Rev. Slopsema is pastor of Hope Protestant Reformed Church in Walker, Michigan.
Give unto the LORD the glory due unto his name; worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness.
This beautiful Psalm was penned by David.
The theme is expressed in the very last verse: “The Lord will give strength to his people.”
Interestingly, the opening two verses are addressed to the (sons of) the mighty, who are the angels of heaven. They are called to worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness. Notice that the name LORD is all in capital letters. That means that in the original we find the name Jehovah. The angels are called upon to worshipJehovah in the beauty of holiness. In that worship they are to give unto Jehovah the glory due unto His name.
This same calling comes also to us.
Since we are created a little lower than the angels, the Bible often sets the angels before us as examples. This is the case, e.g., in the third petition of the Lord’s prayer: “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” This is a prayer that God grant us on earth the grace to do His will as perfectly as the angels do in heaven.
Should the angels in heaven be called to worship Jehovah in the beauty of holiness, certainly the same calling falls to us.
The occasion for this calling to worship Jehovah is the glory of His name.
First, there is a matter of translation. The KJV speaks of giving unto Jehovah “the glory due unto his name.” Literally, however, we read of giving unto Jehovah “the glory of his name.”
To the glory of the name of Jehovah we now call attention.
“Jehovah” is God’s covenant name. It emphasizes especially that God is faithful to the covenant He has made with His people.
The “name of Jehovah” refers not to the proper name “Jehovah” but to God Himself as He reveals Himself to be Jehovah, the faithful covenant God. Let me explain. Names have meanings. So too do the proper names God gives Himself. In the case of the living God, the names He gives to Himself reveal His true character. But it is also true that God reveals Himself through the works of His hand. Hence, in the Bible the name of God refers to God Himself, as He reveals Himself through the works of His hand. And that brings us to the name of Jehovah, the name of Jehovah God Himself as He reveals Himself through the works of His hands to be Jehovah, the faithful covenant God.
The psalmist speaks of the glory of that name.
In verse 3 David identifies God as the God of glory.
Now glory is the revelation of excellence and virtue. Whenever you see the good qualities of a person or thing revealed, you see its glory.
In like manner is Jehovah the God of glory. All that is good, excellent, and virtuous belongs to God. And this excellence of God is also displayed in the works of His hand. It is manifest in His work of creation. It is more brilliantly displayed in the works of salvation in Jesus Christ. In keeping with His covenant with them, Jehovah sovereignly and graciously saves His chosen people in Jesus Christ from sin and death to enjoy eternal life with Him. In this great covenant work all the glorious virtues of God are brilliantly displayed. And that is the glory of the name of Jehovah.
David continues in this Psalm to describe the glory of Jehovah’s name.
In verses 3-9 David calls attention to the great might and power of Jehovah. The great power of Jehovah is seen in the thunder and lightning, which the psalmist calls the voice of Jehovah. Jehovah speaks through the thunder and breaks the mighty cedars of Lebanon, the king of all trees. His thunder shakes the mighty wilderness of Kadesh, the most dreaded of all wildernesses. His voice affects the whole creation, even making the hinds to calve prematurely.
All this clearly indicates that the Lord sits as King forever (v. 10).
David concludes this Psalm (v. 11) by showing how Jehovah uses His great power: “The LORD will give strength unto his people; the LORD will bless his people with peace.”
We must understand these words in their historical setting. This Psalm was occasioned by the threat of Israel’s enemies, who sought to overthrow her and destroy the covenant of Jehovah. God reveals here that through His great power He would strengthen His people Israel under king David’s leadership to overcome her enemies, so that Israel would continue to enjoy the peace of God’s covenant.
All this, of course, only looked ahead to Another in whom the strength of Jehovah would be displayed in a much greater measure. For David was only a type or picture of Jesus Christ, the great King that was to come. The promise of Jehovah to strengthen His people was, therefore, really a promise to raise up the great Christ, and through Him to strengthen the church, that she may overcome forever her spiritual foes to enjoy the peace of eternal life.
This promise has already been fulfilled in part in that Jesus Christ, in the power of His death and resurrection, strengthens us daily in our battle against the powers of darkness, leading us from victory to victory. This promise will be completely fulfilled when the King, Jesus, returns at the end of the world in the power of the Father to destroy forever the powers of darkness and exalt the church into eternal glory.
This is the glory of the name of Jehovah!
And this is the occasion for the call to the angels of heaven and to us to worship Jehovah.
The character of the worship we are to render to Jehovah is expressed first in the term “worship,” which means to bow the knee. In the Bible, examples abound the bowing the knee to one’s fellow man and even to angels. Such action was an outward display of reverence for and devotion to the service of another.
This is the character of the worship we are to render to Jehovah. We must bow to Him the knee. Of importance in worship is not the outward action of bowing but the inner attitude which is expressed in such bowing. We must worship Jehovah by holding Him in highest reverence and respect. In that reverence we are to devote ourselves to serving Him. The reason for such worship is obvious – the glory of His name.
The character of the worship we are to render to Jehovah is also expressed in the phrase, “Give to Jehovah the glory of His name.”
We have already seen what is the glory of Jehovah’s name. The name of Jehovah is God Himself as He reveals Himself, through the works of salvation in Jesus Christ, to be Jehovah, the faithful covenant God. In these great works all the glory of God is most brilliantly displayed.
Our worship of Jehovah consists in giving to Him the glory of His name, i.e., acknowledging the glory of His name and praising Him for it.
In this way especially do we show the reverence and devotion to Jehovah that is expressed in the term “worship.”
It ought to be clear that this worship involves more than the worship we give to the Lord at His house on the Lord’s Day. Worship involves the whole of our life. Daily and in all our activities we are to stand in awe and reverence before the great Jehovah. Daily we are to devote ourselves to Him in loving service. And whenever we have opportunity, we are to give to Him the glory of His name – in the songs we sing and hear, in the words we speak.
But the Lord has also called us to set aside on day of the week, the weekly Sabbath, to worship Him in a special way. We are to gather together with our fellow saints in order to bow the knee to Him in prayer, to sing His praises, to receive the sacraments, and hear the preaching of His Word. The Lord also calls us to worship Him daily at the family altar by meditating upon His Word in prayer. How important these aspects of worship are! For then our attention is focused on the glory of Jehovah’s name as revealed in His Word. And the Lord uses this to fill us with reverence for and devotion to Him, so that we I worship Him in all of life’s activities. Neglect the true worship of Jehovah at His house or the worship of His name at the family altar, and you will not be able to worship Him in your daily life.
Worship Jehovah in the beauty of holiness.
Holiness is, negatively, separation from the sin of this world. Positively, it is devotion to the living God.
The psalmist speaks of the beauty of holiness. The word “beauty” has the basic idea of an ornament. An ornament is something that adorns, beautifies. Hence, we read of the “beauty of holiness.” This expression views holiness as a beautiful ornament that adorns us. This ornament of holiness was given to us of God. He gave it to us and the angels at our creation. Through the fall we lost it. God has graciously restored it to us in Jesus Christ.
This holiness is the source of all true worship.
Hence, we are to worship Jehovah in the beauty of holiness. That is, we are to worship Jehovah only in the context or sphere of holiness, so that our worship arises out of the holiness with which God has adorned us.
No, do not worship Jehovah in terror and dread fear. And do not worship Him in superstition or out of mere custom. For then your worship will only be an outward display of reverence and devotion. Such worship is false.
Worship Jehovah rather in the beauty of holiness, that you may from the heart reverence Him and give to Him the glory of His name.