“Glorify the Lord with me; let us exalt His name together.” – Ps. 34:3
What precisely does it mean to glorify God? The particular word translated “glorify” in this verse is sometimes translated by words such as “magnify,” “exalt,” “pile high,” and “make grow.” It has within it the concept of increasing the size of something. In this context it means to recognize who God really is and how to honor Him for what He has done. You glorify someone when you recognize his true identity and the true worth of his accomplishments.
When our boys were young, we took them on a short vacation to visit relatives in Lexington, Kentucky. During an afternoon trip to a miniature golf course, we noticed an older gentlemen with his grandchildren on another part of the course. “Do you know who that is?” someone asked. We didn’t. “He was the governor of Kentucky.” “You’re just making that up.” But it was true. The older gentlemen turned out to be the distinguished former governor of Kentucky. Our opinion changed instantly from disinterest to great respect.
The most common Old Testament word for glory means to treat something as “heavy” or “weighty” in nature. The word was used in Genesis 31 for animals heavy-laden with gold. The word also refers to the shining light of God’s presence. That glory was the cloud by day and the fiery pillar by night that led the people of God through the wilderness. Later it was the light that filled the tabernacle and the temple. Exodus 24:17 tells us that God’s glory was like a consuming fire on the top of Mount Sinai. Thomas Watson, the great Puritan preacher, called glory “the sparkling of Deity.”
When we pass into the New Testament we meet a Greek word, doxa, from which we get the English word doxology. This word has the idea of honor, dignity, and reputation. The last word—reputation—brings us very close to the meaning of “glory” in Psalm 34:3. I remember hearing Dr. Charles Ryrie explain that God’s glory is His reputation in the world. To live for God’s glory means to live so that God’s reputation is enhanced, not diminished.
That leads me to an important thought. In one sense you cannot diminish God’s glory. It exists forever because God is eternal. To paraphrase C.S. Lewis, you cannot diminish God’s glory any more than a madman can diminish the sun merely by scribbling “darkness” on the walls of his cell. However, you can cause others to see the glory of God or to dismiss it entirely by the personal choices you make every day.
God’s purpose for you and me is that we would glorify Him by recognizing in our daily lives who He is and what great things He has done for us. As we do that, His reputation is enhanced in the world.
Prayer: Lord Jesus, I pray to be the kind of person who makes it easy for others to believe in you. Amen.
A Moment’s Reflection:
Why did God leave His earthly reputation in the hands of His children?
What difference does that make for you?
Name three practical ways you can glorify God this week?
About the Author: Ray Pritchard (Th.M., Dallas Theological Seminary; D.Min., Talbot School of Theology) is the founder and President of Keep Believing Ministries (http://www.keepbelieving.com/blog/). He was for many years the Senior Pastor of Calvary Memorial Church in Oak Park, Illinois. He has been a professor and guest lecturer at many schools and is a frequent guest on nationally broadcast radio programs. He has ministered extensively overseas, preaching in India, Nepal, Paraguay, Colombia, Haiti, Nigeria, Switzerland, Russia, and Belize. He has written more than twenty books. He has written close to 30 books on the Christian Life. The article above was excerpted from his excellent devotional on the Psalms entitled Green Pastures, Quiet Waters: Refreshing Moments from the Psalms. Chicago, Moody Press, 1999, 30-32.