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Bailey Sadler Class

SUNDAY SCHOOL LESSON STUDY GUIDE – Fall, 2018

 

Study Theme:  How To Pray

What This Lesson Is About

Week of:

Lesson Title:

This week’s study focus is centered on our (believers’) need to ask God to help us honor His name in our prayers and in everything we say and do.

 

Oct. 14

The Object of Our Prayer (Matt. 6:9a; Ps.103:1-5,11-13,19-22

X

Oct. 21

A Prayer of Praise: Matt. 6:9b; Ps. 96:1-9

 

Oct. 28

A Prayer of Surrender: Matt. 6:10; James 4:6-10,13-17

 

Nov. 04

Praying for Ourselves: Matt. 6:11; Isaiah 38:1-6,15-17

 

Nov. 11

Praying for Others: Matt. 6:11; John 17:11-23

 

Nov. 18

A Prayer of Confession: Matt. 6:12-13; Ps. 51:1-7,10-12

 

Nov. 25

A Prayer of Thanksgiving: Ps. 138:1-8

 

LIFE IMPACT:

Our prayers are driven by the desire to honor God.

FOCAL PASSAGE:

Matthew 6:9b; Psalm 96:1-9

LESSON OUTLINE:

I.    

II.

III.

Prayer Begins With a Desire to Honor God (Matt. 6:9b; Ps. 96:1-3)

God’s Splendor & Majesty Call For Us to Honor Him (Ps. 96:4-6)

Honor God Through Our Acts of Worship (Ps. 96:7-9)

THE SETTING:  

In His sermon Jesus condemned hypocritical Pharisees who denigrated Judaism’s primary forms of religious piety including almsgiving (or charity; 6:1-4), prayer (6:5-15), and fasting (6:16-18). The Pharisees practiced those sacred acts in ways that drew attention to themselves. Jesus told his followers to pray privately and God would hear and reward them. The key passage is Matthew 6:9-13, what we usually call the Lord’s Prayer. It is the model that Jesus taught his disciples as a pattern for our communications with God. So, in this session we again look at Jesus’ model prayer (v. 1b) to see how He said to give adoration to the Father.

We also look at another of the psalms to see how the people of Israel were encouraged to honor the Lord and proclaim His greatness to the whole world. In Psalm 96, the unidentified poet calls on the people of God to sing “a new song” of praise and worship to the Lord. He desired his readers to honor and revere God in their prayers. This passage is part of a group of psalms (93–100) that affirm and celebrate God’s sovereign rule over all the earth.

This psalm’s “new song” concept is found in other biblical passages (Pss. 33:3; 40:3; 144:9-10; Isa. 42:10; Rev. 5:9; 14:3). It basically means to sing with a fresh exuberant voice. A “new song” invigorated the worshippers in a crisp and joyous way. In the Old Testament hymns were vocal songs of praise usually in connection with important acts of God. In the times of the tabernacle and the Jerusalem temple the congregation harmonized led by trained choirs and musicians playing instruments.

SOURCE: Advanced Bible Study; LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention; One LifeWay Plaza, Nashville, TN.

INTRODUCTION:

 When I was a new Christian I naturally did not know how to pray very well. I thought that to be effective prayers had to be said with lofty words and following a complex formula. However, early on someone introduced me to a very simple and easy-to-remember outline for praying. It is based on the acrostic A-C-T-S. The letters stand for ADORATION, CONFESSION, THANKSGIVING, and SUPPLICATION.

Adoration is the expression of love and praise to God just because of who He is. Confession is admitting our sins to God with as much specificity as we can. Thanksgiving is offering appreciation to God for forgiving our sins, answering our prayers, and blessing our lives in material ways. Supplication is the petitioning of specific things for ourselves and others. These include spiritual needs (especially the salvation of others) but also the material items we need to live (food, money, medicine, clothes, etc.). I still often use the ACTS outline in my own prayers, and I teach it to children and youth to help them with theirs. It is appropriate that it begins with adoration or praise to God. It is the right way to approach God before we deal with other items of life.

In this series of studies we are looking at how Jesus taught His disciples to pray (Matt. 5:9-13). In the previous session we discussed how the Gospel of Matthew was written by one of Jesus’ original twelve disciples. Matthew was a tax collector in the city of Capernaum who abandoned his prestigious position to follow Christ (Matt. 9:9). Chapters 5–7 of Matthew’s Gospel is Jesus’ extensive discourse, delivered in Galilee, called the “Sermon on the Mount.” We are also analyzing other key biblical passages that provide examples and instructions about how and what to speak to God.

SOURCE: Advanced Bible Study; LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention; One LifeWay Plaza, Nashville, TN.

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

I.

Prayer Begins With a Desire to Honor God (Matt. 6:9b; Ps. 96:1-3)

Matt. 6:9b your name be honored as holy.


Ps. 96:1 Sing a new song to the Lord; let the whole earth sing to the Lord. 2 Sing to the Lord, bless his name; proclaim his salvation from day to day. 3 Declare his glory among the nations, his wondrous works among all peoples.

  1.   What’s in a name? What is the meaning of your name?

  2.   What’s a name you associate with greatness?

  3.   Do you think your name has significance? If so, why?

  4.   What do you think God’s name tells us about Him?

  5.   What is the first petition in Jesus’ Model Prayer and what does it tell us about God?

  6.   How would you explain the meaning of the word “hallowed” (v. 9b)? (See “Hallowed” in Digging Deeper)

  7.   What does the psalmist call for worshipers to do in Psalm 96:1-3?

  8.   Why do you think we should begin our prayers by bringing honor and glory to God and His name?

  9.   How does this psalm encourage and support a missionary endeavor?

10.   Does your prayers begin with a strong desire to honor God? Explain your answer!

11.   What is the context of this week’s study? (See “The Setting” on pg. 1.)

12.   What does it mean to you to honor the name of God? (See Adv. Comm., pg. 4, “In the last session . . . “ )

13.   What are some ways we can honor God when we pray?

14.   What is the focus of the psalmist’s encouragement to bless God in our prayers?

15.   What is the significance of God’s name? (See Adv. Comm., pg. 5, “The Lord’s name . . . ,” & “The name of God . . . “ )

16.   What else did the psalmist encourage us to sing songs to God about? (See Adv. Comm., pg. 5, “So what were they . . . “ )

17.   To whom did the psalmist encourage us to declare God’s salvation? (See Adv. Comm., pg. 5 “And how often . . . ,” & “The nations” were . . . “ )

 

Lasting Lessons in Matt. 6:9b; Ps. 96:1-3:

1. In our prayers we should honor God whose very name is holy. 

2. Every part of His creation sings the praises of God.

3. We should sing and praise God for His salvation and wonderful deeds.

 

II.

God’s Splendor & Majesty Call For Us to Honor Him (Ps. 96:4-6)

4 For the Lord is great and is highly praised; he is feared above all gods. 5 For all the gods of the peoples are idols, but the Lord made the heavens. 6 Splendor and majesty are before him; strength and beauty are in his sanctuary.

  1.   In this passage how does the psalmist call us to honor God?

  2.   What does verse 4 tell us about honoring God? (See Adv. Comm., pg. 6, “The psalmist declared . . . “ )

  3.   What do you think it means that He is feared above all gods? (See Adv. Comm., pg. 6, “So the psalmist . . . “ )

  4.   Does this mean that those other inferior gods actually exist? (See Adv. Comm., pg. 6, “Does that mean . . . “ )

  5.   What is one of the more distinctive aspects of the Judeo-Christian worldview? (See Adv. Comm., pg. 6, “One of the more . . . “ )

  6.   What does the word “monotheism” mean? (See “monotheism” in Digging Deeper, pg. 11.)

  7.   How would you explain the idols of the ancient pagan world? (See Adv. Comm., pg. 6, “The Israelites’ strict . . . “ )

  8.   How do you think the idols of the ancient world compare to modern day idols? (See Adv. Comm., pg. 6, “Most modern Americans . . . “ )

  9.   Do you think God’s splendor and majesty warrant’s us to honor God? Why, or why not? Explain your answer! (See Adv. Comm., pg. 6, “Only the Lord . . . “ )

10.   What aspects of creation would you identify as reflective of the splendor & majesty of God! Why?

11.   How would you explain why God is or should be “feared” above all gods? (See “Fear” in Digging Deeper.)

12.   What part do you think “humility”  should plan in the prayers of a believer? Why?

13.   Because of His greatness, what do you think He deserves when it comes to our prayers and praise of Him?

14.   What other attributes of the Lord does the psalmist single out as making Him worthy of honor and our praise?                    

 

Lasting Lessons in Ps. 96:4-6:

1. Only one true Creator God exists who can hear and answer our prayers.

2. People who worship idols or other false gods need to be shown the truth.

3. Because God is real we should go humbly into His divine presence to honor and worship Him.

 

 

 

III.     

Honor God Through Our Acts of Worship (Ps. 96:7-9)

7 Ascribe to the Lord, you families of the peoples, ascribe to the Lord glory and strength. 8 Ascribe to the Lord the glory of his name; bring an offering and enter his courts. 9 Worship the Lord in the splendor of his holiness; let the whole earth tremble before him.

  1.   What does the word “ascribe” mean as used in this passage? (See Adv. Comm., pg. 6, “Ascribe is . . .” )

  2.   What are we to ascribe to the Lord? Why?

  3.   How would you explain the two things the psalmist said we are to ascribe to God? (See Adv. Comm., pg. 6, “Ascribing to . . . “ )

  4.   What does the phrase “you families of the peoples” mean?

  5.   Based on this passage, in what ways are people to respond to what they know about the Lord?

  6.   What should motivate them to do so?

  7.   How can your worship be God-honoring?

  8.   Do you believe that everything in our lives is to be an offering that honors God—including our prayers? Why, or why not?

  9.   How would you explain the psalmist’s call for families to honor God? (See Adv. Comm., pg. 6, “The psalmist calls . . . “ )

10.   What do you think turns people off when talking about giving or taking offerings? (See Adv. Comm., pg. 6, “Unfortunately . . .” )

11.   Why do you think we should enter God’s presence in prayer and worship? (See Adv. Comm., pg. 6, “So, with their offering . . . “ )

12.   How does the image of a mighty king awaiting your offering impact your attitude toward prayer? (See Adv. Comm., pg. 6, The image brings . . . “ )

13.   What does the acrostic principle of praying mean to you? (See Introduction, pg. 1 & Adv. Comm., pg. 6, )

14.   What do you think are some ways we can honor God in our prayers, our worship, our relationships with family, friends, other people, and in our daily lives in general?

