God is King! He is Lord Most High over all the earth! He guards and protects the souls of the godly. He is good and He displays His glory for all to see. Have you seen it? In Psalm 97, the psalmist says you have!
1 The Lord reigns, let the earth rejoice;
Let the many islands be glad.
2 Clouds and thick darkness surround Him;
Righteousness and justice are the foundation of His throne.
3 Fire goes before Him
And burns up His adversaries round about.
4 His lightnings lit up the world;
5 The earth saw and trembled.
The mountains melted like wax at the presence of the Lord,
At the presence of the Lord of the whole earth.
6 The heavens declare His righteousness,
And all the peoples have seen His glory.
7 Let all those be ashamed who serve graven images,
Who boast themselves of idols;
Worship Him, all you gods.
8 Zion heard this and was glad,
And the daughters of Judah have rejoiced
Because of Your judgments, O Lord.
9 For You are the Lord Most High over all the earth;
You are exalted far above all gods.
10 Hate evil, you who love the Lord,
Who preserves the souls of His godly ones;
He delivers them from the hand of the wicked.
11 Light is sown like seed for the righteous
And gladness for the upright in heart.
12 Be glad in the Lord, you righteous ones,
And give thanks to His holy name.
Psalm 97 envisions God, the King, coming in judgment. God’s judgments are described as mysterious and awesome, Clouds and thick darkness surround Him (97:2). His judgments are righteous and just (97:2). His judgments are powerful and glorious (97:3-6). As a result of God’s judgments, His adversaries are destroyed (97:3). Therefore, the psalmist calls those who love Him to hate evil (97:10), be glad in the LORD......and give thanks to His holy name (97:12).
One day the Lord God will come to judge the world and every single person. (See Matthew 12:36; Acts 17:31; 2 Peter 3:7.) Therefore, if you love Him, do not merely try to avoid evil, but hate evil (97:10). The apostle Paul admonished believers, Abhor what is evil; cling to what is good (Romans 12:9). In the Book of Deuteronomy, Moses called the people to cling to God (13:4) and Jesus told the rich young ruler that only God is good (Luke 18:19). There is nothing good to cling to besides God!
The heavens declare His righteousness and all the peoples see His glory (97:6). Our good God has revealed His glory! Have you seen it? Have you seen God’s glory? I have seen glimpses of God’s glory often in my life: true love, a precious newborn baby, a rainbow bursting through the clouds, a perfect yellow rose, the wind rustling through the fragrant lemon tree, the warm sun spilling through my kitchen window, the sunset over the sea. But most of all, God has revealed His glory in the gospel. Have you seen it? It is the gospel of the glory of Christ (2 Corinthians 4:4), the gospel of the glory of the blessed God (1 Timothy 1:11). It is the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 4:6). So if you have seen His glory be glad, hate evil, and cling to Him.
O God, the nations have invaded Your inheritance;
They have defiled Your holy temple;
They have laid Jerusalem in ruins.
2 They have given the dead bodies of Your servants for food to the birds of the heavens,
The flesh of Your godly ones to the beasts of the earth.
3 They have poured out their blood like water round about Jerusalem;
And there was no one to bury them.
4 We have become a reproach to our neighbors,
A scoffing and derision to those around us.
5 How long, O Lord? Will You be angry forever?
Will Your jealousy burn like fire?
6 Pour out Your wrath upon the nations which do not know You,
And upon the kingdoms which do not call upon Your name.
7 For they have devoured Jacob
And laid waste his habitation.
8 Do not remember the iniquities of our forefathers against us;
Let Your compassion come quickly to meet us,
For we are brought very low.
9 Help us, O God of our salvation, for the glory of Your name;
And deliver us and forgive our sins for Your name’s sake.
10 Why should the nations say, “Where is their God?”
Let there be known among the nations in our sight,
Vengeance for the blood of Your servants which has been shed.
11 Let the groaning of the prisoner come before You;
According to the greatness of Your power preserve those who are doomed to die.
12 And return to our neighbors sevenfold into their bosom
The reproach with which they have reproached You, O Lord.
13 So we Your people and the sheep of Your pasture
Will give thanks to You forever;
To all generations we will tell of Your praise.
Psalm 79 is another psalm of Asaph, written after the Babylonians destroyed Jerusalem in 586 B.C. The ungodly had invaded the land, destroyed God’s temple, and killed His people. Asaph lays this before God and presents his complaint to God in verses 1-7, then pleads for God’s compassion and help in verses 8-12. Asaph longs to give thanks and praise to God in response to his answered prayer (79:13). But Asaph’s primary concern is found in verse 9: the glory of God’s name. Asaph asked God to answer his prayer, for the glory of Thy name. His primary concern was not the ruined temple in Jerusalem or the fact that Israel was now ridiculed and scorned by surrounding nations. Asaph called God to come and help his people for the glory of Thy name. Even in defeat and despair, Asaph recognized the glory of God and the glory due to His name. He had a passion for the glory of God’s name because God’s name is glorious (79:9)!
Have you ever thought about the importance of God’s glorious name? God’s name embraces all that He is and all that He does. Think about that! Do you acknowledge that His name is glorious or even think about the fact that His name is glorious? God’s name is entitled to proper glory. In Psalm 29:2, David called the people to, Ascribe to the LORD the glory due to His name. Psalm 72:19 blesses His glorious name. In Nehemiah 9:5, the Levites (the tribe God had called to serve Him) entreated the Israelites to Arise, bless the Lord your God forever and ever, and they honored His name with the words, O may Your glorious name be blessed and exalted above all blessing and praise!
I wonder how many Christians, when they pray, are concerned with the glory of God’s name? After reading Asaph’s psalms, this question has convicted my own heart. When praying for my friends and family and for my own needs and desires, I must confess that my central conscious concern has not been the glory of God’s name. I thank Asaph for being a godly example to me. Of course, I am concerned for my family and desire God to answer my prayers concerning their faith, their health, their safety, their lives. I long for those things. I am concerned that sick friends recover their health, and that those who are hurting cease suffering. I go to God with my own troubles and eagerly look for Him to meet my needs. But does the way I pray permit the final outcome to glorify my family? my friends? my self? Or is my prayer that God would work in all our lives for the purpose of bringing glory to His name? For why should anyone say of us, “Where is their God” (79:10)?
Thanks to Asaph, I have a new purpose in prayer: the glory of God’s name. I am asking Him to fill me with a passion for His name, a passion that sinks deep into my prayer life, making the ultimate goal of every prayer the glory of His name. What is the passion of your prayers?
I have been involved in Disciplers since 1987, as a discussion leader, teacher, writer, and now as director. I am profoundly committed to the stewardship of this ministry which God has entrusted to me for a time. God’s word is the chief joy of my life. I cherish my personal time in the word, and I am filled with gratitude to be able to share His word with you, my fellow disciples in Christ.