“To the end my glory may sing praise to thee, and not be silent.”Psalm 30:12
Glory is an uncommon word to use outside of reference to God. Although it can mean visible brilliance, glory is a characteristic of the Godhead that goes beyond what can be seen, as evidence of what is unseen.
Noah Webster wrote that the word “glory” means: brightness; luster; splendor. (“For he received from God the Father honor and glory when there came such a voice to him from the excellent glory.” 2 Peter 1:17 )
It also means splendor; magnificence. (“Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.” Matthew 6:29)
In scripture, glory refers to the divine presence; or the ark, the manifestation of it. (“The glory is departed from Israel.” 1 Samuel 4:21.) Along with that, it means the divine perfections or excellence. (“The heavens declare the glory of God.” Psalm 19:1)
Noah Webster’s genius with words can make our heads spin. But God’s glory is so great, words almost don’t do it justice. Notice 4 descriptions from what we’ve learned:
- Divine Presence
These descriptions move us beyond the assumption that God ‘makes do’ in anything. From the heavens to the most insignificant single-cell organisms, no creation of His is just designed to get by. They each possess an engineered extravagance. Glory is the fingerprint of the Creator.
For example, the Wright brothers’ Flyer 1 in 1903 became the first machine to achieve and sustain heavier-than-air powered flight. It worked. But for all its success, you couldn’t honestly call their machine beautiful by any stretch of imagination. Function came first, form came later. Years of reworking turned the mess of cables and fabric of the Wright’s Flyer 1 into a sleek, comfortable Cessna Citation.
But God made the cardinal.
Functionally perfect for flight, boldly sporting his red coat and black mask, he is much more than a machine. He can reproduce other natural pilots like himself, and as if to top it all, he flaunts his endowed skills by singing. Some of us spent our first flight crying, or sick, or nervously gripping the armrest. The cardinal spends his days in aerobatic effortlessness, singing his little heart out. He was made to display God’s glory.
The glory of God is His ability to do impossible things with graceful ease. Psalm 29:1 says of God’s purity: “Give unto the LORD the glory due his name; worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness.” God alone can maintain purity and holiness in the face of temptation and opportunity- yet He does, and makes it attractive, too.
Glory is God’s character, a quality extended only by Him. Psalm 29:9 says, “The voice of the LORD maketh the hinds to calve, and discovereth the forests: and in his temple doth every one speak of his glory.” Nothing new is expected, explored, or explained outside of His ingenuity: His glory. The ability of God to do impressive things is HIS glory.
That is why when we try to lead someone to trust Christ, we often quote Romans 3:23, “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” The requirement of holiness and a new birth to get to Heaven are an absolute impossibility to a natural man. Our nature is sin- that is the core of our character. As much as God is glory, man is sinful. The two cannot exist at the same time and place.
God’s glory is impossible and impressive, but it may be imparted by its inventor. Paul quotes the Psalms when he speaks of this: “But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man.” (Hebrews 2:9) Jesus Christ embodied the beauty of holiness, the artful inventiveness, and, as Webster put it, the ‘divine presence’ of God. He came equipped with glory that before He arrived, no one had ever seen displayed before. Paul continues and explains the purpose of Christ’s coming: “For it became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings.” (Hebrews 2:10)
The Lord Jesus Christ exchanged our sin nature for His glorious nature as He sacrificed Himself on the cross. He imparted to us something we can’t come by naturally. He gave us something we cannot make or work out at all, let alone perform with ease or with magnificence. Jesus Christ brings many sons unto glory. It is his supernatural gift to us: admittance into Heaven by giving us His divine character.
Having this wonderful gift, David offers this pledge: “To the end my glory may sing praise to thee, and not be silent.” The Lord didn’t just functionally equip the soul to fly to Heaven, but, as the crimson cardinal in my backyard… you can sing as you fly!