 

Lasting Lessons in Ps. 96:7-9:

1. God desires all the people of the world to know of His love for them and to worship Him. 

2. Stewardship includes giving offerings to express our devotion to God and to support Christian ministries.

3. God is our king, yet He desires we come into His royal courts with our prayers.

 

CONCLUSION:

  In general, prayer is the act or practice of addressing God.  People typically pray because they need something and believe God is able to intervene to provide for the need.  The biblical perspective on prayer is much different.  In prayer, we come into the presence of the Lord God of heaven and earth.  We celebrate and honor Him for who He is.  While we are invited to make our requests and petitions known to Him, they are not to be self-focused but God-honoring and God-centered.  Our prayers are to be driven by a desire to honor Him, to bring to Him the glory He is due.

 

As you reflect on this week’s study, ponder these questions and how you might answer them.  What do your answers tell you about how you are doing when it comes to honoring God in your prayers and your daily life!

·   What does it mean to be God-centered, not only in your prayer life, but also in your daily life?

·   How does it make you feel when you hear someone use the name of God as a swear word or in a vulgar way?

·   Do you enjoy singing in church? What is your favorite hymn or worship song? Why?

·   How can you and your church reach out with the gospel to people in your community who follow false religions and/or gods or even worship idols?

·   What is your attitude when the offering is collected in your church? What should it be?

·   What are some challenges you face in trying to keep your praying God-centered and God-honoring rather than self-focused?

·   How can thinking about the nature and character of God affect your praying and help you to pray with a God-focus?

·   Examine the attributes of God mentioned in Psalm 96.  Think of experiences in your own life in which those attributes of God became especially real to you.

·   What are you offering to God as your worship to Him, as a way of giving Him the glory due His name?

What have you learned from this study about how to honor God’s name?

What are the implications of these truths for your life?  THE CHOICE IS YOURS, ISN’T IT!

REMEMBER, the safest place for a believer is in the center of God’s will.

 

Lesson Outline, Introduction, Discussion Questions, and Conclusion adapted from the following sources:

SOURCE: Life Ventures-Bible Studies for Life; Leader Guide; LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention; Nashville, TN.

SOURCE: The Herschel Hobbs Commentary; Family Bible Study; by Robert J. Dean; LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention; 1 LifeWay Plaza, Nashville, TN.

SOURCE: Advanced Bible Study; LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention; One LifeWay Plaza, Nashville, TN.


 

 

FOCAL PASSAGE: 

Focal Passage from three different translations of God’s Word:

King James Version (KJV) Matt. 6:9b; Ps. 96:1-9

Matthew 6:9 (KJV)

9b Hallowed be thy name.


Psalm 96:1-9 (KJV)

1 O sing unto the LORD a new song: sing unto the LORD, all the earth. 2 Sing unto the LORD, bless his name; shew forth his salvation from day to day. 3 Declare his glory among the heathen, his wonders among all people. 4 For the LORD is great, and greatly to be praised: he is to be feared above all gods. 5 For all the gods of the nations are idols: but the LORD made the heavens.
6 Honour and majesty are before him: strength and beauty are in his sanctuary. 7 Give unto the LORD, O ye kindreds of the people, give unto the LORD glory and strength. 8 Give unto the LORD the glory due unto his name: bring an offering, and come into his courts. 9 O worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness: fear before him, all the earth.

 

New King James Version (NKJV) Matt. 6:9b; Ps. 96:1-9

Matthew 6:9 (NKJV)

9b Hallowed be Your name.


Psalm 96:1-9 (NKJV)

1 Oh, sing to the LORD a new song! Sing to the LORD, all the earth. 2 Sing to the LORD, bless His name; Proclaim the good news of His salvation from day to day. 3 Declare His glory among the nations, His wonders among all peoples. 4 For the LORD is great and greatly to be praised; He is to be feared above all gods. 5 For all the gods of the peoples are idols, But the LORD made the heavens. 6 Honor and majesty are before Him; Strength and beauty are in His sanctuary. 7 Give to the LORD, O families of the peoples, Give to the LORD glory and strength. 8 Give to the LORD the glory due His name; Bring an offering, and come into His courts. 9 Oh, worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness! Tremble before Him, all the earth.

 

English Standard Version (ESV) Matt. 6:9b; Ps. 96:1-9

Matthew 6:9 (ESV)

9b hallowed be your name.


Psalm 96:1-10 (ESV)

1 Oh sing to the LORD a new song; sing to the LORD, all the earth! 2 Sing to the LORD, bless his name; tell of his salvation from day to day. 3 Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous works among all the peoples! 4 For great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised; he is to be feared above all gods. 5 For all the gods of the peoples are worthless idols, but the LORD made the heavens. 6 Splendor and majesty are before him; strength and beauty are in his sanctuary. 7 Ascribe to the LORD, O families of the peoples, ascribe to the LORD glory and strength! 8 Ascribe to the LORD the glory due his name; bring an offering, and come into his courts! 9 Worship the LORD in the splendor of holiness; tremble before him, all the earth! 10 Say among the nations, “The LORD reigns! Yes, the world is established; it shall never be moved; he will judge the peoples with equity.”

 

(NOTE:  Commentary for the focal passage comes from four sources: “Advanced Bible Study Commentary,” “Bible Studies For Life Commentary,” and “Jamieson-Faussett-Brown Commentary on The Whole Bible: & The Treasury of David: Psalms 58-110:” and is provided for your study.)

 

Lesson Outline — “A Prayer of Praise” — Matthew. 6:9b; Psalm 96:1-9

I.

II.

III.

Prayer Begins With a Desire to Honor God (Matt. 6:9b; Ps. 96:1-3)

God’s Splendor & Majesty Call For Us to Honor Him (Ps. 96:4-6)

Honor God Through Our Acts of Worship (Ps. 96:7-9)

COMMENTARY:

Advanced Bible Study Commentary:  Matthew. 6:9b; Psalm 96:1-9

I. Prayer Begins With a Desire to Honor God (Matt. 6:9b; Ps. 96:1-3)

Matthew 6:9b. In the last session we saw how Jesus told His followers to address God in prayer as “Our Father,” a title of respect and intimacy. In the next line (v. 9b) He said to pray your name be honored as holy (“hallowed,” KJV). God’s name refers to His person, character, and authority. God, as represented by His name, should be approached in prayer as holy and honored because of His perfection and goodness. “Holiness” has at least four connotations in Scripture. One meaning is that God is “set apart,” especially in places where He is present such as in the tabernacle or the temple. Another way God is holy is that He is perfect, transcendent, and spiritually pure. His holiness also is found in the awe and fear of His greatness. Finally, holiness reflects His supernatural power over everything that exists. Thus, Jesus says, as we move into our prayer, it is important to honor His holy name.1


In Psalm 96, the psalmist began his worship encounter calling for all the earth to sing a new song to the Lord. They were to bless his name. Bless literally means “to kneel.” Throughout the Old Testament individuals are said to bless the Lord (Gen. 9:26; Ruth 4:14; Ps. 68:19; Ezek. 3:12). God Himself also blesses His people. People also can bless each other. In this context it refers to giving praise and honor to “his name.”

The Lord’s name is Yahweh, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, who spoke to Moses out of the burning bush (Ex. 3). When Moses asked God His name, He answered, “I AM WHO I AM.” He said to tell the people “I AM” had sent him (v. 14). So God revealed His sacred name, which came to be written in Hebrew as YHWH. The precise pronunciation of the name is lost in antiquity since biblical Hebrew had no vowels. Nonetheless, most Hebrew scholars believe it is best transliterated as Yahweh.

The name of God here, as in Jesus’ model prayer, is a significant personal disclosure and reveals the intimate relationship God has with His people. It reflects both the transcendence (otherness) and immanence (closeness) of His nature. The name reveals His power, authority, and holiness. Israel had great reverence for it. The Ten Commandments prohibited anyone from violating God’s sacred name. “Do not misuse the name of the Lord your God, because the Lord will not leave anyone unpunished who misuses his name” (Ex. 20:7; see also Deut. 5:11).

So what were they to sing about? God’s salvation for one. In the Hebrew mind, salvation was never a purely a secular deliverance. Any saving activity was a representation of God’s rescuing or freeing them from national oppression. Salvation is God’s redemptive work in history. In the Old Testament, the foremost salvation event was the Israelite’s exodus from Egypt. Usually in the Book of Psalms, salvation was a corporate or community experience. Some psalms, however, focus on individual salvation from sin or enemies. They speak of the salvation of the “upright in heart” (Ps. 36:10) and “the righteous” (Ps. 37:39). One of the best examples is found in David’s prayer of repentance in Psalm 51: “Restore the joy of your salvation to me, and sustain me by giving me a willing spirit” (v. 12).

In light of the New Testament, we know full salvation is focused in the redemptive work of Jesus Christ. His life, death, and resurrection are the apex of human redemption, accomplished once and for all. “He entered the most holy place once for all time, not by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood, having obtained eternal redemption” (Heb. 9:12).

The New Testament also views salvation from the experience of the believer. In the individual’s case it involves: conviction of sin (John 16:8); repentance (turning) from sin to God (Luke 15:7,10; 2 Cor. 7:10); a faith or trust commitment to Jesus Christ (John 3:16,36); and confession of Jesus as one’s Savior and Lord (Acts 2:21; Rom. 10:9-10). Salvation proceeds over three stages in the life of the believer. (1) Justification is the initial point of conversion and reception of eternal life. It is a one-time event. (2) Sanctification is the ongoing lifetime growth process of the believer in his or her faith and relationship with God. It is not always a straight path in that Christians still struggle with their sin nature. Nonetheless, they have the Holy Spirit to empower them. (3) Glorification is the culmination of salvation when believers will go to be with Jesus in the intermediate state and later receive a new, glorified body at the final resurrection.

And how often were they to proclaim God’s salvation? Every day. Yes, day to day they were to praise Him and declare His glory among the nations. “Glory” (kabod) can also mean abundance or honor. It comes from a root word meaning a heavy weight. So to give glory is to give heavy weight to honoring God. It is recognizing the importance of His revelation and His goodness to the worshiping community.

