By Stephanie Englehart, Crosswalk.com
The heavens declare the glory of God, but what exactly is God’s glory? It is a theological term that is needed to fully grasp the gospel and our purpose in life, but even some of the best scholars and pastors in the world tell us their definition pales in comparison to all that God’s glory really is. The English dictionary defines glory as magnificent, beautiful, and of high renown—all things that God is. However, God is not simply beautiful, He is supremely beautiful, magnificent above all else, and the highest renown. Splashed across every page of the Bible we see God’s glory come to life. The Bible reveals God’s glory as brilliant light, so bright that in the new heavens and earth we won’t even need the sun (Revelation 21:22-25). It connects God’s glory to His holiness and great significance (1 Chronicles 16:28-29)—displaying our worship of God as something that should not be taken lightly, due to His immeasurable worth. Best of all though, the Bible outlines God’s glory being revealed to all of humankind.
What Does Psalm 19:1 Mean by 'the Heavens Declare the Glory of God’?
In order to understand what Psalm 19:1 means, we must first look at the context of the Psalm as a whole. The Psalm is primarily focused on God’s people celebrating His law. Verses 1-6 speak to God’s glory being seen throughout creation, and then the psalmist moves into how God’s Word addresses our souls and ends with a call to a humble response from His people. The phrase in Psalm 19:1 specifically describes how the sky—sunsets, thunder, lightning, hurricanes, and partly cloudy days bear witness to God’s power, might, and immeasurable worth to be worshipped. In Psalm 50:6 a similar theme is repeated as the Bible describes the heavens as proclaiming “his righteousness, for he is a God of justice.”
How Do the Heavens Do This?
Psalm 19:1 describes the heavens as declaring and proclaiming the glory of God. The Psalmist goes on to say in verses 2-6 that the heavens “reveal knowledge.” God’s glory can be heard throughout the “ends of the earth” and booms with “joy.” The heavens are meant to reveal God’s glory to us plainly. Romans 1:19-20 says:
“For what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood from His workmanship, so that men are without excuse.”
We were created by God to glorify God; all people can plainly see the glory of the created world. God’s creation reveals His eternal power and divine nature. The spectacle of a sunset, greatness of a mountain, power of a volcano, and might of a storm is meant to invoke our desire to glorify and unravel our own strength and worthiness. God’s creation gives us eyes to see and give praise where it is due—to the creator Himself.
“Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created.” - Revelation 4:11
Does All of Creation Declare God's Glory?
All people, throughout all time, in every place on earth have been created by the same God with the same purpose— to glorify Him. If we look all the way back to Genesis 1-2, we see God creating plants, animals, flowers, birds, oceans, and humans—made specifically in His image— calling them all good. God naturally and intentionally created us to love glory—His glory (Isaiah 43:7). Every delicious meal, unbelievable touchdown, incredible newborn baby, and remarkable song was meant to point us to the glory of God. But when we flip the page into Genesis 3, we read the account of how humankind fell into sin, distorting our original design to glorify God. Rather than glorifying God alone in all we do and say, we seek glory for ourselves. Sin has left us as glory hounds, constantly seeking the next best thing.
However, our glory-seeking days are not without excuse. The Bible is extremely clear that we become fools with the wrath of God upon us when we are not declaring God’s glory as we were intended:
“For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things. Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator” - Romans 1:21-25
“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23), but God did not leave us to worship created things. He glorified Himself through the sending of His son and reconciled us back to Him—opening our eyes to His due worth. Sin may cloud the Christian's mind at times on whom is deserving of all praise and worship, but because of Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross— covering our sin and shame—God has called all humankind to glorify Jesus alone.
Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. - Philippians 2:9-11
How Can Christians Declare God's Glory?
All humans throughout their life will declare something. They will either declare their own self- worth and greatness, or God’s worth and glory. As Christians, we are called to declare God’s glory alone, and in so doing we receive exceeding joy. With that in mind, here are 5 ways Christians can declare God’s glory:
1. 1 Corinthians 10:31 tells us that our entire lives should be done to the glory of God. Paul specifically uses the example of eating and drinking but references ‘whatever you do.’ Therefore, as Christians, we should take special care to make a practice of pointing to God’s glory in the mundane, the triumphs, and especially the difficulties. Cooking, laundry, and sharing a cup of coffee with a friend—each of these should invoke praise to God. We can thank Him for providing food, for making a cheeseburger taste good, for friendship that relieves loneliness, and for clean clothes to wear. When excitement in life happens, we must stray away from the belief that we have made it happen, but instead, trust that God works in all and through all for His good purpose. When a raise comes our way, we get the house we’ve been dreaming of, or we simply celebrate one year sober, we can shout ‘all glory be to Christ’. Finally, in the midst of deep sorrow, death, or constant depression we cling to the promises of God, trusting that He is still good and worthy of our praise —for every breath we take is a simple act of His grace.
2. As inherent glory hounds, we must keep in mind that God does not share His glory. Isaiah 42:8 reminds us that He is the ‘Lord, that is my name; my glory I give to no other, nor my praise to carved idols.’ This should lead us to repentance of our lackadaisical worship and glory stealing, and as Psalm 19:12-13 says, we should pray that God would forgive us of the sins we do not even see and keep us from stealing His glory all the more.
3. Jesus has saved us from the ways that we sin and fall short. John 1:14 states that “we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth”. As Christians, saved by God’s grace and truth, we are called to mirror Jesus in all His glory. In order to attempt this, we must seek to emulate His grace and His truth. This means we both stand firm on the Word, seeking righteousness and declaring God's goodness and worthiness, yet being gracious with others as God has been so gracious with us.
4. Declare His glory among the nations, His marvelous works among all the peoples (1 Chronicles 16:24)! This is not the only place in the Bible we see this command: Matthew 28:16-20 tells and us to go and proclaim the gospel, and 1 Peter 2:9 commands that we declare His excellencies. Christians who love Jesus will share of His marvelous works, just as the created world shouts of His glory.
5. Lastly, I think we can take it from Psalm 97 and rejoice in the Lord’s reign:
The Lord reigns, let the earth rejoice; let the many coastlands be glad! Clouds and thick darkness are all around him; righteousness and justice are the foundation of his throne. Fire goes before him and burns up his adversaries all around. His lightnings light up the world; the earth sees and trembles. The mountains melt like wax before the Lord, before the Lord of all the earth. The heavens proclaim his righteousness, and all the peoples see his glory.
All worshipers of images are put to shame, who make their boast in worthless idols; worship him, all you gods! Zion hears and is glad, and the daughters of Judah rejoice, because of your judgments, O Lord. For you, O Lord, are most high over all the earth; you are exalted far above all gods. O you who love the Lord, hate evil! He preserves the lives of his saints; he delivers them from the hand of the wicked. Light is sown for the righteous, and joy for the upright in heart. Rejoice in the Lord, O you righteous, and give thanks to his holy name!
Photo credit: ©GettyImages/Boonyachoat
Stephanie Englehart is a Seattle native, church planter’s wife, mama, and lover of all things coffee, the great outdoors, and fine (easy to make) food. Stephanie is passionate about allowing God to use her honest thoughts and confessions to bring gospel application to life. You can read more of what she writes on the Ever Sing blog at stephaniemenglehart.com or follow her on Instagram: @stephaniemenglehart.
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