to enlighten the reader's understanding of worship. . . . This volume is an exceptionally rich resource for thinking afresh about biblical worship for contemporary churches."

Craig D. Bowman,

Stone-Campbell Journal

"A large-scale publication on biblical worship is needed for every generation, and Block has provided it for this one. The amount of detail and careful exegesis in every chapter is unparalleled among books on this topic. For the Glory of God is thus an excellent sourcebook but could also serve as a manual for conducting church worship since Block seeks primarily to be faithful to the biblical text. . . . Block accomplishes theological moves with characteristic alacrity, sensitivity, and a view toward the benefit of the church. . . . To say that Block has written the book on the theology of worship is an understatement. . . . The impressive scope and exegesis of Block's work stands apart. Young scholars should take note: dong a biblical theology begins not with themes, concepts, and ideas, but with the actual words of the Bible. And to that topic, Block is unrivaled. He is biblically faithful. We should also take note that Block's exegesis and application come from decades of teaching and writing about this topic. Let us not be quick to publish our views without seriously pondering the text over a long period of time. Block is a model on this point, and we should be grateful."

Joshua M. Philpot,

Journal for the Evangelical Study of the Old Testament

"[This book] is vital to the study of worship. . . . This is an excellent book that needs to be carefully considered in conjunction with prayer by church leaders, laypeople, and those in the academy. Block provides excellent scholarship and meticulous notes throughout. Included are several helpful diagrams, charts, and illustrations--not to mention the appendices, which are an invaluable resource for worship planners and composers."

Shawn T. Eaton,

Artistic Theologian

"After decades of writing commentaries on individual books of the Bible, Block presents readers with a holistic biblical theology of worship. . . . [He] provid[es] the reader with a wealth of information. . . . Block provides excellent charts that only add to the resources provided for the reader throughout. . . . One final commendable attribute is his extensive chapter on music as worship. He does not simply present his view; but as he does in the rest of the book, he walks the reader from Old Testament to modern times in worship addressing numerous topics many would consider relevant today. For the Glory of God: Rediscovering a Biblical Theology of Worship provides readers with information that I highly recommend to anyone, especially to those who have formal theological training. This book would be excellent as a textbook in a worship history course or just for a layperson to learn more about worship."

Matthew Phenix,

Artistic Theologian

"The intended audience encompasses churches, clergy, collegians, and seminarians. The author sets forth this work as a corrective to the shallow, pragmatic, and atheological worship that dilutes many local churches today. For that purpose I recommend the book warmly. As a course textbook, the thirteen chapters allow for balanced coverage during a fifteen-week semester."

Mark A. Hassler,

Master's Seminary Journal

"Block demonstrates that worship is more than a service or style of music, but involves the Christian's entire life."


"Every chapter contains wisdom and practice. This book sets a new bar on teaching and learning on the biblical theology of worship. I find my own understanding of worship reinforced, expanded, and profoundly touched. This book deserves to be on the bookshelves of every Christian leader in ministry. I always feel encouraged whenever I read a good book. This book ranks highly as a huge shot of encouragement."

Conrade Yap,

Panorama of a Book Saint blog

"This is an irenic work that warrants some engaged thought by church leaders, as well as church members. . . . Whether you agree with most, all, or few of Block's conclusions, reading this book will bring you to think more clearly about why your church worships the way it does or doesn't. It is an ideal book for pastors, worship leaders, elders, worship teams, and committees. . . . I recommend the book."

Michael Philliber,

Deus Misereatur blog