“The nations” were the Gentiles or heathen peoples outside of the covenant community of Israel. The Israelites were to declare the Lord’s glory and wondrous works (marvelous deeds) throughout the world. One might look at this as sort of an Old Testament Great Commission. The Hebrews were intended to share the knowledge of the true God with the world. God told Abraham, “I will make you into a great nation, I will bless you, I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing … and all the peoples on earth will be blessed through you” (Gen. 12:2-3). Years later, God told Moses, “Now if you will carefully listen to me and keep my covenant, you will be my own possession out of all the peoples, although the whole earth is mine, and you will be my kingdom of priests and my holy nation” (Ex. 19:5-6). They were to be a nation of priests to all nations, acting as mediators between the Lord and all humanity.

We know the Israelites failed to do as God intended. By the time of Jesus, the Jews had pretty much become focused on their own national identity. They imagined their status as God’s chosen people meant they were automatically more favored by God than other peoples.

Of course, Jesus refused to limit the scope of His ministry to one ethnic group. He showed love to Samaritans, Greeks, Romans, and all others. His Great Commission was “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (Matt. 28:19). Paul said God’s ancient intentions are fulfilled in Christ: “The Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, ‘All the nations will be blessed in you’ ” (Gal. 3:7-8).

World missions had their beginnings in the heart of God from the time of Adam and Eve. That mission continues today. We are called to carry the gospel to every people and language in every corner of the globe. It is sad to read that some mainline denominations are scaling back their mission programs or eliminating them altogether. Evangelical groups, however, are involving growing numbers of churches and individuals in short and long-term mission projects yielding great harvests of souls.

So why were they told to declare God’s glory? The next section explains.

1. John D. W. Watts, “Holy,” in Holman Bible Dictionary, gen. ed. Trent C. Butler (Nashville: B&H, 1991), 660-61.

II. God’s Splendor & Majesty Call For Us to Honor Him (Ps. 96:4-6)

The psalmist declared the Lord is great and is highly praised. He is worthy of praise but also feared above all gods. In the last session we discussed the fear of God. It is that deep sense of awe, humility, and sinfulness people feel when they are confronted by the omnipotence and holiness of the Lord. Often they fall on their face or kneel in response.

So the psalmist is affirming the Lord’s total superiority over all the gods of all other nations.

Does that mean those other inferior gods actually exist? No, the gods of the pagans and heathens are lifeless idols. One of the more distinctive aspects of the Judeo-Christian worldview is its clear monotheism. That is: the recognition and worship of only one God. As the Lord said through Isaiah, “This is what the Lord, the King of Israel and its Redeemer, the Lord of Armies, says: I am the first and I am the last. There is no God but me” (Isa. 44:6).

The Israelites’ strict monotheism was in contrast to the polytheistic pagan religions of the peoples around them (and whose gods the unfaithful Israelites sometimes paid homage). These gods were often nationalistic symbols who fought among themselves for dominance. Many ancients also believed that the gods’ power was limited to specific geographical regions. Some of the national gods the Israelites encountered included: Baal, the Canaanite god of fertility (1 Kings 18); Dagon, chief god of the Philistines (1 Sam. 5; 1 Chron. 10:9-11); and Molech, god of the Ammonites, who practiced child sacrifice (Lev. 18:21; 20:1-5).

In any case, the psalmist rejected them all as mere objects of human hands. Idols were physical or material images or forms of divine beings that were worshiped. Scripture regards them as abominations to the Lord. The Ten Commandments absolutely forbid making idols: “Do not make an idol for yourself, whether in the shape of anything in the heavens above or on the earth below or in the waters under the earth. Do not bow in worship to them, and do not serve them” (Ex. 20:4-5). Isaiah mocked them, “All who make idols are nothing, and what they treasure benefits no one. Their witnesses do not see or know anything, so they will be put to shame. Who makes a god or casts a metal image that benefits no one?” (Isa. 44:9-10).

Most modern Americans assume that idol worship was an ancient relic of superstitious and ignorant people. The fact is, even in this country pagan idolatry is now widely practiced and is expanding. In the Georgia county where I live stands the largest Hindu temple in North America. It is filled with literally hundreds of idols of various Hindu gods. Another example is Wicca or witchcraft, which is essentially a revival of ancient paganism. Also, the New Age Movement includes many aspects of pagan philosophy.

Only the Lord deserves the worship and honor due Him because He is the only God who truly exists! The psalmist proclaimed that He is the all-powerful and sovereign Creator of the universe. Splendor and majesty are before him and strength and beauty are in his sanctuary. His sanctuary was the place (in the tabernacle or Jerusalem temple) that was sacred and set aside for worshiping God.

Sometimes Christians refer to their church’s worship center as the “sanctuary.” However, Jesus taught that any place can be a sanctuary where we can approach the throne of God in prayer. When we humbly pray in His name we know we are invoking His sovereign control in our lives. He calls us to come to Him with all our cares and needs. Unlike a wooden or stone idol, He hears our words and thoughts and answers according to His will. The next section reminds us of a very important dimension of our prayers and our lives.

III. Honor God Through Our Acts of Worship (Ps. 96:7-9)

The psalmist calls on all the families of the peoples (or tribes) to recognize God for who He is. The phrase “families of the nations” again brings to mind God’s promise to Abraham to bless all the families of the earth (Gen. 12:2-3). Through Abraham and his descendants God would make His name known throughout the world. Ultimately that pledge has been fulfilled in Jesus and the church. In the last two millenia, literally untold millions of people from many different ethnic, racial, and language groups have been blessed with the knowledge of God incarnate in Jesus Christ.

As missionaries have carried God’s Word and the gospel to nearly every corner of the globe, Christian populations can now be found in some of the farthest flung places. A few years ago I visited American Samoa and the independent nation of Samoa. Many people have misconceptions of what the Samoan people are like. What I saw was one of the world’s most Christianized cultures. Churches are found everywhere on the islands and most people have great devotion to Christ. As I worshiped with them I saw exactly what the psalmist said in this passage.

Ascribe is used three times in verses 7-8 in a sort of parallelism for emphasis. It means “to give” or “to offer.” He told the people to give the Lord the credit He is due. How is that done? By ascribing to Him the glory and strength of His name. These qualities attest to His powerful saving acts in history.

Ascribing to the Lord is not to be done merely with verbal praise. They are told to bring an offering. An offering referred to physical items which were brought by the people to God to express devotion, thanksgiving, or to seek forgiveness. They could be in the form of animal sacrifices. Burnt offerings were meats seared on the altar. The offerings may also refer to gifts of grain for the sanctuary and the worship leaders (see Lev. 2).

Unfortunately, talking about giving or taking offerings turns off many people about church. That’s probably because of the way the principle of Christian stewardship has been so abused by unscrupulous charlatans. One need only listen to the unbiblical solicitations done by manipulative television preachers to understand why some people are wary of giving to any religious organization.

The Bible actually has much to say about stewardship and giving. In biblical times a steward was someone who was entrusted with the management of their master’s possessions. God has entrusted us with material possessions. So stewardship involves the totality of our material life: earning, spending, saving, and even making a will. Giving to support our church and other legitimate ministries is a major aspect of this principle. As Paul told the Corinthians, “Each person should do as he has decided in his heart—not reluctantly or out of compulsion, since God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Cor. 9:7).

So, with their offerings the worshipers were to enter his courts. The image brings to mind the court of a mighty king. The Lord is the king of all the earth so when they enter His presence in prayer or worship they should do with great reverence. The splendor of his holiness is cause for the whole earth to tremble before him. This psalm lifts our eyes to God’s greatness and calls us to worship Him with all our hearts.

At the beginning of this session we talked about the ACTS acrostic principle of praying. It starts with Adoration. When we come to the Lord we must remember just who He is. He is the Almighty, All-Knowing Creator of the universe. We must not forget that our prayers are not to tell God what to do, but for us to know Him better and learn what His will is for us and the world. What a privilege we have to enter His courts with the confidence He cares for us, He hears us, and He will answer our petitions in accordance with His holy and gracious wisdom.

SOURCE: Advanced Bible Study; LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention; One LifeWay Plaza, Nashville, TN.

Bible Studies For Life Commentary:  Matthew. 6:9b; Psalm 96:1-9

I. Prayer Begins With a Desire to Honor God (Matt. 6:9b; Ps. 96:1-3)

Matthew 6:9b. When we begin our time of prayer, Jesus instructs us to honor our Father. The honor we give Him cannot be something that’s contrived or produced out of obligation or ritual. It’s something that we sincerely want to do. Our desire to honor Him inspires us to praise Him.

The model for praying that Jesus shared with us has come to be known as the Lord’s Prayer. However, calling it the Model Prayer would be best. Jesus intends for us to use it as a guide or model when we pray.

In this portion of His Model Prayer, Jesus showed how to acknowledge God as Father when we begin to talk with Him. As Jesus pointed out, how we approach our Father makes more of a difference than we may realize at first. It’s tempting for us to start our conversation with Him by telling Him about everything we need. When we give in to that temptation, our view of Him diminishes to the point that we lose sight of the honor He deserves. At the same time, our view of ourselves inflates so that we nurture a bloated perspective of ourselves and our needs. When we fall into that bad habit, the list of needs that we bring to Him turns out to be endless, and our anxiety over our needs never gives way to peace. But when we honor the Lord at the outset of our prayer, we’re more settled in His presence. We begin to see that coming into His presence matters more than making sure that He hears about our needs.

What’s the best way to come into the presence of the Lord? Jesus taught us to approach Him with a reverent awareness of His holy name. In the days of the Bible, a person’s name suggested something about his or her personality, character, or authority. For that reason, parents chose the names of their children carefully. The names they gave to their children said something meaningful about them and their future. If the name of a person mattered in a family, the name of God mattered even more among His people.

When we focus on God’s name in prayer, we’re drawn to what His name means to us. When we reflect on the meaning of His holy name, the truth about His character, authority, wisdom, and power become more vivid to us. Likewise, we come to understand in His presence how much He loves us. For believers today, the cross is the perfect demonstration of His love, and we pray in its shadow.

When we meditate on the holiness of His name, we’re moved to honor Him. With hearts full of praise, we hallow His name. We begin to grasp how He’s set apart from all His creation. That’s when we’re seized by the truth that Jesus affirms in His instruction. The name of the Lord reminds us that He’s completely different from us. He’s altogether set apart. In other words, He’s holy.


