Posted April 01, 2013
6 Splendor and majesty are before him;
strength and beauty are in his sanctuary.
7 Ascribe to the Lord, O families of the peoples,
ascribe to the Lord glory and strength!
8 Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name;
bring an offering, and come into his courts!
In Psalm 96:5 we learned that the gods of the peoples were “worthless idols”. What about God the Creator? What is He like? We learned that he was great in verse 4, but the psalmist continues in verse 6 by by giving four words to help describe God stated as couplets: Splendor and majesty, and strength and beauty. These four words are not often words we hear used to describe God in our generation. We often hear God described in terms of love, grace, forgiveness, and friendship, and while these are true, they are also incomplete without some others found in Scripture. God’s love seems all the more amazing in light of his holiness, justice, and righteous wrath! While He is love, His love is a holy love... While we have friendship with the God, this friendship is with the God of the universe and was purchased through the death of Jesus. What do the psalmist’s words teach us? Splendor and majesty seem to point us to God’s kingship and wonderful rule. For as many majestic things we see in this world, they are but a shadow and a reflection of God’s splendor and majesty. He is the source from which all splendor and majesty find their birthing place. His splendor never stutters, and his majesty never can be matched. Strength and beauty is an interesting combination. We have seen plenty of examples of strength disassociated from beauty, as well as beauty disassociated from strength, yet God possesses both equally and without tension. What a strong and beautiful God we serve!
Also note that these descriptions aren’t just ethereal and “out there in space”, but are seen in tangible ways. He tells us that both his power and beauty can be seen in his sanctuary. In his commentary on the Psalms, John Calvin said, “The Psalmist means that we cannot be said to know God if we have not discovered that there is in him an incomparable glory and majesty. He first takes notice of his power and strength, as that in which his glory consists. There, as God is invisible, he directs the thoughts of his people to the sanctuary, which we have already seen to be the symbol of his presence. Such is the weakness of our minds that we rise with difficulty to the contemplation of his glory in the heavens. The Psalmist reminds us that we have no reason to say that his glory is obscure, since there were emblems of his presence in the temple, the sacrifices, and the ark of the covenant.” Even more amazing is that now we know Jesus fulfilled all the types and shadows in the Old Testament in that He became the temple, He became the atoning sacrifice, and He ultimately became the mediator of presence of God to and amongst us!
In verses 7-8, we find a threefold call to “ascribe to the Lord”. This is similar to the threefold singing commanded in verses 1-2. We don’t often hear the word “ascribe” in our every day conversations. What does it mean? It literally means “to give”, which leads to the next question: how do we “give” something to a God who possesses everything? Perhaps “praise-filled recognition or response” would be an appropriate rendition. We see his glory and strength, and in turn recognize it and praise it! Our “giving” does not add to that glory, but rather God is glorified when we delight in who He already is. John Piper’s famous phrase says, “God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in him.” Note the communal dimension of this ascribing! The psalmist calls to the “families of the peoples” to praise this God together, not just alone. There’s such an importance to the corporate dimension of our praises! God has historically called a people to himself, not just individuals.
In the New Testament, we learn that through Christ’s blood and death, God has made a way for us not only into the courts, but also through the veil into the Holy of Holies. We no longer need to bring a sacrifice for sins, for Christ was that sacrifice. Now we bring only a sacrifice of praise and the offering of our lives in response to Christ’s sacrifice on our behalf. It’s not to ensure our right standing before God, but rather precisely because of it. Have you put your trust in Christ’s perfect offering before God? Then you can come into His courts freely as an adopted child of God and praise Him because He has graciously set you free.
This week’s song was written by Charlie Hall and Joel Limpic, and produced by Dustin Ragland. Charlie has a new record called "The Death of Death" which features another Verses Project song on it. Check it out here: http://charliehall.com/. The artwork was created by Jonathan Lindsey (http://cargocollective.com/JonathanDavidCreative).