In many places in Scripture, God makes statements that express a desire for His own glory. For instance, in Exodus 14:4, the Lord says, “I will get glory over Pharaoh and his armies.” Or in speaking of preserving Israel from His utter wrath, in Isaiah 40:11 the Lord says, “For my own sake, for my own sake, I do it, for how should my name be profaned? My glory I will not give to another. ”
Knowing that the Scriptures also say “let another’s lips praise you” and given their encouragement toward humility, one might wonder how we are to understand statements like these by God. When we are told not to seek our own glory, how can God seek His glory and command us to glorify Him? Here are five clarifying thoughts that will help you rejoice rather than stumble when you come across these self-proclamations by God.
God is essentially glorious. Just as God is revealed to us as the God who is love, so He also is the God who is glorious. That is who He is! His effulgent splendor cannot be denied, for to do so would be contrary to His being.
God is the creator of all. Simple enough, but vital to remember. His glory – His splendor, majesty, and beauty – is to fill the whole earth because, as Creator and Lord of the heavens and earth, this world was designed to that end.
God made man to glorify Him. The first catechism answer tells us that “man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy Him forever.” This speaks not only of our duty to glorify Him, but of our design to do so as those made in His image. When we are glorifying Him, it is to our greatest benefit and joy.
God is the giver of commands. All the commands given to you in the Bible do not equally apply to God. Just think of a father in his home. He can tell a child in the home to go to bed at a certain time, to clear the dishes, etc., but that does not mean he has to do the same. A trusting child obeys Daddy even when he does not understand, knowing it is best for him. Likewise, we do not seek our own glory because God says it is not right and good for us, but seeking His glory is.
Finally, God is Triune. This is the most beautiful way to understand this subject. While God decrees self-glory in His essential unity, it is carefully worked out in His three-ness as one of the persons gives glory to the others. In each act of God, this reflecting glory of one person in the Trinity shines upon another and then back again. This is most wondrously seen at the cross. As Jesus prayed the night before Calvary, “Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you” (John 17:3). The Son glorified the Father by enduring the cross; the Father glorified the Son by using His obedience to bring salvation to the world. The Spirit delights in revealing this glory to us.
Knowing these precious truths, we can wholeheartedly join God in seeking His glory as we sing and pray, “Not to us, O LORD, not to us, but to your name give glory, for the sake of your steadfast love and your faithfulness!” (Psalm 115:1)