Psalm 96:1. This psalm offers insights into how to honor the Lord as holy when we pray. Applying each insight can render a difference in our prayer lives. Verse 1 prompts us to sit up and take notice of the Lord’s great name by praising Him. We are challenged to express the honor that He deserves by singing to Him. Singing has always been a worship tool God’s people have used to praise His name. Our eagerness to lift Him up on high by praising Him finds its best voice in singing. The song isn’t the same old dirge that everyone else may sing. Instead, God’s people sing a new song. It’s new in that it’s stirred by the fresh work He’s done in our lives. Our new song underscores His gracious ways among us and the incredible changes He has made in us. Along with His people, His creation—the whole earth—has been directed to join in the new song of praise. The evidence of His remarkable work around the world and throughout the universe fuels our praise to Him.

Verse 2. As we sing to the Lord, we’re directed to focus our complete attention solely on His wonderful name. When we take the direction of this verse seriously and fix our eyes on Him alone, the features of His perfect power, wisdom, and authority become sharper and clearer to us. When He comes into view in that way, we praise His name with renewed minds and sincere hearts. Blessing His name takes the form of joyful noise on bent knees.

While we bless His name by singing to Him, we also praise Him by talking openly and freely about Him. His salvation provides us with the words to our song and the content of our conversations. Of course, God’s people in the Old Testament knew His salvation well. But on our side of the crucifixion, we know it more fully. Therefore, we have an even greater reason to keep on talking about His matchless name with everyone everywhere at every opportunity. When we make His salvation through Christ a part of our daily discourse, we bless His name.

Verse 3. Because He has saved us, glorifying Him always remains our primary passion. To glorify Him implies that we cast the light on Him and call attention to the weight that His name carries in our lives and in the world. When we declare His glory to others, we eagerly put the light on Him so they will turn to Him. Also, when we talk about the wonders He has performed in us through Christ, we hope that others will give their lives to Him and serve Him as well. Our eagerness to declare His glory knows no boundaries. We want to proclaim His name to every people group and every nation in the world.

So far, the psalm has shown us what it means to affirm the Lord’s name as holy. The psalmist encouraged his audience to honor the Lord by singing the new song to Him, a song that honors Him. With our song, we cast the light on Him because He has saved us. As we eagerly sing the song of praise to Him, we want the whole world to hear the good news of His salvation.

II. God’s Splendor & Majesty Call For Us to Honor Him (Ps. 96:4-6)

Verse 4. When we take the time to behold God’s splendor and majesty, we respond with an authentic desire to give Him the honor He deserves. The psalmist showed us that drawing our attention to these features of His sovereign rule inspires us to praise Him.

After directing God’s people in the days of the Old Testament to praise Him with a new song, the psalmist offered them some rock-solid reasons for praising with their whole hearts. When they compared the glory of the Lord to the actual weight that false gods carried in their world, they would notice a huge difference. In the wake of such a comparison, the idols pagan people worshiped would become smaller and smaller. At the same time, the living Lord would become greater and greater. If they measured His greatness in terms of sheer might, they would respond by affirming that He possessed all power. Also, when they evaluated His greatness in terms of importance, they would have no choice but to declare that His presence made all the difference in the world.

The comparison between the Lord of Israel and the made-up gods of the pagan nations would render another critical distinction. When people came into the presence of the false gods, they would normally not worship the gods in a spirit of healthy respect and loyal love. Instead, their worship would be characterized by nothing but horror or dread. On the other hand, when God’s people came into the presence of the Lord, their worship would be marked by godly fear. Such fear did not leave them with the sense that they would be terrorized by His presence. Neither did it suggest that they worshiped Him because He threatened to punish them. Granted, fearing Him meant they recognized His ultimate authority in their lives and their need to take Him seriously. However, it also meant they understood He loved them like the perfect father loves his children.

Verse 5. The psalmist gave us yet another point of comparison. The gods the pagans worshiped had been crafted by the hands of worshipers. Each one of them had been carved out of pieces of stone or wood. Then each idol literally had to be picked up and placed in prominent spots in a home or on a street so everyone could see them and worship them. Even though the idols may have looked important, they were really nothing more than worthless pieces of carved wood or stone. They didn’t even have the power to move. Neither had they any power to help, heal, or forgive. They were only useless, good-for-nothing idols. If someone threw one of them in the trash, it couldn’t issue a curse or cast a spell. It was absolutely worthless.

Such an observation could never be made about the Lord. Far from being good for nothing, His value can only be described as priceless. He has proven His power by creating the universe they saw all around them. When they looked up into the sky, they could see the work of His hands. As they peered at the stars at night and studied the clouds during the day, they would be seized by the reality that the all-powerful Lord created everything they beheld. Even more miraculous, He made it out of nothing. Only Almighty God could have performed such a miracle of creation.

When we think about the Lord in this way, we find ourselves setting Him apart and honoring His great name. While people in pagan lands might craft idols then worship them, God’s people worship Him because He created them. His creation recognizes Him as worthy of our worship. Therefore, we eagerly honor His great name as holy.

Verse 6. This verse calls on us to behold the Lord on His throne. As we see Him there, seated with all authority over everything everywhere, we notice what’s surrounding Him in His throne room. The psalmist directed our attention to two captivating features that stand before Him like guards. Splendor stands there, sending forth a radiant message of His honor. Majesty stands there as well, reminding us that we have come into the presence of divine royalty. Splendor and majesty constantly abide in His holy presence.

Next, we’re invited to turn our attention to the sanctuary, the place where we worship the Lord. For God’s people in the Old Testament, it would have been the tabernacle or the temple. Christians today understand the imagery of the sanctuary as the place God meets us. The picture makes us aware of the value of worshiping the Lord by recognizing the glory of His presence.

When we worship Him, the twin traits of His presence mentioned in this verse continue to arrest our attention. His strength and beauty emanate from Him. His strength can be seen in His creation. However, we can also behold His power in His redemption of those who trust Him. He alone has the power to give life and to take it. By providing the way of redemption through the cross, He exerts His power to give eternal life to anyone who receives Christ. In the same way, the beauty of His presence comes into view when we consider that He wants us to know Him as our Father. A parent cuddling a child stands out as something beautiful to behold. However, it’s not as beautiful as the intimate relationship God intends to enjoy with His children.

III. Honor God Through Our Acts of Worship (Ps. 96:7-9)

Verse 7. We honor the Lord by offering everything in our lives to Him. When we pray, honoring Him takes center stage. Even when we talk with Him about what we need, we do well to keep the honor of His name in mind. These verses reinforce this vital insight into effective prayer.

Ascribing involves placing credit where it belongs. Thus, the psalmist instructed us to give God credit for who He is and what He’s doing in our lives and in our world. We usually give credit to individuals who have accomplished remarkable feats. When a scientist makes a new discovery, a musician produces a flawless melody, or an athlete sets a record, we enjoy giving them credit for their achievement by applauding them. Similarly, God’s people respond to His outstanding work by attributing the glory to Him for His achievement. We applaud Him by giving Him the credit that He deserves. His matchless strength and the magnificent way that He exerts on our behalf moves us to glorify Him.

In this verse, the psalmist encouraged us to glorify God when we go to Him in prayer. Of course, that’s what Jesus taught us as well. In His instruction on prayer, He showed us how to recognize God’s name as holy when we pray. For disciples, therefore, honoring His name as holy becomes our highest priority as we begin in our prayer time.

Notice that the challenge to honor the Lord has been given to families instead of nations, tribes, or individuals. The picture painted by the term families brings to our minds the unique relationships associated with being sons and daughters and fathers and mothers.

We do well to keep the family picture in view when we pray. In prayer, we don’t come before His presence as individuals among a crowd of strangers who happen to be with us when we worship. We never want to engage in prayer with a selfish attitude that causes us to lose sight of others while we talk incessantly about nothing more than our personal issues. Family members share life with each other. When we pray, we honor the Lord as spiritual siblings in Christ who value the intimate kinship that we have with other believers.

Verse 8. The psalmist repeated the challenge to give God the credit He deserves by glorifying His altogether peerless name. Then he showed us what we can do in order to honor the name of the Lord as holy. He instructed us to bring an offering to the Lord. Of course, He intends for us to offer something that honors His holy name. When we think about an acceptable offering, we find help in Romans 12:1-2. When we present ourselves as living sacrifices to Him, we present Him the offering He deserves.

When God’s people worshiped Him at the temple, they passed through the gate and then made their way into the temple courts. Therefore, entering His court served as an initial step in approaching Him in worship. For believers today, the image of God’s people entering His court implies honoring His name as holy as we begin to pray.

Verse 9. The scene of worship in this Old Testament psalm gives a unique shape to our time in prayer. Like God’s people generations ago, we have been directed to keep the holy name of the Lord in mind when we pray. He’s holy, completely set apart as different from everyone and everything else in the world He created. Therefore, when we come to Him in prayer, we keep His holiness in sight. Accordingly, we present everything in our lives as a tribute of praise to His holy name. Even when we begin to talk with Him about what we need, we do not lose sight of the honor that’s due His holy name. Honoring His name as holy has a way of refining the list of needs we bring to Him in prayer. It also influences the way we see ourselves in His presence. Instead of treating Him like He owes us something, we find ourselves trembling at the reality that we have come into the presence of Almighty God. At the same time, we enjoy the privilege of knowing Him intimately as our Father.

SOURCE: Bible Studies For Life Commentary; Leader Guide; Senior Adults; One LifeWay Plaza; Nashville, TN 37234-0175

 

Jamieson-Faussett-Brown Commentary on The Whole Bible: Matthew 6:9b &

The Treasury of David: Psalms 58-110: Psalm 96:1-9

I. Prayer Begins With a Desire to Honor God (Matt. 6:9b; Ps. 96:1-3) (Scripture Quotes from KJV)

Matt. 6:9b. Hallowed be thy name.

Hallowed be—(v. 9b)., Be held in reverence; regarded and treated as holy. thy name—God's name means "himself as revealed and manifested." Everywhere in Scripture God defines the faith, love, reverence, and obedience he wants from men by the disclosures he makes to them of what he is—to both shut out false conceptions of him and to make all their devotion take the shape of his own teaching. Too much attention cannot be paid to this.

