Not unto us, O LORD, not unto us,
But to Your name give glory,
Because of Your mercy,
Because of Your truth.
Over the past week or so, one word has kept intruding on my time in God’s Word: glory. What I see in the Bible over and over are two things: we witness God’s glory IN the things that He does, and we give God glory FOR the things that He does. What I especially love about David and his many psalms is that he is constantly speaking of witnessing God’s glory AND of giving God glory. We all probably remember “The heavens declare the glory of God…” (Psalms 19:1), or we may remember this passage:
1 A Psalm of David.
Give unto the LORD, O you mighty ones,
Give unto the LORD glory and strength.
2 Give unto the LORD the glory due to His name;
Worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness.
We are to recognize and acknowledge God’s glory and give Him praise for it. All the things we ascribe to God–His grace and mercy, His truth and His faithfulness, His holiness, His abundant love, His power and majesty, His sovereignty and His righteousness–these are all part of His glory, they point to His being exalted above all things, above all gods and men, above even the heavens themselves. And what is clear from the Bible is that whatever glory we have is found in Him.
In today’s verse, we see a simple prayer, that we ourselves should not be gloried but that God Himself should be glorified. TWICE the Psalmist says “Not unto us.” We are to humble ourselves before the Lord in two ways. First, we must acknowledge our own weakness, our dependence upon Him. We have no glory but what God has bestowed, no honor save is what He has shared with us, no success other than what He has provided. We must also acknowledge that God is Lord, that He is sovereign, that He alone is the great I AM. Look at that first line again:
Not unto us…
Not unto us…
It is more than just a term of address. Right there in the middle of acknowledging our own unworthiness, the Psalmist speaks the name of God–YHWH, “Jehovah,” “Yahweh,” “I AM.” He is not just speaking to just any God but the God who revealed Himself to the Israelites as their Redeemer and Lord. Not just any God but the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the God who provides, the God who showed His presence in cloud and fire, the God who casts down enemies and who exalts humble shepherds, the God who simply IS. In between humbling ourselves before the Lord our God, we are to acknowledge Him by name, for His name alone is to be glorified.
And having humbled ourselves, we then can turn to giving Him glory–or, more appropriately, allowing His own works to bring Him glory. Note the way this verse is phrased: Don’t give us the glory, O LORD, but give Your name the glory. God brings glory and honor to Himself through the things that He does. All the praise and thanksgiving we may give Him is just a drop in the ocean next to His true glory. For His glory comes not from the praises of men but from His mighty works, from His Creation, and, as the Psalmist says here, from His mercy and His truth.
In our weakness, God is strong. In our sinfulness, God is righteous. In our brokenness, God is whole. In our sure judgment unto death, God is merciful. He exalts us when we least deserve it, and He brings us back from the brink of our own destruction to give us new life. When we are least glorious–in our guilt and shame and fallenness–He is most glorious, for He alone is holy and merciful.
And God’s truth is in His Word, in His covenant to redeem us, in His commandments and statutes and judgments. Jesus is the Word made flesh (John 1:14), and He thus is the literal fulfillment of all the law and the prophets. (Matthew 5:17) Jesus is the way, the TRUTH, and the life. (John 14:6) And this truth is something immutable, immovable, eternal. Jesus was in God’s glory before the world was made (John 17:5), and He has returned now to the glory which He laid aside to come amongst us and take the payment for our sin. (Philippians 2:5-11) That is the truth that so glorifies God, that He has sent His own Son to be our righteousness, to share His glory with us.
So not unto us, but unto the One who is merciful and true, unto the One who is and was and always shall be, unto the One who has shown Himself in all His might and providence and sovereignty, unto “I AM” be all the glory. Not unto us–we who needed to be saved, we who are not righteous, we who were bound once to sin and death–no, not unto us. Only unto the name of Jesus Christ, unto God the Father, unto the Holy Spirit among us, be all glory and honor and praise.
Holy Father God, our great Provider and Redeemer, we give You all glory. You alone are merciful and faithful, and in our sin You saved us from Your own judgment and wrath. To You none can compare, and so we exalt You, we praise You, and we honor You. Amen.