SOURCE: Jamieson-Faussett-Brown Commentary on The Whole Bible By Robert Jamieson, A. R. Faussett, & David Brown: Quickverse, A Division Of Findex.Com, Inc.; Omaha, Nebraska


Ps. 96:1. “O sing unto the Lord a new song. New joys are filling the hearts of men, for the glad tidings of blessing to all people are proclaimed, therefore let them sing a new song. Angels inaugurated the new dispensation with new songs, and shall not we take up the strain? The song is for Jehovah alone, the hymns which chanted the praises of Jupiter and Neptune, Vishnoo and Siva are hushed for ever; Bacchanalian shouts are silenced, lascivious sonnets are no more. Unto the one only God all music is to be dedicated. Mourning is over, and the time of the singing of hearts has come. No dismal rites are celebrated, no bloody sacrifices of human beings are presented, no cutting with knives, and outcries of lamentation are presented by deluded rotaries. Joy is in the ascendant, and singing has become the universal expression of love, the fitting voice of reverent adoration. Men are made new creatures, and their song is new also. The names of Baalim are no more on their lips, the wanton music of Ashtaroth ceaseth; the foolish ditty and the cruel war-song are alike forgotten; the song is holy, heavenly, pure, and pleasant. The Psalmist speaks as if he would lead the strain and be the chief musician, he invites, he incites, he persuades to sacred worship, and cries with all his heart, “O sing unto Jehovah a new song.” “Sing unto the Lord, all the earth.—National jealousies are dead; a Jew invites the Gentiles to adore, and joins with them, so that all the earth may lift up one common Psalm as with one heart and voice unto Jehovah, who hath visited it with his salvation. No corner of the world is to be discordant, no race of heathen to be dumb. All the earth Jehovah made, and all the earth must sing to him. As the sun shines on all lands, so are all lands to delight in the light of the Sun of Righteousness. E Pluribus Unum, out of many one song shall come forth. The multitudinous languages of the sons of Adam, who were scattered at Babel, will blend in the same song when the people are gathered at Zion. Nor men alone, but the earth itself is to praise its Maker. Made subject to vanity for a while by a sad necessity, the creation itself also is to be delivered from the bondage of corruption, and brought into the glorious liberty of the children of God, so that sea and forest, field and flood, are to be joyful before the Lord. Is this a dream? then let us dream again. Blessed are the eyes which shall see the kingdom, and the ears which shall hear its songs. Hasten thine advent, good Lord! Yea, send forth speedily the rod of thy strength out of Zion, that the nations may bow before the Lord and his Anointed.

Verse 2. “Sing unto the Lord, bless his name. Thrice is the name of the Lord repeated, and not without meaning. Is it not unto the Three-One Lord that the enlightened nations will sing? Unitarianism is the religion of units; it is too cold to warm the world to worship; the sacred fire of adoration only burns with vehement flame where the Trinity is believed in and beloved. In other ways beside singing, the blessed Lord is to be blessed. His name, his fame, his character, his revealed word and will are to be delighted in, and remembered with perpetual thanksgiving. We may well bless him who so divinely blesses us. At the very mention of his name it is meet to say, “Let him be blessed for ever.” “Shew forth his salvation from day to day. The gospel is the clearest revelation of himself, salvation outshines creation and providence; therefore let our praises overflow in that direction. Let us proclaim the glad tidings, and do so continually, never ceasing the blissful testimony. It is ever new, ever suitable, ever sure, ever perfect; therefore let us show it forth continually until he come, both by words and deeds, by songs and sermons, by sacred Baptism and by the Holy Supper, by books and by speech, by Sabbath services and week-day worship. Each day brings us deeper experience of our saving God, each day shows us anew how deeply men need his salvation, each day reveals the power of the gospel, each day the Spirit strives with the sons of men; therefore, never pausing, be it ours to tell out the glorious message of free grace. Let those do this who know for themselves what his salvation means; they can bear witness that there is salvation in none other, and that in him salvation to the uttermost is to be found. Let them show it forth till the echo flies around the spacious earth, and all the armies of the sky unite to magnify the God who hath displayed his saving health among all people.

Verse 3. “Declare his glory among the heathen. His salvation is his glory, the word of the gospel glorifies him; and this should be published far and wide, till the remotest nations of the earth have known it. England has spent much blood and treasure to keep up her own prestige among barbarians; when will she be equally anxious to maintain the honour of her religion, the glory of her Lord? It is to be feared that too often the name of the Lord Jesus has been dishonoured among the heathen by the vices and cruelties of those who call themselves Christians; may this fact excite true believers to greater diligence in causing the gospel to be proclaimed as with a trumpet in all quarters of the habitable globe. “His wonders among all people. The gospel is a mass of wonders, its history is full of wonders, and it is in itself far more marvellous than miracles themselves. In the person of his Son the Lord has displayed wonders of love, wisdom, grace, and power. All glory be unto his name; who can refuse to tell out the story of redeeming grace and dying love? All the nations need to hear of God’s marvellous works; and a really living, self-denying church would solemnly resolve that right speedily they all shall hear thereof. The tribes which are dying out are not to be excluded from gospel teaching any more than the great growing families which, like the fat kine of Pharaoh, are eating up other races: Red Indians as well as Anglo-Saxons are to hear of the wonders of redeeming love. None are too degraded, none too cultured, none too savage, and none too refined.

II. God’s Splendor & Majesty Call For Us to Honor Him (Ps. 96:4-6)

Verse 4.For the Lord is great and greatly to be praised. He is no petty deity, presiding, as the heathen imagined their gods to do, over some one nation, or one department of nature. Jehovah is great in power and dominion, great in mind and act; nothing mean or narrow can be found in him or his acts, in all things he is infinite. Praise should be proportionate to its object, therefore let it be infinite when rendered unto the Lord. We cannot praise him too much, too often, too zealously, too carefully, too joyfully. He deserves that nothing in his worship should be little, but all the honour rendered unto him should be given in largeness of heart, with the utmost zeal for his glory. “He is to be feared above all gods. Other gods have been worshipped at great cost, and with much fervour, by their blinded votaries, but Jehovah should be adored with far greater reverence. Even if the graven images had been gods they could not have borne comparison for an instant with the God of Israel, and therefore his worship should be far more zealous than any which has been rendered to them. He is to be feared, for there is cause to fear. Dread of other gods is mere superstition, awe of the Lord is pure religion. Holy fear is the beginning of the graces, and yet it is the accompaniment of their highest range. Fear of God is the blush upon the face of holiness enhancing its beauty.

Verse 5. For all the gods of the nations are idols. Mere images of wood and stone, vanities, nothings. “But the Lord made the heavens. The reality of his Godhead is proved by his works, and foremost among these the Psalmist mentions that matchless piece of architecture which casts its arch over every man’s head, whose lamps are the light of all mankind, whose rains and dew fall upon the fields of every people, and whence the Lord in voice of thunder is heard speaking to every creature. The idol gods have no existence, but our God is the author of all existences; they are mere earthly vanities, while he is not only heavenly, but made the heavens. This is mentioned as an argument for Jehovah’s universal praise. Who can be worshipped but he? Since none can rival him, let him be adored alone.

Verse 6.Honour and majesty are before him. Men can but mimic these things; their pompous pageants are but the pretence of greatness. Honour and majesty are with him and with him alone. In the presence of Jehovah real glory and sovereignty abide, as constant attendants. “Strength and beauty are in his sanctuary. In him are combined all that is mighty and lovely, powerful and resplendent. We have seen rugged strength devoid of beauty, we have also seen elegance without strength; the union of the two is greatly to be admired. Do we desire to see the “sublime and beautiful” at one glance? Then we must look to the eternal throne. In the Chronicles we read strength and gladness; and the two renderings do not disagree in sense, for in the highest degree in this instance it is true that “thing of beauty is a joy for ever.” Not in outward show or parade of costly robes does the glory of God consist; such things are tricks of state with which the ignorant are dazzled; holiness, justice, wisdom, grace, these are the splendours of Jehovah’s courts, these the jewels and the gold, the regalia, and the pomp of the courts of heaven.

III. Honor God Through Our Acts of Worship (Ps. 96:7-9)

Verse 7. The first six verses commenced with an exhortation to sing, three times repeated, with the name of the Lord thrice mentioned; here we meet with the expression “Give unto the Lord, used in the same triple manner. This is after the manner of those poets whose flaming sonnets have best won the ear of the people, they reiterate choice words till they penetrate the soul and fire the heart. The invocation of the sweet singer is still addressed to all mankind, to whom he speaks as “Ye kindreds of the people. Divided into tribes and families, we are called in our courses and order to appear before him and ascribe to him all honour. “All worship be to God only,” is the motto of one of our City companies, and it may well be the motto of all the families upon earth. Family worship is peculiarly pleasing unto him who is the God of all the families of Israel. “Give unto the Lord glory and strength, that is to say, recognise the glory and power of Jehovah, and ascribe them unto him in your solemn hymns. Who is glorious but the Lord? Who is strong, save our God? Ye great nations, who count yourselves both famous and mighty, cease your boastings! Ye monarchs, who are styled imperial and puissant, humble yourselves in the dust before the only Potentate. Glory and strength are nowhere to be found, save with the Lord, all others possess but the semblance thereof. Well did Massillon declare, “God alone is great.”

Verse 8.Give unto the Lord the glory due unto his name. But who can do that to the full? Can all the nations of the earth put together discharge the mighty debt? All conceivable honour is due to our Creator, Preserver, Benefactor, and Redeemer, and however much of zealous homage we may offer to him, we cannot give him more than his due. If we cannot bring in the full revenue which he justly claims, at least let us not fail from want of honest endeavour. “Bring an offering, and come into his courts. Come with an unbloody sacrifice; atonement for sin having been made, it only remains to bring thank-offerings, and let not these be forgotten. To him who gives us all, we ought gladly to give our grateful tithe. When assembling for public worship we should make a point of bringing with us a contribution to his cause, according to that ancient word, “None of you shall appear before me empty.” The time will come when from all ranks and all nations the Lord will receive gifts when they gather together for his worship. O long expected day begin!

Verse 9. “O worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness. This is the only beauty which he cares for in our public services, and it is one for which no other can compensate. Beauty of architecture and apparel he does not regard; moral and spiritual beauty is that in which his soul delighteth. Worship must not be rendered to God in a slovenly, sinful, superficial manner; we must be reverent, sincere, earnest, and pure in heart both in our prayers and praises. Purity is the white linen of the Lord’s choristers, righteousness is the comely garment of his priests, holiness is the royal apparel of his servitors. “Fear before him, all the earth. Tremble is the word in the original, and it expresses the profoundest awe, just as the word “worship does, which would be more accurately translated by “bow down.” Even the bodily frame would be moved to trembling and prostration if men were thoroughly conscious of the power and glory of Jehovah. Men of the world ridiculed “the Quakers” for trembling when under the power of the Holy Spirit; had they been able to discern the majesty of the Eternal they would have quaked also. There is a sacred trembling which is quite consistent with joy, the heart may even quiver with an awful excess of delight. The sight of the King in his beauty caused no alarm to John in Patmos, and yet it made him fall at his feet as dead. Oh, to behold him and worship him with prostrate awe and sacred fear!

SOURCE: The Treasury of David; Psalms 58-110; by C. H. Spurgeon; Electronic Edition STEP Files Copyright © 1997, Parsons Technology, Inc., PO Box 100, Hiawatha, Iowa.

 

DIGGING DEEPER: Key Word(s)

Honored as holy (Matt. 6:9)—Also translated as “hallowed,” this term has to do with setting someone or something apart as different with an attitude of reverence.

SOURCE: Life Ventures-Bible Studies for Life; Leader Guide; LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention; Nashville, TN.

MONOTHEISM/POLYTHEISM: The competing systems of religious belief that only one god exists or that many gods exist. Bible students often argue on the basis of biblical evidence that Israel in the first centuries of her life as a people did not have a monotheistic system of belief: indeed, that Moses’ tradition does not appear in that kind of category. To support the accuracy of this statement, they examine the central text in the Old Testament for defining Israel’s belief about God: the Ten Commandments. The first commandment stipulates a fundamental tenet in Israel’s belief system: “Thou shalt have no other gods before me” (Ex. 20:3). That requirement for participation in Israel’s community of faith does not assert that serving other gods before one serves the Lord would be foolish since no other gods exist. It assumes quite to the contrary that other gods do exist. It asserts that, even though the other gods exist, the people who follow the Mosaic

Commandments shall not embrace any of those other gods as gods who compete for the loyalty of the people. The Lord who brought Israel out of the land of Egypt will allow no compromise in the loyalty of the people. That assertion assumes the existence of other false gods who could call for loyalty and commitment from the Lord’s people. That kind of belief system is commonly called henotheism.

In contrast to the call for strict commitment to the Lord alone, to a kind of divine jealousy that would tolerate no commitments from the people to gods other than the Lord, even though other gods might tempt the Lord’s people with offers of power, the people among whom Israel lived in the early years of occupation in Canaan believed in numerous gods whose activities influenced their lives. Principal among the gods of the Canaanite pantheon were the great father figure, El; the younger hero, Baal; the adversary against order in the created land, Yam; the consort for Baal, Anat; and the ruler of Sheol, the place of the dead, Mot. In the Canaanite story about the various events involving these gods, Baal and his consort were primarily responsible for the success or failure of the agriculture in the social structure of Canaan. The fertility of the land depended on the fertility of Baal and his consort. The cult for the Canaanite farmers sought to stimulate the fertility of the divine couple, and thus the fertility of the land, by participating in fertility rituals at central sanctuaries called high places. The sexual activities of these rituals would stimulate Baal and his consort to similar activities and thus secure the fertility of the land.

One particular phase of that cult developed its drama from a belief that in the fall of the year, the time when vegetation on the earth dies, Baal died and descended into Sheol. On hearing the news of this tragedy, Anat began a long search for Baal. She found him in Sheol and effected his resurrection from the dead by coaxing him back to activity in the world of the living. This scene of resurrection occurred in the spring when the world springs back to life. Such mythology undergirds a belief system that depended on the activities, indeed, the interrelationship, of many gods. That system can be called polytheism.

A move away from henotheism and polytheism appears first in the Old Testament among the prophets. The prophetic movement appears as early as the prophet Elijah. Competition between the people of Israel and the people of Phoenicia was highlighted by a competition for loyalty of the people between the Lord and Baal. That competition came to its sharpest focus in the story about the contest between Elijah, the prophet for the Lord, and the prophets of Baal on Mount Carmel (1 Kings 18). The issue for the contests is still competition for the loyalty of the people. That issue focused on the question of genuine claim to status as God. “If the Lord be God, follow him: but if Baal, then follow him” (v. 21). The issue of claim to genuine status as God is then focused on power. “The God that answereth by fire, let him be God” (1 Kings 18:24).

The pressure of the Exile challenged Yahweh’s claim as the only God. If the Lord is really God and if that claim can be substantiated by acts of power, then how could the people of the Lord lose their independence and their land to a foreign people? Would the success of the Babylonians against Judah not undergird the claim that Marduk, the god of the Babylonians, is really God? Would it not suggest that the Lord, the God of the Judeans, had been defeated by Marduk, the god of the Babylonians? The prophets’ response to this crisis was: the tragedy of the Exile was not the result of the power of Marduk against the power of the Lord, a result that would establish Marduk as God. To the contrary, the tragedy of the Exile was the result of Israel’s own God using the Babylonians as an instrument of punishment against the Lord’s own people since they had violated the terms of the covenant that bound them together. That theological justification for the Exile (see Amos 2:4-8) opened the door for a theological, philosophical position that asserted the existence of only one God who is Lord not only of Israel but also of all the rest of the world. That position can be called monotheism.

The beautiful poetry of Isaiah 40-66 represents the height of Israel’s monotheism. For the first time in the Old Testament literature, a prophet explicitly argued that no other gods exist. The Lord alone is God. “I am the Lord, and there is none else, there is no God beside me: I girded thee, though thou hast not known me: That they may know from the rising of the sun, and from the west, that there is none beside me, I am the Lord, and there is none else (Isa. 45:5-7).” With that poetry, Israel reached a fully developed monotheism. Moreover, such monotheism asserts that the only God is Creator of the world: “I am the Lord that maketh all things; that stretcheth forth the heavens alone” (Isa. 44:24) and its Savior and Redeemer: “I, even I, am the Lord, and beside me there is no savior.” (Isa. 43:11).

SOURCE: Holman Bible Dictionary; General Editor, David S. Dockery; Holman Bible Publishers; Nashville, Tennessee.

FEAR: A broad range of emotions that embrace both the secular and the religious worlds. Secular fear is the natural feeling of alarm caused by the expectation of imminent danger, pain, or disaster. Religious fear appears as the result of awe and reverence toward a supreme power.

TERMINOLOGY: The English word “fear” is used to translate several Hebrew and Greek words. In the Old Testament, the most common word used to express fear is yir’ ah, which means “fear, “terror” (Isa. 7:25; Jonah 1:10,16). In the New Testament, the word used most often to express fear is phobos which means “fear,” “dread,” “terror” (Matt. 28:4; Luke 21:26).

SECULAR FEAR: rises in the normal activities and relationships of life.

Human Fear Animals fear humans (Gen. 9:2), and humans fear the animals (Amos 3:8); individuals fear individuals (Gen. 26:7), and nations fear nations (2 Sam. 10:19). People are afraid of wars (Ex. 14:10), of their enemies (Deut. 2:4), and of subjugation (Deut. 7:18; 28:10). People are afraid of death (Gen. 32:11), of disaster (Zeph. 3:15-16), of sudden panic (Prov. 3:25), of being overtaken by adversity (Job 6:21), and of the unknown (Gen. 19:30). Fear can reflect the limitations of life (Eccl. 12:5) as well as the unforeseen consequences of actions (1 Sam. 3:15).

Fear can be the regard the young owes to the aged (Job 32:6), the honor a child demonstrates toward parents (Lev. 19:3), the reverential respect of individuals toward their masters (1 Pet. 2:18), and to persons in positions of responsibilities (Rom. 13:7). Fear also can be the sense of concern for individuals (2 Cor. 11:3) as well as the respect for one’s husband (1 Pet. 3:2).

Fear as consequence of sin: Fear may come from a strong realization of sin and disobedience. Man and woman were afraid after their act of disobedience (Gen. 3:10). Abimelech was afraid when he realized that he had committed an offensive act by taking the wife of Abraham to be his wife (Gen. 20:8-9). This sense of estrangement and guilt that comes as consequence of sin produces in the heart of individuals the fear of the day of the Lord because they will appear before the judgment of God (Joel 2:1).

Freedom from fear: Freedom from fear comes as individuals trust in the God who protects (Ps. 23:4) and helps them (Isa. 54:14). The New Testament teaches that perfect love casts out fear (1 John 4:18). Christians are no longer slaves of fear, for Christ has given them not a spirit of timidity or cowardice, but a spirit of power, of love, and of self-control (2 Tim. 1:7).

RELIGIOUS FEAR: is the human response to the presence of God.

Fear of God: A prominent element in Old Testament religion is the concept of the fear of God. Most often the sense of fear comes as individuals encounter the divine in the context of revelation. When God appears to a person, the person experiences the reality of God’s holiness. This self-disclosure of God points to the vast distinction between humans and God, to the mysterious characteristic of God that at the same time attracts and repels. There is a mystery in divine holiness that causes individuals to become overwhelmed with a sense of awe and fear. They respond by falling down or kneeling in reverence and worship, confessing sin, and seeking God’s will (Isa. 6).

God as a fearful God: The God of Israel is an awe-producing God because of His majesty, His power, His works, His transcendence, and His holiness. Yahweh is a “great and terrible God” (Neh. 1:15); He is “fearful in praises, doing wonders” (Ex. 15:11); His name is “fearful” (Deut. 28:58) and “terrible” (Ps. 99:3). The fear of God comes as people experience God in a visible manifestation (Ex. 20:18), in dreams (Gen. 28:17), invisible form (Ex. 3:6), and in His work of salvation (Isa. 41:5). God’s work, His power, majesty, and holiness evoke fear and demand acknowledgment. The fear of God is not to be understood as the dread that comes out of fear of punishment, but as the reverential regard and the awe that comes out of recognition and submission to the divine. It is the revelation of God’s will to which the believer submits in obedience.

The basis for God’s relationship with Israel was the covenant. The personal relationship that came out of the covenant transformed the relationship from a sense of terror to one of respect and reverence in which trust predominated. This fear which produces awe can be seen in the worship of Israel. The Israelites were exhorted to “serve the Lord with fear” (Ps. 2:11). Fear protected Israel from taking God for granted or from presuming on His grace. Fear called to covenant obedience.

Fear as obedience: Deuteronomy sets out a relationship between the fear of God and the observance of the demands of the covenant. To fear the Lord is one of the ways by which Israel expresses its obedience and loyalty to Yahweh and to His divine requirements: “And now, Israel, what doth the Lord thy God require of thee, but to fear the Lord thy God, to walk in all his ways, and to love him, and to serve the Lord thy God with all thy heart and with all thy soul, to keep the commandments of the Lord and his statutes, which I command thee this day for thy good?” (Deut. 10:12-13; compare 6:24-25; 10:20; 13:4). Fear becomes a demand that can be learned (Deut. 17:19). Fear of God was part of the religious life of every Israelite, where the acknowledgment of it required a specific behavior from each individual. Fear of God was a requirement demanded from every judge (Ex. 18:21). The kings of Israel should rule in the fear of the Lord (2 Sam. 23:3); even the messianic King would live in the fear of the Lord (Isa. 11:2). To fear God was the beginning of wisdom and thus of the pathway to true life (Prov. 1:7; 9:10; 15:33).

“Fear not:” The expression “fear not” (also translated “do not fear” or “do not be afraid”) is an invitation to confidence and trust. When used without religious connotation (15 times), “fear not” is an expression of comfort. These words come from an individual to another providing reassurance and encouragement (Gen. 50:21; Ruth 3:11; Ps. 49:16). When “fear not” is used in a religious context (60 times), the words are an invitation to trust in God. These words appear in the context of the fear and terror that follows divine revelation. God invites His people not to be afraid of Him (Gen. 15:1; 26:24); the angel of the Lord seeks to calm an individual before a divine message is communicated (Dan. 10:12,19; Luke 1:13,30); a person acting as a mediator of God invites the people to trust in God (Moses, Deut. 31:6; Joshua, Josh. 10:25).

The “God-fearers:” The “God-fearers” were those who were faithful to God and obeyed His commandments (Job 1:1; Pss. 25:14; 33:18). Those who fear God are blessed (Ps. 112:1); they enjoy God’s goodness (Ps. 34:9) and God’s provision (Ps. 111:5). In the New Testament “God-fearers” became a technical term for uncircumcised Gentiles who worshiped in the Jewish synagogue.

FEAR IN THE NEW TESTAMENT: Some Christians tend to de-emphasize the fear of God in the New Testament by placing the love of God above the fear of God. There is indeed a greater emphasis on the love of God in the New Testament. However, the element of fear was part of the proclamation of the early church.

Paul admonished believers to work out their salvation “with fear and trembling” (Phil. 2:12). The early church grew in number as they lived “in the fear of the Lord” (Acts 9:31). The fear of God is related to the love of God. The revelation of God to people in the New Testament contains the element of God’s mysterious otherness calling for reverent obedience. The New Testament church stands in awe and fear in the presence of a holy God, for fear is “the whole duty of man” (Eccl. 12:13).

SOURCE: Holman Bible Dictionary; General Editor, David S. Dockery; Holman Bible Publishers; Nashville, Tennessee.

 

ADDITIONAL BACKGROUND READING:

The Churches Use Of The Lord’s Prayer

By Timothy N. Boyd

Timothy N. Boyd is director of communications and family evangelism for the Kansas Nebraska Convention of Southern Baptist, Topeka, Kansas.

I

N HIS TREATISE “On Prayer,” the early Christian writer Tertullian called the Lord’s Prayer “a new form of prayer.”1  According to Tertullian, Christ had passed on to the church a prayer that was uniquely Christian.  This prayer appears in two Gospels (Matt. 6:9:13 and Luke 11:2-4) with the version in Matthew being the more lengthy and complete.  The slight variations in the versions are probably due to the disciples hearing Jesus utter the prayer with these differences on separate occasions.  Christ likely repeated many of His teachings during His ministry.

Tertullian is correct that this prayer has a uniquely Christian tone although Christ borrowed from the prayer life of Judaism.  Jesus’ simple prayer became foundational for the prayer life of the early church and for all the succeeding generations of Christians.  Today, you will find the Lord’s Prayer being sung in weddings, recited by congregations in worship, preached in numerous sermons, and analyzed in various articles and books.  It is the best-known prayer in Christianity.

Not only has this prayer become the most widely known, but it has also been used numerous ways throughout church history.  While detailing all of those usages would be impossible in this article, we can summarize some of the main ways that believers have used the prayer.


 

A Personal Prayer

Initially, it was a simple daily prayer, which believers repeated for their own benefit and for the benefit of the church community at large.  The Didache (an early Christian writing for instructing believers) quotes the Lord’s Prayer and instructs believers to pray this prayer three times a day.  Obviously, early Christians saw great value in the personal repetition of the prayer.2 

Tertullian, in the writing mentioned above, challenged all believers to use the Lord’s Prayer.  Cyprian, a third-century martyr, also wrote a treatise that focused on this prayer.  He is believed to be the first to call it the “Lord’s Prayer.”3  He borrowed from Tertullian, and his treatise paralleled the method of that writer.  Both Tertullian and Cyprian echo the Didache in recommending that believers should offer the prayer at least three times a day.  Origen, who was a Christian leader in Alexandria, Egypt, also wrote an exposition of the Lord’s Prayer.  Like Tertullian and Cyprian, he saw the prayer as a vital part of the life of a believer.4 

After Constantine legalized Christianity with the Edict of Milan in AD 313, people continued to recommend the prayer for daily usage.  Augustine of Hippo (354-430 AD), writing to a woman named Proba, said, “if we pray rightly, and as becomes our wants, we say nothing but what is already contained in the Lord’s Prayer.”5

John Calvin (1509-1564) said of the prayer, “[Christ] puts words into our lips, and thus relieves our minds of all hesitation.”6  John Wesley (1703-1791), founder of Methodism, said of this prayer, “It contains all we can reasonably or innocently pray for.  There is nothing which we have need to ask of God, nothing which we can ask without offending him, which is not included, either directly or indirectly, in this comprehensive form.”7

E. M. Bounds (1835-1913), a popular writer on prayer, said the prayer is “the universal prayer, because it is peculiarly adapted to all men everywhere in all circumstances in all times of need.  It can be put in the mouths of all people in all nations, and in all times.”8

Contemporary scholar R. T. Kendall said, “The Lord’s Prayer is verbally inspired by the Holy Spirit and therefore perfectly worded. . . . It cannot be stressed too much that Jesus Himself is the formulator of it—every single word—and if you want to know at least once that you prayed in God’s will, the Lord’s Prayer is for you.”9

A Church Prayer

Another way the church has used the prayer has been in the liturgy (meaning standardized worship service) of the church.  The emphasis in the Didache on the repetition of the prayer a specified number of times each day opened the door for the liturgical use of the prayer.  Tertullian and Cyprian, while recommending the prayer for a believer’s personal use, also began to associate it with the rites of the church (baptism and the Lord’s Supper).  Augustine, in the same vein, associated the petition in the prayer for daily bread with celebrating the Lord’s Supper.  Augustine also associated the prayer with the rite of baptism and encouraged the candidates to understand the necessity of forgiving others in order to receive forgiveness.10 

Pope Gregory I (the Great; lived 540-604) set the liturgical pattern for the Roman Catholic Church by standardizing where the prayer was to be placed in the saying of the Mass.  He also added to the ritualistic nature of the usage of the prayer by insisting that only the priest would repeat the prayer, not the congregation.11

 Although his actions brought about the Reformation, Martin Luther continued to use the Lord’s Prayer when the church observed the Lord’s Supper or baptized someone.12  Another reformer, John Calvin, in both his Strasbourg and Geneva liturgies, included the prayer as part of the service of the Lord’s Supper.13  In the mid-1500s, the Church of England standardized Anglican worship by establishing The Book of Common Prayer, which included the Lord’s Prayer as a part of the liturgy as well.14  Later Wesley and the Methodists incorporated the prayer as a standard part of Methodist worship.15

These liturgical uses of the Lord’s Supper continue to the present day.  You will also find Baptist and others reciting the Lord’s Prayer during their worship services although such usage is not necessarily part of a formal or set liturgy.

A Teaching Prayer

Another use of the prayer in church history is as a teaching tool for the practice of prayer.  In their writings Tertullian, Cyprian, and Origen included detailed expositions of the Lord’s Prayer, which in essence used it to teach the practice of prayer.  Augustine also wrote of the prayer, “Ye have not first learnt the Lord’s Prayer, and after that the Creed; but first the Creed, where ye might know what to believe, and afterwards the Prayer, where ye might know whom to call upon.”16  Augustine then gave a detailed interpretation of Jesus’ words to teach his hearers the meaning of prayer.

Calvin also used the Lord’s Prayer as a teaching tool.  In one of his writings, the Institutes, he devoted a large section to a thorough exposition of this prayer.17  Wesley saw in the prayer a pattern of every topic worthy of prayer.18

R. C. Sproul, a contemporary writer, has written that in this prayer, “Jesus was providing us with an outline of priorities or those things that ought to be priorities in our prayer life.”19  Another contemporary Christian scholar, J. I. Packer, wrote, “The Lord’s Prayer should be put to service to direct and spur on our praying constantly.  To pray in terms of it is the sure way to keep our prayers within God’s will.”20

This brief survey shows that the Lord’s Prayer has enriched personal devotion, deepened Christian worship, and provided ample instruction to believers in the practice of prayer.  It is indeed the greatest of prayers.                                                                      Bi

1.               Tertullian, “On Prayer” in Ante-Nicene Fathers, ed. Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson, vol. 3 (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 1994), 681.

2.              Didache 8.

3.              Cyprian, The Lord’s Prayer.

4.              Origen, On Prayer 12

5.              Augustine, “To Proba,” Letter 53 in Letters of St. Augustine in Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, First Series, ed. Philip Schaff, vol. 1 (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 1994), 466.

6.              John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, trans. Henry Beveridge, vol. 2 (Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 1863), 3.20.34 (p. 183).

7.              John Wesley, “Sermon 26: ‘Upon Our Lord’s Sermon on the Mount,’”  Global Ministries [online; accessed 7 February 2012].  Available from the Internet: new.gbgm-umc.org/umhistory/wesley/sermons/26/.

8.              E. M. Bounds, E. M. Bounds On Prayer (Peabody: Hendrickson, 2006), 85.

9.              R. T. Kendall, The Lord’s Prayer (Grand Rapids: Chosen, 2010), 29.

10.            Kenneth W. Stevenson, The Lord’s Prayer: A Text in Tradition  (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2004), 79,82-83.

11.             Gregory the Great, Epistle 12: To John, Bishop of Syracuse.

12.            Stevenson, 161-62.

13.            John T. Dyck, “Calvin and Worship,” WRS Journal  no 16 vol. 1 (February 2009), 33-40.

14.            “The Supper of the Lord and Holy Communion, Commonly Called the Mass,” Virginia Theological Seminary [Online; accessed 13 February 2012].  Available from the Internet: http://virginia.edu.anglican.org/logue/bcp-1549.htm.

15.            “To Remember and Celebrate,” General Commission on Archives & History [online; accessed 13 February 2012]. Available from the Internet: http//www.gcah.org/. 

16.            Augustin, Sermon VI in Sermons on Selected Lessons of the New Testament in Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, First Series, ed. Philip Schaff, vol. 6 (Peabody: Hendrickson, 1994), 274.

17.            John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, 3.20.34-49.

18.            John Wesley, “Sermon 26: ‘Upon Our Lord’s Sermon on the Mount,’”

19.            R. C. Sproul, Following Christ (Wheaton: Tyndale House, 1991), 127.

20.           J. I. Packer, Growing in Christ (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 1994), 157.

SOURCE: Biblical Illustrator; LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention; Nashville, TN 37234; Vol. 39, No. 1; Fall 2012.

Glory A Hebrew Understanding

By Stephen J. Andrews

Stephen J. Andrews is professor or Old Testament, Hebrew, and archaeology and is director of the Morton-Seats Institute of Archaeology and Anthropology at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Kansas City, Missouri.

N

OT SURPRISINGLY, the most frequent use of the Hebrew word translated “glory” (kabod ) occurs in the Psalms, the praise-book of ancient Israel.  Out of the 200 occurrences of the noun “glory” in the Old Testament, the Psalter employes the term 51 times with the majority referring to the glory of the Lord ( Hebrew, kebod  YHWH  ).1   In fact, several psalms repeatedly mention God’s glory or the glory of His kingdom: Psalm 24, 5 times; 29, 4 times; 96, 3 times; and 145, 3 times.

The Hebrew concept of “glory” derives from a common West Semitic verb ( kabed  ) meaning “to be heavy” or “weighty.”2  Etymologically, the Hebrew word for “liver” ( kabed  ) may also be connected to this same verb.3  People of the ancient Near East considered the liver to be the heaviest and most important organ in the body.  They valued it for use in divination ( Ezek. 21:21 ).  The Old Testament, however, seldom uses the word for “liver” ( 14 times ); this omission may reflect Israel’s hostility to the practice.4

On the other hand, the verb kabed  occurs 114 times in the Old Testament.  The literal sense of the verb, “to be heavy,” occurs twice ( 1 Sam.  4:18; 2 Sam. 14:26 ), but the majority of occurrences are figurative.  Most of these are negative in meaning where “heavy” or “weithty” implies that something is “difficult” or “burdensome,” something that weighs upon or oppresses someone ( Ps. 38:4; Prov. 27:3 ).

The figurative connotation can also be positive.  In such cases, the verb “be weighty” carries the sense of being noteworthy or important.. 

The implication extends beyond the more abstract English term “honor” to suggest having respect, esteem, and even veneration ( Ex. 20:12; Pss. 22:23; 86:12; Isa. 60:13 ).5  When people used the verb to express religious honor to God, it denoted a concrete human response based on God’s love and mercy ( Ps. 50:15 ).  For those who glorify Him, God will reciprocate in kind ( 1 Sam. 2:30 ).

Since the Hebrew noun translated “glory” ( kabod  ) in the Old Testament is derived from the verb kabed,  it shares in the same dual connotation of “be heavy” and “be honored.”6  It displays both theological and non-theological usages.7  For example, non-theological or secular uses of kabod are in Isaiah 22:24; 66:12; and Nahum 2:9; here the noun refers to a burden if responsibility or abundance of material items.  Likewise, the noun refers to architectural splendor ( Hag. 2:3 ); nature ( Isa. 35:2; 60:13 ); and human distinction, position, reputation, or honor ( 1 Sam. 2:8; Ps. 112:9; Prov. 15:33; 20:3 ).  Kings, priests, and sages are due “honor” ( Ex. 28:2,40; Ps. 21:5; Prov. 3:35 ), but not fools ( Prov. 26:1,8; Eccl. 10:1 ).  Parents should also receive “glory” ( Mal. 1:6; cf. Ex. 20:12 ).  Proper conduct also produces “honor” ( Prov. 15:33 ).

The most distinctive use of the noun kabod,  however, points to God’s manifest splendor and glorious majesty ( Ps. 145:5 ).8  The “glory of the Lord”( kebod  YHWH  ) fills the whole earth ( Num. 14:21; Ps. 72:19; Isa. 6:3 ), indwells the tabernacle and temple ( Ex. 40:34-35; 1 Kings 8:11; 2 Chron. 7:3; Ezek. 10:4 ), and reaches the heavens ( Pss. 57:5,11; 97:6 ).

God revealed this “glory” to His people and associated it with certain items.  God disclosed His glory to Israel in a cloud ( Ex. 16:10; 24:16 ) and a consuming fire ( 24:17 ).  He displayed His glory to Moses ( 33:18,22 ), Aaron ( Num. 16:42; 20:6 ), the elders ( Deut. 5:24 ), and top the entire community ( Num. 14:10; 16:19 ).  God’s glory is associated with His throne ( Jer. 14:21; 17:12 ), over the ark of the covenant and the cherubim ( 1 Sam. 4:21-22 ),9 and in Jerusalem ( Zech. 2:5 ).  David stated that God crowned mankind with glory and majesty ( Ps. 8:5 ).10  Even the priest’s garments were to reflect His glory and beauty ( Ex. 28:2,40 ).

Several Old Testament texts depict God as the universal and eternal King.  Because He is King, people are to honor Him above all others.  He is the “God of the  Glord” ( Ps. 29:3 ) and the “King of the  Glory” (24:7-10, emphases added ).11  His is a kingdom of glory (145:11-12 ).  He will not surrender His glory to anyone else, let alone idols ( Isa. 42:8; 48:11 ).

The manifestation of God’s glory produces reverence ( Lev. 9:23-24; Ezek. 1:28; 3:23 ), a yearning to be in His presence ( Ps. 63:1-2 ), and the promise of a future life (73:24 ),  His glory will endure forever ( 104:31 ).  If is worthy of praise ( 66:2; 145:11 ).

Seven psalms focus on the “kingship of Yahweh.”12  One of these is Psalm 96, whidh focuses primarily on God’s kingship over all peoples.  Three times the poet appeals in Psalm 96 for people to recognize God’s glory ( vv. 3,7,8 ).  The psalm begins with an invitation to worship ( vv. 1-3 ).13  Verse 3 calls the people to “declare [God’s] glory among the nations.”14  Then later, in a set of instructions for worship (vv. 7-9 ). The poet tells the same group to “Ascribe to the Lord glory and strength” and “Ascribe to Yahweh the glory of His name.”  The call to recognize the honor and glory that God deserves as King plays a significant part in the theological meaning of the psalm.  It is a reminder that since God is King over all the nations, His glory deserves to be acknowledged and proclaimed.

That glory can now be seen in the Messiah, Jesus Christ ( Isa. 4:2 ).  As the one and only Son, He came to glorify the Father ( John 1:14; 17:1-5).15  So when we faithfully proclaim Jesus, we declare God’s glory to the nations ( Ps. 96:3 ).                                                                                              Bi

         1.      Isaiah uses the term 38 times. M. Weinfeld (kagod,  heaviness ) in G.J. Botterweck, H. Ringgren, & H-J. Fabry eds., Theological Dictionary of the Old Testament  [TDOT], trans. D.E. Green (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1995), 7:24.

        2.      C. Dohmen, ( kabed,  to be heavy ) in Ibid., 13; J.N. Oswalt (kabed;  to be heavy, grievous, hard, rich, honorable, glorious) in R.L. Harris, ed., Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament  [Harris] (Chicago; Moody, 1980). 1:426; (to be heavy) in L. Koehler & W Baumgartner, The Hebrew & Aramaic Lexicon of the Old Testament  [HALOT] (Leiden, Brill, 2000), 2:455.

        3.      See ( kabed,  liver) in Brown, Driver, Briggs, The Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew & English Lexicon (Peabody: Hendrickson, 1996), 458; J.N. Oswalt, (kabed; liver) in Harris, 1:426. Compare Dohmen, TDOT, 7:13-15.

        4.      P. Stenmans, (kabed,  liver) in TDOT, 7:21.

        5.      Dohmen, (kabed,  to be heavy) in TDOT, 7:16.

        6.      Weinfeld, (kabed,   heaviness) in TDOT, 7:23.

        7.      HALOT, 2:457.

        8.      The noun is uxed about 45 times to refer to “a visible manifestation of God.” See Oswalt, (kabed; to be heavy, grievous, hard, rich, honorable, glorious) in Harris, 1:427.

        9.      The name “Ichabod” means “Where is the glory?”

      10.      Weinfeld, (kabed, heaviness) in TDOT, 7:28.

       11.      In each case of these verses, the definite article “the” is placed in front of the noun kabod (“glory”).

      12.      C.H. Bullock, Encountering the Book of Psalms  (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2001), 188.

      13.      Scholars have debated the structure of Psalm 96. As a hymn of praise it is possible to see in the psalm three cycles of a call to praise followed by a justification os such praise by reference to God’s nature, attributes, and deeds (vv. 1-6,7-10, and 11-13). On the structure see J.goldingay, Psalms,  vol 3: Psalms 90-150 (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2008), 101.

      14.      Scripture quotations from Holman Christian Stand. Bible (HCSB).

      15.      Oswalt, (kabed,;  to be heavy, grievous, hard, rich, honorable, glorious) in Harris, 1:427.  

SOURCE:  Biblical Illustrator; Lifeway Christian Resources Of The Southern Baptist Convention; Nashville, TN 37234, Summer 2015.

 

BIBLE CHARACTER TRIVIA

 

(03, 113)  What is the Answer To & Where in The Bible is This Week’s Trivia Question Found: Who kept Paul in prison, hoping Paul would try to bribe him for release? Answer Next Week:

Last Week’s Question: What irate soldier falsely accused Jeremiah of deserting to the Babylonians and arrested him? Answer:  Irijah; Jeremiah 37:13.